Updated: April 7, 2020 7:33:34 pm
Within hours of US President Donald Trump warning India of retaliation, New Delhi has quickly moved to partially lift the ban on the the export of Hydroxychloroquine — the anti-malaria drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a “game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19. Trump has hinted there would be retaliation if India does not lift its ban on its export.
Speaking from the White House during the coronavirus taskforce briefing, Trump said that he would be “surprised” if New Delhi doesn’t send Hydroxychloroquine after his phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week.
Reiterating that India has been taking advantage of the US for many years in connection with trade, Trump said, “I didn’t hear that was his ( Modi) decision. I know that he stopped it for other countries I spoke to him yesterday, very very good talk, and we’ll see whether or not that stays I wouldn’t be surprised if he would you know because India’s does very well with the United States.”
“So, I would be surprised if that were his decision. He’d have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we’d appreciate your allowing our supply 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?” Trump added.
On Tuesday morning, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the anti-malaria drug would be supplied to “some countries” which are “badly affected” by COVID-19.
“Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products. In the meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment was made of possible requirements under different scenarios,” Srivastava said.
Srivastava said the restrictions have been largely lifted after confirming the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies.
“The DGFT has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs yesterday. With regard to paracetamol & Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments they had contracted,” he said.
Hydroxychloroquine tablets are recognised as a prophylactic for those on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 — doctors, nurses, paramedics, and first responders — and can be used to treat patients. With more than 3 lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus and nearly 10,000 fatalities, the US has emerged as the worst-hit countries of the pandemic. And based on some initial results, the Trump administration is banking heavily on hydroxychloroquine.
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