WHO Skipped Two Letters in Naming New Virus Variant

A promising variant must have an appropriately marketable/ominous name

The name of a newly identified variant of the coronavirus has had some social media users scratching their heads about the World Health Organization’s system for labeling certain versions of the virus.

The WHO chose on Friday to dub the variant, first reported to the agency by scientists in South Africa, “omicron” — continuing its use of the Greek alphabet for naming notable variants of the virus.

Social media users correctly noted, however, that the organization skipped two letters in doing so, leading to questions about the move.

Here’s what we know about how omicron ended up with its name.

The WHO has followed the Greek alphabet when labeling certain variants of the virus, SARS-CoV-2, since May. It said the system allows for variants to be referred to in a simpler way than by their scientific names, and that it helps prevent people from referring to variants by the location where they were detected and creating stigma. [The system allows for the rebranding of the same disease over and over again with appropriately ominous and catchy names so as to be able to hype up fear (and keep WHO “relevant”) forever. Indian variant was far more successful in refueling the hysteria once it had been dubbed “Delta” precisely because the sexy name made it sound like a novel disease and partly got around the covid fatigue.]

Many people had expected the agency to label the latest variant nu, which comes after mu, a variant designated on Aug. 30. [The unintentionally ironic “Nu” would have poked fun at their constant attempts to reboot the March 2020 hysteria. Can’t have that. Especially for a variant, they’re getting behind as their best hope to rekindle that sweet Delta pretend-hysteria.]

Instead, the WHO skipped over nu as well as xi, the next Greek letter in line — a move that many users on social media pointed out, while some questioned whether it was to avoid offending Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

In a statement provided to the AP, the WHO said it skipped nu for clarity and xi to avoid causing offense generally.

“‘Nu’ is too easily confounded with ‘new,’ and ‘Xi’ was not used because it is a common last name,” the WHO said, adding that the agency’s “best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding ‘causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.’”

Those best practices were outlined in a May 2015 document issued by the agency. The organization said at the time that it wanted to “minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people” when naming infectious diseases.

This is the first time the organization has skipped letters since it began using the Greek alphabet for coronavirus variants; it has previously used the alphabet to label 12 others. Alpha, beta, gamma and delta are all currently “variants of concern” like omicron. Lambda and mu are given the less serious “variant of interest” designation. Six other letters were assigned to former variants of interest.

The omicron variant appears to have a high number of mutations in the coronavirus’ spike protein, which could affect how easily it spreads to people. The WHO said Friday that preliminary evidence “suggests an increased risk of reinfection” compared to other variants of concern.

But scientists are still in the process of researching exactly what the genetic changes mean, to know if the variant is more transmissible or dangerous. So far, there is no indication the variant causes more severe disease.

Source: Associated Press

  1. ken says

    Can’t have the name of lifelong el presidente of China used for a disease now can we.

    “But scientists are still in the process of researching exactly what the genetic changes mean, to know if the variant is more transmissible or dangerous”

    Let me know when these “scientists” purify the first version of this never ending horse hockey. It’s interesting how they can record the genetic changes of the super ninja variant when they don’t have a clue of the genetics of the original.

    But the beat goes on which proves there is not a sucker born every minute,,, there is one born every nanosecond.

  2. George W Obama says

    The BS Variant

  3. Ying Jun says

    Rubbish article, always trying to drag China into your mess. The leader of China’s surname is 習 and has nothing to do with the Greek alphabet. Ignorant prejudiced racist foreigners should not speak of what they don’t understand. Investigate what’s inside Fort Detrick before you point fingers at China.

    1. Ragheadthefiendlyterrorist says

      This site is a right wing sewer pit which calls people it doesn’t like “Covid maoists” and thinks the Brazilian fascist Jair Bolsonaro is a “hero”, so what do you expect?

      1. Voz 0db says

        Bolsonaro is the BEST president Fossa Brasilis has had in the last 50 years!

  4. Mark says

    Just in time, too. Just when global feeling was “Oh, no; you are NOT giving us ‘another wave’ of Delta and starting up with the lockdowns and the masks-for-all-occasions” bullshit again. Just when the bogus PCR ‘test’ is on its way out. And just in time to plug the hole blown in the COVID narrative by there being – inexplicably – almost no COVID in Africa although it is only about 6% vaccinated.

    The discoverer of the ‘new variant’ claims those afflicted presented with mild symptoms and that it manifested as a feeling of extreme fatigue. Perfect. Now everyone who is tired will have to be tested for Omicron.

  5. GMC says

    OMi – CON

    1. Juan says

      Anagram for MORONIC

  6. Juan says

    It’s just a common cold. The lady chair of the South Africa Medical Association said it was a mild virus, and that the hysteria was uncalled for.

  7. James says

    The global Covid testing market is now over $100 billion and is forecast to double in the next five years. That’s “too big to fail” territory. Do you really think they can afford to let this massive money-making scam fade away?

  8. Jax says

    It’s an anagram for moronic / omicron. They are laughing at you!

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