Monday, 14 June, 2021

Is it all Greek to you? Coronavirus variants get new names

Sunderland City Council have confirmed that cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant have been discovered on Wearside Sunderland City Council have confirmed that cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant have been discovered on Wearside
Cary Erickson | 01 June, 2021, 08:57

Besides "Delta", more variants that have been found in different parts of the world have been given new names amid debacle over the correct naming of variants, without attributing it to a particular region or country, which WHO had earlier warned could invite stigmatisation.

The strain (B.1.1.7) first detected in Britain will be called the Alpha variant, the South African one (B.1.351) will be referred to as the Beta variant.

Pakistan on Friday confirmed that the "Indian strain" of the coronavirus - a "double-mutant" variant - was detected in the country, Dunya News reported.

"This expert group convened by World Health Organization has recommended using labeled letters of the Greek Alphabet, i.e., Alpha, Beta, Gamma, which will be easier and more practical to discussed by non-scientific audiences", the statement noted.

"Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an "Indian Variant", the ministry said in a statement in New Delhi. Globally, we need robust surveillance for variants, incl epi, molecular and sequencing to be carried out and shared. "We need to continue to do all we can to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2".

The WHO has been trying to come up with simplified new nomenclature for the variants for several months.

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But many were already brands, companies or alien names.

For a while, the group considered names of Greek gods and goddesses, but that was eventually nixed.

Historically, viruses have often been associated with the locations from which they are thought to have emerged such as Ebola which is named after the eponymous Congolese river.

Kerkhove said that this could help in reaching out to a mass audience.

The WHO had then that it did not identify viruses or variants with names of countries where they were first reported. But it does not name subspecies of viruses, which is why this fell to the WHO. "This was a relatively straightforward discussion in getting to the point where everybody agreed", Konings said.