Corona variants named after Greek letters

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WHO has decided to name the different coronavirus variants after Greek letters in the future. Naming the variants after the country where they were discovered was “stigmatizing and discriminatory,” it said.

The different variants of coronavirus should in the future be named after the letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid stigmatizing the countries where they first appeared. As the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in Geneva on Monday, this applies to variants that have been classified as “of concern” or “of interest.” The Greek letters are not intended to replace the scientific names, but “to help in the public discussion,” said Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO.

Under the new system, the so-called British variant B.1.1.7 is now called alpha, the mutant B.1.351 first discovered in South Africa becomes beta, and the Brazilian variant P.1 becomes gamma. In the case of the so-called Indian variant B.1.617, a distinction is made between the variant of concern B.1.617.2, which becomes delta, and the variant B.1.617.1, which is currently classified as “of interest.” It is now called Kappa.

The scientific names have their advantages, but are difficult to pronounce and remember, and therefore prone to misrepresentation, WHO explained. “Therefore, people often name the variants according to where they were discovered, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.” To prevent this and facilitate public communication, WHO encourages national authorities, media and others to adopt the new names, it said.

U.S. President Joe Biden had signed into law in May a bill against hate crimes against citizens of Asian descent, which had previously passed Congress by a wide majority. The U.S. has seen an increase in attacks on people of Asian descent since the start of the Corona pandemic. Activists also attribute this to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks against China. Trump had repeatedly referred to the corona virus as the “China virus” because it was first detected in Wuhan, China.

— source: faz.net/picture: pixabay.com

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