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Bolsonaro says experimental Covid-19 drug could save 'thousands of lives' & thanks India for approving exports of raw ingredients

Bolsonaro says experimental Covid-19 drug could save 'thousands of lives' & thanks India for approving exports of raw ingredients
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has thanked Indian PM Narendra Modi after New Delhi gave the nod to continue exporting ingredients for hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), stressing that the drug could save thousands of lives.

After a series of requests to the Indian leader to allow exports of HCQ – an anti-malarial drug that has shown early promise as a treatment for Covid-19 – Bolsonaro said Brazil would soon receive “raw materials” to continue producing the drug itself, thanking Modi for the gesture.

“I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and to the Indian people, for this very timely help to the Brazilian people,” Bolsonaro said in an address on Wednesday.

The Brazilian president has repeatedly touted HCQ’s effectiveness against the lethal virus gripping Brazil and some 180 other nations. Though the drug is still undergoing clinical trials for treating Covid-19, Bolsonaro said the decision to use it now “could go down in history as having saved thousands of lives in Brazil.”

“After listening to doctors, researchers and heads of state from other countries, I began to publicize … the possibility of treating the disease,” the president said in the same address, adding that he recently spoke with a doctor who had used the drug to treat “dozens of patients” and “all of them were saved.”

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Earlier this week, New Delhi lifted a blanket export ban on HCQ, allowing shipments of the drug to resume to the US and other nations hit hardest by the coronavirus after a brief spat with Washington. US President Donald Trump initially slammed the export restriction, threatening “retaliation,” but thanked Modi after the ban was overturned.

Taking a less confrontational approach, Bolsonaro penned a letter to his Indian counterpart last weekend, drawing comparisons between Hindu and Christian religious figures and likening HCQ to “holy medicine” that must be shared with Brazil.

Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama’s brother Laksmana, and Jesus healed those who were sick … India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces and sharing blessings for the sake of all people.

While conclusive proof is still lacking, thousands of doctors in some 30 countries have pointed to anecdotal evidence that HCQ could help patients with Covid-19, according to a recent survey, while several small-scale studies have also indicated its effectiveness. The drug – used to treat lupus and arthritis in addition to malaria – was previously considered as a possible therapeutic for SARS and MERS, which both belong to the same family of viruses as Covid-19.

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The coronavirus has infected more than 16,000 Brazilians and killed over 800, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Though Brazil’s figures are dwarfed by those in the US and a number of European states, it remains the hardest hit nation in Latin America, where most other countries have yet to exceed 5,000 cases.

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