The World Health Organiaation said on Tuesday, 1 June, that only one strain of the COVID-19 variant, which was first found in India, is being now considered "of concern", news agency AFP reported.
Scientifically nomenclatured as B.1.617, the variant of the coronavirus is considered as the cause for the massive second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The B.1.617 variant has also been labelled as the “triple mutant variant” as it has three different lineages.
The WHO, however, in its latest announcement, has said that only the second of the three strains – B.1.617.2 – is now deemed to be of concern, while the other two descendants of the variant have been dropped from such consideration.
The B.1.617.2 remains a "variant of concern", or VOC, due to its high rate of transmission. This variant is referred to as Delta.
The B.1.617.1 species has been demoted to the classification "variant of interest", and has been named Kappa. The B.1.617.3 variant, on the other hand, is no longer considered to be of interest and therefore, has not been given a Greek name.
Where Did the Coronavirus Variants Get Their Names From?
The system for naming “variants of interest” after Greek alphabet was put in place by the WHO earlier this week. This was done in order to avoid the geographical stigmatisation that played up when the virus variants were labelled according to the location of their discovery.
The naming of the variants under the new system also makes their identification more convenient.
Under the new scheme, B.1.1.7, the variant first found in Britain, will be known as Alpha while B.1.351, the variant first identified in South Africa, will be Beta. Meanwhile, P.1, the variant first detected in Brazil, will be Gamma.
How the Delta Variant Is Related to the New COVID Variant Found in Vietnam
Meanwhile, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove remarked that the new hybrid virus variant flagged by Vietnam seems to be another variation of Delta. The variant appears to be a hybrid of strains found in India and the UK, both classified as "variants of global concern" by the WHO.
"What we understand is that it is this B.1.617.2 variant with one additional deletion in the location of the spike protein," she said at a press meet.
The variant found in Vietnam is reported to replicate itself rapidly in the host's body, and is understood to be highly transmissible.
(With inputs from AFP.)