By Aarti Tikoo Singh
New Delhi/Washington, April 9 (IANS) The US president Donald Trump on Thursday profusely praised and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decision to supply hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the anti-malaria drug used for COVID-19 disease, to some of the most affected nations.
In his morning tweet, President Trump said, “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 Narendra Modi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!”
President Trump’s admiration for Modi and gratitude towards India, put rest to several speculative media reports that claimed that the Indian government had taken the decision to lift the ban on the export of HCQ under the “threat of retaliation” in international trade by the US.
At a White House press briefing on Monday President Trump, in response to a question whether he was worried about “retaliation to the US ban on export of medical goods” from India, had said, “I would be surprised if he (Modi) would, you know, because India does very well with the US… I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said, we’d appreciate you allowing our supply (of HCQ) to come out. If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be ok. But of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?”
Trump’s response to the reporter’s leading question was construed by some sections of Indian media as a threat even as the government denied that it had taken the decision under any pressure.
In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, India on Tuesday decided to licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to neighbouring countries who are dependent on Indian capabilities. India will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, a ministry of external affairs statement said.
The US as of now has the highest number of the novel coronavirus cases in the world, with over 418,000 cases of infections and over 14,200 deaths. Relatively, India has managed to contain the pandemic with 178 deaths and over 5900 cases of infections.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs. Paracetamol and HCQ, have been kept in a licensed category and their demand status is to be continuously monitored. HCQ is being used to treat COVID-19 patients and as prophylactic by the frontline health care workers deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The Modi government had imposed a ban on export of the drug since the coronavirus outbreak hit India.