New Delhi: US President Donald Trump has said India’s decision to send the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to fight the Covid-19 crisis in his country “will not be forgotten” even as he lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “strong leadership”.
“Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister @NarendraModi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2020
While addressing a media briefing at the White House later, Trump said Modi has been “terrific” and that it is because of India, that the US now has sizeable doses of hydroxychloroquine.
“I thank India’s Prime Minister Modi for allowing us to have this (hydroxychloroquine),” he said, adding that the doses of hydroxychloroquine are now being distributed across America.
Trump said the US now has 30 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, a significant amount of which has been procured from many places. He added that a combination of azithromycin and zinc is also proving to be beneficial for the treatment of Covid-19.
Modi responded to Trump’s message and said Thursday morning the India-US partnership is now “stronger than ever”.
“India shall do everything possible to help humanity’s fight against COVID-19. We shall win this together,” he wrote, quote-tweeting the US President’s post.
Fully agree with you President @realDonaldTrump. Times like these bring friends closer. The India-US partnership is stronger than ever.
India shall do everything possible to help humanity’s fight against COVID-19.
We shall win this together. https://t.co/0U2xsZNexE
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 9, 2020
A series of phone calls between India & US
Trump’s remarks for Prime Minister Modi comes after a series of phone calls between all levels of the leadership on both sides.
The latest conversation was between Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun, who both spoke on 8 April.
Shringla’s call took place after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held a telephonic conversation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on 6 April, prior to which on 4 April Prime Minister Modi spoke to Trump.
The request for a consignment of hydroxychloroquine, which is one of the drugs being studied as a cure for Covid-19, was made by Trump during his phone call with Modi.
Following the phone call, the Modi government partially lifted the ban it had imposed on the export of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol on 7 April, to help countries that are severely reeling under the pandemic.
The decision to lift the ban partially was taken on 6 April itself with the plan being to ship the drug on a case-to-case basis after assessing its availability and domestic requirement, according to directions of the Ministry of External Affairs
The export of hydroxychloroquine was completely banned by an order that was passed by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on 4 April, which was later modified.
The export of hydroxychloroquine as well as paracetamol is now on the ‘restrictive’ list, which means their shipment will take place on a case-to-case basis.
Trump and hydroxychloroquine
Trump had first mentioned hydroxychloroquine during a presser on 19 March. Director of National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, who was with him at the time, had said there was anecdotal evidence of hydroxychloroquine working against coronavirus.
Earlier this week, the situation turned controversial when during a press conference, the US President said there will be “retaliation” if India decides not to send the shipments even as he said that India has been “taking advantage of the United States on trade”.
The Modi government has come under severe criticism by the opposition parties for its decision to send hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol to other countries, especially to the US.
“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 former Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
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.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 7, 2020
This report has been updated to include PM Narendra Modi’s response to Donald Trump’s message.