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Top virologist Shahid Jameel quits COVID-19 panel after criticising Centre’s handling of pandemic

Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium (INSACOG), resigned from the post weeks after questioning the authorities’ handling of the pandemic

May 17, 2021 / 08:33 AM IST
Shahid Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, declined to give a reason for his resignation. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Shahid Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, declined to give a reason for his resignation. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Senior virologist Shahid Jameel has resigned from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus.

Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium (INSACOG), resigned from the post weeks after questioning the authorities’ handling of the pandemic, he told news agency Reuters on May 16.

Jameel, director of the Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University, declined to give a reason for his resignation. "I am not obliged to give a reason," he said in a text message to the news agency, adding that he quit on May 14.

Renu Swarup, the secretary of the Department of Biotechnology that oversees INSACOG, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The government had launched the INSACOG, comprising 10 labs, in the wake of the new strain of the coronavirus being detected in the UK. The overall aim of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 genomics consortium is to monitor the genomic variations in the virus on a regular basis through a multi-laboratory network.

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In April, Reuters reported that INSACOG warned government officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country. The variant, B.1.617, is one of the reasons India is currently battling the world’s worst surge in COVID-19 cases.

Asked why the government did not respond more forcefully to the findings, for example by restricting large gatherings, Jameel had told Reuters that he was concerned that authorities were not paying enough attention to the evidence as they set policy.

(With inputs from agencies)

Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.
Moneycontrol News
first published: May 17, 2021 08:33 am

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