In what would signal change of course Trump in a telephone interview to Hannity on Fox News said, “I bought millions of doses. More than 29 million. I spoke to PM 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.”
“Lot of people looking at it and saying, you know I don’t hear bad stories, I hear good stories. And I don’t hear anything where it is causing death. So it is not something like… You know we are doing vaccines. Johnson and Johnson, they need to test that. It seems malaria affected countries are unaffected where it is common.”
On Tuesday India had called for depoliticisation of export of key drugs essential for combating Covid-19 in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump threatening retaliation if supplies are held back even as it clarified that it will allow shipments to some nations that are badly impacted by the pandemic.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said given the enormity of the Covid-19 pandemic, India had always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation. “This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries,” it said.
MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava had said, “We have seen some attempts by sections of the media to create unnecessary controversy over the issue of Covid-19 related drugs and pharmaceuticals. Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people. In order to ensure this, some temporary steps were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products.”
The statement came a day after President Trump had said at a press briefing at the White House, “I would be surprised if that (not exporting the drug) were his (Prime Minister Modi’s) 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?”
India made a comprehensive assessment of possible requirements under different scenarios. Srivastava said that after having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, the government had largely lifted the restrictions. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade had notified lifting of restrictions on 14 drugs on Monday.
“With regard to paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored. However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted,” said the MEA spokesman.
“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ 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. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter,” said Srivastava.