Covid-19: WHO renames variants to avoid stigmatizing the countries of origin


The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that covid-19 variations will be classified by letters of the Greek alphabets to prevent misreporting and stigmatizing countries where they were initially discovered.

The new methodology applies to the most concerning variations of interest – four of which are now in circulation – as well as the second-level variations of interest being monitored.

“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting,” the WHO said in a statement.

“As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.”

According to the sequence of their finding, the four covid-19 variations regarded of concern by the United Nations organization and commonly known as the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and India variations have now been assigned the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta.

Other interesting variations continue down the alphabet.

“The labels don’t replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research,” WHO’s technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove tweeted.

“These labels will help with public discussion about VOC/VOI as the numbering system can be difficult to follow.”

The WHO stated in a statement that the new labelling should be adopted by media outlets and national authorities.

President Joe Biden of the United States enacted a hate crimes statute earlier this month aimed at safeguarding Asian Americans who have seen an increase in violence as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to anti-extremism organizations in the United States, the incidence of assaults and hate crimes against Asian Americans has increased dramatically since the crisis began.

They put some blame on of the responsibility on former President Donald Trump, who referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus” on many occasions.

According to bacteriologist Mark Pallen, who was engaged in the discussions, the Greek alphabet was chosen after months of debate during which specialists explored alternative options such as Greek Gods and fabricated, pseudo-classical names.

However, many of the names were already trademarks, corporations, or extraterrestrial names.

Another idea to refer to variations of concern as VOC1, VOC2, and so on was abandoned after he pointed out that it resembled an English swear term.

Viruses have long been linked to the places where they are assumed to have originated, such as Ebola, which is named after the Congolese river of the same name.

However, like with the so-called “Spanish flu” epidemic of 1918, which had uncertain origins, this may be harmful to the areas and is often erroneous.

Some scientists had their own simpler nomenclature for variations before the new WHO method, such as a February report leveraging bird names. However, it was criticized by the mother of a girl named Robin, who claimed that it may endanger birds.

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