The government used the term “Indian double mutant strain” in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court just days before it officially objected to affixing nationality to the virus variant.
A May 9 affidavit refers to “Indian double mutant strain” while detailing the steps taken by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology to develop Covaxin.
The affidavit was filed in the court three days prior to a Ministry of Health statement on May 12, taking exception to media reports which referred to the B.1.617 variant as an “Indian variant”.
The Ministry condemned these media reports as baseless and unfounded. It said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had not associated B.1.617 with the term “Indian variant”. Instead, it considered the virus a variant of “global concern”.
The WHO had also clarified in a tweet that it “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”. But the May 9 affidavit runs contrary to WHO even in this aspect. In fact, the affidavit calls variants “UK variant, Brazil variant, South African variant” and caps the list with the “Indian double mutant strain”.
The Ministry of Health was one among the many Ministries consulted before the May 9 affidavit was filed in the apex court.
The introductory paragraph in the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs said the document was filed in compliance with the instructions received from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Ministry of Railways.
Congress leaders like Pawan Khera and Jairam Ramesh pointed out the anomaly between the May 9 affidavit and the official objection of the Health Ministry on May 12.
“My colleague @Pawankhera found a Govt of India affidavit to Supreme Court using the term ‘Indian double mutant strain’. And they tell the world not to. Govt also uses UK variant, Brazil variant etc. in its official communication,” Mr. Ramesh tweeted.
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