How Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant, got its name – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2021-11-27 14:49:29 –

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The naming system, announced by the World Health Organization in May, makes general communication about variants easier and less confusing.

Upon arriving at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, international travelers will wait for a PCR test. I had to undertake an Omicron variant of COVID. (Joao Silva / New York Times)

The market plunged on Friday, the hope of tame the coronavirus diminished, and a new term appeared in the pandemic glossary: ​​Omicron.

NS COVID-19 variant that emerged in South Africa Named after the 15th letter of the Greek letter.

The naming system, announced by the World Health Organization in May, will make public communication about variants easier and less disruptive, officials and experts said.

For example, the variant that emerged in India is not commonly known as B.1.617.2. Rather, it is known as the fourth letter of the Greek letter, the delta.

According to the WHO tracking page, there are currently seven “mutants of interest” or “mutants of concern”, each with the Greek letter.

Some other variants, including the Greek letter, did not reach these classification levels, and WHO also skipped the two letters “nu” and “xi” just before Omicron. Jinping.

“‘Nu’ is often confused with’new’,” spokesman Tarick Jasarevic said on Saturday. “And” xi “was not used because it is a common surname. “

He suggests that institutional best practices for naming illnesses avoid “causing crime to cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.” Added.

Some of the well-known varieties, such as Delta, have become concerns. Others in that category were named Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Other emerging variants of interest were named Lambda and Mu. Other Greek letters were used for variants that did not meet these thresholds, but only nu and xi were skipped.

WHO said it promotes the naming system as simple and accessible, unlike the scientific names of variants that are “difficult to say and remember and prone to false alarms.”

Some researchers agree.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the University of Saskatchewan, said she had interviewed reporters a lot this year before the Greek naming system was announced, about the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 variants. I came across a misleading explanation of. They are now known as Alpha, which emerged in the United Kingdom, and Beta, which emerged in South Africa.

“Always using a variant-designated alphabet soup can be very annoying to talk about, and you’ll end up with what you’ll call a British variant or a South African variant,” she added. ..

This is another major reason why WHO has moved to the Greek naming system, Rasmussen said. The old naming convention was unfair to those who had the virus. Authorities called the practice of explaining variants by location where they were detected “blameful and discriminatory.”

The practice of naming local viruses is also historically misleading, Rasmussen said. For example, Ebola is named after a river that is actually far from where the virus originated.

“I remember people from the beginning of the pandemic saying:” We called it the Spanish flu. Why don’t you call it Wuhan Coronavirus? “Rasmussen said. “The Spanish flu did not come from Spain. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s very likely that it came from the United States.”

WHO encouraged national authorities and the media to adopt the new label. These convey important information to scientists and do not replace the technical names that will continue to be used in research.

This article was originally New York Times..

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