WHO gives new names to COVID variants to avoid ‘stigmatizing’ countries

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that it has replaced COVID variant names with Greek letters. This is their attempt to transition to “easy-to-pronounce and non-stigmatizing labels” rather than naming them after the countries from which the variants originated.

First, a variant of the virus began in the United Kingdom. Therefore, that virus will now be referred to as “Alpha” rather than the UK virus. Next, South Africa saw a new variant, now known as “Beta,” then Brazil, which is now called “Gamma.” Then, in October of 2020, India found the variant “Delta.” All of these are labeled “of concern” by the WHO.

Now, there are six variants, two of which originated in the United States, that are “of interest” to the WHO. They are named, in the order that they were discovered, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota and Kappa. The most recent variant is Theta, found in the Philippines in January of 2021.

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