Calling him "terrific", US President Donald Trump has thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice for allowing the export of pre-ordered hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to assist his country fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I want to thank Prime Minister Modi of India for allowing us to have what we requested from before the problem arose and he was terrific," Trump said at his nationally televised news briefing on Wednesday.
"We will remember it," he added.
This was his second expression of gratitude. Earlier he had tweeted: "Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight." thanks Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, during this fight."
The expression of thanks by Trump marks acknowledgment before the world of India as a pharmaceutical powerhouse and a source of humanitarian assistance, albeit that rankles some within the Indian and US media and politics.
Despite a media campaign against the use of HCQ, Trump has advocated trying it as a therapy against COVID-19 because the number of cases in the US was racing towards the half-million mark, with 31,503 cases reported by Wednesday night, taking the tally to 431,838.
Most of the mainstream media has made it a partisan issue against Trump even calling HCQ "dangerous", albeit the Democratic Governor of latest York, Andrew Cuomo, was the primary to request it for an attempt with 1,100 patients.
A Democratic state representative from Michigan, Karen Whitsett, has publicly said that HCQ saved her life and thanked Trump for bringing attention thereto.
A reporter tried on Monday to muddy the waters for both the US and India by falsely claiming that New Delhi was imposing the ban on HCQ exports as retaliation for Trump's restrictions on the export of gloves, gowns, and masks.
India had, contrary to his claim, banned the HCQ exports on Annunciation, nine days before Trump's restrictions on exports of protective gear, which India doesn't import from the US, and if in the least in any significant quantity.
Moreover, hours before the reporter asked the question, media had reported that a choice had been taken to release the HCQ that India had ordered before the coronavirus pandemic crisis arose.
Trump was surprised by the question and said: "I didn't hear that that was his decision."
"I spoke to him yesterday. We had a very good talk. And we'll see whether or not that is. I would be surprised if he would, you know, because India does very well with the US.
"If he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be okay, but, of course, there may be retaliation," the President added.
Further reinforcing India's role as a rustic strong enough to assist others, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said: "In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it's been decided that India would licence paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all or any our neighbouring countries who are hooked in to our capabilities. we'll even be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who are particularly badly suffering from the pandemic."
While rigorous clinical trials with control groups was underway at the University of Minnesota et al. to check its efficacy as a preventive and as a therapy, two small studies in France and China have reportedly shown it can reduce the impact of COVID-19 in patients.
The chief scientist on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Anthony Fauci, has said that while there was no strict proof with clinical trials of HCQ, doctors can prescribe it.
Trump has been saying that HCQ together with Azithromycin might be a therapy supported what he has heard, and on Wednesday said that adding zinc thereto has been suggested.
Even if it doesn't prove ultimately to be effective, there's nothing to lose by trying it when other therapies arent available and its safety has been already proven in decades of use against malaria, he said.