India

Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Quits Covid Panel After Criticising Centre

Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Quits Covid Panel After Criticising Centre

Shahid Jameel was chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as INSACOG.

New Delhi:

Senior virologist Shahid Jameel has resigned from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus, he told on Sunday, weeks after questioning the authorities' handling of the pandemic.

"It's correct and I shall have nothing more to say," Dr Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as INSACOG, said.

"I am not obliged to give a reason," he said in a text message to news agency Reuters, adding that he quit on Friday.

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

Reuters reported earlier this month that INSACOG, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium, 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, Dr 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 Reuters)