Language finally evolves to catch up with Covid-19 variants

World

Language finally evolves to catch up with Covid-19 variants

That clutter of numbers, letters and full stops has now been replaced by a more practical naming system

Emma Farge

Coronavirus variants with clunky, alphanumeric names have now been assigned the letters of the Greek alphabet to simplify discussion and pronunciation while avoiding stigma.

The World Health Organisation revealed the new names on Monday amid criticism that those given by scientists to strains such as the SA variant – which goes by multiple names including B.1.351, 501Y.V2 and 20H/501Y.V2 – were too complicated.

Since the pandemic began, the names people have used to describe the virus have provoked controversy. Former US president Donald Trump called the new coronavirus “the China virus” and other monikers, raising concern he was using the names as a political weapon to shift blame to a rival nation...

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