On April 7, United States President Donald Trump threatened “retaliation” if India refused to export anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to his country which is grappling with the deadly Coronavirus pandemic.
“If he (Indian Prime Minister Modi) doesn’t allow it to come out, he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?” Trump warned.
Trump had touted the inexpensive drug used to treat malaria especially in Africa as a heaven-sent opportunity to contain the spread of COVI-19.
Fearing possible economic sanctions or new tariffs on Indian exports to United States, Modi’s government immediately relented.
The Indian Foreign Affairs Ministry said the hydroxychloroquine exports, which had been restricted in March to ensure adequate stockpiles for India to deal with COVID-19, would be available in “appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities”.
“We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic,” foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said in a statement.
Museveni phone call
Two days later (April 9), President Museveni reached out to Modi, requesting support in Uganda’s fight against Coronavirus.
“Spoke on phone to President Yoweri Museveni about the challenges arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. India will support in every way it can, Uganda’s efforts to control the spread of the virus,” said Modi in a Tweet.
Museveni would later tell the nation that after speaking by phone to Modi, “India will supply us with the hydroxy-choloroquine as well as the raw-materials to make it here.”
ChimpReports understands that Ugandan pharmaceutical industries have for long been manufacturing hydroxy-choloroquine and even exporting it to neighbouring countries.
Museveni said “this medicine helps the red-cells with the capacity to supply oxygen to the body in the fight against the virus. It also reduces the capacity of the virus to replicate.”
This website has learnt that in March 2020, National Drug Authority (NDA) restricted exports of the drug to foreign countries.
“NDA has received numerous requests for exportation of formulations containing chloroquine in the recent past. This is to inform you that in line with Section 5(d) of the National Drug Policy and Authority Act (Cap 206), NDA shall not approve requests for the exportation of chloroquine to foreign countries, in order to avert a potential shortage of the medicines on the market,” said NDA in a circular to all pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesale and retail dealers.
NDA encouraged licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers to “continue to make chloroquine formulations available on the market, so that the drug can be used for its approved purposes only under medical supervision.”
The authority said in the event that there is need to use chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine by healthcare providers in the management of COVID-19, “this shall be approved by NDA in line with documented protocols for compassionate use.”
Recent events indicate that NDA approved the use of chloroquine to treat coronavirus patients in Uganda.
The Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health, Henry Mwebesa has since revealed some of the discharged Coronavirus patients were treated using hydroxychloroquine.
“The patients we are discharging today were on hydroxychloroquine and erythromycin actually,” he Tweeted.
Despite concerns that the use of hydroxychloroquine required more studies, President Museveni appears to be on the same page with Trump.
The vast use of hydroxychloroquine manufactured from could give hope to a nation now in a lockdown over COVID-19.
Businesses, schools and social places remain under key and lock over the virus that has so far affected 55 people in Uganda and killed 160,000 across the world.
Uganda could as well be able to supply the drug to neighbouring countries grappling with Coronavirus.
Dr Jane Nakibuuka, head of the Mulago Intensive General Unit, said chloroquine, “which was used to treat malaria serves as anti-viral medication which prevent replication of the virus.”
She said it has been “attempted on patients” of Coronavirus.
Dr Nakibuuka further said patients who have sowed mild symptoms are treated with chloroquine, vitamin c and zinc and if they have a high temperature, paracetamol is applied.
In extreme cases, coronavirus victims are put on oxygen.