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WHO to Label COVID Variants with Greek Alphabet to Avoid Stigmatizing Countries

The World Health Organization announced it will use a new naming system for the coronavirus variants based on the Greek alphabet.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical leader, said Monday in a statement that “no country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” Axios reported. WHO officials said that while labels don’t replace scientific names of the strains, referring to them with letters of the Greek alphabet in public discussions makes it easier for people to say and remember.

Under the new system, the variant B.1.1.7 first detected in the United Kingdom becomes Alpha,” B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, becomes Beta, first discovered in Brazil becomes Gammaand; B.1.617.2, first detected in India, is called Delta.”

Axios reported that other variants of interest have been labeled, also. For example, B.1.427/B.1.429, first detected in the U.S., is now Epsilon,” P.2, first found in Brazil, becomes “Zeta,” B.1.525, detected in the Philippines, is “Theta,” B.1.526, first identified in the U.S., is “Iota” and B.1.617.1, first detected in India, is now referred to as “Kappa.”

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