INDIA has joined the list of nations placing restrictions on the export of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals by banning all exports of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine which President Donald Trump recently touted as a possible cure for coronavirus.
Last month, President Trump said hydroxychloroquine could be a game changer in the global fight against coronavirus. His comments immediately led to a scramble for the drug, which is widely produced in India and is currently being tested as a possible cure for the global Covid-19 pandemic.
In response to the scramble for hydroxychloroquine, yesterday, the Indian government placed a ban on exporting it, to the chagrins of the US. India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade said that exports of the drug and its formulations are prohibited without any exceptions with immediate effect.
Last month, the trade regulator had restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions such as on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments. This restriction was extended into a complete ban yesterday but it immediately attracted a response from the US, with President Trump asking Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to make the drug available.
According to President Trump, he spoke to Mr Modi and appealed for the release of shipments the US has already ordered and India is giving his request serious consideration. There’s no conclusive scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine can treat coronavirus but it appears the US is happy to test it for now.
At the moment, India lags behind richer nations in testing for novel coronavirus, so the country has to take tough measures to equip itself. With a population of 1.3m people, India will be facing an unprecedented catastrophe if Covisd-19 were to become widespread across the country the way it is in the US.
So far, India has recorded 3,588 positive cases of coronavirus and has lost 99 lives, according to the federal health ministry. In contrast, the US, the most afflicted nation on earth, has 311,637 cases and has lost 8,454 people.