LONDON, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A new report commissioned by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron says antimicrobial resistant bacteria, or superbugs, will kill more people than cancer by 2050.
Deaths due to AMR currently number about 700,000 a year. By 2050, that number could rise to 10 million -- more than the number of people killed by cancer each year.
The presence of AMRs could also deny doctors the possibility of conducting medical treatments that require antibiotics such as joint replacements, Caesarean sections, chemotherapy and transplant surgery.
It estimates the rise of superbugs could cost the global economy $100 trillion, more than five times the current U.S. debt.
"The value of a delay is potentially enormous: RAND Europe's study demonstrated that delaying the development of widespread resistance by just 10 years could save 65 trillion USD of the world's output between now and 2050," said the report.
The impact will hit certain African countries -- already struggling to deal with infection and disease -- the hardest.
"In Nigeria, by 2050, more than one in four deaths would be attributable to drug resistant infections, while India would see an additional two million lives lost every year," O'Neill told the BBC.
The study suggests the best plans to avert the potential disaster would be to develop new drugs to which bacteria don't develop a resistance, examining the current use of antibiotics and creating treatments to counteract resistance.
"The world needs to get serious about tackling the rise in antibiotics resistance," said Lawrence Summers, the former U.S. Treasury secretary and president emeritus of Harvard University. "Ignoring the tide of drug-resistant infections risks rolling back the hard-won medical advances of the last century."