Siyanda Ndlovu
Digital Journalist
1 minute read
1 Jun 2021
10:48 am

WHO switches to new Covid variant names to avoid stigma

Siyanda Ndlovu

The new names will replace existing scientific names which the organisation says will help in public discussions.

The Covid-19 variant found in India is said to be more contagious. Picture: iStock

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given the Covid-19 variants of concerns new names by Greek alphabets to avoid stigmatising nations where they were first detected.

The new names will replace existing scientific names which the organisation says will help in public discussions.

In a statement, the WHO said the old names were difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting

“As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatising and discriminatory,” reads the statement.

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

ALSO READ: Indian virus variant is in SA – What is it and what now?

Under the new system, the variants of concern take on the following names:

From Monday the hitherto, “British variant B.1.1.7” becomes Alpha, the B.1.351 first discovered in South Africa becomes Beta, while the Brazilian P.1 becomes Gamma.

The “Indian variant B.1.617” is split into sub-lineages, of which the B.1.617.2 variant of concern becomes Delta while the B.1.617.1 variant of interest is called Kappa.

Earlier this year South Africans were restricted from travelling to many nations across the world due to the new Covid-19 strain discovered by South African scientists.

South African teams participating in the CAF Champions league experienced travel restrictions in certain African countries after receiving communication at the 11th hour from the countries announcing their fixture had been canceled due to further medical restrictions.