News and Commentary

Trump Gets India’s Export Ban Reversed On Potential Coronavirus Treatment
U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions from reporters following a meeting of his coronavirus task force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On March 25, India reportedly banned the export of hydroxychloroquine, a drug often used to treat malaria that has shown promising anecdotal results as a therapeutic against severe cases of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

During a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump suggested the United States would be excluded from such a ban, citing a phone conversation he had with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the weekend.

“India on Tuesday announced that it had rescinded its earlier ban on the export of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which is now being used in countries such as the U.S. as a possible line of treatment for COVID-19,” reported The Hindu.

“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,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, according to the report. “We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations that have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic.”

During a Monday presser, Trump told reporters he had a “good talk” with PM Modi on Sunday. “I would be surprised [if India refused to supply HCQ], because India does very well by the U.S.,” the president said.

“I spoke to [PM Modi] and said, we appreciate your allowing the supply to come out,” Trump added. “If he doesn’t allow it come out, that would be ok, but of course there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?”

As noted by The Daily Wire last month, Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan pledged to donate 130 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, adding support for studies of the drug as a treatment against COVID-19.

“Narasimhan said his Sandoz generics unit’s malaria, lupus and arthritis drug hydroxychloroquine is the company’s biggest hope against the coronavirus,” Reuters reported at the time, citing Swiss newspaper Sonntags Zeitung.

On March 29, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

The French government, too, cleared a larger pathway for the use of chloroquine, officially sanctioning the drug for certain patients infected with the novel virus.

The move came soon after infectious disease specialist Didier Raoult announced new clinical results, which can be accessed here, that showed 78 out of 80 patients treated with chloroquine recovered within five days, as report by Trustnodes.

As highlighted by The Daily Wire, positive results from the drugs have thus far been largely anecdotal:

The Times repeatedly underscores that the treatment has not yet been proven to be effective by officials and highlights “concerns” among health experts about the Trump and Cuomo-promoted medications, which sometimes have dangerous side effects, like “fatal heart arrhythmia and vision loss.” Like The Washington Post’s editorial board, which has accused Trump of causing “damage” by pointing to the treatment as a potential “cure,” the Times suggests Trump, and to a lesser extent Cuomo, may be guilty of “raising false hopes in the American public” and “contribut[ing] to runs on supply and hoarding” of the drugs.

Related: FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization Of Trump-Touted Drug To Treat Coronavirus