The surge of COVID-19 cases in India has taken the life of Dr. Rajendra Kapila, Rutgers medical professor described by the university as “a genuine giant in the field of infectious diseases.”
Kapila was 81 and went to the country to care for and check on loved ones.
“Both Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and University Hospital are saddened by the untimely passing of Rajendra Kapila,” the university said in a statement.
“For 50 years, Dr. Kapila served as a foundational pillar of New Jersey Medical School, the Martland Hospital and University Hospital where he provided care to tens of thousands of patients and trained numerous generations of medical students, residents and fellows. A genuine giant in the field of infectious diseases, Dr. Kapila was recognized world-wide and sought out for his legendary knowledge and extraordinary clinical acumen in diagnosing and treating the most complex infectious diseases,” the statement said.
Dr. Kapila founded the Division of Infectious Diseases and guided its development into one of the leading infectious diseases programs in the country, according to the statement.
“We salute his many accomplishments and extend our condolences to his family,” the statement said.
According to his Rutgers Medical School biography, Kapila received his pre-medical degree from St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta, and his medical degree from the University of Delhi 1964.
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He performed residency at Irwin Hospital in India, before moving to the U.S. where he was an intern, resident and fellow at Martland Hospital in Newark. He also served as assistant chief of medicine for the U.S. Army in Okinawa during the Vietnam war.
Kapila received his UMDNJ University appointment in 1973 and University Hospital appointment in 1976. He was a founding member of the New Jersey Infectious Disease Society, and also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from UMDNJ, and Life Time Achievement award from the Department of Medicine.
India is reporting more than 25,000 deaths per week, and official tallies are expected to be a fraction of the true totals.
At the official level, India represents about 27% of the world’s reported COVID-19 deaths in the last week. The nation’s death toll has doubled in the last 12 days. India’s reported case counts have doubled in about 18 days.
Contributing: John Bacon and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY