WHO Announces New Labels For Covid Strains, B.1.617 First Found In India Named ‘Delta Variant’

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the Covid-19 variant first found in India will be referred to henceforth as the “Delta variant”.

A group convened by WHO has recommended using letters of the Greek alphabet, that is Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and so on.

The WHO had earlier this month said the B.1.617 has now been officially recorded in 53 territories.

Earlier on May 12, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government had objected to its labelling as the “Indian variant”.

The Union Health Ministry had in a press release said several media reports have covered the news of the WHO classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern.

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Covid variant first found in India will be referred to as ‘Delta’ while earlier found variant in the country will be known as ‘Kappa’, WHO informed.

“The labels don’t replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research. No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting Covid variants,”: Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s Technical lead said.

WHO said that this naming “will be easier and more practical to be discussed by non-scientific audiences”.  “As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” it had about the B.1.617 which was earlier listed as a “variant of interest”.

Previously, stating some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an “Indian Variant”, the Union Health Ministry said: “These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded. This is to clarify that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32-page document. In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter.”

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who chaired the 27th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on Covid-19 later on May 24, informed that 25,739 samples have been sequenced and variant B.1.617 has been found in 5,261 samples, making it the most common mutation detected till now.

He also informed that states have been requested to send samples regularly for better analysis.

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