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Virus variants are no longer known by country names; WHO renames coronavirus variants with Greek alphabets

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday decided to name coronavirus variants from the Greek alphabets., following mounting opposition to the virus being known in the name of countries. The new naming system will be used for COVID-19 virus variants with significant mutations – variants of interest (VOI) and variants of concern (VOC) (VOC).

WHO’s coronavirus lead Maria Van Kerkhove said that “no country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting variants”.

According to the new decision, the virus variant VOC B.1.1.7, which was discovered in the UK, will now be known as Alpha. The VOC B.1.351 discovered in South Africa will be known as Beta, the VOC P.1 discovered in Brazil will be known as Gama, and the B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India in October 2020 will now be known as Delta.

Ms. Van Kerkhove said the new labels for important mutations of COVID-19 are “simple, easy to say and remember and are based on the Greek alphabet, a system that was chosen following wide consultation and a review of several potential systems”.

Indian variants will be known as ‘Delta’ and ‘Kappa’

So far, two COVID-19 variants have been identified in India: B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2. According to WHO’s new naming system, the two coronavirus variants first detected in India will be known as “Kappa” (B.1.617.1) and “Delta” (B.1.617.2).

There was widespread opposition to the virus being known by country names. The Indian Ministry of Health spoke out last month against referring to the B.1.617 as a “Indian variant.” The Health Ministry said that many media outlets refer to BocB.1.617 as the Indian variant, which is incorrect and unproven.

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