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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

Aug 3, 2021 - Health

Israel reinstates COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge

Elderly residents wait to receive their third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a medical center in Tel Aviv on Aug. 2. Photo: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Israel announced Tuesday it will tighten public health measures due to surging in COVID-19 case numbers.

Driving the news: The latest restrictions come as Israel saw nearly 4,000 new daily cases reported on Tuesday, the highest count so far since the country began experiencing an uptick last month, the AP reports.

23 hours ago - Health

Biden to GOP governors who resist COVID rules: "Get out of the way"

President Biden speaks at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden spoke out Tuesday against Republican governors who've sought to block vaccine and mask mandates, as COVID-19 cases spike across the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has tried to avoid making the pandemic a partisan issue, but the Washington Post notes the White House "has grown increasingly frustrated" with Republican leaders looking to obstruct health measures.

Greece's artistic swimming team to miss Olympics after COVID outbreak

Greece's Maria Alzigkouzi Kominea and Evangelia Papazogloun the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine Preliminary of the Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Aug. 2, 2021 in Japan. Photo" Clive Rose/Getty Images

Greece's entire 12-woman artistic swimming team is out of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the group.

Driving the news: Tokyo Games organizers confirmed Wednesday that five members of the Greek team had tested positive for the virus and that their teammates were considered close contacts.