Why India is banning all exports of Trump's coronavirus drug

The president has called hydroxychloroquine a 'game changer' in the fight against Covid-19.

Laura Ng, who has lupus and had to recently call at least five pharmacies before she could find a place to fill her hydroxychloroquine prescription, is photographed in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 31, 2020. Ng said she is worried about the supply due to interest in the drug as a treatment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

India banned all exports of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that President Donald Trump has touted as a “game changer” in the fight against Covid-19, on Saturday.

Exports of the drug and its formulations are prohibited “without any exceptions” and with immediate effect, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in an April 4 order on its website.

The trade regulator had last month restricted overseas shipments of the drug, allowing only limited exceptions such as on humanitarian grounds and for meeting prior commitments.

At a press conference on Saturday, Trump said he spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealed for the release of shipments US has already ordered. India is giving his request “serious consideration,” he said.

There’s no conclusive scientific evidence that hydroxychloroquine can treat the infection from the novel pathogen.

The ban reflects India’s rising concern over the rapid spread of the coronavirus, with risks of community spread rising in the country of 1.3 billion people.

India has recorded 3,374 positive cases so far and has lost 77 lives, according to the federal health ministry. The country has struggled to keep people indoors during a three-week lockdown that started March 25, raising fears of accelerating spread.

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