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A doctor in Ghaziabad, India, checks the eyes of a patient with Mucormycosis. Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The surge in COVID-19 cases in India that resulted in cases of Mucormycosis, a "black fungus" infection, may have been caused by an excessive uses of steroids to treat patients, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Why it matters: “The pandemic has precipitated an epidemic," Bela Prajapati, an ear, nose and throat specialist, told the Times about the spread of black fungus infections.

  • Cases of infections have climbed to 30,000 from "negligible levels" in the past three weeks, per the Times.

The big picture: The alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in India, coupled with the country's oxygen shortages, prompted many doctors to resort to giving patients steroids in order to reduce inflammation in their lungs and ease breathing, sometimes to excessive levels, according to the Times.

  • Only 33.6% of patients received steroids at "appropriate levels," noted one study.
  • The steroids could have compromised patients' immune systems, increased blood sugar levels (particularly dangerous for diabetic patients), and even caused blood clots, leaving patients vulnerable to the fungus, per the Times.
  • In India's crowded hospitals doctors may not have had time to manage each patient and determine if they had underlying conditions such as diabetes that would make them more susceptible to Mucormycosis, microbiologist Arunaloke Chakrabarti told the Times.

The bottom line: "[F]our out of five Mucormycosis patients have had Covid-19. More than half have diabetes," reports the Times.

Go deeper

Sep 27, 2021 - Health

McConnell gets his COVID booster shot

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Monday that he has received his COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, calling it an "easy decision."

What he's saying: "Mountains of evidence tell us these shots are safe and effective. I continue to encourage all Americans to speak with their doctors and get vaccinated," McConnell tweeted.

Judge rules NYC vaccine mandate for public schools can proceed

A girl welcomes others as she waits to enter classes in the Bronx. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that New York City's vaccine mandate for adults working in public schools can proceed, reversing a temporary injunction that was issued Friday.

Why it matters: The ruling could clear an avenue for a broader mandate for all city employees, the New York Times notes.

Sep 28, 2021 - Health

Pfizer testing oral pill for prevention of COVID

Photo: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer announced Monday that it is testing an oral antiviral drug that would help prevent COVID-19.

Why it matters: This drug is one of several antiviral pills that could have a massive impact on coronavirus treatment since not everyone will get a vaccine, and it may take years to fully vaccinate people in certain countries, per Axios' Alison Snyder.