India

Word 'Indian' Not In WHO Report On Covid Variant: Government Fact-Checks

Word 'Indian' Not In WHO Report On Covid Variant: Government Fact-Checks

India Covid Cases: The B.1.617 variant of Covid was first found in India last October.

Highlights

  • Centre objects to labelling of B.1.617 Covid variant as "Indian variant"
  • WHO also put out a tweet with a clarification
  • The B.1.617 variant of Covid was first found in India last October
New Delhi:

The government today objected to the labelling of the B.1.617 Covid variant as the "Indian variant", stressing that the word "Indian" was never used by the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO also tweeted that viruses or variants should not be identified by the names of countries they were found in.

"Several media reports have covered the news of WHO classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an 'Indian Variant'. These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded," said an official statement.

"This is to clarify that WHO has not associated the term 'Indian Variant' with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32-page document. In fact, the word "Indian" has not been used in its report on the matter," said the government's rejoinder.

WHO also put out a tweet with a clarification. "WHO does not identify viruses or variants with names of countries they are first reported from. We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency," the tweet read.

The B.1.617 variant of Covid, first found in India last October, has "increased transmissibility" or spreads more quickly, WHO said on Tuesday. It has been found in 44 countries, according to the organisation.

"As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level," she said. Until now, WHO has listed it as a "variant of interest".

Three other variants of COVID-19 first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa are already classified as being "of concern".

The B.1.617 strain is called a double mutant because of the presence of two changes in the virus's genome, called E484Q and L452R.

This strain has pushed new Covid cases to record levels in the second wave of the pandemic, scientists believe.

The government's stern statement on the mutant's branding as an "Indian" variant comes amid political sparring over a reported drive to push "positivity" and offset criticism and "negative" reporting of India's Covid crisis.

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