The WHO wants to do everything to ensure that the coronavirus crisis does not provide an opportunity to indict a country or a region of the world. It must be said that with names like B.1.617, B.1.1.7 or B.1.351, the general public and the media have so far preferred to designate the variants according to the place of their discovery: England, India , Brazil,… Faced with these “stigmatizing and discriminatory” names, the Organization will therefore simplify things by giving them names of Greek letters.
The idea is to have names “easy to pronounce and remember,” says the World Health Organization. In the United States, for example, attacks against people of Asian origin have increased, Donald Trump, who was president during the first year of the pandemic, having done everything to blame China, where the new coronavirus was detected for the first time. Congress even adopted a law to better combat the phenomenon, the “Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act”.
Scientific names will continue to exist, however, as they provide useful data to experts, but WHO will no longer use them in its daily communication. And she strongly encourages national authorities, the media and others to adopt the new names.
The Brazilian variant becomes Gamma variant
Thus, the variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom, was named Alpha; B.1.351, first identified in South Africa, becomes Beta; and the P.1 variant, detected in Brazil, Gamma. The WHO has given two different names to the distinct sublines of the B.1.617 variant, which ravaged India and spread to dozens of countries: B.1.617.2 thus becomes Delta, and B.1.617. 1 becomes Kappa.