NEW DELHI: With hydroxychloroquine regaining its credibility after WHO restarted its trials and the authors of a Lancet study slamming it falling into controversy, India’s Covid-19 diplomacy, of which supply of HCQ to dozens of countries was an important part, could gain ground again.
A global controversy regarding the drug and its efficacy as a prophylactic against Covid-19 or even as a treatment began with studies in respectable journals, the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, questioning its use and hinting it could increase mortality rates among patients with a heart condition.
The drug was battling a political controversy with US President Donald Trump not only advocating its use but also announcing that he was taking it. As with many Trump announcements, the declaration sparked a war of words with some US experts warning against its use in Covid-19 treatment protocol though the FDA has defined its use in hospital conditions. India has remained steadfast in recommending its use as a preventive tool for frontline those in direct contact with Covid-19 patients.
HCQ and paracetamol was supplied to over 133 countries, both as grant as well as on commercial basis, as of mid-May. This includes 446 million HCQ tablets and 1.54 billion paracetamol tablets. So far, 76 countries have been provided with HCQ tablets as grant assistance by India. If HCQ had fallen into disrepute, much of this goodwill would have lost its sheen. India has focused its attention on the immediate neighbourhood which was the first priority, before spreading out its aid to Gulf countries, some Asean countries, African and Latin American countries and central Asia.
For instance, India has earmarked 5 million HCQ tablets for 28 LAC countries and 100,000 each for 19 African countries, as per official sources. By May, India had ramped up production of HCQ production capacity to 300 million tablets per month.

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