Geneva: The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced their decision to rename the B.1.617.2 variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in India, to the ‘Delta variant’.
In an official statement, the WHO informed on Monday that it convened a group of experts that suggested using easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatising names for Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOC). The group also suggested the use of letters of the Greek Alphabet – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be uncomplicated and more easy to discuss by non-scientific audiences.
Furthermore, the B.1.1.7 strain — which was first identified in the United Kingdom — has been identified as ‘Alpha variant’ by WHO. Meanwhile, the VOCs that were identified in South Africa and Brazil have been named ‘Beta’ and ‘Gamma’ respectively.
For the VOIs detected in the United States, Brazil, Philippines and other countries, the the health organisation used nomenclature like ‘Epsilon’, ‘Zeta’, ‘Iota’, ‘Theta’ and many more. The B.1.617.1 strain, also first detected in India, has been named as the ‘Kappa variant’.
The B.1.617.2 coronavirus variant is believed to have caused the devastating second wave of the Covid pandemic in India, majorly crippling healthcare infrastructure of the country and resulting in deaths of thoughts of people each day.
On May 15, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty had announced that the B.1.617.2 variant of coronavirus is likely to take over and dominate in the UK.
The WHO earlier this month also said that the B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, which was first found in India in October last year, had been traced in sequences uploaded “from more than 40 countries in all six WHO regions”.
The WHO also revealed that the variant has three sub-lineages. “Our team has been discussing with our virus evolution group. Everything we know about it in terms of transferability, studies that are being done, in India as well as in other countries where this virus is circulating. It is important to note that B.1.617 has three sub-lineages- .1, .2, .3,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO.