How did the new variant get its name?

Some of the more well-known variants, such as Delta, have become a worrying variant. Others in this category have been named Alpha, Beta...


Some of the more well-known variants, such as Delta, have become a worrying variant. Others in this category have been named Alpha, Beta and Gamma. Others that emerged that were variants of interest were named Lambda and Mu. Other Greek letters were used for variants that did not meet these thresholds, but Nu and Xi were the only ones that were ignored.

WHO has promoted the naming system as simple and accessible, unlike scientific names for variants, which “can be difficult to say and remember, and are subject to misrepresentation,” he said.

Some researchers agree.

University of Saskatchewan virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen said she had conducted numerous interviews with reporters this year, before the Greek naming system was announced, and stumbled upon confusing explanations on the variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.351. They are now known as Alpha, which emerged in the UK, and Beta, which emerged in South Africa.

“It makes it really hard to speak when you’re constantly using an alphabet soup of variant designations,” she said, adding, “Ultimately people end up calling it the British variant or the southern variant. African. “

This is the other big reason why the WHO switched to the Greek naming system, Dr Rasmussen said: The old naming convention was unfair to the people where the virus emerged. The agency called the practice of describing variants by where they were detected “stigmatizing and discriminatory.”

The practice of naming viruses for regions has also been historically misleading, Dr Rasmussen said. Ebola, for example, takes its name from a river that is actually far from where the virus first emerged.

“From the very start of the pandemic, I remember people saying, ‘We called it the Spanish flu. Why don’t we call it the Wuhan coronavirus? ‘ “Said Dr Rasmussen. “The Spanish flu did not come from Spain. We don’t know where it emerged from, but there is a very good possibility that it emerged from the United States.

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Newsrust - US Top News: How did the new variant get its name?
How did the new variant get its name?
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