Some Indian states face Black Fungus treatment shortage as cases in Covid-19 patients rise

Several Indian states are facing a shortage of an antifungal drug used to treat Black Fungus, or Mucormycosis, a disease Indian Health officials have increasingly been detecting among patients who have recovered from Covid-19.

At least 52 people have died from Black Fungus in the state of Maharashtra, where the disease is on the rise among patients who have recovered from Covid-19, Dr Tatyarao Lahane, a senior state health official told CNN on Wednesday.

At least 2,000 cases of Black Fungus have been detected in Maharashtra, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Friday. 

“We are now getting 100 cases daily on average…there was a shortage (of the drug for treating black fungus) initially because it was not expected, but that’s been resolved now, 16,000 doses arrived just yesterday,” Lahane added. 

Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope said last Wednesday an order had been placed for 100,000 vials of Amphotericin B, a drug used to treat Black Fungus. 

“There are very few districts where there aren’t patients (of Black Fungus),” Tope also said, as states across the country, such as Uttar Pradesh, Maydhya Pradesh, Delhi and Telangana have made appeals for deliveries of the drug as they face shortages.

“Currently there is a sudden demand surge,” a statement from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said on Tuesday, adding that “the Government is committed to making all possible and necessary efforts to make it available to needy patients…the shortage is expected to get resolved at the earliest.” 

The western Indian state of Gujarat is also facing an increase in Black Fungus cases. The local government has placed an order for 100,000 vials of Amphotericin B and Liposomal injections used to treat the disease, after Gujarat’s High Court issued an order on Monday noting “the rapid increase in the cases of flesh eating Black Fungal infection called ‘Mucormycosis’”.

“The shortage of injections being administered for the said disease and the cost of its treatment are also the issues which deserve to be seriously and immediately considered by the State,” the order added. 

Mucormycosis is commonly found among patients of diabetes or those with weakened immune systems. While the disease is not caused by Covid-19, Indian health officials have increasingly detected it among Covid-19 patients, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health on Friday

“This fungus infection is caused by a fungus called mucor…it is found on wet surfaces…when there is uncontrolled diabetes mucor attacks,” V K Paul, head of India’s covid task force said on Friday.

“If someone has a disease or takes medication which suppresses the immune system. or is exposed to wet surfaces they can contract the disease…(for Covid-19) we are using drugs which suppress our immune system…when Covid-19 patients receive oxygen which has a humidifier which has water collection which can increase the tendency of the fungus,” Paul added. 

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