Covid-19: Gita Ramjee, prominent Indian-origin virologist dies in South Africa

Gita Ramjee, a vaccine scientist and an HIV prevention researcher, has died of the coronavirus in South Africa, PTI reported on Tuesday. She had returned from London a week ago, but showed no symptoms of the disease.

Gita Ramjee, a virologist of Indian origin, showed no symptoms of the disease. Ramjee was the clinical trials unit principal investigator and unit director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council. “We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic passing of Professor Gita Ramjee in hospital today,” a statement issued by the president and chief executive officer of the council, Glenda Gray, said. “Professor Ramjee died of Covid-19 related complications.”

Ramjee was presented with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships in 2018. The award was given for her lifetime commitment to finding new HIV prevention methods, which are conducive to the lifestyles, circumstances and perceived risk factors for South African women.

“This award is an acknowledgement of the unwavering determination by a global community to forever change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Ramjee had said at the time.

South Africa has reported 1,353 cases of Covid-19 so far, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University. Gita Ramjee has become the first Indian-origin South African to have died after contracting the novel coronavirus that has killed five people in the country. The South African government on Tuesday announced that it will double to 10,000 the teams going door-to-door to test people for the disease, especially in the overcrowded townships created during the apartheid era.

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