India has been sending huge quantities of medicine to over 100 countries in the world over the past two weeks, the Hindustan Times reported on Thursday quoting an unidentified government official. These medicines include around 8.5 crore hydroxychloroquine, or HCQ, tablets, and 50 crore paracetamol tablets. Some claim that hydroxychloroquine could be effective in treating coronavirus, but scientists say there is no conclusive evidence yet.
This is on top of the 1,000 tonnes of paracetamol granules that have been sent abroad to make tablets. “As we speak, a total of 4,000 plus consignments to 60 countries are being cleared for dispatch,” a government official told the Hindustan Times. Overall, consignments are being sent to 108 countries.
Many of the supplies are being sent through special Indian Air Force flights, foreign evacuation charters and diplomatic cargo, since most commercial flight routes around the world are now closed. India is the largest producer of HCQ, an anti-malarial drug.
Nepal, Germany, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bahrain, United States, Spain, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles and Dominican Republic have received or will receive consignments of HCQ soon, The Tribune reported on Wednesday. India has previously sent HCQ supplies to the US, Brazil and Israel.
“The emphasis has been on clearing consignments to those friendly countries first which are badly affected by the virus,” a government official said. “We will also be clearing requests from some other countries who have sought help in this hour of need. This will be done in a day or two.” India is exporting all the HCQ and paracetamol that was lying in special economic zones or 100% export oriented units. This stock is usually used as buffer for domestic purposes.
On Wednesday, consignments were sent to Mauritius and Seychelles as well. Mauritius Vice Prime Minister Leela Devi received the first batch of 5 lakh tablets of HCQ sent via a special Air India cargo flight from Delhi on Thursday.
The Dominican Republic received a consignment of 2 lakh HCQ tablets on April 14, India Today reported. Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, in a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, thanked India. “In these trying times for our country and indeed the whole world, the possibility of procuring this medicine from India will make a tremendous difference because each life saved brings hope to our people,’’ he wrote.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is the only neighbouring country which has not yet asked for HCQ provisions from India.
Like HCQ, India has also removed the ban on export of paracetamol, usually used in the treatment of fever, and has sent it abroad following the same kind of scrutiny as with hydroxychloroquine, The Week reported on Wednesday.
India has so far reported 12,390 cases of Covid-19, and 414 persons have died, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. On the other hand, globally, over 20 lakh people have been infected, and over 1,37,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University.