'Kappa, Delta': WHO releases Greek nomenclature for Covid variants including ones found in India

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: May 31, 2021, 10:16 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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The WHO on Tuesday announced new labels for Covid variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOC)

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday said the coronavirus variant first found in India will be known as "Delta" variant. In official terms, the variant is referred to as B.1.617.2 and was first reported in October, 2020. Another variant first identified in India in October, 2020 (B.1.617.1) will now be referred to as "Kappa".

The WHO on Tuesday announced new labels for Covid Variants of Concern (VOC) and Variants of Interest (VOC). Besides "Delta", more variants that have been found in different parts of the world have been given new names amid debacle over the correct naming of variants, without attributing it to a particular region or country, which WHO had earlier warned could invite stigmatisation.

The variant first spotted in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7) in September 2020 will now be known as "Alpha". The B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa in May 2020 will now be referred to as "Beta". Almost all variants that have infected significant parts of the global population have received new names. 

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The variant first found in Brazil in the November of 2020 (P.1) will now be known as "Gamma". Another variant which was identified in Brazil in April 2020 (P.2) will now be referred to as "Zeta".

In March, 2020, a variant was also found in the United States of America (B.1.427/B.1.429) and will now be known as "Epsilon". Another variant first reported in the US in November 2020 (B.1.526) will hereon be called the "Iota" variant.

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Multiple countries in the world had reported cases of the B.1.525 variant in December 2020, which will now be called "Eta". The variant first identified in the Philippines in January 2021 (P.3) is now called "Theta".

All variants have the capability of varying in terms of potential fatality and some are more transmissible than others. But such labels could end the debate over the most acceptable nomenclature for naming virus variants, which scientists believe will continue to prop up in different parts of the world unless vaccines are deployed on a war footing.

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