Rahul Kanwal, News director of India Today, claimed that President Donald Trump has suggested that India could have early access to COVID-19 vaccines being developed in the US since PM Modi accepted his “request” regarding Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). Kanwal quoted a Fox News interview as the source of his claim.

Kanwal’s claim came on heels of the controversy regarding the use of the term ‘retaliation’ by President Trump with regard to his request for HCQ and India’s ban on its export.

India had prohibited HCQ exports ‘without any exception’ on April 4. However, on April 6 India changed its stance and agreed that it will supply HCQ and paracetamol to neighbours as well as countries badly hit by the coronavirus “in view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic.”

Fact-check: Kanwal’s claim of early access to COVID-19 vaccine

Alt News watched the telephone interview of Trump to Hannity on Fox News and found no mention of giving early access of vaccine to India.

At 8.35 in the video, Trump can be heard saying, “I bought millions of doses [of HCQ]. More than 29 million. I spoke to PM Modi, a lot of it comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it? He was Great. He was really good. You know they put a stop because they wanted it for India. But there is a lot of good things coming from that.”

“Lot of people looking at it and saying, you know I don’t hear bad stories, I hear good stories. And I don’t hear anything where it is causing death. So it is not something like,” he continues while subsequently talking about vaccines, “You know we are doing vaccines. Johnson and Johnson, they need to test that. When you inoculate, when you give millions of shots of a vaccine, its got to be safe. But this [HCQ] has been in the market for decades. It’s worked very well. They are finding that people, like in the malaria countries, it doesn’t seem that those countries have been hit [with coronavirus] because people take it.”

It is worthwhile to note that if early access to vaccines to India was suggested by Trump, it would have got extensive media coverage in India. However, the ‘news’ has not even been covered by India Today.

Unfounded claims

India’s decision to lift the ban and agree to supply HCQ to the US has given rise to several unfounded claims by PM Modi’s supporters regarding the positive outcomes as a result of the decision.

Twitter user Rishi Bagree tweeted that in return for the drug, US agreed to provide unrestricted access to US market for Indian Pharma companies and lifted all bans levied by US FDA. His tweet was shared over 12k times and liked by over 35k users.

Bagree however is known to have circulated misinformation on many occasions and needless to say, this time around too his claims were not backed with evidence or media reports.

Kanwal’s tweet garnered 5.4k retweets and 24k likes at the time of writing. Several Twitter users asked the journalist to disclose at what point in the interview Trump suggested that India could have early access to COVID-19 vaccines. So far he has neither answered nor provided any clarification.

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