Using term ‘Indian Variant’ for B.1.617 strain has no basis, WHO has not done so: Health Ministry

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Updated: May 12, 2021 6:30 PM

"We refer to them by their scientific names and request all to do the same for consistency," WHO South-East Asia said in a tweet.

However, the smaller number of new cases was due to relatively fewer tests, 62,059, conducted on Saturday.

Taking umbrage at the B.1.617 mutant of the novel coronavirus being termed an “Indian variant”, the Union health ministry on Wednesday said the WHO has not used the word “Indian” for this strain in its document.

The ministry dismissed as “without any basis and unfounded” media reports that have used the term “Indian variant” for the B.1.617 mutant strain, which the WHO recently said was a “variant of global concern”.

The WHO also said it 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,” WHO South-East Asia said in a tweet.

“Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (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’,” the ministry said in a statement.

“These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded,” it said.

This is to clarify that the WHO has not associated the term “Indian variant” with the B.1.617 strain of the coronavirus in its 32 page document, it said.

In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter, the ministry added.

On Monday, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, COVID-19 technical lead at the WHO, had said that the B.1.617 virus variant that was first identified in India had been classified as a “variant of interest”.

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