'Green fungus' linked to Delta variant 'triples risk of death', scientists warn
A GREEN fungus linked to the Delta coronavirus variant triples the risk of death in some patients, scientists have warned.
The first case of Aspergillus was detected in India last week but experts say many cases of the fungus may have been missed.
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Scientists at the Woon Chong of Albany Medical Center in New York State found that the condition occurs in 13.5 per cent of patients who have been hospitalised with severe Covid-19.
The experts looked at 19 studies from across the world and detected 1,421 patients with Covid-19 associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA).
CAPA is a lung infection which if not treated correctly can be fatal.
You can be tested for CAPA by using an antigen lung and airway sample, a test which the World Health Organisation (WHO) has deemed essential.
The experts said that almost every patient that became critically ill with Covid and CAPA had to be placed on a ventilator.
The researchers did however highlight that 12.5 per cent of patients who had to receive ventilation also suffered from other health issues such as leukaemia – while others had previously received transplants.
This means that people with underlying health conditions could be more susceptible to the illness.
The experts gave no indication as to whether or not patients who had CAPA had received a vaccination to protect them against Covid-19.
None of the cases detected by the experts have been in India – despite the fact that India has had over 30 million Covid cases and over 390,000 deaths from the virus.
In a review into the condition by experts at the Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, it was found that the risk of dying from CAPA was 2.8 times higher than other patients who were severely ill with Covid.
Not only has India been hit hard with growing cases of Covid-19 – it has also had to deal with cases of black fungus.
Doctors in India have also previously warned of yellow fungus plaguing the country.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
One expert said it's likely that many cases of the green fungus may have been missed in India.
Professor David Denning, Chief Executive of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections and an expert on aspergillosis at the University of Manchester said the lack of cases discovered in India was "concerning".
He explained: "Awareness of CAPA was highlighted in 2020 by many experts, but this did not appear to translate to diagnostic preparedness for severe Covid in India.
"The explosion in cases of mucormycosis (so called Black Fungus) was unexpected but CAPA was expected, yet seemingly is still missed.”
He questioned how many of the 390,000 Covid deaths in India could actually be down to the green fungus.
Prof Denning said: "Given the widespread use of corticosteroids, and ubiquitous nature of the 'green fungus' Aspergillus, probably tens of thousands.
"Untreated aspergillosis is almost always fatal."
The experts in New York published a paper on CAPA and Covid patients and concluded that it led to "lengthy hospital stays".
The experts stated: "Patients with CAPA have a high probability of mortality and early diagnosis with prompt therapy must be ensured to optimally manage these patients."
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