Home / News / India /  Indian missions asked to source black fungus drug as cases spike

New Delhi: India has asked its missions abroad to source amphotericin-b, a drug used to treat patients with mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, seen in patients who have recovered from covid-19.

Indian missions were previously asked to source oxygen concentrators and liquid medical oxygen for the country, which has been battling a fierce second wave of covid-19 infections, said a person familiar with the development.

Indian embassies were also asked to source remdesivir and tocilizumab, used to treat critically ill covid-19 patients. Subsequently, the list was expanded to include extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, which help relieve stress on the lungs, the person said on condition of anonymity.

Now, Indian embassies abroad have been asked to source amphotericin-b, “and we also seeing if there are equivalent medicines; if we could see there is a combination (of drugs which could be used in place of amphotericin)," the person said.

The number of mucormycosis cases in India has risen in patients who recovered from covid-19 infection. High doses of immunosuppressants administered to covid-19 patients make some of them susceptible to black fungus infections, which could cause death, according to Indian health officials.

On the question whether India will resume exports of vaccines especially to its neighbours like Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, the person cited above said given the requirement in India, doses of vaccines manufactured in the country would be re-purposed for domestic use.

This comes against the backdrop of neighbouring countries seeking second doses of vaccines from India, which had in January and February despatched doses of vaccines to its neighbours as grants and on a commercial basis.

“The US has indicated that they will have 60 million of AstraZeneca and 20 million Moderna and Pfizer vaccines... Let’s see how much of these will come to us. Our focus has been to get the raw material and components that help us to produce (vaccines) here. However, in the interim if some vaccines can be brought here and enhance the availability, it will be good," the person said.

The US had set a deadline of 4 July to announce the start of exports and to which countries the vaccines would be sent to, the person said.

US exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to start only after the federal agency Food and Drug Administration gives its go-ahead.

Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar, who is in the US, is set to meet US secretary of state Antony Blinken and other senior officials of the country to press India’s case for increased export of raw materials to manufacture vaccines in India.

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