If you haven’t mastered the name yet Latest coronavirus version to set nations on edge – B.1.714.2, as evolutionary biologists call it – so do not be afraid: the World Health Organization has proposed a solution.
The group said on Monday that it has devised a system for less technical, and more easily pronounceable, naming variants – mutated versions of the virus that have prompted a new surge of infections around the world.
Variants will be assigned the letters of the Greek alphabet in the order in which they are designated by WHO as Potential Threats
B.1.617.2, for example, which has contributed to the fatality boom in India, is named delta under the new system. This variant can spread much faster than B.1.1.4, a variant discovered in Britain that has contributed to devastating waves of cases globally. (The new name for b.1.1.7 is Alpha.)
Scientists will continue to give long strings of letters and numbers to new forms for their purposes, but they hope that the Greek letters will more easily slide off non-scientists’ tongues.
There is also a deep inspiration: The the letter and number system was so complicated That many people were referring to variations according to the locations searched for it (eg “Indian version” for B.1.617.2). Scientists worry that those unofficial nicknames may be both inaccurate and stigma, punishing countries that might have emerged elsewhere, investing in the genome sequencing needed to ring an alarm about new mutations.
Whether the Greek letters will last or not is another matter. It has been months since the WHO called experts to discuss the issue, allowing labels such as the “British version” and “South African version” to spread in the news media.
Experts said they have considered several options, such as taking syllables from existing words to create new ones. But many of those syllabic combinations were already recognizable names of places or businesses, he said.
And as it happens, the Greek letters were freed from another task: the World Meteorological Organization said in March that it would be Now don’t use hurricanes to name them.
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