WHO now using Greek alphabet for coronavirus variant names

Sunderland City Council have confirmed that cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant have been discovered on Wearside

In the United Kingdom it's thought the Indian variant - or rather a particular type of it known as B.1.617.2 - could be spreading more quickly than the Kent variant, which was responsible for the surge in cases over the winter. According to the update, the B.1.617 variant, first detected in India, is now prevalent in 53 countries globally.

The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants of the COVID-19, first identified in India, have been named as "Kappa" and "Delta" respectively, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Monday as it named various variants of the coronavirus using Greek alphabets.

As we've been hearing today, concern remains over a variant first discovered in India that is thought to be more transmissible.

The fourth variant that first turned up in India has been dubbed the "delta" variant. Scientific names will "continue to be used in research", Dr Van Kerkhove tweeted.

"They will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion of variant of concern and variant of interest VOI/VOC", she further stated. "As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatising and discriminatory", according to WHO's announcement.

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On May 15, England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that the B.1.617.2 variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is likely to take over and dominate in the UK.

The WHO also revealed that the variant has three sub-lineages.

"To avoid this and to simplify public communications, World Health Organization encourages national authorities, media outlets, and others to adopt these new labels".

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. He added that he thinks it will be hard to now persuade people to start using the Greek alphabet labels.

However, in May, the variant was detected in Thai travellers who had visited Pakistan, the report said.

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