As the entire world grapples with the Coronavirus outbreak that has already claimed more than 95,000 deaths across the world, India has emerged as the real saviour with the anti-Malaria Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) drug that is being seen as an ‘miracle drug’ to cure the novel Coronavirus.
In a latest such decision, India has decided to export the drug to the US, Spain and Australia, all three of which had earlier placed orders for the drug.
In fact, not just these three countries, but India has decided to transport licensed HCQ to neighbouring countries and nations badly affected by the Pandemic. New Delhi has requests for HCQ from every part of the world, including from the Gulf and Malaysia.
Similarly, India has also shipped the drug to her longtime friend, Israel. The Israel PM tweeted, “Thank you, my dear friend @narendramodi, Prime Minister of India, for sending Chloroquine to Israel. All the citizens of Israel thank you!”, from its official handle.
Thank you, my dear friend @narendramodi, Prime Minister of India, for sending Chloroquine to Israel.
All the citizens of Israel thank you! 🇮🇱🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/HdASKYzcK4
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) April 9, 2020
Apart from these countries, India has also catered the suppy of the HCQ drugs to Brazil, even as the all-important drug seems to have opened the doors for closer relations with countries across the world.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi while replying to US President Donald Trump’s thank you message on Twitter, said, “India shall do everything possible to help humanity’s fight against COVID-19.”
Fully agree with you President @realDonaldTrump. Times like these bring friends closer. The India-US partnership is stronger than ever.
India shall do everything possible to help humanity's fight against COVID-19.
We shall win this together. https://t.co/0U2xsZNexE
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 9, 2020
It is clear that India’s role in mitigating the Coronavirus crisis is being appreciated across the world, but there are detractors within who want to create panic domestically.
Rahul Gandhi, for example, tweeted, “Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.”
Friendship isn’t about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2020
Other Congress leaders too joined the chorus to instill a sense of panic about India falling short of the critical medicine that is crucial not only in case of Malaria, but a number of other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, some symptoms of lupus, childhood arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
However, all such misplaced concerns are a form of the worst kind of political vendetta given that India had already undertaken a scenario-building exercise as a part of its decision to allow case-by-case export of the drug.
A worst-case scenario was simulated even before the US President Donald Trump was trapped by a reporter into issuing what was seemingly a ‘retaliation’ threat.
During this scenario-building exercise, India discovered that the country will have sufficient supplies of the HCQ drug even in the worst-case scenario.
Therefore, the decision to lift restrictions on the export of HCQ was taken only after the NPPA chairperson-led panel made it clear that the Indian manufacturers could manage both the domestic and international demand simultaneously.
In fact, as per the government data 1 crore HCQ drugs can be exported easily. With such high export capacities, India has suddenly found a window of opportunity to bolster it’s Pharma sector.
In fact, the Indian Pharma sector is now making windfalls that are not even directly related to the HCQ drug. Case in point being the United States, where the Indian Pharma companies were being constantly harassed US FDA in the last few years, for political as well as technical reasons.
Given the highly protectionist policies of Trump administration, it was understood that Indian companies would be allowed to export to a certain extent given the goodwill between both governments, but at the same time, they would have to pay higher duties and face stricter regulation.
But the tables have turned now after the Coronavirus outbreak. Anecdotal properties of the HCQ drug against the COVID-19, have impressed upon the United States President.
This is the reason why the US FDA lifted the ban that it had imposed on Ipca Laboratories over a regulatory violation at a manufacturing plant only months ago.
This company accounts for 70 percent of global HCQ supply, and therefore the US having realised the importance of the drug decided to lift the ban last month.
Moreover, in order to get HCQ, US administration agreed to give approval to not only Ipca Laboratories anti-Malarial drugs, but many other drugs of other companies like generic acid drug of Cipla on March 26 and Perphenazine tablets- used for for the treatment of schizophrenia and for the control of severe nausea and vomiting in adults- by Zydus Cadila April, 8, today.
As a matter of fact, the Indian stock market is ripe with speculations that US FDA shall give unrestricted access to Indian Pharmaceutical companies as a result of India’s decision to supply HCQ to the USA despite facing a lockdown, and a huge coronavirus threat locally.
Due to such positive sentiments, most pharmaceutical stocks have registered a double-digit jump. Yesterday, Nifty Pharma index surged by 10 percent on the news of Indian opening up the export of major drugs to countries around the world including United States.
India has a vibrant generic medicines industry, which battles protectionism abroad because of the relative price advantage that the generic drugs enjoy over their foreign counterparts.
But with the COVID-19 outbreak, countries across the world understand that they must procure sufficient quarantines of the HCQ drug at any cost. This is what makes them look upto India.
New Delhi has thus taken the lead in the world’s fight against Coronavirus. India is doing the world a favour, that the world cannot afford to forget for a long time to come.
This is why the US President Donald Trump tweeted, “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
“Will not be forgotten!” is the part that needs to be given special attention. What it means is that even after the Pandemic is over, the West and other parts of the globe combating Coronavirus would look at India in a very different way.
For many parts of the world, including the US, it will inculcate a sense of co-operation and mutial benefit as against competition and hardball negotiations in their dealings with New Delhi.
India has enough supplies of the HCQ drugs and that comes as a very positive sign, for in many ways HCQ is to India what wheat was to the United States during the First World War.
During the First World War, then US President Woodrow Wilson had urged, “Plant more wheat, wheat will win the War.” In the twenty-first century Coronavirus outbreak HCQ is possibly more important than wheat was in the First World War.
Millions of HCQ drugs are needed across the world, and India is the only hope which puts India right at the centre stage of the fight against Coronavirus.