steampunk heart

Materials used in experimental drugs against COVID-19 said to arrive from India

A plane from India carrying materials used to make medicines for treating coronavirus patients has arrived in Israel, Hebrew media reported Thursday.

The five ton shipment, which the Ynet news site said arrived Tuesday, includes ingredients for the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are used to treat malaria.

Several countries have been experimenting with hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus symptoms and US President Donald Trump has touted its potential.

Experts, however, have urged caution until bigger trials validate hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness, as it and chloroquine can have potentially serious side effects, especially in high doses or administered with other medications.

India has limited exports of medicines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but on Tuesday partially eased a recent ban on exporting hydroxychloroquine after Trump pressured Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India is the world’s largest producer and exporter of the drug, according to media reports.

Sanjeev Singla, India’s ambassador to Israel, stressed the bilateral ties between the countries and noted the drugs were also shipped to the US, according to Ynet.

Last Month, Channel 13 news reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Modi to exempt Israel from the export ban on raw materials used to make medicines, as well as one on protective masks.

Itamar Grotto, deputy director-general of the Health Ministry, told the network that Modi agreed to allow the export of materials for medicines to Israel, which imports most of the ingredients it needs for drugs from India.

As of Wednesday, India had over 5,200 coronavirus cases and 149 deaths, though experts said authorities need to test more to determine how widely the highly infectious disease has spread in the world’s second-most populous country.

In Israel, there have been 9,755 cases and 79 deaths from the virus.

Source: TOI & AFP contributed to this report.