In order to avoid complications, confusion, and the stigma surrounding the coronavirus mutant names, the WHO has now introduced Greek letters to rename the variants of SARS-CoV-2, that have been reported to date.
As per the new directive, the B.1.1.7 variant of concern initially identified in the United Kingdom will be dubbed “Alpha,” instead of the “UK variant,” WHO said. The South African variant will be “Beta,” and the B.1.617.2 variant discovered in India will be called “Delta.” Variant P.1, first detected in Brazil, will be referred to as “Gamma” under the new system.
Although the new names will not be used scientifically during research, they will be used in spoken language to ease complications. What they will do is make the variants easier to talk about, without tacking them to a geographical location or ethnic or national identity, WHO said. “We’re not saying replace B.1.1.7, but really just to try to help some of the dialogue with the average person,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s coronavirus lead, told STAT News. “So that in public discourse, we could discuss some of these variants in more easy-to-use language.”
According to their webpage, after the 24 Greek alphabet letters have been used up, WHO will announce the next series.