One of the many reasons why COVID is posing such a challenge in its treatment is its mutation. It is the change in genetic structure of the virus because of the host cell, that is, the virus transforms itself according to the genes owned by the person whom it has attacked. One of the many variants is B.1.617 that for long is being labelled as the ‘Indian Variant’. However, with a statement released by the Indian government, it has become a matter of discussion that whether this strain is truly an Indian variant or being named so as part of propaganda to defame India.
On 18th May, 2021, the spokesperson of the BJP Sambit Patra released a toolkit via his twitter account claiming that it was prepared by the Congress party along with various ‘friendly media’ and ‘influencers’ who happen to work like the PR agency of the INC. The alleged toolkit had instructions demanding to name the mutant strain as the ‘Indian Variant’ or the ‘Modi Variant’. Though no substantial evidence has yet been presented by the BJP to back their accusations, using the label of Indian variant could be seen on various media platforms, mostly comprising the ones leaning towards the left. Also, there exist foreign media news platforms including newspapers like ‘The Dawn’ from Pakistan who have used this name for the B.1.617 strain. These platforms have written about the WHO stating the ‘Indian Variant’ as a global threat! Nevertheless, when one digs deeper to read the actual reports of the WHO, it is quite evident that no such word as the ‘Indian Variant’ has been used.
The Congress in its response has said that the accusations by the BJP are completely false and they are presenting a fake toolkit in the public to divert the attention from what shall matter in these times of crisis. Though both the sides very expectedly have given political statements and chosen to get into verbal face-off rather than proof, the matter if true holds gravity and thus cannot be ignored. One thing that doesn’t need any proof here is the fact that whosoever has engineered this toolkit holds great intent to become a destructive power for the nation. In a world, where inspite of its origination, the Corona virus is still not being called as the ‘Wuhan Virus’ openly, jumping the guns to popularize the term related to India must be taken seriously. Therefore, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court demanding an investigation into the authenticity of the same. Now the ball is into the court of the judiciary which can lead us out of these political skirmishes enabling the revelation of truth.
Meanwhile, the experts and microbiologists have said that the B.1.617 strain has its origin in the US and Denmark. Though treating COVID is more important than labelling it for now, it must be noted that any wrong information related to a strains can also affect the study going on various mutants. It is after all the genetics that lead to such mutations and thus using false country specific variant to level pity political scores would ultimately harm the nation itself, thereby also affecting the ones enthusiastically participating in such toolkit engineering. Naming the virus shall have the sole intention of easing the research work. Any other motive must be discouraged and if found guilty, shall be penalized too. How this would be done depends upon the decision of the judiciary. Political stunts is the least desired at these times when the whole system is battling to curb this pandemic saving lives and livelihood.
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