it’s been three years now Spain started hearing the word coronavirus, a disease that seemed to be spreading like wildfire in China. No one had imagined then, despite the fact that The World Health Organization (WHO) had already started showing warning signs that a global pandemic was coming.
Months of confinement and a state of alarm followed each other over time to prevent the mass contagion of a disease Only its name was known: Covid-19, Because even at that time it was not clear whether it was feminine or masculine.
as the days wore on Infected and dead multiplied worldwide And exactly one year after the outbreak of the pandemic, WHO starts using Greek alphabet to name variants Which originated from a virus that had already reached disproportionate dimensions.
different names like Alpha, Delta, Omicron broadcast in the media becoming a common reference for citizens. However, the labels changed in 2022 when the virus began to evolve. within omicron version,
“Since the new subtypes were no longer distinct enough to continue to be named with a different Greek letter, WHO began to classify them with the naming of the so-called PANGO network., which is based solely on the analysis of the genetic makeup of the virus. This nomenclature provides a letter or combination Number each line after the letters as BA.1, BA.2Etc”, explains epidemiologist and professor at the University of Zaragoza, Nacho de Blas.
From Greek letters to mythical beasts
But, when did you go from scientifically naming variants to identifying them with mythical animal names? omicron is the key, At this point, and not having to continue with the Greek letters WHO, is when Ryan Gregory, professor of evolutionary biology at Canada’s University of Guelph, appears. “He is the one who, via social networks, officially names XBB.1.5 as Kraken. The most contagious but less dangerous is the last subvariant Omicron,” says the expert of the University of Zaragoza.
“He did the same with All previous Omicron sub-variants: BA.5.2 (Triton), BQ.1.1 (Cerberus), XBB (Griffon)… And so on until it becomes ‘Variant Soup’. An idea that came to him this summer after seeing the success of a Twitter user-created nickname for the BA.2.75 (Centaurus) strain,” says de Blas.
"They only ever choose scary nicknames to describe variants".
We (people giving regular updates on variants) have been using nicknames for months, mostly just going down the list of options but skipping the confusing ones. 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/g6uzhlz2iN
— T. Ryan Gregory (@TRyanGregory) January 8, 2023
“Chimera, Sphinx, Hydra and Ortho are also used. And of his companion Typhon and his father Cetus, a whale-sized sea monster that gives its name to cetaceans“, recalls epidemiologists, who warn that the new version that is about to become fashionable will be CH.1.1 (= BA.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199).
“It’s called Arthrus, 2 headed dog son of Echinacea and Typhon and brother of Cerberus, which is already increasing its frequency in the United Kingdom and New Zealand”, concludes De Blas, who recalls that “These are not the official names assigned by the World Health Organization,