The Centre on Wednesday slammed the labelling of the B.1.617 COVID variant as the "Indian variant". Issuing a statement, the health ministry clarified that the World Health Organization (WHO) has never associated the word "Indian" with the variant.
"Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as a 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," read the statement issued by the ministry. The statement further cleared that the WHO did not associate the term "Indian Variant" with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32-page document published on Tuesday, May 11.
"In fact, the word "Indian" has not been used in its report on the matter," the ministry noted.
Meanwhile, the WHO also put out a tweet clarifying that it does not "identify viruses or variants with names of countries they are first reported from", it rather refers to them by their "scientific names".
"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," read the tweet from the global health organisation.
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. @PTI_News@PIB_India@ANI@timesofindia@htTweets@IndianExpress@the_hindu@MoHFW_INDIA— WHO South-East Asia (@WHOSEARO) May 12, 2021
The WHO in its report said the B.1.617 variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was first detected in India in October 2020. The report further stated that it has "increased transmissibility" and has been found in 44 nations.