Covid-19: Pakistan to export anti-malaria drug despite objections by some ministers

Islamabad, April 22, IRNA -- Pakistani government has decided to export the anti-malaria drug, known as chloroquine phosphate or chloroquine, to help countries fight Covid-19 despite objections made by some ministers.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told media that the decision was taken during a cabinet meeting to help the friendly countries in their time of need.

The COVID-19 has so far infected over 2.5 million people and claimed nearly 172,000 lives in 210 countries and territories around the world.

“Pakistan has surplus stock of around 40 million [chloroquine] tablets and sufficient raw material to produce the drug in great number,” Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said while assuring that the “export of drug will not cause the shortage for the domestic consumption”.

However, reports quoting media sources said that some ministers opposed the move fearing that the drug may run out in the country.

“One million chloroquine tablets each will be dispatched to Saudi Arabia and the United States, half a million each to Turkey and Italy,” the PM’s aide said.

“In addition to this, 5 million will be dispatched to the United Kingdom, 700,000 to Kazakhstan and 300,000 to Qatar,” Dr Firdous confirmed during the news briefing.

Leaders of various countries, she said, had expressed interest in the drug in view of its effectiveness against Covid-19.

“Pakistan has always been asking these countries for help… now for the sake of humanity and to improve Pakistan’s global image, this is a good chance to help them in this time of need,” she added.

Meanwhile, according to the latest available statistics, the nationwide tally of COVID-19 patients has soared to 9,749 with 2,156 recoveries and 209 deaths.

The government of Pakistan has urged citizens to self-quarantine and keep physical interaction to a minimum as the number of cases continues to soar every day.

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