New Delhi: Noted scientist Gagandeep Kang has clarified that her resignation from the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), an autonomous institute under the Union science ministry, is driven purely by “personal reasons”.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Kang held a key role as the executive director at THSTI, which specialises in developing vaccines.
Speaking to ThePrint Monday, the scientist denied rumours that her resignation stemmed from dissatisfaction with the way the government is expediting the development of indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin. She also rejected speculation that it was driven by the government’s April decision to disband a vaccine research panel she chaired.
“If I had to resign because of the disbanding of the committee, I would have done it in the same month. I continue to be on several other committees made by the government and I will give my suggestions as and when required,” she said.
Kang added that she is moving to Vellore to be with her husband, a neurosurgeon.
“My husband is there and he is a neurosurgeon where his ward is full of Covid-19 patients. The risk factor due to Covid-19 is very high for him as he has several comorbidity factors including cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes and asthma,” Kang said. “Also, soon he will turn 60.”
“Due to the lockdown, I have been unable to travel frequently to see him. So, I think it’s a good idea to move back to Vellore. There is no other motive behind my resignation,” she said.
In Vellore, Kang added, she will join her alma mater Christian Medical College (CMC), where she will start a new project on maternal and child health.
‘Won’t like to comment on Covaxin’
Last year, Kang became the first Indian woman to be chosen as a Fellow of Royal Society London, the oldest scientific academy in the world whose fellows are some of the world’s most eminent scientists. As a scientist, she has played a key role in understanding neglected tropical diseases and developing indigenous vaccines for children in India. She was instrumental in developing the country’s first vaccine against RotaVirus.
Her resignation from THSTI came as a surprise to several Indian scientists and academicians.
On social media, her resignation was linked to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR’s) attempts to expedite the release of an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine — Covaxin, developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited in collaboration with the ICMR.
— JayEnAar (@GorwayGlobal) July 6, 2020
Why did #GagandeepKang resigned suddenly fm @THSTIFaridabad in the middle of a pandemic. Kang d first woman @royalsociety fellow frm India was Instrumental in giving India its first swadeshi vaccine against Rota Virus. Was she upset with @ICMRDELHI directive with new vaccine?
— Sanjay Jha (@SanjayJha) July 6, 2020
While Kang denied her resignation was linked to the vaccine, she refused to comment on Covaxin, which the ICMR is looking to launch by 15 August. “I won’t like to comment on it,” she said.