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Why the WHO skipped two letters to name the omicron variant

2021-11-30T01:47:40.653Z

WHO skipped Nu, along with the letter that follows it, Xi, and went straight to the omicron instead. This is the explanation.



Ómicron has a worrying combination, according to doctor 3:03

(CNN) -

The naming of the new variant of the omicron coronavirus is causing some confusion.

Since May, the World Health Organization has used the letters of the Greek alphabet, in order, to name the variants of the coronavirus.

Delta was the most dominant, followed by eight others - including epsilon, iota, and mambda - who have largely vanished so far.


So after a new variant with the difficult scientific name B.1.1.529 was discovered last week in South Africa, observers might have expected the WHO to name it with the next Greek letter on the list: Nu.

But the health agency skipped Nu, along with the next letter, Xi, and instead went directly to omicron, the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet.

"Nu is too easily confused with 'new' and Xi was not used because it is a common surname," the organization explained in an emailed statement to CNN.

"And WHO's best practices for naming new diseases suggest 'avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic group.'

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Although pronounced differently, the Greek letter Xi bears a similarity to the Chinese surname Xi - like Chinese leader Xi Jinping - fueling speculation that it may have played a role in the WHO's omission of the name. .

China has tried to distance itself from the Covid-19 pandemic and has opposed claims that the virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The scientific names of diseases "can be difficult to pronounce and remember, and are prone to misreporting," the WHO said in May.

"As a result, people often resort to calling the variants by where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory."

Ómicron: these are the countries with cases 1:17

To avoid these stigmas, the WHO has avoided associating viruses with specific regions of the world.

Some believe that the use of the terms "Wuhan virus" and "Chinese virus" to describe COVID-19 has led to the persecution of people of Asian descent.

On its website, the WHO said it has identified best practices for naming new human diseases "with the aim of minimizing the unnecessary negative impact of disease names on trade, travel, tourism or the welfare of people. animals".

This is how this latest variant of the coronavirus came to be called the omicron.

And if new variants emerge, there are nine more letters in the Greek alphabet.

Next is Pi.

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-11-30

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