The WHO Greek Alphabet COVID Naming System is explained in Nu B.1.1.529 Variant.

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The WHO Greek Alphabet COVID Naming System is explained in Nu B.1.1.529 Variant.

In Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong, a new “heavily mutated” COVID form has appeared, forcing the World Health Organization to convene an emergency conference on Friday.

The variant, known as B.1.1.529, will be discussed during the WHO meeting, as well as its implications for immunizations, diagnostics, new symptoms, and pharmaceutical interventions.

B.1.1.529, like Delta, Alpha, and Beta before it, will be given a Greek letter name if the organization thinks it is a variety of interest or concern.

Some people are already calling the B.1.1.529 variation “Nu,” but it’s unclear whether this will become its official moniker. Nu was the most plausible candidate, according to Nature, because it is the next accessible letter in the Greek alphabet.

The WHO implemented the Greek naming system for COVID variations of interest and concern on May 31, 2021. The goal was to make sure that the labels for the variants were simple to say and remember.

For variants, the labels do not take the role of scientific names. 501Y.V2, B.1.351, 20H/501Y.V2, or GH/501Y.V2, depending on which naming scheme researchers use, is the name given to Beta, which first appeared in South Africa during its second wave in 2020.

These names, assigned by scientific organizations such as GISAID, Nextstrain, and Pango, are still utilized in research because they convey vital information. However, scientists employ Greek names as well, particularly when speaking with the general public.

The naming method is intended to prevent a COVID variant from being stigmatized because of its location. When Beta first appeared, it was dubbed “the South African variation” by several media sources and even some scientists. According to Nature, naming a virus for a geographic location might be difficult, especially in areas where many variants are present. For example, “South African variant” might now refer to Beta or the newly discovered B.1.1.529.

According to Nature, the usage of geographical labels has even deterred some countries from conducting tests for developing variations to avoid stigmatization.

“The geographical designations, we have to stop with that—really,” Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician and director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform in Durban, South Africa, told the magazine in June.

He went on to say that he was aware of nations in Africa where health ministers were hesitant to disclose the finding of new variations because they were afraid of the consequences. This is a condensed version of the information.

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