A few of the better-known variants, equivalent to Delta, rose to a variant of concern. Others in that class have been named Alpha, Beta and Gamma. Others that emerged, which have been variants of curiosity, have been named Lambda and Mu. Different Greek letters have been used for variants that didn’t meet these thresholds however Nu and Xi have been the one ones that have been skipped.
The W.H.O. has promoted the naming system as easy and accessible, not like the variants’ scientific names, which “will be tough to say and recall, and are vulnerable to misreporting,” it mentioned.
Some researchers agree.
Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist on the College of Saskatchewan, mentioned she performed many interviews with reporters this yr, earlier than the Greek naming system was introduced, and she or he stumbled via complicated explanations in regards to the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants. They’re now often called Alpha, which emerged in the UK, and Beta, which emerged in South Africa.
“It makes it actually cumbersome to speak about while you’re always utilizing an alphabet soup of variant designations,” she mentioned, including, “In the end individuals find yourself calling it the U.Okay. variant or the South African variant.”
That’s the opposite massive cause that the W.H.O. moved to the Greek naming system, Dr. Rasmussen mentioned: The older naming conference was unfair to the individuals the place the virus emerged. The company known as the follow of describing variants by the locations they have been detected “stigmatizing and discriminatory.”
The follow of naming viruses for areas has additionally traditionally been deceptive, Dr. Rasmussen mentioned. Ebola, for instance, is called for a river that’s really removed from the place the virus emerged.
“From the very starting of the pandemic, I bear in mind individuals saying: ‘We known as it the Spanish flu. Why don’t we name it the Wuhan coronavirus?’” Dr. Rasmussen mentioned. “The Spanish flu didn’t come from Spain. We don’t know the place it emerged from, however there’s an excellent risk it emerged from the U.S.”