New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Government of India on Wednesday termed media reports showing the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 as Indian variant as 'baseless and unfounded' without any basis. This comes as several media reports termed the B.1.617 mutant strain as an Indian variant of COVID-19 which was earlier this week classified as the variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

"Several media reports have covered the news of 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", the statement from the Central government reads. 

The government further said that the 32-page document of the WHO does not associate the Indian variant of COVID-19 with the B.1.617 mutated strain. "In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter", the government said, adding "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". 

Even the WHO clarified that it does not identify the strains and variants of COVID-19 with the names of the countries they originate from rather, the UN Health Agency, said that it refers to them with their scientific name.  

This comes after almost all media reports mentioned the B.1.617 mutated strain of COVID-19, which was first found in India in October last year, as an Indian variant of the COVID-19.  

Earlier yesterday, the WHO had said that the B.1.67 variant of COVID-19 had been detected in sequences uploaded "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions". The WHO report also said that it has received "reports of detections from five additional countries. 

"As of 11 May, over 4500 sequences have been uploaded to GISAID (platform of data sharing mechanism for influenza) and assigned to B.1.617 from 44 countries in all six WHO regions, and WHO has received reports of detections from five additional countries," WHO said.  

The coronavirus variant B.1.617 first identified in India last year has been classified as a "variant of global concern", with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily, a senior WHO official had said on Monday.

The B.1.617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of "global concern" after the Brazilian, UK and South African variants of COVID-19. 

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan