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Coronavirus: WHO Announces Naming Scheme for Greek Alphabet Subspecies

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Coronavirus illustration

Alyssa Eckert, MSMI.Dan Higgins

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a naming system for coronavirus variants that use Greek letters.

new Naming scheme, B.1.1.7 Variant The first identified in the UK, commonly referred to as the Kent subspecies, is labeled “Alpha”. B.1.351 variant “Beta” was identified in South Africa P.1 variant “Gamma” first originated in Brazil, B.1.617.2 Variant The first to be detected in India is “Delta”. These Greek alphabet labels are only given to the “Variants of Concern” and “Variants of Interest” defined by WHO.

Researchers have long sought an alternative naming system for coronavirus variants. Many people claim that scientific names are difficult to pronounce, so many are geographically such as “Indian variants.” The name now refers to the variant.

This “makes people in those places unfairly liable”, Mark Paran says The Quadram Institute in Norwich, England, has recently developed an automated system to generate names for new bacterial species based on Latin and Greek.writing New Scientist In March, Palen suggested that an approach similar to that used to name the storm could help generate a neutral and more memorable name for the new coronavirus variant. did.

In a press release on May 31, WHO continued to use established systems for naming and tracking coronavirus gene lines in scientists and scientific research to “transmit important scientific information.” But the new Greek letter-based label is “useful for public debate,” Tweeted Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO covid-19 technical lead.

Avoiding referencing coronavirus variants by geographic name may also facilitate countries to quickly detect and report variants. “No country should be criticized for detecting and reporting variants,” Kelhob said. “Globally, we need robust monitoring of variants.”

The virus mutates spontaneously and changes as it spreads throughout the population. Most mutations in SARS-CoV-2 are harmless and have little effect, but are new Subspecies Some of the mutations occur when they result in the evolution of the morphology of the virus, which has properties different from those of the original virus.

According to WHO, the variants of concern include variants of the coronavirus that are known to spread more quickly, cause more serious illnesses, and resist drugs and vaccines. Alpha, beta, gamma, and delta are all designated as variants of concern, and cases of delta variants are increasing in the United Kingdom. As of May 27, Public Health England statistics show that more than 38% of new coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom were caused by the Delta variant.

Variants of interest are those that have been found to cause community infections or spread to multiple countries, or those that have been evaluated as important by the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group. Examples of variants of interest include epsilon, which was first documented in the United States in March 2020, and theta, which was first documented in the Philippines in January this year.

“To simplify public communications, WHO encourages national authorities, the media and others to adopt these new labels,” WHO said.

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Coronavirus: WHO Announces Naming Scheme for Greek Alphabet Subspecies

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