The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed it skipped the Greek letters “nu” and “xi” in naming its new COVID-19 variant, which it dubbed the “omicron” variant.

“‘Nu’ is simply too simply confounded with ‘new,’ and ‘xi’ was not used because it is a common last name, and WHO best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding ‘causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups,’” a WHO spokesperson instructed Fox News in a press release on Saturday.


WHO recommends utilizing Greek letters to make the virus naming course of simpler, in keeping with its web site. Variants being monitored embrace alpha (B.1.1.7 and Q lineages), beta (B.1.351 and descendent lineages), gamma (P.1 and descendent lineages), epsilon (B.1.427 and B.1.429), eta (B.1.525), iota (B.1.526), kappa (B.1.617.1), zeta (P.2) and mu (B.1.621, B.1.621.1), which is the final letter earlier than nu, adopted by xi and omicron.

The transfer didn’t go unnoticed by pundits and politicians on social media — a few of whom criticized the choice whereas others praised it.


Attorney Jonathan Turley instructed in a Friday tweet that the “concern is that W.H.O. is again avoiding any discomfort for the Chinese government,” referencing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He and others additionally highlighted that calling the most recent variant of concern the nu variant may sound like “new variant” and create some confusion.

“It is not clear if there is another reason for the decision to skip over Nu and Xi, but W.H.O.’s history with the investigation into the origins of the pandemic has fueled speculation as to a political motive,” Turley speculated.

Wall Street Journal columnist Ben Zimmer cheered the choice.

Republican politicians together with Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton had the other response and took the choice to nix nu and xi as a chance to criticize WHO.

Zeta and theta variants have been downgraded from WHO’s monitoring record, and it labeled delta and omicron as “variants of concern.”

WHO and China have confronted robust criticism from world wide over their pandemic response, as China blocked WHO investigators from coming into Wuhan for months in 2020. They lastly arrived in mid-January of this 2021 and launched preliminary findings a month later.

The group in February stated its preliminary joint report with China into the origins of the pandemic discovered it “extremely unlikely” the virus got here from a lab and suggested “future studies.” The group stated later in July that it could right a number of “unintended errors” found in its report, in keeping with The Washington Post.

The first instances of coronavirus have been found within the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan in December of 2019.

admitting that the lab-leak was not “extremely unlikely” in spite of everything.

Some politicians and pundits have pointed to blaming China for COVID-19 because the reasoning behind a spike in anti-Asian assaults in 2020.

Fox News’ Evie Fordham and The Associated Press contributed to this report.