The World Health Organisation (WHO) has suggested to call india-dominated COVID variant, technically known as B.1.617.2 as 'Delta' while the so called 'UK-dominated variant' as 'Alpha' according to a note from the organization late on Monday.
According to the statement issued by the global health body, The existing scientific nomenclature system will continue and the new names would only be to aid public discussion using labels that were "non stigmatising" to the countries where they were first identified.
Earlier, India's health ministry had objected against the usage of the term 'India variant' for Delta being called the India variant, which scientists say is the dominant variant in the country and has been shown to slightly reduce the efficacy of some vaccines
So far, four Variants of Concern (VOC) have been identified by the WHO: B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P2 and B.1.617.2. Their public labels will be Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta respectively, after the first four letters of the Greek alphabet.
"An 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," the statement noted.
Other variants that too are known to be on the radar but less globally widespread and transmissible, or Variants of Interest, too had Greek names. A sublineage of the B.1.617 family is B.1.617.1 that was identified in India and now bears the popular label 'Kappa.'
WHO had convened 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 virological, microbial nomenclature and communication from several countries and agencies to consider easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatising labels for VOI and VOC.