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COVID Variant Naming
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COVID Variant Naming

COVID Variant Naming

How does the WHO come up with the names?

First of all, the WHO is officially providing us with the names of the new variants of CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. It’s called CoV-2, or SARS Coronavirus 2, because it is the 2nd coronavirus that has caused a pandemic, the last one being in 2001 and caused SARS illnesses in 2002-3.

The WHO names these things based on specific criteria but now is naming CoV-2 variants according to the next letter in the Greek alphabet. Okay, given that, “omicron” is the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. Delta is the 4th. So, does that mean there are already 15 variants, or strains of CoV-2?

The answer is – probably – and probably more than 15. The way a virus mutates and replicates it’s very hard to keep track of how many variants there are. But, the big ones get named in a manner that the name itself doesn’t reflect on any person, society or place in order to de-stigmatize the name.

So, omicron is just the latest and greatest stain that has been identified that might be, and probably is, going to be a major problem. From my count, there are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet and we’ve used up 15. What’s next when we run out of letters?

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