The World Health Organisation (WHO) named the two variants of the Wuhan virus (Novel Coronavirus) found in India. The two new variants of COVID-19 virus, B. 1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 (found in India) would now be called Kappa and Delta respectively.
The names Kappa and Delta, originated using Greek alphabets, Alpha, Beta and Gamma and were announced on the 31st of May. The move of the WHO to name these two variants of COVID-19 found in India came after a request from the Indian Government.
The words and names would be easier for the non scientific public to understand and name the virus. However,the WHO said, “The established nomenclature systems for naming and tracking SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages by GISAID, Nextstrain and Pango are currently and will remain in use by scientists and in scientific research.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the Technical Leader of COVID-19 at the WHO took to Twitter and said, “Today, @WHO announces new, easy-to-say labels for #SARSCoV2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) & Interest (VOIs). They will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion of VOI/VOC.”
The Indian Government requested the United Nation Health Agency to name these variants as in several media reports across the globe are naming these variants as “Indian Variant.” The request was made on the 12th of May. The Union Health Ministry said, “Without any basis and unfounded” media reports that have used the term “Indian variant” for the B.1.617 mutant strain, which the WHO recently said was a “variant of global concern”. The Ministry in a statement said, “Several media reports have covered the news of the World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as a variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an Indian Variant.”
The WHO said, “If significant mutations are identified, we can inform countries and the public about any changes needed to react to the variant, and prevent its spread.” Meanwhile, the WHO is monitoring changes to the virus and would inform the public and countries about any changes in the virus.
“If significant mutations are identified, we can inform countries and the public about any changes needed to react to the variant, and prevent its spread,” it added.
The variants found in India named Kappa and Delta are termed as a global concern by the WHO.