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News: Is it all Greek to you? Coronavirus variants get new names


Arcadia
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https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/is-it-all-greek-you-coronavirus-variants-get-new-names-2021-05-31/
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-57308592

“The WHO, which has urged people not to use language to advance COVID-19 profiling of people or nationalities, has also said people should avoid using country names in association with emerging variants.

The four coronavirus variants considered of concern by the U.N. agency and known generally by the public as the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants have now been assigned the Greek letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta, respectively, according to the order of their detection.

Other variants of interest continue down the alphabet.

"While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting," said the WHO, explaining the decision.

The choice of the Greek alphabet came after months of deliberations in which other possibilities such as Greek gods and invented, pseudo-classical names were considered, according to bacteriologist Mark Pallen, who was involved in the talks.“

https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/

WHO label 

Pango  
lineage 
GISAID clade/lineage Nextstrain  
clade 
Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 

Alpha 

B.1.1.7  

GRY (formerly GR/501Y.V1)  

20I/S:501Y.V1  

United Kingdom,  
Sep-2020  

18-Dec-2020 

Beta  B.1.351   GH/501Y.V2   20H/S:501Y.V2   South Africa,  
May-2020  
18-Dec-2020 
Gamma  P.1   GR/501Y.V3   20J/S:501Y.V3   Brazil,  
Nov-2020  
11-Jan-2021 
Delta  B.1.617.2    G/452R.V3   21A/S:478K   India,  
Oct-2020  
VOI: 4-Apr-2021 
VOC: 11-May-2021  

 

WHO label   Pango  
lineage 
GISAID clade/lineage  Nextstrain  
clade 
Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 
Epsilon   B.1.427/B.1.429    GH/452R.V1   20C/S.452R   United States of America,   
Mar-2020  
5-Mar-2021  
Zeta   P.2   GR   20B/S.484K   Brazil,  
Apr-2020  
17-Mar-2021  
Eta   B.1.525   G/484K.V3   20A/S484K   Multiple countries, 
Dec-2020  
17-Mar-2021  
Theta   P.3   GR   20B/S:265C   Philippines,  
Jan-2021  
24-Mar-2021  
Iota   B.1.526    GH   20C/S:484K   United States of America,  
Nov-2020  
24-Mar-2021  
Kappa   B.1.617.1    G/452R.V3   21A/S:154K   India,  
Oct-2020  
4-Apr-2021 

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Yeah, this is a relief. So far it didn't seem like any of the variants had led to the sort of hate crimes that the early pandemic spawned against Asian Americans (and that have continued) but it occurred to me that it could, especially with ones associated with Africa and Latin America.

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I'm glad to hear this. A few months ago dh related a discussion he had had with his boss about why COVID really shouldn't be called "Asian Flu."  His boss replied that he didn't understand why not, people had be using geographic identifiers for a long time, "like the Spanish Flu!" 🤦‍♀️ DH forbade me from calling his boss to give him a history lesson.

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I really like this.  I wonder if it will stick. 

Also, we're already at Kappa?  At this rate, we're going to run out of Greek letters by the end of the year.

 

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39 minutes ago, Plum said:

So now Greeks will be blamed for pandemics and hurricanes?!? lol

They only used Greek letters for the "overflow hurricanes," when they ran out of names, right?

 

5 hours ago, wathe said:

Also, we're already at Kappa?  At this rate, we're going to run out of Greek letters by the end of the year.

Maybe they will work something out with the weather service to borrow names for the overflow variants....

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1 minute ago, Terabith said:

Very happy about this but going to struggle mapping the new names onto my mental models of which variants are which.  I am going to need a cheat sheet.

I've memorised our local demons - alpha and delta.

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15 minutes ago, Terabith said:

Very happy about this but going to struggle mapping the new names onto my mental models of which variants are which.  I am going to need a cheat sheet.

Me too — I feel like I finally had a good handle on where each number variant came from and what the main mutations were (e.g. which ones had the E484K/Q mutations), and now I have to start over, lol.

Also, I wish they had labeled related variants from the same place with an extra number or something — like calling the B1617.1 and B1617.2 variants from India Delta1 and Delta2 instead of Delta & Kappa. And yet they combined the B1427 and B1429 (California) variants and just labeled them both as Epsilon. 

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30 minutes ago, Terabith said:

Very happy about this but going to struggle mapping the new names onto my mental models of which variants are which.  I am going to need a cheat sheet.

 

27 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

I've memorised our local demons - alpha and delta.

 

7 minutes ago, Corraleno said:

Me too — I feel like I finally had a good handle on where each number variant came from and what the main mutations were (e.g. which ones had the E484K/Q mutations), and now I have to start over, lol.

https://mobile.twitter.com/mvankerkhove/status/1399388129300205569

 

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34 minutes ago, SusanC said:

They only used Greek letters for the "overflow hurricanes," when they ran out of names, right?

 

Maybe they will work something out with the weather service to borrow names for the overflow variants....

I'm imagining variants being named after people like hurricanes:  "New COVID-19 variants Ralph and Steve are now spreading..."  😁

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16 minutes ago, kirstenhill said:

I'm imagining variants being named after people like hurricanes:  "New COVID-19 variants Ralph and Steve are now spreading..."  😁

Yes, as if the Karens of the world need more to worry about!

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I'm glad! My brain can't remember numbers to save my life. 

Also, I had to memorize the greek alphabet to the tune of She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain when I was in a sorority in college. Now that is stuck in my head. Ear worm!

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