COVID-19 variants get new names from WHO

Photo courtesy: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay
Photo courtesy: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to name the different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus differently instead of ascribing country names as is being done currently. 

WHO on Monday announced the new naming system under which each variant will be given a name from the Greek alphabet. The aim is to simplify references to the variants in public discussion instead of using the more complex scientific names as well as to remove the stigma attached to associating country names with the variants. 

Under the new system the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in Britain) will be known as Alpha, the B.1.351 variant (first spotted in South Africa) will be Beta,  the P.1 variant (first detected in Brazil) will be Gamma and the B.1.671.2, variant (first detected in India) will be Delta, while earlier found variant in the country will be known as 'Kappa'.

If the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet have been exhausted, another series like it will be announced, said WHO. 

The new names will not replace the existing scientific names, the WHO specified.