New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday said that only one strain of the COVID-19 variant (B.1.617), which was first found in India last year, is now considered as the 'variant of concern' (VOC), while the two other sub-lineages of the COVID variant have been downgraded. This comes almost a month after the WHO termed the entire strain, with three sub-lineages, a 'variant of concern'.

The B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which has been blamed for the exponential growth of the coronavirus cases in India, has been dubbed as the triple mutant variant as it is split into three sub-lineages -- B.1.617.1 B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3

"It has become evident that greater public health risks are currently associated with B.1.617.2, while lower rates of transmission of other lineages have been observed," the World Health Organization said.

"The B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant remains a VOC, along with three other variants of the virus that are seen as more dangerous than the original version because they are more transmissible, deadly or have the potential to get past some vaccine protections", the WHO added.

In line with a decision announced Monday to refer to the variants using Greek letters, in a bid to avoid the possible stigmatisation associated with referring to them with the name of the countries where they were first detected, that variant has now been dubbed Delta.

"We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant. Further studies into the impact of this variant remain a high priority for WHO."

In fact, a new hybrid variant announced by Vietnam's health authorities on Saturday appears to be a variation of Delta. "What we understand is that it is this B.1.617.2 variant with one additional deletion in the location of the spike protein," WHO's technical lead on Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove said.

"We know that the B.1.617.2, the Delta variant, does have increased transmissibility, which means it can spread easier between people," she added.

The B.1.617.1 sub-lineage (Kappa) has meanwhile been downgraded to a variant of interest. And the B.1.617.3 is now not even considered of interest, WHO said, since "relatively few reports of this variant have been submitted to date. It has not been attributed a Greek letter.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan