India and Pakistan face a deluge of COVID patients struggling with mysterious black fungus infections. What’s its origin? Are other countries threatened?

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Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
Credit: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

About 12,000 cases of a condition known as “black fungus” have been reported in India, mostly in patients recovering from Covid-19. 

This severe infection is normally very rare and has a mortality rate of about 50%.

Dr David Denning at the University of Manchester, an expert on fungal infections, says reported cases of black fungus in India were “masses more than any other part of the world” well before the pandemic.

“Mucormycosis is strongly linked with poorly controlled diabetes and there’s a lot of it [diabetes] in India.”

In patients recovering from Covid-19, according to a recent research paper looking at cases globally, 94% of those who had the fungal infection also suffered from diabetes.

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Brazil has reported 29 cases so far, but it’s not yet clear how many of these had Covid and/or were diabetic.

Russia has also reported “isolated” cases of mucormycosis in Covid patients recently – but it is unclear how many have been detected so far.

The US has a very high prevalence of diabetes – 9.3% of the population is estimated to have the condition.

It also has the highest number of Covid cases globally.

But mucormycosis is very rare – diabetes cases there are largely managed with only 3% going undiagnosed.

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