28,252 cases of black fungus logged during 2nd wave: Govt
India has reported about 28,252 cases of mucormycosis, a fungal infection, following the second wave of Covid-19, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday while chairing the 28th meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) on the pandemic.
Mucormycosis, often also referred to a black fungus infection, is an opportunistic infection that is believed to be taking hold in people with suppressed immunity. Experts are trying to understand why there has been a spurt in cases, and suspicion has fallen on overuse of steroids and immunosuppressants as well as uncontrolled diabetes during Covid-19.
“Twenty eight states have reported 28,252 cases of mucormycosis till now, out of which 86%, that is 24,370 cases, are having a history of Covid-19. Around 62.3% cases, that is about 17,601, are having history of diabetes. We have the maximum number of cases from Maharashtra which is about 6,329, followed by Gujarat with 5,486 cases, and then MP, UP, Rajasthan etc are affected,” he said.
The health ministry also said that close to 30,000 Covid-19 samples have undergone whole genome sequencing in 10 laboratories that are a part of the INSACOG network. In total, there are 28 labs that are a part of the network meant to perform genome sequencing – a process that helps scientists understand if and how the virus has mutated.
The Centre set up a consortium of 10 laboratories under INSACOG in December last year after the first of variants of concern appeared globally.
“INSACOG sequencing labs are looking at the mutants which have significant potential of severely affecting the disease transmission. As of now, 10 national labs under INSACOG have sequenced around 30 thousand samples. 18 more labs have been added to the consortium recently to boost the capacity,” said the health minister.
VK Paul, member (health), Niti Ayog presented a brief snapshot of the Covid-19 vaccination status, preparedness for paediatric Covid-19 care, and on steps to prevent a third wave.
According to Paul, India took 141 days to deliver 230 million doses, which remains the second highest in the world after the US.
Also, India is one of the world’s fastest countries in terms of number of doses administered so far, he said, although experts have called on the government to see these metrics in terms of proportion of population covered.
“Out of 88.7 crore (887 million) people who have been administered at least one dose globally, India accounts for 17.9 crore(179 million), which is 20.2% of the global coverage. India is fully prepared to deal with paediatric Covid-19 care but caution remains the key as we deescalate (curbs). The third wave can be prevented if we continue following the Covid-apropriate behaviour such as wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and hand hygiene, and avoiding large-scale gatherings,” said Paul.
As for the declining number of cases, the health minister said: “About 83% of active cases are in 10 states and the remaining 17% in 26 states and Union Territories. At least seven States— Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand— have less than thousand cases… Even the most affected states like Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have observed decline in the number of cases at a significant rate. Growth rate has declined from 14.7% (5th May) to 3.48% (today).”