Clinical scientist Gagandeep Kang on Monday resigned as the executive director of the Faridabad-based Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute – an autonomous health research body under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Biotechnology, The Indian Express reported.

Kang’s tenure was supposed to end in August 2021. The 57-year-old medical scientist, however, requested the Department of Biotechnology to let her go by the end of August.

Kang’s resignation was unexpected as it came as India is struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus and the world is racing to get a vaccine. Kang, the first Indian woman to be elected afellow of London’s Royal Society, played a key role in the development of an indigenous vaccine against the rotavirus. She is also the vice-chairperson of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, a global consortium facilitating promising vaccine candidates for Covid-19.

Her resignation came around two months after a group, which she had headed to look at prospective indigenous Covid-19 vaccine candidates from India, was disbanded. Many also linked her resignation to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s attempts to expedite the launch of an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine by August 15. Covaxin is being developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited in collaboration with the ICMR.

Kang, however, dismissed such speculations and cited personal reasons for her decision. “If I had to resign because of the disbanding of the committee, I would have done it in the same month,” she told ThePrint. “I continue to be on several other committees made by the government and I will give my suggestions as and when required.”

Kang added that she plans to leave for her hometown next month. “I could have gone back last year,” she told The Indian Express. “I didn’t. Now I’d like to go home, because I want to be home in Vellore. I haven’t decided the date yet. I’m trying to make sure that it’s a really smooth transition.”

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