After catastrophic weeks of April and early May when major hospitals across India were facing acute shortage of Oxygen, remdesivir, situation has marginally improved. Though India is far away from resolving the issue, barring Goa, there has been a marked drop in the number of people looking for Oxygen cylinders or hospital beds. Now, the social media in India is flooded with SoSs for Amphotericin-B — an anti-fungal injection used by the doctors for treating the cases of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus.
From Telangana to Gujarat, from Delhi to Lucknow, we saw several tweets desperately looking for the injection. Manufacture in India, Amphotericin B’s demand has shot up in last couple of days. While pharma companies are looking to ramp up the production of the vials, there are reports that the Narendra Modi government may also look at importing the anti-fungal drug.
Mucormycosis is a type of invasive infection that is being diagnosed in those recovering from novel coronavirus. It typically affects the eyes. Haryana has ordered all Covid facilities to report each case of black fungus. Rajasthan has declared Black Fungus as a ‘Notifiable disease’. India saw the highest numbers of Covid-19 infections during the second wave. Now any simple analysis can say about the surge in Amphotericin-B demand. Many have been questioning why the Centre and the state government didn’t plan about this anti-fungal drug’s availability. Medical shops across Delhi-NCR have said that they are out of stock for the past 10 days and don’t see the drug coming anytime soon.
Apart from the shortage, there are many patients who don’t know the complicated ways of procuring the injection. While authorities in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi say that such a process – of getting the injection only after a letter to nodal officer etc – helps in streamlining and stops any chance of black marketing, the families hit by Covid say that it is just plain harassment.
On May 12, the Centre said that the state governments have been told to establish a system in place so that the drug can be distributed inequitable manner. Telangana has introduced a system of online application for the allotment of Amphotericin-B. The applicant needs to send the mail to a designated email id. A committee will see the mail and if found genuine will approve it for the procurement of the anti-fungal drug.
Black Fungus is a treatable disease if diagnosed on time. However, with the acute shortage, many fear that this would lead to another horrific cycle of pain for Covid-hit families across India.