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What's It Called?

With new strains of SARS-CoV-2 emerging, scientists are grappling with what to call them, Nature News writes.

It notes that the variant that was recently identified in the UK was initially called the Variant Under Investigation 202012/01 (VUI 202012/01) then the Variant of Concern 202012/01 (or VOC 202012/01) by Public Health England, but that others dubbed it B.1.1.7 or 20I/501Y.V1, names that reflect its evolutionary relationships, or called it the 'UK variant.' 

"I think all of us are becoming very confused by the different variant names," Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist, said during a World Health Organization meeting on the new variants, according to Nature News.

It adds that researchers want to develop names for these new strains that don't rely on location names — so as to not stigmatize the places they were found — but also don't refer to any one mutation within the strains — so as to not overlook other alterations. However, Nature News notes that the WHO meeting did not come up with a new way of naming emerging strains, though it says there is a working group devoted to the issue.