B.1.617, B.1.1.7, B.1.351 … Keeping the scientific names for COVID-19 variants proves to be a real headache. But the WHO will simplify things by giving them names with Greek letters.
The idea is to have “easy to pronounce and remember” names, but also to avoid the general public and the media using “stigmatizing and discriminatory” names indicating where the first instances of the variable were discovered. WHO in a statement.
In the United States, for example, attacks against people of Asian descent, Donald Trump, who was president during the first year of the pandemic, have increased after he did everything to blame China, where the new coronavirus was first discovered. He often talks about the Chinese virus or “kung flu” (flu manipulation, which means influenza).
Even Congress has passed a law to better combat this phenomenon, the Hate Crimes Act COVID-19.
Scientific names will continue to exist, as they provide useful data to experts, but the WHO will no longer use them in their daily communications.
The organization strongly encourages national authorities, the media and others to adopt the new names.
Thus, the variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the UK, was named Alpha; B.1.351, first identified in South Africa, becomes beta; And the variable P.1, which was detected in Brazil, was gamma.
The World Health Organization gave two different names for the distinct sublines of the variant B.1.617, which invaded India and spread to dozens of countries: B.1.617.2 thus became a delta, and B.1.617.1 became Kappa.
While the pandemic, which has killed more than 3.5 million people worldwide since the end of December 2019, is rampant, the highest infection rates observed for new variants of the virus are cause for concern.