Virus variants in Asia threaten the whole world
If the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread worldwide, vaccines could become ineffective and strains could escape immunity. The right vaccines need to go to the places where they are needed.
According to genome databases, such as nextstrain.org, there are now more than 1,000 known variants of the SARS CoV-2 virus.
Up to now, the "variants of concern" have been named after the places where they were first discovered. But in a move to avoid stigmatizing particular countries, the World Health Organization has now introduced a new naming system based on the letters of the Greek alphabet. The UK/Kent, South African, Brazilian and Indian variants will now be given the letters Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta respectively. But the labels will not replace their more complex scientific names.