#AceHealthReport – June.02: From now on the WHO will use Greek letters to refer to variants first detected in countries like the UK, South Africa and India:
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – #WHO renames UK and other variants with Greek letters & UK variant for instance is labelled as Alpha, the South African Beta, and the Indian as Delta
The WHO said this was to simplify discussions but also to help remove some stigma from the names: But India asks social media firms to remove reference to ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus: NEW DELHI, May 21 (Reuters) – India’s information technology (IT) 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.
The Indian government a day later issued a statement saying media reports using the term “Indian Variant” were without any basis, saying the WHO had classified the variant 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 senior Indian 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.
The IT ministry could not be reached for comment.
Around the world, coronvirus variants have generically been referred to by doctors and health experts on the basis of where the are identified. This includes South Africa and Brazil variants.
A social media executive said it would be difficult to take down all content using the word as there would be hundreds of thousands of such posts, adding that “such a move would lead to keyword based censorship going forward.”
The Indian government is facing increased criticism over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with Prime Minister Modi and state authorities being blamed for not adequately planning for the ongoing second wave of coronavirus infections.
India has the second-highest tally of COVID-19 cases in the world and has been reporting around 250,000 infections and 4,000 deaths daily. (Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Earlier this month the Indian government criticised the naming of variant B.1.617.2 – first detected in the country last October – as the “Indian variant”, though the WHO had never officially labelled it as such.
“No country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting variants,” the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, tweeted. She also called for “robust surveillance” of variants, and for the sharing of scientific data to help stop the spread.
Letters will refer to both variants of concern, and variants of interest. A full list of names has been published on the WHO website.
These Greek letters will not replace existing scientific names. If more than 24 variants are officially identified, the system runs out of Greek letters, and a new naming programme will be announced, Ms Van Kerkhove told STAT News in an interview.
“We’re not saying replace B.1.1.7, but really just to try to help some of the dialogue with the average person,” she told the US-based website. “So that in public discourse, we could discuss some of these variants in more easy-to-use language.”
On Monday, a scientist advising the UK government said the country was in the early stages of a third wave of coronavirus infections, in part driven by the Delta, or Indian variant.
It is thought to spread more quickly than the Alpha (UK; Kent) variant, which was responsible for the surge in cases in the UK over the winter.
Vietnam, meanwhile, has detected what appears to be a combination of those two variants. On Saturday, the country’s health minister said it could spread quickly through the air and described it as “very dangerous”.Why do new variants of Covid-19 keep appearing? The BBC’s Laura Foster explains
#AceHealthDesk report ….Published: Jun.02: 2021:
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