With the healthcare system of India reeling under a massive wave of coronavirus infections, the country said on Friday that measures were being undertaken to address a shortage of a medicine that is used for treating of a rare fungal disease that is infecting Covid-19 patients.
India has lately seen a surge, mostly among Covid-19 patients, of infections of mucormycosis, or “black fungus,” which is a potentially serious condition that causes blurred or double vision, chest pain and breathing difficulties, and can even lead to deaths.
According to the local media, the country has reported at least 7,250 such cases from different parts.
“In this battle of ours, another new challenge of black fungus has also emerged these days,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Friday.
Currently, India has the second highest Covid-19 infections in the world with regular new cases surpassing 250,000 and 4000 deaths on a daily basis.
The Indian government was urging more pharma companies to produce the antifungal drug amphotericin B used to treat mucormycosis while also increasing imports of such medicines because of a surge in the cases, said India’s health ministry.
The ministry said on Friday that it would mark an almost 250 per cent increase in supply to around 570,000 vials in June.
Calls of shortages of amphotericin B as black fungus cases spiked have been given by some Indian states like Maharashtra, which is home to the financial capital Mumbai, and the states have also asked federal authorities to provide more of those medicines.
“One patient needs 60 to 100 injections (of amphotericin B) depending on severity of illness. With current case load, we need more than 150,000 injections,” Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope told reporters.
1,500 cases of mucormycosis have been reported by the western state so far and currently 850 patients are undergoing treatment.
Lockdowns to try to keep the Covid-19 related infection from spreading further have been extended by the state governments in the two southern states of Kerala and Karnataka. The lockdown in Kerala is likely to last until the end of this month, while it has been extended to June 7 in Karnataka.
Supply shortage has also forced the states of Delhi to announce that it would halt vaccinations for people in the age group of 18-44 years, following similar measures imposed by several other states, the state government said in a statement on Friday evening.
India’s health ministry data showed that on the overall, the total number of Covid-19 infection ion the country was at more than 26 million, with a death toll of 291,331.
About two million tests were conducted by the country as a whole on Thursday. However, according to experts, the infections and deaths could be between five-to-10 times higher than official estimates with the pandemic spreading to the vast hinterlands of the country.
“In rural areas or in field level areas, rapid antigen test is the backbone of testing and that should be encouraged,” Balram Bhargava, head of ICMR, told reporters.
(Adapted from MoneyControl.com)