June 13, 2021

WHO names variants of the new coronavirus

The B.1.1.7. Or B.1.617.2. They are the nomenclatures given to the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Fully technical names that are difficult to publicize, despite the fact that the first corresponds to the British variant – which has been imposed in Spain – and the second to the Indian one that brings the United Kingdom headlong and worries that it will spread to the rest of Europe . The World Health Organization has decided this Monday nnaming key variants of the coronavirus with the letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha, beta, gamma … “Labels easy to say and remember,” explained the WHO.

The WHO has chosen a simple criterion: it has given the first Greek letter to the first of these detected variants and has followed the alphabet. Thus, the British variant has become known as alpha, the South African beta, the Brazilian gamma, and the Indian delta. The organization says it has made this option after “extensive consultation and review of many possible naming systems.” The letters will apply to “variants of interest and concern.”

At the same time, the WHO adds that these names are not going to eliminate scientific names since they “provide important information” so they “will continue to be used in research.” However, the technical nomenclature “can be difficult to say and remember” so they are susceptible to errors when reporting them. Given this circumstance, says the WHO, it ends up calling the variants by the geographic location where they have been detected, which can lead to “stigmatization and discrimination.”

With the idea of ​​reversing this dynamic, the organization has created this labeling system that it hopes will be applied by governments and the media.


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