A day after he warned of “retaliation” if India does not export Hydroxychloroquine, the US President on Tuesday took a U-turn and supported the Narendra Modi government’s position on the anti-malaria drug believed to be effective in the treatment of Coronavirus.
He further ended up praising PM Modi and said that the Indian government had to stop the export of the drug so as to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market.
In an interview to Fox News, Trump said: “I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi, a lot of it comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it? He was great. He was really good. You know they put a stop because they wanted it for India. But there is a lot of good things coming from that. Lot of people looking at it and saying, you know I don’t hear bad stories, I hear good stories. And I don’t hear anything where it was causing death. So it is not something like….You know we are doing vaccines. Johnson and Johnson, they need to test that. It seems malaria affected counties are unaffected where it is common.”
However, India on Tuesday sought to discourage attempts to politicise the matter and said that it “will supply essential drugs to some nations badly affected” by COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said given the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation.
“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter,” he said.
Hours before India made its decision official, President Donald Trump in an apparent warning said that “there may be retaliation” if India does not agree to export Hydroxychloroquine.
In a White House briefing, Trump said: “I spoke to him (PM Modi), Sunday morning and I said we appreciate it that you are allowing our supply (of Hydroxychloroquine) to come out, if he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?”
As India mulled on lifting the ban, President Donald Trump said he would be surprised if Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not allow it.
The Government of India had on March 25 banned export of anti-malaria drug Hydroxycloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market. However, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an arm of the commerce ministry which deals with export and import-related matters, said it will allow export of the medicine on humanitarian grounds on case-to-case basis on the Ministry of External Affairs’ recommendation.
Following this, last week, Trump requested PM Modi to release the amount of Hydroxychloroquine ordered by his country to aid America’s fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease.
Hydroxychloroquine tablet is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.
Hydroxychloroquine has been approved by the national task force of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as a prophylaxis – a treatment to prevent a disease – for people at “high risk” of contracting COVID-19. However, it is recommended only for a healthcare worker who is treating a COVID-19 patient. Secondly, it is recommended only for persons staying and caring for a household positive patient. They can take that only for ‘prophylaxis’, or prevention.