No reason to say that Indian CoV strain is less virulent: Dr Raman Gangakhedkar

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In a 60-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, retired Head of Epidemiology at the Indian Council of Medical Research spoke about issues related to coronavirus pandemic. Until June 30, he was ”Man behind COVID-19 communication of ICMR in India”.

First, he has disprove the health minister Harsh Vardhan’s claim (made on May 23, 2020) that the virus is “not that virulent” in India.

He also spoke about two issues Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frequently mentioned to claim India is doing better than other countries. On the mortality rate, he agreed with points earlier made to The Wire by Prof. Ashish Jha of Harvard – that you cannot compare inter-country mortality rates because they do not take into account the different age demographics of each country. On the issue of recovery rate, another point frequently mentioned by the prime minister, Dr. Gangakhedkar agreed with Prof. Jha that eventually “all countries will have a recovery rate close to 99%”.

On the recent controversy created by the ICMR Director General’s letter stating that India would “launch a vaccine for public health use by August 15 after completion of all clinical trials”, Dr. Gangakhedkar said that this would not “have a long lasting impact” on the ICMR’s image.

Dr. Gangakhedkar also explained why he retired in the middle of a pandemic which is steadily getting worse. He said the ICMR “wanted to keep me”. However, he explained he wanted to go back to his family after living alone for two years.

It is to note that Dr Gagandeep kang has given the same reason after leaving Director’s position from DBT-THSTI.

The wire wrote, Dr. Gangakhedkar is the first official connected with the ICMR who has spoken at such length and willingly addressed all the issues and concerns about India’s handling of COVID-19.

Read Full Interview here: https://thewire.in/video/watch-karan-thapar-interview-raman-gangakhedkar

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