Scientists debate naming of new Covid-19 variants, want to avoid stigma
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has been rapidly spreading across the world. It has so far killed millions of people and severely affected major economies.
There are a few variants of the Sars-Cov-2 virus which are spreading faster and are deadlier. One such variant was identified in the United Kingdom last year.
The scientists are now grappling with what to call these variants. A meeting was held at the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week (January 12) where discussion happened at a new naming system but confusion still prevails.
According to Nature, the fast-spreading UK variant was initially called Variant Under Investigation or VIU for short. After a risk assessment, it was renamed as Variant of Concern or VOC.
The main cause of concern is the stigma for a country or region if a variant is named after it. 'UK variant', 'South African variant' etc are popular in news reports, but scientists say such things should be avoided.
“The last thing we want to do is dissuade any particular place from reporting they’ve got a new concerning variant - in fact, we want to do the opposite,” Oliver Pybus, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford, told Nature.
It's not necessary that a variant named after a particular country emerged from there, say the scientists. It is spotted in one country or region and quickly spreads across the world, they add.
That is why, for now, the naming scheme has been based on the evolutionary precedents, leading to the name B117 for the variant found in the UK and B1351 or 501Y.V2 for the one seen in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the global caseload of Covid-19 has crossed 96 million while death toll has breached the 2 million mark, according to the Johns Hopkins University tacker.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- Vaccinations must be administered within three months of the travel period and travellers will be required to show negative Covid-19 test results.
- Spain’s Constitutional Court on Monday rejected last-minute appeals by unions and women’s rights groups to hold any kind of street protest in the Spanish capital, following similar recent rulings by lower-level courts.
- Chandra Moore, 55, died Friday, Detroit police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said.
- The country’s collective investment scheme industry saw net annual inflows of 213 billion rand ($13.8 billion) in 2020, according to statistics released by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa on Monday. That was the highest figure since 1965.
- The decision had been taken as a precaution, the National Office for Health System Safety (BASG) said late on Sunday, adding that there was "no evidence of a causal link" between the jab and the woman's death.