× Digital News Videos Health & Science Lifestyle Opinion Education Columnists Moi Cabinets Arts & Culture Fact Check Podcasts E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Health Magazine TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS
×
Men
menu search
Standard Logo
Home / Health & Science

Is it all Greek to you? Coronavirus variants get new names

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy REUTERS | Tue,Jun 01 2021 10:41:34 EAT
By REUTERS | Tue,Jun 01 2021 10:41:34 EAT

 

A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19. [NEXU Science Communication/via Reuters]

Coronavirus variants with clunky, alphanumeric names have now been assigned the letters of the Greek Alphabet in a bid to simplify discussion and pronunciation while avoiding stigma.

The World Health Organization revealed the new names on Monday amid criticism that those given by scientists such as the so-called South African variant which goes by multiple names including B.1.351, 501Y.V2 and 20H/501Y.V2 were too complicated.

As such, the four coronavirus variants considered of concern by the U.N. agency and known generally by the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants have now been given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta according to the order of their detection.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

Other variants of interest continue down the alphabet.

"While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting," said the WHO, explaining the decision.

The choice of the Greek Alphabet came after months of deliberations in which other possibilities such as Greek Gods and invented, 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 alien names.

Another idea to refer to variants of concern as VOC1, VOC2 etc. was scrapped after he pointed out it resembled an English swear word.

Historically, viruses have often been associated with the locations from which they are thought to have emerged such as Ebola which is named after the eponymous Congolese river.

But this can be damaging for the places and often inaccurate such as with the so-called 'Spanish flu' pandemic of 1918 whose origins are unknown.

"No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants," said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.

Before the new WHO scheme, some scientists had adopted their own simplified nomenclature for variants such as a February paper using bird names. However, it was criticised on the grounds that this could imperil birds and by the mother of a girl named ‘Robin’.

Related Topics

Share this story
.
RECOMMENDED
.
BUY & SELL ON DIGGER MOTORS