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Naming coronavirus variants

(9 Posts)
Manhattan Mon 31-May-21 20:49:51

As new coronavirus variants continue to be discovered, the World Health Organisation has revealed new names, after the letters of the Greek Alphabet, to simplify the discussion around the variants and avoid stigma.

Reuter’s reports that the four coronavirus variants considered of concern and known generally by the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants have now been given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta according to the order of their detection.

Any new variants will follow the pattern and continue down the Alphabet.

The choice of the use of the Greek Alphabet came after months of deliberations with other possibilities such as Greek Gods considered by experts, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.

Explaining the decision, the WHO said, “While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting.”

“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

Fair enough but months of deliberation to arrive at an alphabet where so many words sound similar? Beta, eta, zeta, theta? Mu and nu? Xi, pi, phi and chi?

Maybe the experts hope we will have cracked this by epsilon.


FarNorth Mon 31-May-21 20:52:48

At least we'll be able to work out how many variants are known, by which letter they are called.

EllanVannin Mon 31-May-21 21:21:24

All under the umbrella of 'flu as we know it except that it hits some worse than others.

Callistemon Mon 31-May-21 21:34:25

Except that coronaviruses are not influenza, they are different viruses.

ElaineI Mon 31-May-21 21:42:35

Really! How many people know the Greek alphabet apart from the few usual ones. Personally I think the way it is done now is easier. However I do see some people might stigmatise areas, countries and races. How about 1,2,3,4.

EllanVannin Mon 31-May-21 21:43:47

Both are pretty similar Callistemon in that they attack the respiratory system as well as infectious.

welbeck Mon 31-May-21 23:31:53

there is no need to know the greek alphabet.
only the people doing the naming, and even they can look it up if need be.
it is important not to stigmatise areas.
and i think numbers are already in use, sars-covid-19, after the year it was discovered, so guess might be less clear that it refers to a variant, if numbers were used.

Manhattan Tue 01-Jun-21 00:11:52

No need to know the Greek alphabet but if they are going to name them consecutively through the alphabet (as they do storms and hurricanes) it struck me that the similarities in the sounds could cause confusion. I don't like the current stigmatization but saying Kent and Indian are clear and distinct. If we get to mu and nu, not so.

welbeck Tue 01-Jun-21 00:23:13

they might skip a few maybe ?
who knows. not my circus, not my monkeys.