Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allowing the export of raw materials to continue production of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug believed effective in the treatment of the novel coronavirus. In his address to the nation on Wednesday, Mr. Bolsonaro said he thanked the Prime Modi and the people of India for timely help to the people of Brazil.
We have more good news. As an outcome of my direct conversation with Prime Minister of India, we will receive, by Saturday, raw materials to continue production of hydroxychloroquine so we can treat patients of COVID-19 as well as of lupus, malaria, and arthritis. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India for such timely help to the people of Brazil, Bolsonaro said.
President Bolsonaro has been criticized by some for downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and has sometimes referred to the virus as a little flu.
Over 30 countries, led by the United States, have urged India to release supplies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug identified by the US's Food and Drug Administration as a treatment option against the COVID-19 virus.
Earlier this week President Bolsonaro wrote to Prime Minister Modi referencing Hindu epic Ramayana while making his request. Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama's brother Lakshmana... Bolsonaro's letter said.
Bolsonaro, who was the chief guest for India's 70th Republic Day celebrations in January, spoke to PM Modi last week to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. The PM assured all possible support to Bolsonaro and the people of Brazil.
India manufactures around 70% (approximately 20 core tablets of 200 mg each) of the world's supply and, on March 25, banned export until domestic reserves are considered sufficient.
The ban was lifted, for the United States only, on Tuesday after president Donald Trump warned of retaliation if India did not allow sale of the drug. The government subsequently said it would allow the export in view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic.
Mr Trump responded Wednesday: Thank you India and the Indian people... Will not be forgotten”.
The United States is now the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with nearly 15,000 deaths. Brazil has over 15,000 confirmed cases and has reported 127 deaths linked to the virus. The number of active nove cases in India has crossed 5,000, with at least 166 deaths reported.
The novel coronavirus, so named because it has not been previously identified in humans, originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year and has infected nearly 1.5 million people worldwide. Nearly 90,000 deaths have been reported so far.