People stand in queue to buy tickets to return home after West Bengals government announced a 15-day lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, at a bus station in Kolkata on May 15, 2021
People stand in queue to buy tickets to return home after West Bengals government announced a 15-day lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, at a bus station in Kolkata on May 15, 2021
ANI

New Delhi: A top Indian virologist has resigned from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus, weeks after questioning the authorities’ handling of the pandemic. Shahid Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as INSACOG, declined to give a reason for his resignation.

“I am not obliged to give a reason," he said in a text message, 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, had 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.

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