In a bid to address widespread confusion in this regard, the WHO has assigned simple labels to key variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) settled on letters of the Greek alphabet to refer to the variants discovered in different parts of the world since the beginning of the pandemic.
For B.1.617.2, the Covid-19 variant first discovered in India in October 2020, the WHO has assigned the name ‘Delta’. This means that the variant will now be referred to as the ‘Delta’ strain of coronavirus. Another strain (B.1.617.1) first found in India in October of last year, has been labelled ‘Kappa’.
the Government of India issued an advisory to social media platforms asking them to remove all content referring to the B.1.617.2 strain as the ‘Indian variant’. Similar directions were issued by authorities in Singapore over references to the ‘Singapore variant’ of the virus on social media.
Ministers had even accused opposition leaders of ‘defaming’ the country by referring to the highly-transmissible strain as the ‘Indian variant’. It was later pointed out that even the government made mention of the variant as ‘Indian double mutant strain’ in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court.