The same Indian media which could not muster the courage to call out China for letting the Wuhan virus spread its tentacles across the world and wreak havoc for the global community had a field day recently when the World Health Organisation decided to label the B.1.617 variant of SARS-COV-2, which is known to have caused the second wave of coronavirus in India as a “variant of concern”. Importantly, the WHO had not called the said variant an ‘Indian’ one, however, our mainstream media – suffering from an identity crisis of unprecedented magnitude, decided to refer to the strain as an ‘Indian variant’.
The WHO had said in a 32-page document published on Tuesday that the B.1.617 variant of SARS-COV-2 – the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease – was first found in India in October 2020. The report said that it has “increased transmissibility” and has been found in 44 countries. The WHO added, “As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level.” Indian media, however, took it upon themselves to refer to the variant in all its subsequent reports as the ‘Indian variant’. As a consequence, the government and even WHO were forced to issue separate clarifications.
In an official statement calling out the media for its unscientific approach to coverage, the government said, “Several media reports have covered the news of 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’. These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded.” The statement added, “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. In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter.”
In a separate statement rebuffing the style of Indian media pertaining to its coverage of the news, the World Health Organisation said, “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.”
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
It is therefore evident that the media referring to the latest variant as the ‘Indian’ one was a brazen hitjob against the country, and an attempt to besmirch the nation’s name internationally. Had the government and WHO not pulled up the media, they would have pleasantly continued calling B.1.617 strain the “Indian variant”.