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."