Will Supply Drug To "Badly-Affected Nations": India After Trump Threat

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said given the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation.

Hydroxychloroquine is believed by many to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

Highlights

  • India to export Hydroxychloroquine to all neighbouring countries
  • Will supply essential drugs to badly affected nations: Foreign Ministry
  • Opposition parties said government must prioritise domestic needs first
New Delhi: India will allow limited exports of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which is being tested as a coronavirus cure, to "nations that have been badly affected" by the pandemic, the government said today. Hours before the announcement, US President Donald Trump had made stunning comments about "retaliation" if India declined to ship the medicines. India, which supplies more than a quarter of the world's generic drugs, had last month restricted exports of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them to ensure enough domestic stocks amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Here are top 10 developments in this big story:

  1. The government said India would export hydroxychloroquine and the pain-reliever, paracetamol, on a case-by-case basis to countries which have already placed orders for them after meeting the domestic requirements.

  2. "In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

  3. The Foreign Ministry said given the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, India has always maintained that the international community "must display strong solidarity and cooperation".

  4. Hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol would be in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored, said the government. "However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted," the spokesperson said.

  5. On March 25, the government had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine saying stocks were depleting because global supply chains had been hit after the coronavirus emerged in China.

  6. At a White House briefing on Monday, Donald Trump said "there may be retaliation" if India does not agree to export hydroxychloroquine, which he has described as a "game-changer" though it is yet to be established as an effective cure for COVID-19.

  7. Asked whether he was worried about "retaliation to the US ban on export of medical goods" from India, Mr Trump said: "I would be surprised if he (PM Modi) would, you know, because India does very well with the United States. I don't like that decision, I didn't hear that that was his decision. I know that he stopped it for other countries."

  8.  The US President, referring to his phone call with PM Modi on Sunday, went on: "I spoke to him yesterday, we had a very good talk and we'll see whether or not that's his... For many years, they've been taken advantage of the United States on trade. So I would be surprised if that were his decision. He'd have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said, we'd appreciate you allowing our supply 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?"

  9. Opposition parties like the Congress said the government must prioritise domestic needs. "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," tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

  10. The foreign ministry spokesperson alleged "unnecessary controversy" on the COVID19-related drugs. "Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people," said Mr Srivastava.