Hyderabad: Three successive waves of Covid pandemic in the last two years, led to unique public health challenges for general public, private and government hospitals in Telangana. This was for the first time that State governments across the country had to face such unique healthcare difficulties during a pandemic that impacted a large cross section […]
Hyderabad: Three successive waves of Covid pandemic in the last two years, led to unique public health challenges for general public, private and government hospitals in Telangana. This was for the first time that State governments across the country had to face such unique healthcare difficulties during a pandemic that impacted a large cross section of the population.
The Delta-driven second Covid wave attacked lungs and caused oxygen depletion in just three-days. However, the rapid surge in cases of Mucormycosis or black fungus literally came from the left field and the entire country was blindsided, as public health officials and private hospitals were unable to anticipate such a development. The coronavirus disease-associated Mucormycosis created a lot of complications and fatalities not only in Telangana but across the country.
Based on the data from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), by June, 2021, anywhere between 40,000 and 42,000 black fungus cases were reported and over 3,000 persons across India had died because of it. The disease was treatable only by an anti-fungal drug amphotericin-B, which was prohibitively expensive and even highly toxic. It is widely believed that Mucormycosis was triggered due to excessive use of steroids, which is ironically a life-saving treatment for severe and critically ill Covid-19 patients.
AYUSH/Allopathy treatment for Mucormycosis
Quickly realising the futility of trying to source and ration Amphotericin-B for treating black fungus, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao directed Telangana AYUSH to collaborate with Allopathy doctors and find a solution for the dreaded disease. This led to a first of its kind State government-funded research to treat black fungus patients in Telangana with a mix of Allopathy and Ayurveda on a cohort of 137 patients at two government hospitals in Hyderabad, yielding remarkable results.
The preliminary results of the clinical study on 92 patients at ENT Hospital, Koti and 45 patients at Gandhi Hospital has indicated significant reduction in mortality, drop in disease progression, recurrence, reduction in fungal load, side effects and reduction in toxicity caused by the dosage from western medicine among black fungus patients.
One of the strangest outcomes of Covid-19 pandemic has been the spate of patients who had recovered from the infection but since then have continued to struggle with Covid symptoms for a long time. Patients with long Covid or Post-Acute Covid Syndrome (PACS) struggle with cognitive and neurological symptoms that continue to persist for weeks and even months after they have recovered from the severe symptoms of Covid-19.
There are studies indicating that 10 percent of patients between 18 and 49 years struggle from various symptoms of long Covid. Even the symptoms of long Covid are quite wide ranging including severe fatigue for long periods of time, brain fog, persistent cough, pain in the chest, breathing difficulty, upper respiratory infections, frequent and unexplained fever, diabetes, muscle pain, headaches and mental health issues.
Panic, mental health issues
The successive waves of Covid pandemic and lack of proper treatment options triggered quite strange response from people. Individuals testing positive for Covid-19 suffered panic attacks, anxiety and depression. In the initial days of the pandemic, there have been instances where persons decided to end their lives by suicide, after testing positive for Covid-19.
During the pandemic, the National Institute of Mental Health Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, operated a national helpline to provide support to individuals struggling with mental health issues. According to NIMHANS, the nature of phone calls changed during the first and second waves. During the first wave, due to countrywide lockdowns, a lot of questions revolved around friendships, loneliness, etc., while during the second wave, the callers kept seeking help from personal grief, death in the family and tools needed to cope-up with prolonged hospitalisation.
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