With new strains of COVID-19 emerging to wreak havoc across the country, India has found itself waging an unlikely war against the naming of virus mutations. In recent days, as two mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that were first found in India make waves across the world, the Indian authorities have stepped up to disassociate itself from the name. India however is not the only nation that has found it's name becoming synonymous with virus mutations.
There's no basis for terming it an "Indian" variant of the COVID-19 virus, the Health Ministry contended last month. Coming down heavily on those favouring the name, the Centre pointed out that despite reports to that effect, the WHO had not thus termed the B.1.617 strain.
Now, the WHO has made things simpler, labelling new variants with the Greek alphabet. As such, B.1.617.2 has been named the Delta variant, while B.1.617.1 has been dubbed the Kappa variant. According to the WHO, Delta has been classified as a variant of concern, while Kappa is being termed a variant of interest.
"The labels do not replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research. The naming system aims to prevent calling COVID-19 variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory," the WHO explained in a tweet.
In other related news, India's active COVID-19 caseload continues to decline, now falling below 20 lakhs after 43 days. Tuesday's single day case surge of over 1.27 lakh was also the lowest seen in 54 days.
The COVID-19 pandemic however is far from over. Amid lingering fears of a fresh wave of cases hitting in the coming months, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday batted for a pandemic treaty to improve global health security and foster cooperation between member nations.