‘Modi Was Great’: After Threat, Trump Lavishes Praise as India Lifts Hydroxychloroquine Export Ban

·3-min read

Washington: A day after India lifted the ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to help the US fight coronavirus, President Donald Trump mellowed his tone towards India and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"I bought millions of doses (of hydroxychloroquine). More than 29 million. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi, a lot of it (hydroxychloroquine) comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it. He was great. He was really good," Trump told Sean Hannity of the Fox News on Monday night.

India had relaxed the complete ban on the drug’s export it had placed on Saturday, hours after Trump had threatened retaliation if the curbs are not lifted. Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle drug against Covid-19 despite many virologists and infectious disease experts saying that the excitement is premature and there have been no trials to prove its efficacy.

"You know they put a stop because they wanted it for India, but there are a lot of good things coming from that (hydroxychloroquine),” Trump said responding to a question on the usage of hydroxychloroquine.

Trump and Modi spoke over the phone last week. During the call, Trump had requested Modi to lift the hold on the American order of hydroxychloroquine, of which India is the major producer.

Hydroxychloroquine has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for the COVID-19 and it is being tested on more than 1,500 coronavirus patients in New York. Anticipating that it will work, given initial positive results, Trump has bought more than 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for potential treatment of COVID-19 patients.

India on Tuesday allowed the export of hydroxychloroquine to the US, which has emerged as the global hotspot of Covid-19.

By Tuesday night, nearly four lakh Americans tested positive for the novel coronavirus and the fatalities was more than 12,850. During the interview, Trump described hydroxychloroquine as a powerful malaria drug.

“Lot of people are 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,” said the US President.

India had also received requests to lift the export ban from several other countries, including its immediate neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal. The government has said that it is reviewing its export ban order.

Notably, the government’s decision to ban the exports of hydroxychloroquine was driven by its desire to take stock of the domestic requirements and ensure that the country has enough of the drug.

India manufactures 70 per cent of the world's supply of hydroxychloroquine, according to Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary-general Sudarshan Jain.

The country has a production capacity of 40 tonnes of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) every month, implying 20 crore tablets of 200 mg each. And since the drug is also used to auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, manufacturers have good production capacities that can also be ramped up.