Coronavirus has taken the world with its rate of spread and increased mortality rate. From politicians to common people and celebrities, all are equally affected. In South Africa, an Indian-Origin virologist Gita Ramjee died after contracting the virus. Till now, five deaths have been reported from South Africa. She returned from London a week ago but showed no symptoms of COVID-19.

Key Takeaways:

  • Virologist Gita Ramjee, 64, was the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator and Unit Director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) offices in Durban.
  • Ramjee returned from London a week ago and no signs of COVID-19. She is the first Indian origin South African to have died after contracting the coronavirus. 
  • The global toll of coronavirus infections has crossed eight lakhs and the number of deceased stands at 42,344 (at the time of reporting). In India, close to 1600 people have contracted the virus. 

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A Vaccine Scientist And An HIV Prevention Research Leader

Virologist Gita Ramjee was a vaccine scientist and an HIV prevention research leader. She had returned from London a week ago and showed no symptoms of COVID-19. Aged 64, she was a part of the Clinical Trials Unit Principal Investigator and Unit Director of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) offices in Durban. SAMRC President and CEO Glenda Gray issued a statement after Ramjee’s death, “We are deeply saddened to inform you of the tragic passing of Prof Gita Ramjee in hospital today. Prof Ramjee died of COVID-19 related complications.”

She was bestowed with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her lifetime commitment to finding new HIV prevention methods.

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Outstanding Female Scientist Award

Gita Ramjee was an incredible woman scientist. She was bestowed with the Outstanding Female Scientist Award in Lisbon by the European Development Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) for her lifetime commitment to finding new HIV prevention methods. One important factor that distinguished these methods was that they were conducive to the lifestyles, circumstances and perceived risk factors that South African women are faced with. “This award is an acknowledgement of the unwavering determination by a global community to forever change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” she had said at the time, NDTV reported.

Ramjee was greatly involved in the global mission of curing and curbing HIV/AIDS. When she won the award for Outstanding Female Scientist, SAMRC President Glenda Gray is reported to have said, “Professor Gita Ramjee is a towering HIV prevention research leader whose work continues to contribute immensely to the global response to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Ramjee’s funeral arrangement has still not been announced. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown in the country last week. [Image by Gita, on her Facebook]

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