An official statement from the Andhra Pradesh government of India said that the State has recorded two cases of ‘Kappa Variant’ of Covid-19 today on July 9.
The statement further said that genome sequencing with 109 samples had been done at Ling George’s medical college of Lucknow. 107 samples were found out to be of the Delta Plus Variant, and 2 recorded to be of the Kappa variant.
But, what is this Kappa variant?
World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the Kappa is one of the two Covid-19 variants –– the other being Delta that was first identified in India. India raised objection over the B.1.617.1 mutant of the coronavirus being termed an “Indian Variant” by the World Health Organisation, including the media. Three weeks after the objection made by India over the name of the mentioned variant, WHO had named it ‘Kappa’ and B.1.617.2 as ‘Delta’.
On May 31, the WHO had tweeted while releasing the new naming system for key Covid variants, “The labels do not replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information & will continue to be used in research. The naming system aims to prevent calling #COVID19 variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing & discriminatory,”
The WHO also said that this Kappa variant is not a new variant of Covid-19 and was actually identified in October 2020 in India. The Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad of Uttar Pradesh also said that Kappa variant is not new and the state has detected this variant earlier in the state as well.
Even though the Kappa is not a new Covid-19 variant in India, it was dominated by the Delta plus variant in the country.
The question that arises after the two detection of Kappa variant is how contagious it is.
Well, the WHO listed the Kappa variant as a ‘variant of interest’ and not as a ‘variant of concern’, which is still applicable.
By the definition given by the world health experts, the ‘variant of interest’ are “a SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape”.
According to the information shared by WHO in their official website, the Kappa variant or the variants which are considered to be ‘variant of interest’are “identified to cause significant community transmission or multiple COVID-19 clusters, in multiple countries with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to global public health.”