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Mucormycosis kills 90 in Maharashtra, govt seeks injection stock from Centre

On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is slated to discuss the drug’s shortage with Prime Minister in a video conference.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 20, 2021 3:26:58 am
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope. (File Photo)

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday urged the Union government to swiftly allocate to the state Amphotericin B injections, used to treat mucormycosis – now increasingly common in recovered Covid-19 patients.

The minister told mediapersons that the state has placed an order for 1.9 lakh Amphotericin B injections but is yet to receive delivery from the manufacturers. On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is slated to discuss the drug’s shortage with Prime Minister in a video conference.

Maharashtra has at least 1,500 Covid-19 patients suffering from the black fungus, a term commonly used to refer to mucormycosis. Among them, 850 are in hospital.

“The state had last purchased 16,000 injections and has issued a global tender to procure the drug. But since the drug is centrally controlled by government, we have urged the Centre to allocate more stock to Maharashtra at the earliest,” Tope said.

He added that they expect delivery of more Amphotericin B injections after May 31. “The next 10 days are crucial. We may face a shortage. The Centre must direct companies to supply the drug to us.”

So far, at least 90 people have died due to mucormycosis in the state. Maharashtra has placed an order of 1.9 lakh Amphotericin B injections, of which 60,000 are to be supplied by AIG Life Science.

Maharashtra is also in the process of boosting local manufacture. “Locally, 20,000 more injections are being manufactured,” Tope said.

The state, meanwhile, has asked all hospitals enrolled under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana to treat mucormycosis patients for free, even if the cost crosses the insurance scheme’s ceiling price of Rs 1.5 lakh.

Mucormycosis patients require specialist treatment, including ENT, neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, ophthalmologist and a doctor of internal medicine.

The state has issued a nine-page guidance document for doctors to treat the fungal infection. They include strict infection control measures, replacement of humidifiers and regular testing of masks, tubes, humidifiers and common touchpoint in hospitals for the fungus. Doctors have also been advised to keep an eye for symptoms and start treatment early.

Discharge from nose, headache, cough, blocked nose, redness in eyes, blood vomiting and facial pain are the symptoms of the infection. Each patient requires about 100 injections of Amphotericin B.

Doctors have been advised to reduce indiscriminate use of steroids while treating Covid-19 patients, reportedly behind many mucormycosis cases.

Meanwhile, Tope said the state has issued a global tender for five crore vaccine doses, but is yet to receive response from a manufacturer to seal the deal. Maharashtra is left with five lakh doses — three lakh Covishield and two lakh Covaxin. “We are prepared to buy Moderna, Pfizer or Sputnik vaccines but no company has come forward yet,” he added.

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