WHO has assigned simple, easy to say and remember labels for key variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, using letters of the Greek alphabet.
The labels were chosen after wide consultation and a review of many potential naming systems.
The scientific names can be difficult to say and remember and as a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected – like UK variant, South African variant, Brazilian variant, Indian variant – this is not recommended because it is discriminatory and stigmatizes the country that first reported the variant.
To avoid this and to simplify public communications, WHO encourages national authorities, media outlets, and others to adopt these new labels.
The million-dollar question: Do vaccines still protect against the VOC? YES. Do monoclonal antibodies still work to neutralize the VOC? YES. This is good news – for now.
Let’s keep it that way! Vaccinate as many people as fast as possible.*
Dr. Melvin Sanicas (@Vaccinologist) is a physician-scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health.