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Why WHO named COVID-19 variants based on Greek alphabets


Among many other difficult tasks, WHO has to name new diseases without touching on anyone's toes. So it has now renamed the COVID variants using letters of the Greek alphabet, all to make life easier for 'non-scientific' audiences.

Why WHO named COVID-19 variants based on Greek alphabets
The World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2020 had officially announced COVID-19 as the name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, 40 days after China alerted them about the rapidly spreading infection in Wuhan.
The WHO came up with a name according to the 2015 guidelines between WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Nearly 18 months after the first wave, the world and India are witnessing the mayhem created by the virus’ mutations. The possibility of a third wave is also being discussed and governments are getting ready.
The Naming
The WHO named it COVID-19 breaking the words coronavirus disease. So, the ‘CO’ in COVID stands for corona, while ‘VI’ is for virus and ‘D’ is for disease. The number 19 stands for the year 2019.
The disease was given the name within six weeks as it was felt it was crucial to give the non-scientific community a term to address it.
While naming a disease, the WHO has listed out the terms to ensure that geographic locations, people’s names, species of animal or food, references to culture, population, industry or occupation, and terms that incite undue fear, are not included.
The virus got other names too
Donald Trump, the former president of the United State, had called the virus, ‘China Virus.’ When a new strain was discovered in Brazil, it was called the Brazil variant, followed by the UK variant, South Africa variant and now the Indian variant. All this, even as scientists assigned difficult configurations of numbers to the variants, which were understandably quite confusing for the layperson.
For example, the UK variant, which was discovered in September 2020, was named B.1.1.7. The entire purpose of the guidelines would have been defeated if these names had stuck.
Why Greek Alphabets
The WHO, after much deliberation has decided to use Greek alphabets instead of the scientific numerals to identify the variants. It said in a statement said, “Deploying letters like Alpha, Beta and Gamma -- instead of B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 -- to refer to the variants will make it “easier and more practical” to discuss them with non-scientific audiences.”
Henceforth, the B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants of the COVID-19, first identified in India in October 2020 will be known as ‘Kappa’ and ‘Delta.’
Variants of Concern
AlphaB.1.1.7UK (September 2020)
BetaB.1.351South Africa (May 2020)
GammaP.1Brazil (November 2020)
DeltaB.1.617.2India (October 2020)
Variants of Interest
EpsilonB.1.427/B.1.429US (March 2020)
ZetaP.2Brazil (April 2020)
EtaB.1.525Many Countries (December 2020)
ThetaP.3Philippines (January 2021)
IotaB.1.526US (November 2020)
KappaB.1.617.1India (October 2020)

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