COVID-19 variants will now be named after the Greek alphabet to reduce confusion among the general population and to avoid potentially stigmatizing regions of the world from which they emerge, the World Health Organization announced Monday.
The new system will cover the several variants of concern as well as any variants of interest. The variant of concern from Britain, also called B.1.1.7 by scientists, will now receive the WHO designation of “alpha.” The variant from South Africa, B.1.351., has been designated “beta,” the variant from Brazil, also called P.1 by scientists, has been designated “gamma,” and the variant from India, B.1.617.2, has been designated “delta.”
“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said Maria Van Kerkhov, the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19 said Monday, reports Axios.
The World Health Organization website, similarly, says scientists settled on the naming system in a search for “easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatising labels” for variants.
“The established nomenclature systems for naming and tracking SARS-CoV-2 genetic lineages