Several states have marked 'Mucormycosis' as an 'epidemic' and have directed close monitoring and surveillance of such cases

With Black fungus cases in India on a rise, the central government on Friday exempted the import duty on 'Amphotericin B' which is used in the treatment of the disease.

After the 43rd GST Council meeting, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Centre will deliberate on the tax structure of COVID-19 vaccine and medical supplies and a Group of Ministers will take a decision on the same by June 8.

A day before Nirmala Sitharaman's announcement, PM Modi had instructed officials to get Liposomal Amphotericin B injections - used in Black fungus treatment from anywhere it is available in the world.

Amid a rise in cases, the central government has already given licenses to 5 more companies to manufacture the drug in India. US-based Gilead Sciences is also working on expediting the supply of Amphotericin B injections to the country. So far, 121,000 vials have reached India and another 85,000 vials are on the way.

The rise in cases of Mucormycosis or 'Black fungus' began nearly two months ago after patients who had recovered from COVID-19 began reporting a surge in such infections.

Several states have marked 'Mucormycosis' as an 'epidemic' and have directed close monitoring and surveillance of such cases. So far, reports have stated that most of the Black Fungus cases in India are being reported in people with Diabetes or those who had extensively used steroids in COVID-19 treatment.

Apart from an exemption of tax on Black fungus medicine, the exemption of the integrated goods and services tax (IGST) on free COVID-related essential items has been extended by the GST Council till August 31, 2021.

“As a COVID-19 relief measure, a number of specified COVID-19 related goods such as medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators and other oxygen storage and transportation equipment, certain diagnostic markers test kits and COVID-19 vaccines, etc., have been recommended for full exemption from IGST, even if imported on payment basis, for donating to the government or on recommendation of state authority to any relief agency. This exemption shall be valid upto 31.08.2021,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

Further relief in individual items of COVID-19 after the Group of Ministers (GoM) submits a report on June 8, the ministry noted.

As regards individual items, it was decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) to go into the need for further relief to COVID-19 related individual items immediately. The GOM shall give its report by June 8.

Meanwhile, to support the LympahticFilarisis (an endemic) elimination programme being conducted in collaboration with WHO, the GST rate on Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets has been recommended for reduction to 5% (from 12%).