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GREEK NEWS

WHO Halfway Through Greek Alphabet With New Covid Strain Omicron

omicron variantA new mutation of the coronavirus, the Omicron variant, was discovered in Botswana. Credit: NIAID, CC BY 2.0

A new Covid-19 variant has been discovered in the African country Botswana, and the World Health Organization has already declared it a “variant of concern,” and with that, given it a name from the Greek alphabet: Omicron.

The decision from WHO to name this new mutation of the coronavirus after a letter from the Greek alphabet follows a precedent. In fact, the organization adopted the practice a year into the pandemic, deciding to name each new variant of concern after a Greek letter in May of 2021.

WHO believes that using letters from the Greek alphabet gives variants memorable and easily pronounceable names. Each variant still retains its “scientific” name, which is comprised of letters and numbers: Omicrons is B.1.1.529. But WHO hopes that using the Greek alphabet will make the variants visible and recognizable across cultures, making for names that laypeople can retain effortlessly.

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