NEW DELHI: Within a day of reportedly threatening India with possible retaliation if New Delhi did not release stocks of an anti-malarial drug, being used to treat covid-19, US President Donald Trump late on Tuesday reversed his stance.
“I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, a lot of it comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it? He was great. He was really good. You know they put a stop because they wanted it for India. But there is a lot of good things coming from that,” Trump told Fox News.
The reference was to a telephone conversation between Trump and Modi over the weekend during which the US president had requested the release of consignments of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), seen as effective in the treatment of covid-19 cases. India had last month stopped exports of the drug and on 4 April, export of HCQ was banned through a notification, without exemptions on humanitarian or other grounds.
On Tuesday, India announced that it was lifting curbs on the export of HCQ and would consider overseas sales on a case by case basis. Exports will be contingent on sufficient domestic availability of the drug.
But hours earlier Trump had reportedly threatened India with consequences if New Delhi did not lift the embargo on exports.
“I said we’d appreciate you allowing our supply to come out. If he doesn’t allow it to come out. That would be okay but, of course, there may be retaliation,” news reports quoted Trump as saying at the daily White House briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Monday. “Why wouldn’t that be?” he later added.
The US is now seen as the worst affected country due to the covid-19 pandemic that first surfaced in China in December.
About 1.43 million people, across 180 countries and region, have taken ill because of the novel coronavirus while more than 82,000 have lost their lives.
The US has reported nearly 400,000 cases, with New York emerging as a major hotspot reporting more than 3,200 deaths with commentators noting that covid-19 has caused more deaths in the region than the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre— seen as the worst attack on American soil.