SARS-CoV-2 Variants Get New Names
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 31, 2021, Greek alphabet labels for the variants of the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time, says the WHO.
Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’s properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.
WHO stated it would assign labels for those variants that are designated as Variants of Interest or Variants of Concern by WHO.
These labels do not replace existing scientific names, conveying important scientific information, and will continue to be used in research.