Top Indian Virologist Resigns After Recently Questioning Government Handling of the Pandemic

Prominent Indian virologist Shahid Jameel, has resigned last Friday from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government for detecting variants of the coronavirus, weeks after questioning the government’s response in handling the pandemic.

“I am not obliged to give a reason,” said Shahid Jameel, chair of the INSACOG, through a text message sent to Reuters news agency on Sunday.

Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology Renu Swarup and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India is currently battling a second and the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreak brought by the new variant B.1.617.

Jameel wrote earlier in the New York Times that India needs “to increase testing and start isolating infected people to contain the country’s devastating second COVID-19 outbreak.”

“All of these measures have wide support among my fellow scientists in India. But they are facing stubborn resistance to evidence-based policymaking. … Decision-making based on data is yet another casualty, as the pandemic in India has spun out of control, ” Jameel elaborates.

INSACOG has already warned government officials earlier in March about the more contagious variant of the coronavirus but officials did not respond more forcefully to the findings of the consortium.


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