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‘No such variant exists’: Modi Government asks social media firms to remove reference to ‘Indian variant’ of COVID-19

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) wrote to all social media platforms stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not associated the term "Indian Variant" with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in any of its reports.

On Friday, the Indian government asked all social media companies to take down any content that refers to an “Indian variant” of the coronavirus.

According to the reports, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) wrote to all social media platforms stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in any of its reports. In a letter, the IT ministry asked the companies to remove all the content that names or implies “Indian variant” of the Covid-19.

“This is completely FALSE. There is no such variant of Covid-19 scientifically cited as such by the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO has not associated the term ‘Indian Variant’ with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in any of its reports,” stated the letter.

The IT ministry has also said that they have already been clarifying that there was no such variant of the virus and asked the companies to remove all the content that names, refer to or implies ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus from their platforms immediately.

Meanwhile, a social media executive speaking to the Times of India said it is difficult to remove such content as there would be hundreds of thousands of such posts, adding that “such a move would lead to keyword-based censorship going forward.”

Reportedly, a senior Indian government said the notice was issued to send a message “loud and clear” that such mentions of “Indian variant” spreads miscommunication and hurt the country’s image.

Doctors and health experts across the world have named coronavirus variants based on the origin of the strain. This includes South Africa and Brazil variants.

B.1.617 variant of Covid-19 traced back to US and Denmark

The World Health Organization said on May 11 that the coronavirus variant B.1.617 was a matter of global concern. A concerted campaign has been launched to name the B.1.617 variant as ‘Indian variant’ by a section of western media, including Indian opposition parties.

However, in a sensational disclosure, scientists and microbiologists have recently discovered that  B.1.617 strain of the Sars-Cov2 virus may have been originated in the United States or Denmark. The B.1617 Covid variant and its sub-variants are responsible for the second wave of the pandemic in India.

Following the advent of the second wave in India, microbiologists and genome sequencing specialists found that B.1.617 strain is a combination of 15 mutations and has spike protein mutations, including one L452R that is believed to have originated either from the US or Denmark.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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