US may retaliate if India doesn’t export Hydroxychloroquine tablets: Trump

The US president who has dubbed Hydroxychloroquine as a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19 has hinted at strained US-India trade relations if India turns down US’ request

US President Donald Trump who recently urged India to allow the export of Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-Malarial drug which he believes could be “game-changer” in the war against coronavirus, to the United States, has said that the US may retaliate if New Delhi doesn’t oblige.

Stating that for many years, India has been taking advantage of the US on trade, Trump said that he would be surprised if New Delhi was to stop export of Hydroxychloroquine to the US.

“So, I would be surprised if that were his (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) decision. He’d have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we’d appreciate your 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. Why wouldn’t there be?” Trump said while addressing a press conference on Monday (April 6).

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The US president on Sunday had called up Modi and requested him to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug.

Hydroxychloroquine tablet is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments. The drug is seen as to offer a viable therapeutic solution to coronavirus that has so far taken the lives of more than 10,000 Americans and infected over 3.6 lakhs, just in a matter of weeks.

Last month, India imposed a ban on export on Hydroxychloroquine, on which Trump is now banking heavily in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

India has received similar requests from several other countries including its immediate neighbours like Sri Lanka and Nepal. India has said that it is reviewing its export ban order.

Notably, India’s decision to ban the exports of Hydroxychloroquine is driven by its desire to take stock of the domestic requirements and ensure that the country has enough in its kitty.

On Monday, a senior State Department official said that India has been a significant partner of the US in the pharmaceutical sector and it expects similar cooperation to continue between the economies.

“India has long been a significant partner of the United States and the pharmaceutical sector,” Alice G Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told reporters during a press briefing.

The Trump administration has already created a national strategic stockpile of 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results.

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Scientists have begun testing Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as candidates for potential COVID-19 treatments and the FDA last week issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the prescription of the drugs in certain circumstances. In addition to New York, COVID-19 patients in several States are being treated with Hydroxychloroquine, including Michigan and Texas.

(With inputs from agencies)

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