The formal announcement of the naming scheme for the SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (VOIs) and variants of concern (VOCs) by the Virus Evolution Working Group of the World Health Organization is published today in Nature Microbiology. VOIs and VOCs will be labelled using letters of the Greek alphabet, and the names, alongside key scientific and medical features, will be published and continuously updated henceforth.
The Comment describes current naming schemes for SARS-CoV-2 variants and sets out the reasons why a naming scheme for VOIs and VOCs is needed. Mark Perkins and colleagues note that single VOIs and VOCs may be given multiple names under current schemes and that they are often referred to by the location in which they were first identified, which can discourage reporting and can be stigmatizing, as well as potentially misleading. The system for allocating the new names is described and the authors conclude by stating the new system “is intended to facilitate the sharing of research advancements with a broader audience and aims to provide a platform to enable clear global discourse around VOIs and VOCs.”
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