Covid Renamed As Indian Variants, Kent Gets New Labels
World health leaders have announced new names for Covid-19 variants using letters from the Greek alphabet.
Experts working with the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed the labels for the variants which are often colloquially named after the places where they were first detected.
Many variants of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – have been identified around the world.
They include B.1.1.7, known in the UK as the Kent variant and internationally as the UK variant – but now labeled by the WHO as Alpha.
The B.1.617.2 variant, often known as the Indian variant, was labeled Delta, while B.1.351, often referred to as the South African variant, was named Beta.
The Brazilian variant P.1 was labeled Gamma.
The WHO said these labels were chosen after extensive consultation and consideration of many naming systems.
The organization said the labels do not replace existing scientific names, which convey important scientific information and will continue to be used in research.
“Although they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to pronounce and remember, and are subject to misrepresentation,” the WHO said.
“As a result, people often resort to variant calling by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory.
“To avoid this and to simplify public communications, WHO is encouraging national authorities, the media and others to adopt these new labels. “
When asked if the government would follow the WHO in using Greek letters to describe new variants of the coronavirus, Business Minister Paul Scully told LBC radio: “I don’t think that matters, frankly, but I think we’ll call it Alpha, which is the Kent variant, and Delta which is the variant that started in India.
“It’s not my decision, but I suspect it will.”