May 31, 2021 – 22:57
The World Health Organization announced Monday that it has put in place a new system for naming coronavirus variants.
From now on, the WHO said it would use Greek letters.
The British variant, for example, is labeled as Alpha, the South African variant as Beta and the Indian variant as Delta.
Earlier this month, the Government of India criticized the designation of variant B.1.617.2 – first discovered in India last October – as an “Indian variant”, although the WHO has never officially labeled it such.
“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, an WHO epidemiologist.
She called for “vigorous oversight” of the variants and the sharing of scientific data that would help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Greek letters will refer to both disturbing variants and variants of interest.
A full list of names has already been published on the WHO website.
Van Kerkhove said the Greek letters will not replace existing scientific names.
If more than 24 variants are officially identified, the Greek letters end and the WHO will announce a new naming program, Van Kerkhove said.