India asked social media companies to remove the reference to the “Indian variant” of COVID-19.
On Friday, India asked social media companies to remove the reference to the “Indian variant” of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to a letter issued on Friday which was seen by Reuters, India’s information technology (IT) ministry had written to all social media firms asking them to take down any content that refered to an “Indian variant” of the coronavirus disease.
It was last May 11 when the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant — a COVID-19 variant first identified in India last year — was being classified as a “variant of global concern”.
A day later, the Indian government issued a statement saying that media reports using the term “Indian Variant” were without any basis, saying that the World Health Organization had classified the COVID-19 variant as just B.1.617.
The IT ministry, in a letter to social media firms on Friday, asked social media firms to “remove all the content” that named or implied “Indian variant” of the coronavirus disease.
“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, which wasn’t public.
Based on a report on GMA News Online, a senior Indian government source told Reuters that the notice was issued in order to send a message “loud and clear” that such mentions of “Indian variant” hurt the country’s image and spread miscommunication as well.
India’s IT ministry couldn’t be reached for comment about this.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) last month rejected naming the P.3 COVID-19 strain as the “Philippine Variant”.
Anna Ong-Lim, an expert-member of the DOH technical working group, explained how the Department of Health didn’t want to discriminate against the places assigned with the name of the COVID-19 variant.