The World Health Organization appeared to skip two letters in the Greek alphabet (“Nu” and “Xi”) when it announced on Friday the name for the latest coronavirus variant (“Omicron”), which was first identified in South Africa.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as “Omicron.”
- However, Nu and Xi were the next letters in the Greek alphabet that have yet to be used for a variant, according to data on their website, The New York Post reports.
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) speculated that the WHO had skipped Xi because of its written similarity to the name of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
- “If the WHO is this scared of the Chinese Communist Party, how can they be trusted to call them out next time they’re trying to cover up a catastrophic global pandemic?” Tweeted Cruz.
- A United Nations spokeswoman told The Post the public health agency avoided Nu and Xi for two reasons: “[For] Nu the reasoning was people would get confused thinking it was the new variant, rather than a name,” Dr. Margaret Harris said. “And XI because it’s a common surname and we have agreed [to] naming rules that avoid using place names, people’s names, animal, etc. to avoid stigma.”