Do not say any more British variant, Brazilian variant or Indian variant. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that it will use Greek letters to name the variants of the coronavirus.
B.1.617, B.1.1.7, B.1.351: remembering the scientific names of the Covid-19 variants is proving to be a real headache. WHO has decided to simplify things by giving them names of Greek letters as well.
The end of “stigmatizing and discriminatory” labels
The idea is to have names “easy to pronounce and remember”, but also to prevent the general public and the media from using “stigmatizing and discriminatory” names referring to the place, where the first cases of variant have been detected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.
Scientific names will continue to exist, as they provide useful data to experts, but WHO will no longer use them in its daily communication. The organization strongly encourages national authorities, the media and others to adopt the new names.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta …
Thus, the variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom, was named Alpha, the B.1.351, identified for the first time in South Africa, becomes Beta, and the variant P.1, detected in Brazil, Gamma.
WHO gave two different names to the distinct sub-lines of variant B.1.617, which ravaged India and spread to dozens of countries: B.1.617.2 thus became Delta and B.1.617.1 becomes Kappa.
While the pandemic due to the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3.5 million people worldwide since the end of December 2019, is raging, the highest contagiousness observed for new variants of the virus is worrying.