WHO replaces place-based tag for COVID virus variants to Greek letter names

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Instead of using names after the places, the World Health Organization has put in place a new system to identify COVID-19 variants to avoid difficulties in pronunciation, recollection, as well as creating stigma to a particular nation.

The organization has announced on Monday a new  system that will be using the Greek alphabet letters.

Formerly called by scientists as B.1.1.7, the United Kingdom variant will not be referred to as Alpha.

On the other hand, the B.1.351 South Africa variant will now be called Beta; while the one which originated in India, or the B.1.617.2, will now carry the name Delta.

The health organization will unveil another naming series when all the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet will be assigned to variants.

“It’s the right thing to do,” University of California infectious disease expert, Dr. Monica Gandhi, said.

The naming system will also allow nations to openly report emerging variants as they do not fear being connected with the disease forever.

WHO, in its release, said scientific names are hard to pronounce.

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

Also, mistakes are often committed as the virus does not always originate in the place it is first discovered.

The Spanish flu of 1918, for instance, was believed by some researchers to have first appeared in Haskell County, Kansas. It was also thought to have emerged first in France.

Experts and researchers have helped come up with the new WHO naming system. They have also been observing and evaluating the development of the virus that causes COVID-19, the SARS-CoV-2.

WHO said that the scientific community will continue using the scientific terminology in place for monitoring the mutation of the virus.