NEW DELHI: Hours after US President Donald Trump hinted that India could face retaliation for its decision to ban exports of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, the Centre on Monday lifted restrictions on the exports of 24 pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines made by India. The country is the world's largest supplier of generic drugs.
The External Affairs Ministry in a statement on Monday said that India will licence paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in "appropriate quantities" to neighbouring countries and the countries that have been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"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.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended to use this anti-malarial drug as preventive medicine, including for health workers medics and paramedics.
India had on March 3 imposed restrictions on the exports of 26 ingredients and medicines as the coronavirus outbreak disrupted global supply chains. Along with this, India also reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic, placed restrictions on export of diagnostic testing kits, ventilators, masks and other protective gear which is needed by medical professionals as well as patients.
Media reports suggested that the ban had put India under intense pressure from the United States. In the US, 3,30,000 have contracted infection, more than 10,000 have died, is the worst hit by the highly contagious coronavirus. On Saturday, Donald Trump and Modi had a telephonic conversation and the US president had urged India to release supplies of hydroxychloroquine.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 4,421 on Tuesday morning and the death toll has risen to 114, the health ministry has announced.
OPPOSITION LEADERS REACT TO TRUMP'S RETALIATION:
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor criticised Trump's retaliation saying, "Never in my decades of experience in world affairs have I heard a Head of State or Govt openly threatening another like this. What makes Indian hydroxychloroquine "our supply", Mr President? It only becomes your supply when India decides to sell it to you." (sic)
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also red flagged the export of hydroxylchloroquine to the United states and said that the "life saving" drug should be made available to the country first. He tweeted, "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."