The “Nepal Variant” – does it exist or is it just racist fearmongering?

Asia, B.1.617, B.1.617.2, Coronavirus, Delta, England, Europe, Health, Infection, London, Nepal, Northern Ireland, Science, Scotland, UK, Wales

There’s plenty of coverage in the UK press today about a so-called “Nepal Variant” of Sars-CoV-2.  But what is the “Nepal Variant”?  Does it exist?   The quick answer is no, it doesn’t exist. 

Nepal has seen a huge rise the Delta variant B.1.617.2 recently due to its proximity to India, but then Britain has also seen a huge increase in the B16172 Delta variant too. No asian newspapers have mentioned a “Nepal Variant” recently.

In fact, the ONLY place we can find mention of a “Nepal Variant” is in the UK newspapers today:

“Foreign holidays under threat from new Nepal variant” (Telegraph)

“Foreign holidays under threat from ‘Nepal variant’ (Independent)

Fears over ‘Nepal variant’ dismissed ahead of Covid travel list update (Mirror)

And all this, just three days after the WHO agreed to rename Sars-CoV-2 variants to avoid stigmatisaton. The UK press is awash with stories about a new “Nepal Variant”, stigmatising a country that is presumably too small and too busy fighting Covid-19 to respond.

** UPDATE 3rd June 2021: “The World Health Organisation has said it is “not aware” of any variant of concern detected in Nepal. It comes after reports that Portugal may be dropped from the green list amid fears a new variant is spreading there.”

** Update 2: We note that all three of the above mentioned newspapers have now changed their copy and removed any mention of a “Nepal Variant” although the original URL’s are still in use.

 

Evening Standard report

 

Nepal: Health Ministry refutes “new variant” of #coronavirus in Nepal

 

UK: “Everest climbers could have spread potentially more infectious and vaccine resistant’ variant