New Jersey doctor who was 'giant' in field of infectious diseases dies of COVID-19 in India

"Dr. Kapila served as a foundational pillar of New Jersey Medical School."

May 6, 2021, 3:29 PM

A distinguished New Jersey doctor considered a "giant in the field of infectious diseases" has died of COVID-19.

Dr. Rajendra Kapila was a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and was a founding member of the New Jersey Infectious Disease Society.

The 81-year-old died in India on April 28, nearly three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Hindustan Times.

Kapila's ex-wife, Dr. Bina Kapila, said he went to India -- where the pandemic is raging -- to help care for his family and had planned for it to be a brief trip, according to ABC New York station WABC.

Rajendra Kapila received his medical degree in 1964 at the University of Delhi and completed his residency in India, according to his Rutgers biography. After moving to the United States, he was an intern, resident and fellow at a hospital in Newark, New Jersey.

"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," Rutgers said in a statement.

Dr. Rajendra Kapila, a professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, died of COVID-19 on April 8, 2021.

"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," Rutgers said. "Dr. Kapila founded the Division of Infectious Diseases and facilitated its continued and extraordinary growth and development into one of the leading infectious diseases programs in the country."

The Weill Cornell Infectious Diseases Division called him "a true legend in" New York City's infectious diseases community.

He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Rajendra Kapila's wife, Dr. Deepti Saxena-Kapila, told the Hindustan Times that he had received both Pfizer vaccine doses in the U.S. before heading to India.

Fully vaccinated people have a significantly lower risk of getting COVID-19 and even lower risk of severe COVID-19. It's possible to die from the virus after being fully vaccinated, but it's exceptionally rare. In the United States, out of 105 million fully vaccinated people, about 70 cases of death from COVID-19 have been reported. Mostly of the vaccinated people who died were older and frail, with significant underlying medical conditions.

According to his ex-wife, the 81-year-old doctor suffered from diabetes and heart complications, WABC reported.

ABC News' Eric Strauss contributed to this report.

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