Shahid Jameel quits as head of virus genome sequencing group

The eminent virologist did not give any reasons for his departure

May 16, 2021 11:07 pm | Updated 11:35 pm IST - New Delhi

Virologist Shahid Jameel. File

Virologist Shahid Jameel. File

Shahid Jameel, eminent virologist and head of the advisory group to the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (Insacog), resigned from his post on Friday.

Dr. Jameel confirmed to The Hindu that he'd quit but did not give any reasons for his departure.

Multiple scientists who are part of Insacog — a group of 10 laboratories across the country, tasked with tracking evolving variants of the coronavirus — told The Hindu that Dr. Jameel’s decision appeared to be sudden as he hadn't communicated reasons for his resignation to consortium members but one of them cited “government pressure” as a potential reason.

Dr. Jameel, who is Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University has been critical of aspects of the government's handling of the pandemic.

Interview | A vaccine is a vaccine... regulators never approve a backup, says virologist Shahid Jameel

On May 13, in an invited opinion piece for the New York Times , Dr. Jameel summarised India’s response to the multiple waves and the uneven vaccination rollout and concluded by saying “scientists were facing stubborn resistance to evidence-based policy-making. On April 30, over 800 Indian scientists appealed to the Prime Minister, demanding access to the data that could help them further study, predict and curb this virus. Decision-making based on data is yet another casualty, as the pandemic in India has spun out of control. The human cost we are enduring will leave a permanent scar.”

Also read: Variants with two specific mutations may evade antibodies, says virologist Shahid Jameel


The Insacog, setup in December, faced initial challenges with funds and equipment but since March has considerably accelerated sequencing samples from all over the country for variants. It has been tracking international variants of concern as well as discovered the so called 'Indian variant ' (B.1.617) that is believed to be instrumental in India’s devastating second wave.

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