‘Thank you India’: Trump showers praise on Modi for hydroxychloroquine
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday showered praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian people on Twitter, his response to the Indian government easing restrictions on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine that he has said would be a game-changer in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump’s tweet, which effusively thanked India for lifting the export restrictions on the drug, was the second occasion in 24 hours that he had applauded PM Modi for his decision. It was a sharp contrast to his interaction with reporters this week when Trump threatened “retaliation” if the restrictions weren’t lifted.
“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!,” President Trump tweeted.
Trump’s tweet reflected the sentiment that he had expressed in an interview with Fox News a few hours earlier. In this one, he had spoken about buying more than 29 million tablets of the drug, his conversation with PM Modi on Saturday and India’s success in handling the pandemic.
“I asked him (PM Modi) 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,” he told the TV news channel in the interview.
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India is the world’s largest manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine, producing nearly 70 percent of the world’s supply. The demand for the drug, which is also used by patients of rheumatoid arthritis, was boosted after a small placebo-controlled clinical trial in China demonstrated that the anti-malarial drug shortened the duration and reduced the severity of cough, fever and pneumonia in patients with mild and moderate disease.
India banned the export of hydroxychloroquine and any formulation containing it on March 25. Last week the ban was expanded to cover exports from special economic zones, blocking pending orders, including from the US.
Donald Trump spoke to PM Modi to lift the restrictions on Saturday. The same day, PM Modi received phone calls from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as well. In all, requests were received from 20 countries to lift this restriction.
On Monday, a committee of bureaucrats which looked into the issue decided to rescind the restriction placed on Saturday by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and let the department of pharmaceuticals decide.
India’s National Taskforce for Covid-19 only recommends the use of hydroxychloroquine for infections among “asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19” and “asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory confirmed cases”.
The Indian Council of Medical Research says hydroxychloroquine has been found to be effective against coronavirus in laboratory studies and in-vivo studies. “Its use in prophylaxis is derived from available evidence of benefit as treatment and supported by pre-clinical data.”