India wants Social Media firms to remove mentions of ‘Indian Variant’

Indian government issues a statement that mentions of ‘Indian Variant’ spreads miscommunication and hurts the country’s image.

The Indian government has asked social media firms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to remove all the posts that refer to the new coronavirus variant as ‘Indian Variant.’ The Indian IT ministry has said any posts with that reference are misleading and count as false news.

On Friday, the country’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) issued a notice stating that the strain is officially known as B.1.617 and as such, there is no need for attaching a geographical tag to it. Earlier this month, the ministry also wrote a letter to all the social media platforms to curb misinformation and imposter accounts related to COVID-19.

World Health Organisation’s guidelines

Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new B.1.617 variant as a global concern, it doesn’t associate it with any countries or places of disease. The health agency’s guidelines state against naming disorders or diseases geographically. On May 11, WHO announced that the new variant was first discovered in India but is not named after the country.

The next day after WHO issued the statement the Indian government issued another statement claiming that the media reports associating the variant geographically are without any basis and reasoned that it has been classified by a different name.

On the other hand, B.1.617 strain continues to take a toll on India’s health care system as the country experiences a surging wave of COVID-19 infections.

India’s Hypocrisy

After the official statement from WHO, India is trying its level best to remove the mentions of ‘Indian Variant.’ The letter issued by the IT ministry has not yet been revealed publicly, but according to sources, it stated:

This is completely FALSE. There is no such variant of Covid-19 scientifically cited as such by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, amidst all this, the China Global Times report said that Indian media is showing ‘double standards’ as some publications have geographically associated COVID-19 with China. They claimed that these publications have published reports announcing that coronavirus originated in China. Further, it is not uncommon for common variants to be geographically referred based on where they were spotted by doctors and health experts. Before the emergence of ‘Indian Variant,’ there have been mentions of the South African variant, the Brazil variant and even the UK variant as well.

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