Feb. 15, 2021

How Should We Name Covid Variants?

How Should We Name Covid Variants?

Recently media outlets have been called out for attaching place names like “the UK variant” to SARS-CoV-2 variants—as this can be stigmatizing and even misleading.

What’s a better alternative?

We put the question to our readers, and they had some creative ideas!

Some of their suggestions:
“Why not name variants like we do for hurricanes? First names, please…. Variant Alfred, Boris, Charles, David...” —Edina Butler

“Use common, one-word color names, assigned alphabetically as variants are discovered: aqua, blue, cyan... “ —David Coffin

“How about by date when first reported? People can refer to the ... Oct 11 [variant]. If reported on the same day, could also use Oct 11a and Oct 11b..” —Jorden Brinn

“… By what the spike protein looks like (e.g., hammer variant) – I’m not sure if this is feasible, but it came to mind after seeing a nice explainer article in NPR)” —Amit Mistry

"Why not keep it simple. Use a simple numbering system that all languages can follow. #1 is the first variant acknowledged widely to be a potential problem for our current vaccines; #2 is the second...” —Jan Mathews