WHO renames COVID-19 variants with Greek letters to avoid stigma Coronavirus pandemic news


The UN health agency says one of the movement’s goals is to avoid stigmatizing countries where coronavirus variants are first detected.

Coronavirus variants must be known by letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid reporting and stigmatizing the nations where they were first detected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.

The new system applies to worrying variants (the most worrying of which are four in circulation) and to tracking second-tier variants of interest.

“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and remember and are prone to misinformation,” the WHO said in a statement.

“As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.”

The four variants of the coronavirus considered of concern by the United Nations agency and generally known to the public as variants of the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and India have received the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta according to the detection order.

Other variants of interest continue to lower the alphabet.

“Labels do not replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research,” WHO technical director Maria Van Kerkhove said on Twitter.

“These tags will help the public discussion about VOC / VOI, as the numbering system can be difficult to follow.”

The WHO in the statement said it encouraged the media and national authorities to adopt the new labels.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden he signed a hate crime law aimed at protecting Asian Americans who have suffered an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. anti-extremist groups say the number of hate attacks and crimes against Asian Americans has exploded since the crisis began.

They blamed some of the blame on former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus.”

Months of deliberations

The choice of the Greek alphabet came after months of deliberations in which other possibilities, such as Greek gods and invented pseudoclassical names, were considered by experts, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen, who participated in the talks.

But many were already foreign brands, companies or names.

Another idea to refer to variants of concern such as VOC1, VOC2, etc. he was dismissed after he noted that it resembled an English oath.

Historically, viruses have often been associated with locations where they are believed to have originated, such as Ebola, which is named after the Congolese river of the same name.

But this can be detrimental to places and often inaccurate, such as with the so-called 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic whose origins are unknown.

Prior to the new WHO scheme, some scientists had adopted their own simplified nomenclature for variants as a February document using bird names. However, it was criticized on the grounds that this could endanger the birds and by the mother of a girl named Robin.

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