The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants of the COVID-19, first identified in India, has been named as 'Kappa' and 'Delta' respectively, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Monday as it named various variants of the coronavirus using Greek alphabets.
"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," Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical Covid-19 lead, tweeted on Monday.
An expert group convened by WHO has recommended labeling using letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be easier and more practical to discuss by non-scientific audiences, the UN health agency said in a statement. ''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,” it added.
It said the WHO and its international networks of experts are monitoring changes to 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. 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. National authorities may choose to designate other variants of local interest/concern, it added.