Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends, said US President Donald Trump as he profusely thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India for allowing the export of pre-ordered Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to help his country fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said India’s humanitarian act “won’t be forgotten”.

“Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!” the American President tweeted on Wednesday.

Later at a press conference, calling him “terrific”, US President Donald Trump thanked PM Modi once again for allowing the export of the drug.

“I want to thank Prime Minister Modi of India for allowing us to have what we requested for the problem arose and he was terrific. We will remember it,” he told reporters at his daily White House news conference.

This comes after the US acquired 29 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine, a key anti-malarial drug believed effective in the treatment of Coronavirus.

The expression of thanks by Trump marks acknowledgement before the world of India as a pharmaceutical powerhouse and a source of humanitarian assistance, even if that rankles some in the Indian and US media and politics.

Despite a media campaign against use of HCQ, Trump has advocated trying it as a therapy against COVID-19 as the number of cases in the US was racing towards the half-million mark, with 31,503 cases reported by Wednesday night, taking the tally to 431,838.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s admiration for PM Modi and gratitude towards India, has put rest to several speculative media reports that claimed that the Indian government had taken the decision to lift the ban on the export of HCQ under the “threat of retaliation” in international trade by the US.

Earlier on Tuesday, an interview to Fox News, US President had supported the Narendra Modi government’s position on the anti-malaria drug, seen as a change in course from what he said earlier.

“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,” he had said.

Hours before India made its decision official to lift ban on export of essential drugs, President Donald Trump in an apparent warning had said that “there may be retaliation” if India does not agree to export Hydroxychloroquine.

In a White House briefing on Monday, 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.

However, on Tuesday, India 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.

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.

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.