How India got blindsided by a deadly mucormycosis outbreak
Why mucormycosis—commonly and incorrectly referred to as Black Fungus—ravaged lives during the pandemic.
Despite early signals in 2020, India remained deeply unprepared for the devastating second outbreak. Amphotericin B stocks ran out across India, likely pushing up fatality rates.
In August 2020, as covid-19 cases were rising in north India, Arunaloke Chakrabarti noticed a troubling pattern. At the large teaching hospital where he works—Chandigarh’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER)—the professor noticed that the number of patients suffering from a rare but mutilating fungal infection, called mucormycosis, had doubled compared to the years before. And the excess cases were almost exclusively among covid-19 patients. “I knew something was wrong," recalls Chakrabarti, a microbiologist who specializes in the study of fungal pathogens, or mycology.