NEW DELHI: The information technology ministry has written to all social media companies asking them to take down any content that refers to an “Indian variant” of the coronavirus, according to a letter issued on Friday which was seen by Reuters.
The World Health Organization said on May 11 that the coronavirus variant B.1.617, first identified in India last year, was being classified as a variant of global concern.
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The government a day later issued a statement saying media reports using the term “Indian Variant” were without any basis, saying the WHO had classified it as just B.1.617.
In a letter to social media companies on Friday, the IT ministry asked the companies to “remove all the content” that names or implies “Indian variant” of the coronavirus.
“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 is not public.
A government source told Reuters the notice was issued to send a message “loud and clear” that such mentions of “Indian variant” spread miscommunication and hurt the country’s image.