Cases of black fungus infection are increasing among COVID-19 patients in India. Medical experts are looking into the use of non-medical oxygen as a trigger for complications. While industrial oxygen is 99.67 percent pure than medical oxygen, the concern is on the cleanliness of the cylinder, according to experts, reported by Indian Express.
Is industrial oxygen causing the Mucormycosis infection?
This "rare disease" has spiked during the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in India. It has become so prevalent surprising the medical community. There were indicators that the doses of steroids, uncontrolled sugar levels, and low immunity caused the outbreak.
Just recently, the experts noted to check on another factor, the use of non-medical oxygen or industrial oxygen to compensate for the scarcity of medical oxygen.
Cases of black fungus were recorded among post-COVID-19 patients who were on oxygen and steroids only about two weeks earlier. Given the widespread oxygen scarcity in India, large amounts of industrial oxygen have been redirected for medical purposes. And as such, commercial cylinders were also used to compensate for the lack of medical oxygen cylinders.
How the supply of medical oxygen affected the patients
Although some industrial cylinders in Punjab were converted to medical grade, this was not feasible for all non-medical cylinders used by the hospital. Having to used unconverted industrial oxygen tanks is still a possible case of contracting Mucormycosis.
Is there is a difference between medical and industrial-grade cylinders? According to Ramesh Chander of Ajay Gases in Mandi Gobindgarh, industrial gas cylinders are not suitable for medical purposes because they contain dust particles, moisture, and water seepage, cited the FDA.
He said that if industrial cylinders are not in good condition, there is a chance of complications. They cannot be used for medical reasons without being updated, and upgrading takes time and effort, both of which have been limited in recent weeks due to the higher oxygen demand, said Chander.
Could a link be established between the spike in Black fungus complications?
Based on the senior medical authority in Punjab, when using industrial oxygen for medicinal reasons, the procedure is frequently bypassed. They are primarily unfit for medical use without proper cleaning and upgrading, which involves plugging leaks and changing valves due to how they are often kept and the risk of contamination via leakage.
Doctors said that the Black fungus could be found in dirt, decaying organic matter, and aged materials. The oxygen cylinders with contaminated water could also cause the bacteria, especially for those with weakened immune systems, noted the Guardian. One prominent doctor remarked that a link could not be ruled out in such a case.
The link between the Black Fungus infection or Mucormycosis to COVID-19 is a grave concern. There is a shortage of medical-grade oxygen. It leaves no option but to use industrial oxygen contained in non-medical grade cylinders.