The United Nations health agency says one of the aims of the move is to avoid stigmatizing countries where coronovirus variants have been detected for the first time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that coronavirus variants are known by letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid misrepresenting and stigmatizing the countries where they were first detected.
The new system applies to types of anxiety – of which the most disturbing are the four in vogue – and the second level of interest variants are being tracked.
The WHO said in a statement, “Although they have their own benefits, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are likely to be misreported.”
“As a result, people often resort to calling variants based on where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.”
They will not replace existing scientific names, but they are intended to help public discussion of VOI / VOC
— Maria Van Kerkhove (@mvankerkhove) 31 May 2021
The alpha, beta, gamma, delta characters, by order of their detection, are the four coronavirus variants now considered a concern by the United Nations agency and commonly known to the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and India variants. have been given.
Other forms of interest continue down the alphabet.
“Labels do not replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research,” WHO technical chief Maria Van Kerkhove tweeted.
“These labels will help in public discussion about VOCs / VOIs because the numbering system can be difficult to follow.”
The WHO said in the statement that it encouraged media outlets and national authorities to adopt the new labels.
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden Hate crime law signed With the aim of protecting Asian Americans who have suffered an increase in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
US anti-extremist groups say the number of attacks and hate crimes against Asian Americans has exploded since the onset of the crisis.
He laid some blame with former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the “China Virus”.
months of consultation
The Greek alphabet was chosen after months of deliberation, in which other possibilities such as Greek gods and inventions, pseudo-classical names, were considered by experts, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen, who was involved in the talks.
But many were already brands, companies or foreign names.
Another idea of referring to forms of concern as VOC1, VOC2 etc. was abolished when they pointed out that it resembled an English oath word.
Historically, viruses have often been associated with places from where they are believed to have emerged, such as Ebola, which is named after the Congolese River.
But it can be harmful to places and often wrong, such as the so-called “Spanish flu” epidemic of 1918, whose origins are unknown.
Prior to the new WHO plan, some scientists had adopted their own simplified nomenclature for variants such as the February paper using bird names. However, it was criticized on the grounds that it might endanger the birds and the mother of a girl named Robin.
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