New Delhi: President Donald Trump has said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in the country after India recently banned the drug for exports.
Trump said he spoke to Prime Minister Modi on Saturday morning and made a request to release Hydroxychloroquine – an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria – for the US.
“I called Prime Minister Modi of India this morning. They make large amounts of Hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it a serious consideration,” Trump said at his daily news conference at the White House on Saturday.
India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade on March 25 banned the export of Hydroxychloroquine but said that certain shipments on humanitarian grounds may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.
With more than three lakh confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and over 8,000 fatalities, the US has emerged as the global epicentre of the deadly coronavirus disease to which there has been no cure.
Trump said he would appreciate if India releases the amount of Hydroxychloroquine that the US has ordered.
“And I said I would appreciate if they (India) would release the amounts that we ordered, he said, without mentioning that quantity of Hydroxychloroquine that has been ordered by US companies from India.
Scientists across the world are racing against time to find either a vaccine or a therapeutic cure to the virus that has so far killed more than 64,000 people and infected 1.2 million in more than 150 countries.
Based on some initial results, the Trump administration is banking heavily on using Hydroxychloroquine for the successful treatment of coronavirus.
Following a quick provisional approval from the US Food and Drug Administration last Saturday, the malaria drug along with a combination of some other drug is being used in the treatment of about 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York, the epicentre in the US.
According to Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he told reporters that it would be a gift from heaven.
In the next several weeks, health experts in the US have projected between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths due to the coronavirus, which due to human-to-human transmission is spreading like a wildfire in the country.
In anticipation of it being a successful drug in the treatment of coronavirus, the US has already stockpiled some 29 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine.
It is in this context Trump requested Modi to help the US get millions of doses of Hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that can be produced at a mass scale in India.
Prime Minister Modi on Saturday said he held a detailed discussion on the coronavirus crisis with President Trump and resolved to deploy the full strength of the Indo-US partnership to fight the global pandemic.
“We had a good discussion and agreed to deploy the full strength of the India-US partnership to fight COVID-19,” Modi wrote on Twitter on his “extensive” telephonic conversation with Trump.
The prime minister and the US president exchanged views on the pandemic and its impact on the global well-being and economy, a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.
Stressing on the special relationship between the two countries, Modi reiterated India’s solidarity with the US in overcoming this global crisis together.
“The two leaders agreed to deploy the full strength of the India-US partnership to resolutely and effectively combat COVID-19,” the PMO said.
Modi and Trump also exchanged notes on the steps taken in their countries for mitigating the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The two leaders also touched upon the significance of practices such as yoga and ayurveda for ensuring physical and mental well-being in these difficult times, the PMO statement said.
They agreed that their officials would remain in close touch as regards the global health crisis, it added.
Modi also conveyed deep condolences for the loss of lives in the US and his prayers for an early recovery of those still suffering from the disease.
The discussion came at a time when both countries are in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trump administration has made Hydroxychloroquine as part of its Strategic National Stockpile.
Trump said that people in malaria affected-countries take Hydroxychloroquine and not many people are infected by coronavirus.
Trump said that he would take Hydroxychloroquine if needed.
“I think people should if it were me, in fact, I might do it anyway. I may take it, Ok? I may take it. And, I’ll have to ask my doctors about that, but I may take it, he said in response to a question.
There was, however, no mention of the US president’s ‘request’ in the readout issued by the Indian Ministry of External affairs about the phone conversation between Trump and Modi.
Instead, the MEA press note said that the “two leaders also touched upon the significance of practices such as Yoga and Ayurveda (traditional Indian herbal medicine practice) for ensuring physical and mental well-being in these difficult times.
”The Indian PM has been active in promoting Yoga and Ayurveda as evident in his phone calls with the French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prince of Wales.
The Indian press release also stated that the two leaders “deploy the full strength of the India – US partnership to resolutely and effectively combat COVID-19”. “They agreed that their officials would remain in close touch with respect to the global COVID-19 crisis,” it added.
With PTI inputs