Everybody knows that Omicron eclipsed Delta with lightning speed. But what about all those Greek alphabet letters in-between? And why not Epsilon or Zeta?
Digital marketers can relate to the brainstorming session that took place.
To answer that question, The Washington Post has written about the room where it happened — the naming exercise, that is. “…the world is now getting a lesson in Greek, one unpleasant coronavirus variant at a time. The same letters used by Plato and Aristotle are turning into symbols of a global plague, and knowing the difference between delta and omicron is essential to understanding whether we might be emerging from the pandemic or still mired in it.”
McKenna’s tweet resonated with Americans; it got 14,000 re-tweets faster than you can say “coronavirus.”
At some point last summer as the Delta variant dawned, the World Health Organization realized that scientific names such as SARS-CoV-2 or B.1.1.7 were not going to work as nomenclature for the mainstream.
Ideas were kicked around, from Greek Gods to species of birds to names of characters in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, reports WaPo. Even once the solution of Greek alphabet letters was agreed, tricky issues remained. For example, “nu” was rejected because we’d have a new “nu” variant. And the next letter, Xi, is the surname of China’s president.
There’s one more problem: the Greek alphabet has only 24 letters, so there are nine left. Here’s to hoping we run out of variants before we reach Omega.