COVID-19: Only 'Delta variant', found in India is now ‘of concern’, says WHO
The B.1.617 variant of the virus has been dubbed a triple mutant variant since it is split into three lineages.
Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that only one strain of the COVID-19 Delta variant, detected in India first, is now of concern, adding that two other strains have been downgraded.
The B.1.617 variant of the virus, which has in part been blamed for explosive outbreak in the country, has been dubbed a triple mutant variant since it is split into three lineages.
The UN health agency last month declared the entire strain a "variant of concern", or VOC, but on Tuesday, it said only one of the sub-lineages deserved that label.
"It has become evident that greater public health risks are currently associated with B.1.617.2, while lower rates of transmission of other lineages have been observed," the World Health Organization said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
It has renamed the B.1.617.2 variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, as the `Delta variant`. In a statement, the WHO said that it convened an expert group that recommended using easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatising labels for Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOC).
The group recommended using letters of the Greek Alphabet - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be easier and more practical to discussed by non-scientific audiences.
"We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant," the UN agency said.
"Further studies into the impact of this variant remain a high priority for WHO."
In fact, a new hybrid variant announced by Vietnam's health authorities on Saturday appears to be a variation of Delta.
Apart from the B.1.617.2 variant, the B.1.1.7 strain first identified in the United Kingdom has been identified as `Alpha variant`. The VOCs that were identified in South Africa and Brazil have been named `Beta` and `Gamma` respectively.
As for VOIs identified in the United States, Brazil, Philippines and other countries, the WHO has used nomenclature like `Epsilon`, `Zeta`, `Iota`, `Theta` and more.
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