[Ed. – Apparently a lot of people think it’s stigmatizing to acknowledge where variants emerged. It seems useful to do so, for both policy and science, but I guess that’s not the point. I’d rather they used the names of Greek gods, myself. Catch COVID-19 Zeus and you could lord it over all Olympus.]
Coronavirus variants are to be named after letters of the Greek alphabet instead of their place of first discovery, the World Health Organization has announced, in a move to avoid stigma.
The WHO has named four variants of concern, known to the public as the UK/Kent (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351), Brazil (P.1) and India (B.1.617.2) variants. They will now be given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta respectively, to reflect their order of detection, with any new variants following the pattern down the Greek alphabet.
The decision to go for this naming system came after months of deliberations with experts considering a range of other possibilities such as Greek Gods, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen who was involved in the talks.