WHO names COVID-19 variants found in India

World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended several names, to label emerging coronavirus variants of global concern, after four letters of Greek alphabet. It named B.1.617.2 variant, identified first in India, as Delta.


  • ‘UK variant’ was named as ‘Alpha’.
  • Existing scientific nomenclature system will continue while new names will only aid public discussion using labels in order to “non stigmatising” with the countries where variants were first identified.

Variants of concerns

WHO has identified four VOCs- B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P2 and B.1.617.2. they have been labelled as ‘Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta’ respectively.

Variants of Interest

The variants of Interest were, less globally widespread and transmissible, also given Greek names. B.1.617 virus, belonging to B.1.617 family was identified in India which has been labelled as ‘Kappa.’

Indian variant of coronavirus

Virus B.1.617.2 is called as Indian Variant in UK. It is spreading more quickly than Kent variant, which was responsible for the surge in cases during winters. There have been about 8,000 cases of B.1.617.2 variant in England and 1,000 in Scotland.  Variant is causing majority of infection in England in areas like Bolton, Blackburn etc. It spreads more easily than Kent variant (B.1.1.7). Transmission rates for B.1.617.2 were roughly two-thirds higher than Kent.




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