India has said it will supply paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to countries 'particularly badly affected' by the coronavirus pandemic even as US President Donald Trump warned of 'retaliation' if the Indian government did not allow the export of anti-malarial drugs.
"In view of the humanitarian aspects of the Covid-19 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," external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, reports Hindustan Times.
"We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would, therefore, discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter," Srivastava said.
India has partially eased restrictions on the export of hydroxychloroquine. People familiar with developments said orders from other countries for hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol will be cleared only after meeting all domestic requirements. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
This came hours after Donald Trump requested the lifting of the hold on hydroxychloroquine exports during a telephone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday.
Trump also warned of retaliation if India did not take up his request to lift the hold on US orders of the antimalarial drug.
"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," Trump said. "Why wouldn't that be?"
The orders for the medicine were placed by the United States in March.
"I don't like that decision... I didn't hear that that was his [Modi's] decision. I know that he stopped it for other countries. I spoke to him yesterday [Sunday]. We had a very good talk, and we'll see whether or not that's his decision. I would be surprised if he would you know because India does very well with the US," Trump said.
India had banned the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine on March 25 with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine within the country.
India had allowed exports earlier as well to other countries on humanitarian grounds on case to case basis on the recommendation of the ministry of external affairs.
It was also allowed in case of shipments where an irrevocable letter of credit had been issued or in a case where full advance payment has been received by the exporter in India against specific shipment.
The task force for Covid-19 has recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for infections among "asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19" and "asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases."