01 Jun ‘Kappa’ and ‘Delta’
(GS PAPER-3, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
SOURCE- THE HINDU)
The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variants that were first identified in India, have been named as ‘Kappa’ and ‘Delta’ respectively by the World Health Organisation. The global health agency has named various variants of COVID-19 using Greek alphabets to simplify the public discussion as well as to help in removing the stigma from the names. The announcement by the WHO came on May 31, 2021, nearly three weeks after India objected to B.1.617 mutant of the Coronavirus being termed as an ‘Indian variant’ in media reports. The Union Health Ministry of India pointed that the UN’s top health body has not used the word ‘Indian’ for this strain in its document.
- On May 12, 2021, the Union Health Ministry of India had dismissed the media reports that used the term Indian Variant for the B.1.617 mutant strain of COVID-19, which the WHO had recently said was a ‘variant of global concern’.
- The Ministry in an official statement had said that several media reports have covered the news of WHO classifying the B.1.617 as a variant of global concern. Some of the reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 as an Indian variant, these reports are without any basis and are unfounded.
Reasons , WHO has decided to name COVID-19 variants:
- The World Health Organisation, while announcing the new naming system ‘making them simple, easy to say and remember’, stated that it is ‘stigmatizing and discriminatory’ to call the COVID-19 variants by names of the nations they were first detected in.
- The new labels will not replace the existing scientific names, which convey significant scientific information and will continue to be used in research.
- The naming system aims to prevent calling the variants by the places where they are detected.
- The new labels will also help with the public discussion about VOC/VOI as the numbering system can be difficult to follow.
- WHO pointed that no country must be stigmatized for detecting and reporting the COVID-19 variants.
- There is a need for robust surveillance for the variants, molecular, and sequencing to be carried out and shared.
- The global health agency also encouraged nations and others to adopt these names as they will ease the public discussion about the global COVID-19 Variants of Concern and Interest.