UN well being physique goes Greek to rename coronavirus variants | Information | DW

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday it would start using Greek letters to denote new variants of COVID-19.

It comes amid concerns from the Government of India that labeling variants based on where they were first discovered creates increased stigma.

Officials from the Geneva UN body said the move would help simplify public discussions about variants.

For example, the variant first discovered in the UK would be called “Alpha” while the variant first identified in India would be called the “Delta”.

“Although they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and remember and are prone to misreporting,” the WHO explained the decision.

How did you choose the new naming system?

The choice of the Greek alphabet was made after months of deliberation, in which other possibilities such as Greek gods and invented, pseudoclassical names were considered by experts, said bacteriologist Mark Pallen, who was involved in the talks, of the Reuters news agency.

Maria Van Kerkhove, a senior WHO technical officer who specializes in the panel’s response to COVID-19, said the name change should reduce countries’ stigma.

“No country should be stigmatized to detect and report COVID variants,” she said.

When the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet are exhausted, another series of this type will be announced, van Kerkhove said in an interview with STAT News.

“We’re not saying to replace B.1.1.7, just to aid some of the dialogue with the average person,” she told the US website, referring to the variant first discovered in the UK.

“So that we can discuss some of these variants in a simpler language in public discourse.”

Variation concerns

On Monday, the BBC quoted a senior government scientific advisor as saying the UK was on the cusp of a third wave of coronavirus infections, in part due to the spread of the B.1.617 (or Delta) variant, the was first identified in India.

Experts believe it can spread faster than other COVID-19 variants.

The French authorities have already closed their borders to entry from the UK “for no compelling reason” on fears that this could lead to an increase in cases there.

jf / rs (Reuters, AFP)

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