WHO names COVID-19 variants found in India as 'Kappa' and 'Delta'


India had on May 12 objected to it, identified as B.1.617 till now, being labelled the "Indian variant".

It said that the highest numbers of new COVID cases in the last seven days were reported from India (1,846,055 new cases; 23 per cent decrease), Brazil (451,424 new cases; 3 per cent increase), Argentina (213,046 new cases; 41 per cent increase), the United States of America (188,410 new cases; 20 per cent decrease), and Colombia (107,590 new cases; 7 per cent decrease).

News reports earlier this month the Indian government criticised the naming of variant B.1.617.2 - first detected in the country last October - as the "Indian variant", though the World Health Organization had never officially labelled it as such.

Global health leaders have announced new names for Covid-19 variants using letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid being "stigmatising and discriminatory".

They lay some of the blame with former president Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as the "China virus".

The choice of the Greek Alphabet came after months of deliberations in which other possibilities such as Greek Gods and invented, pseudo-classical names were considered by experts, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.

Globally, systems have been established and are being strengthened to detect signals of potential variants of concern (VOC) and interest (VOI) and assess these based on the risk posed to global public health. This is what leads to variants.

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It's hoped the new system will discourage stigmatising countries that detect the variants.

The WHO stated that "new, easy-to-say labels" will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion of VOI/VOC.

The WHO also revealed that the variant has three sub-lineages.

The labels are borrowed from the Greek alphabet which comprises twenty-four letters, ordered from alpha to omega.

"It would have been good to have thought about this nomenclature early", Dr Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told CNN.

However, in May, the variant was detected in Thai travellers who had visited Pakistan, the report said.

"So, I understand why it's happening".