World Health Organization Debuts New Nomenclature for Virus Variants

The World Health Organization has debuted a new standardized nomenclature for naming virus variants. Recognizing the issues surrounding the informal use of geographic names for virus variants earlier this year, the W.H.O. set out to adopt a new naming schema. They decided to use Greek letters. Benjamin Mueller writes in the New York Times:

“Variants will be assigned letters of the Greek alphabet in the order in which they are designated potential threats by the W.H.O. B.1.617.2, for example, which has contributed to a deadly surge in India, has been named Delta under the new system. That variant may spread even more quickly than B.1.1.7, the variant discovered in Britain that has contributed to devastating waves of cases globally. (B.1.1.7’s new name is Alpha.)”