The life threatening coronavirus has brought with it various emerging variants that have now become a global concern. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now recommended a set of names to label these emerging coronavirus variants.
According to a note from the World Health Organisation late on Monday, it revealed that in India, the first identified variant found was technically known as B.1.617.2. This variant can now be described as 'Delta' and the so-called 'UK variant' as 'Alpha'.
WHO also says that the existing scientific nomenclature system will continue and that the new names are only for public discussion. These new names is made so that while talking on the variants of the virus, they are "non stigmatizing" to the countries where they were first identified.
WHO has identified four Variants of Concern (VOC) so far: B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P2 and B.1.617.2. And as recommended by the organisation, the public labels of these four variants will be Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta respectively.
WHO have assembled a group of scientists from the WHO Virus Evolution Working Group, the WHO COVID-19 reference laboratory network, representatives from GISAID, Nextstrain, Pango–bodies tasked with classifying the evolutionary development of coronavirus–additional experts in microbial and virological nomenclature and communication from several countries and agencies to assist with public discussions on the variants and to consider easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatizing labels for VOI and VOC.
WHO in their statement mentions that, "This expert group convened by WHO has recommended using labeled letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be easier and more practical to discussed by non-scientific audiences,"
Greek names are also common amongst variants that are known to be on the radar but less globally widespread and transmissible, or Variants of Interest.
In India, a sublineage of the B.1.617 family, B.1.617.1 was identified. It is now labelled popularly 'Kappa.'
However, the Health Ministry of India had objected to Delta being called the India variant. Scientists say that 'Delta' is the dominant variant in the country and is showing to slightly reduce the efficacy of some Coronavirus vaccines.