United States President Donald Trump on Monday hinted at retaliation if India failed to provide his country the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to combat the novel coronavirus. The drug is one of the experimental and unproven means used to fight the virus.
Answering a question at a daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, Trump said he would be surprised if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped the export of hydroxychloroquine to his country. “I spoke to him Sunday morning and I said we appreciate it that you are allowing our supply to come out,” Trump said. “If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?”
The United States has emerged as the worst sufferer of the coronavirus pandemic, with over 3,67,000 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 instill a “sense of false security” and urged all individuals to continue taking all preventive measures and practice social distancing to avoid getting infected.
However, on Monday, India allowed export of hydroxychloroquine on a “case to case” basis, in the face of mounting international pressure, Mint reported. Besides the US, a number of other countries also have approached India for the drug. Nearly half of the American supply of the drug comes from India. The Indian government also allowed export of paracetamol and some other drugs.
India has 4,281 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of the morning of April 7, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 111 people have died.