‘Like Lord Hanuman…’: Brazil Prez sends note to Modi on Covid-19 drug
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for easing restrictions on export of drugs used to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter to PM Modi, President Bolsonaro compared India’s move to allow export of hydroxychloroquine to reach his country to Lord Hanuman and Sanjeevani booti (herb) in the epic Ramayana.
“Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama’s brother Laksmana, and Jesus healed those who were sick and restored the sight of Bartimeu, India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis,” President Bolronaro said in his letter to Prime Minister Modi.
India is the largest manufacturer and exporter of hydroxychloroquine in the world.
But on Saturday, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade notified a ban on exports of hydroxychloroquine and any formulation containing the miracle drug from special economic zones (SEZs) and export-oriented units too.
President Bolsonaro, who was in the country this January to be chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, spoke with PM Modi the same day. He followed up the conversation with a letter on Tuesday that underscored the important role that he expected hydroxychloroquine to play in the fight against Covid-19.
President Bolsonaro is also learnt to have emphasised that the drug was required by his country’s pharmaceutical companies, not just for the coronavirus disease but also for other illnesses.
“India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces and sharing blessings for the sake of all peoples,” he said in the letter.
The empowered committee of top bureaucrats later overruled Saturday’s ban order after which the Ministry of Commerce informed Indian Customs to allow export of hydroxychloroquine and honour previous contracts.
“We will issue no fresh notification. Instead we have asked the Customs to allow shipments of HCQ . The supplies have already begun,” said a Commerce Ministry official.
As two Brazialian pharma companies have existing tie-ups, the supplies are on their way.
In all, India received similar requests from 20 countries as countries explore any possible cure for the pandemic that has infected 1.4 million people and killed nearly 82,000 around the world.
While easing restrictions on export, India has said it would stockpile enough of the drug for domestic use before allowing exporters to start servicing previous orders. The decision on who to export to (and how much) will be taken by the department of pharmaceuticals.