New Delhi: On Monday (May 31), World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the COVID-19 variants will now be called by their new names – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, or Delta. COVID variant that was first found in India – B.1.617 will now be referred to as the “Delta variant”.
WHO has announced this labelling of the COVID variants in a bid to disassociate it from being known by its location of origin. All of the variants will now have Greek alphabets.
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical lead COVID-19 at WHO said,
The labels don’t replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research. No country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting COVID variants.
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About B.1.617 Coronavirus Variant
According to the data, lineages of the B.1.617 variant HAS officially BEEN recorded in 53 territories and unofficially in another seven. WHO has said that this variant had shown to be more transmissible, while disease severity and risk of infection are still under investigation.
The B.1.617 was recorded last October in India, since then it has been found in 44 countries, according to WHO.
“As such, we are classifying this as a variant of concern at the global level,” WHO had said. Before that, it was listed as a “variant of interest”.
Talking more about this variant and why it is a concern in the country, Dr Sapan Pandya, Immunologist, TOLD NDTV,
Mutations are not something which are new to the virus. They have existed for years now. However, this particular variant is different, it seems to be more transmissible. If we talk of viruses in general, mutated virus is known to live in synch with humans. However, we cannot say the same for this variant. In this wave of COVID-19 in India, we have seen whole families getting infected. We also saw and are seeing many younger patients being infected with the virus. So, in that ways, this variant is certainly a variant of concern for all of us as the virus is spreading fast and infecting more and more people. If we talk about India’s absolute numbers, they are huge.
Highlighting if the vaccines available in India are effective against this strain of variant, Dr Pandya further added,
What we know about vaccines is that it may not prevent people from infection or getting the virus, but it will protect them from getting a severe disease, it will reduce mortality. Most of the vaccines available will reduce an individual’s chance of developing a complicated case of COVID-19 and it does work against these variants or mutants. So, definitely, everyone needs to get vaccinated. The more the number of people vaccinated, the less are the chances of mortality in the country from COVID-19.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.