Why WHO Skipped 2 Greek Letters While Naming New Covid Strain

Omicron, first found in South Africa, has been identified in at the minimum a dozen other countries.

New Delhi:

“Omicron”, the new Covid variant that has the world on alert, has been named after the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. The first 12 have already been used for naming other strains.

Why were letters 13 and 14 – Nu and Xi – skipped by the World Health Organisation?

The Internet is complete of theories.

Many said the letters were avoided for a reason.

The letter “Nu” could be confused with “new” and “Xi” is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s name.

Journalist Paul Nuki, a senior editor at the Telegraph, quoted a source as revealing that this was indeed the case.

“A WHO source confirmed the letters Nu and Xi of the Greek alphabet had been deliberately avoided. Nu had been skipped to avoid confusion with the information “new” and Xi had been skipped to “avoid stigmatising a vicinity”, they said. All pandemics inherently political!”

Many tweeted on these reports. Some already called the variant “Nu” but later corrected themselves, noted that WHO had jumped two alphabets.

News of new Nu variant, but WHO is jumping the alphabet to call it Omicron, so they can avoid Xi,” posted Martin Kulldorff, whose Twitter bio describes him as an epidemiologist.

A user responded: “No, exactly the opposite. They’re trying to avoid any association with politics. They started using these names to not stigmatize places they’re found and they want to avoid confusion or the name being a bigger story than the deadly variants so they skipped names like Nu in addition.”

Omicron, first found in South Africa, has been identified in at the minimum a dozen other countries.

WHO today warned that Omicron posed a ‘very high’ global risk and surges in infection could have “harsh consequences” in some areas.



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