Abu Dhabi: India is fast-tracking procedures to supply hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug found to be efficient in fighting COVID-19, to the UAE, a top diplomat told Gulf News.
The move follows a request from the UAE government to aid the supply of the pill for which some UAE-based companies had placed order from India, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor said on Wednesday.
“There was a request from the government of the UAE to help out with the supply [of HCQ],” said Kapoor.
“A few companies here had made the request to import the drug to the UAE. We received a note verbale from the UAE government also seeking support for the supply through those companies,” he said.
“Whatever requests were made, we made sure that they reached the right authorities in the right format since this is a restricted medicine.”
He said India is permitting the export of HCQ on a case-by-case basis on the request from governments of friendly countries. With the UAE government backing up the local companies’ request for import for the medicine, he said, India is fast-tracking the procedures.
Meanwhile, an Indian media report said the decision to quickly send the drug to Abu Dhabi and Dubai was taken after the UAE sent a request for 32.5 million HCQ 200 mg tablets and 10 metric tonnes of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
These commercial supplies will go through six Dubai-based consignees having contracts with Indian pharma majors in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, Indian newspaper Hindustan Times reported.
After supplying to most affected countries such as the US, Spain and the UK, India is all set to bulk supply HCQ and paracetamol to close allies Russia, UAE, Jordan and key partners in Latin America and Africa, it said quoting unnamed Indian officials.
A shipment of HCQ is also being sent to Dominican Republic, the current President of the UN Security Council, as well as Uganda and Ecuador, the report said.
The demand for hydroxychloroquine manufactured by India grew across the world after some studies indicated that the drug, when paired with azithromycin, helped clear patients of the virus at a much faster rate than seen usually.
Special focus to Gulf countries
An unnamed official was quoted as saying that the special focus of the Indian government at this point are the Gulf countries, particularly the UAE.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla are in constant touch with their Gulf counterparts. India has already sent a 15-member army medical team with supplies to Kuwait and supplied HCQ to Bahrain.
The report said India has put the drug supplies to the UAE and Jordan on a fast track as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a personal rapport with both the His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
India has also offered to send more medical teams to the Gulf if required, the report said adding that the drug supplies are being sent after reconciling the domestic demands, the requirements assessed by the Indian Health Ministry and the capacity of Indian pharma industry.