Death and devastation surround Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). In the past few weeks, 38 AMU teachers, including 17 serving ones, have died of Covid or Covid-like symptoms. This is apart from the non-teaching staff of the university. Misery abounds the campus, and many even initially believed that a new strain of the novel Coronavirus was behind the unprecedented surge of infections and deaths in and around AMU. However, it has now been found that no new virus strain is in circulation in the university, and that in fat, the B.1.617 double-mutant variant is behind the surge in infections.
This is the same variant which has afflicted almost every part of India and is largely responsible for the unprecedented second wave of Covid-19, which only now seems to be receding. As for AMU, the variant has indeed caused disproportionate damage within the campus – and the causes for the same now seem to be unravelling.
TFI had only recently reported how lack of decent vaccination numbers at AMU could be a primary reason why the virus is having consecutive field days on the campus. As it turns out, that is precisely why so many AMU faculty are succumbing to Covid-19, and are suffering from severe disease.
According to a report by India Today, despite regular appeals for vaccination by the Vice-Chancellor urging the faculty members to take the jab, the vaccination drive received a lukewarm response at AMU. One Professor Waseem confirmed that among the fatalities there was hardly anyone who had received a jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.
In fact, a couple of professors who did get vaccinated got a mild infection and recovered soon. “Our vaccination drive has been going on since December. I don’t think any of those who passed away had taken the jab. We did have a professor who had taken the first dose and recovered from Covid very soon,” he added.
In our report on AMU, we had explained how a sense of desperation among the Muslim community to get vaccinated with only Halal-certified jabs seems to be playing a big role in many from the community unfortunately being unable to fight against the infection. Had AMU done its part to spread vaccine awareness and ensure that its faculty get inoculated – the perpetual state of misery on their campus could have been averted.
As for talks of a new strain being discovered on the AMU campus, genome sequencing of at least 20 samples has shown that the prevalent variant is not entirely new in nature, and that AMU is being ravaged by the same strain which is wreaking havoc across the country. Last Thursday, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath visited AMU to take stock of the coronavirus situation at the university. Expressing grief over the deaths, the chief minister said he hoped that the vaccination drive on the campus would pick up soon and help in improving the situation, indicative of the fact that he too knew what was causing the high fatality rate among AMU staff members.
The deaths of over 50 AMU staff members (serving and retired) proves that vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic, and that we must embrace vaccines against Coronavirus immediately. Theological rigidity will only end up claiming more and more lives.