Brazilian President invokes Ramayana while seeking hydroxychloroquine from India

India has partially lifted a ban on export of hydroxychloroquine, cited by many as a viable therapeutic solution to fight coronavirus infection. India is supplying the drug to the US and several other countries hit by the pandemic.

Updated - April 09, 2020 10:31 am IST

Published - April 09, 2020 10:20 am IST - New Delhi:

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking supply of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro invoked ancient Indian epic Ramayana, mentioning the story of how Lord Hanuman brought a holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lakshmana.

India has partially lifted a ban on export of hydroxychloroquine , cited by many as a viable therapeutic solution to fight coronavirus infection. India is supplying the drug to the U.S. and several other countries hit by the pandemic.

Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, has recorded close to 14,000 coronavirus cases and over 660 deaths due to the disease. Globally, the virus has killed over 75,000 people and infected more than 13 lakh.

Besides the Ramayana, the Brazilian leader also referred to Jesus Christ, while exuding confidence that the two countries will overcome the global crisis by joining hands.

“Just as Lord Hanuman brought the holy medicine from the Himalayas to save the life of Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana, and Jesus healed those who were sick and restored the sight to Bartimeu, India and Brazil will overcome this global crisis by joining forces and sharing blessings for the sake of all peoples,” Bolsonaro said in the letter on Tuesday.

According to the Ramayana, Lord Hanuman brought ‘Sanjeevani Booti’ from the Himalayas to save Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana after he was injured in a battle in Lanka

Mr. Bolsonaro said Brazil hopes that use of the hydroxychloroquine will help in treatment of the virus infected people in his country.

“Like many other countries, Brazil places hope in the use of hydroxychloroquine as an effective means to treat patients who have contracted COVID-19,” the Brazilian leader wrote in the letter.

On March 25, India banned export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19. India is the largest exporter of the drug. The ban was partially lifted on Tuesday.

In the letter, Mr. Bolsonaro requested Mr. Modi to ensure that Brazil gets supply of the drug ordered prior to imposition of the ban on it.

He mentioned that two Brazilian laboratories, EMS and Apsen, import inputs for the production of hydroxychloroquine in Brazil and the country’s internal supply of the drug depends on the production by the two firms, adding the imports have been mainly from India for more than 10 years

“It is for this reason that we would like to stress, once again, the importance of the authorization for export of the cargos belonging to these two laboratories, which relate to orders placed prior to the imposition of restrictions,” he said.

The Brazilian president said the two companies are closely following the results of studies regarding the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19 cases.

“The companies need the inputs to manufacture the medicines not only for COVID-19 patients, but also for those suffering of chronic diseases that are normally treated with the same substance,” he said.

The Brazilian leader also referred to the partnership between the two countries in the pharmaceutical sector, adding leading Brazilian pharmaceutical laboratories have a “solid and long” partnership with Indian laboratories.

Mr. Bolsonaro also said he was convinced that joint efforts by India and Brazil will help both the countries in overcoming these “strenuous moments“.

“Brazil and India enjoy a long and friendly relation of great importance to both nations, sharing many similarities and complementarities,” he said.

“Without doubt we can refer to India and Brazil as leaders of their respective regions, always acting responsibly towards their neighbours. Our coming together is therefore fundamental to fight this pandemic,” he added.

Mr. Modi and Mr. Bolsonaro had a telephonic conversation on Saturday during which they discussed ways of cooperation in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

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