New Delhi: After much debate surrounding the anti-malarial drug for COVID-19 treatment, the central government on Thursday lifted the export ban on hydroxychloroquine or HCQ and its formulations ‘with immediate effect’. Also Read - Is Coronavirus Airborne? Here's What 239 Scientists Told WHO

The government had banned the export of the drug on March 25, a day after it announced a nationwide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Also Read - China Did Not Report COVID-19 Outbreak in Initial Stages, WHO Takes U-Turn

“The export policy of Hydroxychloroquine API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and its formulations from prohibited to free with immediate effect,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DFFT) said in a notification. Also Read - Coronavirus Vaccine Coming Soon, Know The Date Revealed by WHO Chief

The export permit was announced despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) asserting that HCQ is not the answer to COVID treatments.

The anti-malarial and rheumatoid arthritis drug, hydroxychloroquine has taken the centre stage for political and scientific controversies since the beginning of corona times. While it has shown improvement on some patients, with its immunity-boosting ability, the WHO said it that it was not an ultimate cure.

Earlier today, a WHO top scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that it had “definitely” been proven that the cheap drug promoted by US President Donald Trump cannot stop deaths among people hospitalized with the coronavirus infection.

In fact, on Wednesday, the WHO even decided to halt its HCQ trials after it found evidence that it showed no effect on reducing the mortality rate of hospitalised patients.

However, Dr Swaminathan went on to clarify today that there could still be a role for the drug in preventing people from catching COVID-19 in the first place as clinical trials testing hydroxychloroquine’s role are still ongoing.

“We don’t know that as yet. And we need to complete those large trials and get the data, she said, referring to several other trials not being conducted by WHO,” she said.

US President Donald Trump had described hydroxychloroquine as a “game-changer” in the fight against COVID-19.

Although exports of this medicine was banned, India shipped this anti-malarial drug in sync with its global commitment to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The government supplied paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to over 120 countries in the last two months while ensuring the domestic supply, as these two medicines are in huge demand due to COVID-19.