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Greek Letters for Variants

The World Health Organization has announced a new Greek alphabet-based naming system for SARS-CoV-2 variants, CNN reports.

It adds that the hope is that the new nomenclature will make it easier for the public to discuss the variants without stigmatizing the countries where the variants were detected. Under this system, the B.1.1.7 variant that was found in the UK is dubbed "Alpha" and the B.1.351 variant uncovered in South Africa is "Beta," while the P.1 variant found in Brazil is "Gamma" and the B.1.617.2 variant identified in India is "Delta." The WHO notes that the new labels are not meant to replace the scientific names of the variants.

Amesh Adalja from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security tells CNN that it would have been better to adopt this nomenclature earlier on, as it might now be harder to get people to use these labels. "There's definitely issues with stigmatization where the variants are being described and then labeling them based on that country," Adalja tells it, adding that, "I think it's just a lot for people to think about this far down the line."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.