News & Politics

WHO Has a Dumb New Plan to Eliminate 'Stigma' of Virus Names

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

We’ve already been instructed not to call the SARS-CoV-2 virus the “China virus.” Something about attaching a stigma to China, or something. It led to many, many hate crimes against Chinese people (and people who looked Chinese). So we’re told.

I’m sure there are ways to read what’s in the heart and mind of someone attacking a Chinese person in order to discover that the reason for the assault was Donald Trump’s use of the term “China virus” to describe the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization has decided that the names of virus variants such as the “Brazilian variant,” the “South African variant,” and the “Indian variant” all contribute to placing a “stigma” on those people and nations, leading to an uncountable number of hate crimes. So we’re told.

Not only that, but they also hurt people’s feelings. So we’re told.

So, the WHO decided to start naming the variants using Greek alphabet letters. Instead of the “Indian variant,” the SARS-Co-V-2 virus variant that emerged in India will be the “Delta variant” or “Delta-V” for short. It’s not really that much shorter, but it sounds a lot cooler that way.

The WHO could have used the numerical scientific designation for the variants, but somehow “B.1.617.2” isn’t quite as sexy as the “Delta variant.”

New York Times:

B.1.617.2, for example, which has contributed to a deadly surge in India, has been named Delta under the new system. That variant may spread even more quickly than B.1.1.7, the variant discovered in Britain that has contributed to devastating waves of cases globally. (B.1.1.7’s new name is Alpha.)

Scientists will keep assigning long strings of letters and numbers to new variants for their own purposes, but they hope that Greek letters will roll off the tongues of nonscientists more easily.

“While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall and are prone to misreporting. As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory,” the WHO said in a statement explaining the name change.”To avoid this and to simplify public communications, [the] WHO encourages national authorities, media outlets, and others to adopt these new labels.”

What about stigmatizing the ancient Greeks? Who will speak for them? The Greek alphabet is the “direct or indirect ancestor of all modern European alphabets.” Disrespecting the mother alphabet of all of us by using it to name a disease should be protested vigorously. It may even lead to hate crimes against Greek people or people who look Greek classes. Has the WHO no shame, no empathy for the Greeks?

The only people whose feelings are hurt by naming a virus variant after where they live have to make an effort to be emotionally damaged. It’s an idiotic concept that doesn’t make the world any safer or guard the feelings of anyone.