The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday renamed various COVID-19 variants, known as 'variants of concern' including the ones found first in India. The B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants that were first identified in India have been renamed Kappa and Delta respectively. The variants are named after Greek alphabets.

"Today, @WHO announces new, easy-to-say labels for #SARSCoV2 Variants of Concern (VOCs) & Interest (VOIs). They will not replace existing scientific names but are aimed to help in public discussion of VOI/VOC,” Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, infectious disease specialist tweeted. Here's why WHO renamed the variants, especially the ones found in India.

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To make it easier for the non-scientific audience

On Monday, the United Nation's health agency said in a statement, that an expert group convened by the WHO has recommended labeling using letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma to make it easier and more practical for the non-scientific audiences to address and communicate about on a regular basis.

India's objection to being called 'Indian variant'

One reason behind the move is likely to be India's objection for the variants B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 that were first identified in the country to be associated with the word 'Indian'.

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The Indian health ministry raised objection to the usage of the term Indian variant and pointed out that WHO has not used the word 'Indian' for this strain in its document.