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After supplying hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to countries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic such as the US, Spain and the UK, India is now reportedly fast-tracking procedures to supply the drug to close allies including the UAE, Russia Jordan and some friendly countries in Latin America and Africa.

The anti-malarial drug, of which India is the leading producer in the world, is found to be effective in fighting COVID-19.

India fast-tracks supply of Covid-19 drug to UAE

According to a Gulf News report, the Indian ambassador to the UAE has confirmed that India is fast-tracking the supply of HCQ to the country following a request from the UAE government. Some UAE companies have placed an order for the drug. The Indian embassy has received a "note verbale" from the UAE government seeking support for the supply through the companies.

"Whatever requests were made, we made sure that they reached the right authorities in the right format since this is a restricted medicine," the report quoted ambassador Pavan Kapoor as saying.

He added that India was allowing export of HCQ on a "case-by-case" basis based on requests from governments of its close allies.

The UAE's request

According to Indian media, 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. The reports also claim that the supplies will go through six Dubai-based consignees who have contracts with Indian pharma giants.

The report said India has put the drug supplies to the UAE and Jordan on fastrack because Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a personal rapport with both Abu Dhabi's crown prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE's Armed Forced Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as Jordan's King Abdullah II.

India has also offered to send more medical teams to the Middle East if needed. The country has already sent a 15-member army medical team with drug supplies to Kuwait and Bahrain. India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla are constantly in touch with the Gulf countries.

India is also sending shipments of HCQ to Russia, Jordan, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Uganda, according to sources familiar with the matter.

What is hydroxychloroquine?

The global demand for hydroxychloroquine grew after various studies reportedly suggested that the drug in combination with Azithromycin, helped cure patients of the COVID-19 virus at a much faster rate than usual.

India is sending the drug supplies after reconciling the domestic demand based on the assessments by the Indian Heath Ministry and the capacity of the Indian pharma industry.