The World Health Organization’s decision to name a new COVID-19 variant “Omicron” has sparked a lot of online speculation.
The World Health Organization’s decision to name a new COVID-19 variant “Omicron” has sparked a lot of online speculation, with some wondering why the UN health agency skipped a few letters in the Greek alphabet and went with the 15th. The WHO, on the other hand, did not explain why the Greek letters Nu and Xi, which come after Delta, were ignored. According to a report by the news agency Sputnik, Delta is the name of a COVID strain that was discovered in India in December 2020 and quickly spread throughout the country, eventually reaching Europe and the United States.
Meanwhile, Paul Nuki, Senior Editor of The Telegraph, stated on Twitter, citing unnamed WHO sources, that the organisation skipped the said Greek letters to avoid any confusion. “A WHO source confirmed that the Greek alphabet letters Nu and Xi were intentionally avoided.
They said Nu was omitted to avoid confusion with the word “new,” and Xi was omitted to “avoid stigmatising a region.” On Twitter, Nuki wrote, “All pandemics are inherently political!” The WHO’s decision, on the other hand, prompted some interesting social media comments.
“Makes sense, frankly (though Omnicron sounds like a brand of microwave), but what happens when we run out of alphabet?” one of the users wrote in response to the UN health agency’s decision. Do we get names like Bill for hurricanes? [sic].” “How can you avoid stigmatising a region?” Why aren’t they concerned that having all the variants named with Greek letters stigmatises Greece? [sic],” another remarked.
“And they’ll skip Pi in the next variant because it’ll annoy all the mathematicians!” [sic], as a third put it. Another comment read, “Nu and Mu are also common surnames in Asia, and Delta Airlines has so many Gamma/Theta in the world, but no offence, only Xi offence [sic].”
The Omicron coronavirus variant
It’s worth noting that the new coronavirus variant B.1.1.529, dubbed Omicron, was discovered in South Africa and has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization. Because of its complicated genetic sequence, the strain has alarmed scientists and the medical community. Furthermore, it is the most potent SARS-CoV-2 variant discovered to date. The protein spike of the variant has over 50 mutations, including over 30 on the spike protein, making it far more transmissible than the Delta version.