United States President Donald Trump on Saturday said he has requested India for anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, whose exports it had suspended last month, to fight Covid-19 infections in American patients. Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, is widely being speculated on as a treatment for Covid-19 patients, but experts say evidence for this is not yet strong.

“I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning,” Trump said at the daily press conference. “They make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine...they had a hold on it because they have 1.5 billion people. I said I would appreciate if they [India] would release the amounts that we ordered. India is giving it a serious consideration.”

The United States has emerged as the worst sufferer of the coronavirus pandemic, with over 3,12,000 cases, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.

The Indian government had on March 26 put on hold the export of hydroxychloroquine to ensure that enough stocks were available in the market. Earlier, the Indian Council of Medical Research had authorised physicians to use the drug as a potential preventive measure for Covid-19 – only for asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the treatment of suspected or confirmed patients of the disease, and household contacts looking after infected patients. The medical body, however, warned that the measure must not instil a “sense of false security” and urged all individuals to continue taking all preventive measures and practice social distancing to avoid getting infected.

India has 3,374 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of the morning of April 5, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 77 people have died.