Hydroxychloroquine: After threatening retaliation, Trump now backs India’s stance on drug
In a telephone interview to Fox News, US President Donald Trump said: “I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to PM 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.”
A day after threatening retaliation against India over the export of hydroxychloroquine -- the anti-malarial drug used to treat coronavirus patients – US President Donald Trump has now taken a U-turn and backed New Delhi’s position on the key drug. The coronavirus pandemic has so far killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.43 million people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In what could hint a reversal of course, the US President in a telephone interview to Fox News said: “I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to PM 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 is 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 countries are unaffected where it is common.”
This comes after Trump at a White House press briefing said: “I would be surprised if that (not exporting the drug) were his (Prime Minister Modi’s) 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?”
Later, India decided to partially lift a ban on the export of the anti-malarial drug, paving the way for its supply to the US and several other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in the backdrop of Trump’s retaliation threat.
"In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities," said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.
"We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic," he added, responding to queries on the issue.
On March 25, India had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine amid views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19. India is the largest exporter of the drug.
The Trump administration has already created a national strategic stockpile of 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results.
Global scientists, racing against time to find either a vaccine or a therapeutic cure to the virus, have begun testing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as options for potential COVID-19 treatment.
The US Food and Drug Administration last week issued an Emergency Use Authorisation for the prescription of the drug in certain circumstances.
In addition to New York, COVID-19 patients in several States are being treated with hydroxychloroquine, including Michigan and Texas. According to Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he said that it would be a gift from heaven.