Coronavirus outbreak: World turns to India for anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine

WION Delhi Apr 06, 2020, 09.10 PM(IST)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump attend 'Howdy, Modi!' at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Photograph:( AFP )

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If the infections rise at a rapid rate in India, it will have to think twice before exporting hydroxychloroquine to the world.

New Delhi faces a tricky balancing act now as leaders from around the world have requested India for the supply of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19.

The Coronavirus outbreak forced India to ban the export of hydroxychloroquine and its formulations.

The United States has the maximum number of Coronavirus cases in the world. The Trump administration is betting on hydroxychloroquine to treat the patients. 

US President Donald Trump wants India to lift the export restrictions.

Meanwhile, scientists still do not back hydroxychloroquine completely, but governments across the globe still want to build a stockpile.

Furthermore, US President Trump is not the only leader to reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. President of Brazil - Jair Bolsonaro too wants help from India. He made a call to the Indian Prime Minister to ensure a steady supply of hydroxychloroquine for Brazil.

India has got similar requests from at least 30 countries by now - this includes SAARC nations, as well as, Indonesia and the UAE.

Reportedly, many leaders have made a personal appeal to Prime Minister Modi.

Being the leading supplier of generic drugs in the world, India ranks third in global pharmaceutical production. According to reports, India's share in the global market is around 20 per cent.

Hydroxychloroquine is an inexpensive drug, but now its purchase has been severely restricted. India has the capacity to handle big orders, members of the pharmaceutical industry say they can serve all markets, including orders from foreign governments.

Right now, India's confirmed cases are far less than the world's worst-affected countries and Indian companies can fill the global supply gap. But, if the infections rise at a rapid rate, India will have to think twice before exporting to the world.

On Saturday, India's Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced the total prohibition on export of hydroxychloroquine & formulations made of hydroxychloroquine "without exception".

The global COVID-19 death toll is inching towards 70,530. Close to 1,287,168 positive cases have wreaked havoc on the health care systems across the world with no clear breakthrough yet on the treatment of the deadly disease.

(With inputs from agencies)