The WHO has stated that the label does not replace existing scientific names, including numbers, Roman letters and dots, which communicate important scientific information and will continue to be used in science and research.
According to the WHO, the argument for changing the general name is mainly the connection of countries with diseases that did not even have to arise there – they were just “unlucky” to have defended the given variant. “People often resort to naming variants according to where they were found, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory,” the WHO said in a statement. “In order to prevent this and to facilitate communication with the public, the WHO calls on national authorities, the media and other actors to adopt these new labels.”
“No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants,” said WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove.
In the past, diseases were often named after places where they were thought to have evolved, such as the Ebola virus, whose name is derived from the Congo River. However, such associations can be harmful to places and are often inaccurate, as in the case of the “Spanish flu” of 1918, the origin of which is unknown.
Some countries are actively opposing such abbreviations. For example, in early May, the Indian government ordered social media and the media to download content that referred to the “Indian variant.” As a result of the pandemic and the association between the covid and the site of its first appearance in Wuhan, China, the number of hate crimes against Asians has increased in many countries around the world.
U.S. counter-extremist groups said the increase in attacks on Asian Americans was partly caused by former President Donald Trump, who called covid-19 a “Chinese virus.” Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, signed a hate crime law this month to protect those who saw an increase in attacks during the pandemic.