The WHO on Tuesday said that the strain of COVID-19 first found in India – the Delta variant is now a big concern, while downgraded the other two strains.
The variant named B.1.617 which has been declared as the triple mutant since it is split into three lineages and was blamed for the major outbreak in the country.
Last month, the UN health agency had declared the strain as “variant of concern” or VOC, but on Tuesday, it said only one of the sub-lineages are of concern.
“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,” said WHO in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
Along with B.1.617.2 variant, three other variants are said to more dangerous than the original version because they are more deadly, transmissible or have the ability to get past some vaccine protections.
According to the decision announced on Monday to name the variants using Greek letters to avoid the possible stigmatisation associated with referring them with the name of the countries they were first found in, the variant has been named as Delta.
“We continue to observe significantly increased transmissibility and a growing number of countries reporting outbreaks associated with this variant,” said the UN health agency.
“Further studies into the impact of this variant remain a high priority for WHO.”
Even the new variant announced by the Vietnam’s health authorities on Saturday is now said 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,” the technical lead of COVID-19 in WHO Maria Van Kerkhove told media.
“We know that the B.1.617.2, the Delta variant, does have increased transmissibility, which means it can spread easier between people,” she further said.
She also said that the B.1.617.1 sub-lineage has however been downgraded to a “variant of interest”.
Meanwhile. the variant B.1.617.3 is being considered as “variant of interest” now, said the World Health Organization, since “relatively few reports of this variant have been submitted to date.”