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WHO has not identified B.1.617 as ‘Indian Variant’: Health Ministry

New Delhi: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a clarification, saying World Health Organization has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with  B.1.617, now classified as “Variant of Concern”.

Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (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. 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,” it said.

Meanwhile, The B1617 variant, first identified in India in October, has been detected in over 4500 sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database, till May 11, “from 44 countries in all six WHO regions,” the global health agency said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic on Tuesday.

The WHO has also “received reports of detections from five additional countries”, the update said.

The B1617 variant was, till now, deemed a ‘variant of interest’ by the WHO. It now has been added to the list of other Covid-19 “variants of concern” — UK (B117), South African (B1351) and Brazilian (P1) variants.

India continues to account for 95 per cent of cases and 93 per cent of deaths in the South-East Asia Region, as well as 50 per cent of global cases and 30 per cent of global deaths.

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India on Wednesday recorded 4,205 deaths due to Covid, highest till date with 3,48,421 fresh cases, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

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