WHO pressed to explain ‘skipping’ Nu & Xi Covid strains — Analysis
The World Health Organization (WHO) decision to name the new coronavirus variant of concern ‘Omicron’ has raised some eyebrows, as under its Greek alphabet naming scheme the next ones up should have been ‘Nu’ and then ‘Xi’.
Omicron is the commonly used name for SARS-CoV-2’s variant scientifically known by B.1.1.529 and was officially designated on Friday. There are five more viruses that the WHO has listed “variants of concern”And two more “variants of interest,” with the last of them named ‘Mu.’
Sharp-eyed observers have noted that by using ‘Omicron’ the WHO skipped over both ‘Nu’ and the next letter in the Greek alphabet, ‘Xi’.
Although the WHO does not have an official explanation for the decision, an anonymous official with multiple journalists stated that the WHO made it deliberate. “new”Xi and “avoid stigmatizing a region,”A senior editor from the UK newspaper Telegraph said so.
According to a WHO source, Nu and Xi were deliberately avoided in the Greek alphabet. To avoid confusion with the term “new”, Nu was not used. Xi, they stated, had been left out to “avoid stigmatizing a particular region”.
— Paul Nuki (@PaulNuki) November 26, 2021
Washington Examiner’s journalist provided additional detail. He quoted the official saying that Xi was “a common last name & WHO best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, & ethnic groups.”
It also happens to be the transliteration of the family name of China’s current president, Xi Jinping.
WHO on skipping Nu/Xi to dub variant Omicron: “Nu is too easily confounded with ‘new’ & Xi wasn’t used b/c it’s a common last name & WHO best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, & ethnic groups.”
— Jerry Christmas ???????????? (@JerryDunleavy) November 26, 2021
While the first cases of the novel coronavirus were documented in Wuhan, in China’s Hubei province, the authorities in Beijing have rejected both the “lab leak” “wet market”Theories of it’s origin suggest that it could have been imported from the USA.
SARS-CoV-2 was the name of the virus by the WHO. Covid-19 is the disease it caused. The WHO used the Greek alphabet as a naming convention to identify variants and types of the virus. This was done in order to avoid the term “avoidable” “stigmatizing and discriminatory”It is a good practice to name them by their first detection.
READ MORE: The ABCs of Covid: What you need to know about each ‘strain of concern’