Mucormycosis, which was declared as a notified disease under Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, was at its peak during the last week of May this year. As per statistics, 4,332 patients have died from Mucormycosis, popularly known as Black Fungus, in India in May and June this year.

According to data shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Mucormycosis cases in the country for the last two months are showing a declining trend. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has taken several initiatives to prevent the occurrence of cases of Mucormycosis in the country.

Amphotericin-B drug for black fungus

Maharashtra recorded maximum cases, deaths

Out of a total of 45,374 Black Fungus cases, 9,348 were reported in Maharashtra alone, followed by 6,721 in Gujarat, and 4,072 in Tamil Nadu. As far as fatalities are concerned, out of a total of 4,332 deaths, 1,129 deaths were reported in Maharashtra, 656 in Gujarat, and 334 in Tamil Nadu.

Data revealed that 20,277 patients are still under treatment in different parts of the country while 19,073 have been cured. Furthermore, 1,632 patients have left hospitals against medical advice across the country.

Few cases in Northeastern states

Northeastern states of the country recorded very few cases of Black Fungus. While Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Mizoram remained almost safe from this deadly disease, Assam reported eight cases, followed by Manipur seven, Nagaland, and Tripura one case each. However, out of a total of eight cases, Assam reported three deaths due to Black Fungus.

Black fungus
Zygomycosis mucormycosis (Representational Picture)Wikimedia Commons

Initiatives are taken to ensure the availability of drugs to face the challenge

Due to the surge in the number of cases of Mucormycosis, an assessment of the availability of drugs for treating the same, both through domestic manufacture and through import was done by the Department of Pharmaceuticals.

Department of Pharmaceuticals jointly with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare decided to augment availability and allocate Liposomal Amphotericin-B to States/UTs till the supply and demand position stabilizes and also to ensure equitable distribution across the country.

Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation vide letter dated 07.05.2021 issued orders to individual manufacturers of Liposomal Amphotericin-B and on 16.06.20121 issued letter to the individual manufacturer of Posaconazole formulators to enhance their production capacity to cater to the increasing demand of the drug.

The Drugs Controller General of India after consultation with the association of Drugs manufacturers issued manufacturing/marketing permission of Amphotericin B Liposomal Injection to eleven firms in May-Jun 2021.

Doses imported during the peak of disease

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has requested the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to explore all possibilities of sourcing Amphotericin B/Liposomal Amphotericin B injection from abroad through Indian Missions. Based on the inputs received from MEA, imports for 11,888 doses of Liposomal Amphotericin B were ordered.

Also, a portal-based reporting mechanism has been created by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through which a number of patients of Mucormycosis across States can be tracked and this data is used for allocation of the Liposomal Amphotericin-B injection.