In a move to address the confusion regarding different COVID-19 variants, World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a set of names in order to label the emerging variants of coronavirus that are of global concern. On Monday, WHO announced Greek alphabetical labels to identify different strains of COVID-19 that have emerged across the world since the pandemic arrived.
The first COVID variant found in India, B1.617.2 has been assigned the name ‘Delta’ by WHO. This indicates that from now onwards the coronavirus variant, B1.617.2 will be known as Delta. Apart from this variant of COVID-19, another strain B.1.617.1 which was also first found in India has been labelled as ‘Kappa’.
As per WHO, both the B.1.617.2 strain (labelled as Delta) and B.1.617.1 strain (labelled as Kappa) were first detected in India in October 2020. These variants were also termed responsible for an increasing number of COVID cases in India during the second wave.
It should be noted that these labels are purely given in order to ease the process of recognising the COVID variant and do not replace the existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information. WHO even clarified that for research purposes scientific names of the variants will be used.
The WHO has by now identified four Variants of Concern (VOC): B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P2 and B.1.617.2. These four VOC are labelled as Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta respectively, after the first four letters of the Greek alphabet.
India’s Health Ministry had objected to the Delta being called the India variant. Earlier this month, the Indian government even issued an advisory to social media platforms asking them to remove all content referring to the B.1.617.2 strain as the ‘Indian variant’.