Daily US Times: The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new naming system for Covid-19 variants. From now on the global health body will use Greek letters to refer to variants first detected in countries like the United Kingdom, South Africa and India.
The UK’s coronavirus variant for instance is labelled as Alpha, the South African Beta, and the Indian as Delta.
The WHO said the move was to simplify discussions about the virus but also to help remove some stigma from the names.
Indian government criticised earlier this month the naming of variant B.1.617.2 – first detected in the country last October – as the “Indian variant”, though the World Health Organization had never officially labelled it as such.
WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, tweeted: “No country should be stigmatised for detecting and reporting variants.”
She also called for “robust surveillance” of Covid-19 variants, and for the sharing of scientific data to help stop the spread.
These Greek letters will not replace existing scientific names of the variants. Ms Van Kerkhove told STAT News in an interview that if more than 24 variants are officially identified, the system runs out of Greek letters, and a new naming programme will be announced,
She said: “We’re not saying replace B.1.1.7, but really just to try to help some of the dialogue with the average person. So that in public discourse, we could discuss some of these variants in more easy-to-use language.”