The World Health Organization on Friday skipped over two letters of the Greek alphabet when it named the latest COVID variant.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas promptly reminded his Twitter followers that the international health body with close ties to the communist Chinese government should be eyed with suspicion.
The variant initially was called B.1.1.529, but the WHO now has given it a name from the Greek alphabet, as has happened throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The WHO says the variant has the potential to evade COVID antibodies.
— Mia Malan (@miamalan) November 26, 2021
Two letters were skipped to name the variant, however, and one of them was suspicious for people who view the WHO as being loyal to China’s authoritarian regime.
Sequentially, the next two Greek letters available were passed on.
News of new Nu variant, but WHO is jumping the alphabet to call it Omicron, so they can avoid Xi. pic.twitter.com/UJ4xMwg52i
— Martin Kulldorff (@MartinKulldorff) November 26, 2021
Do you think the new variant was named so as to not offend China?
“Nu” was not chosen as a name for the South African variant, as it sounds too much like “new” in English. No explanation was offered as to why the next available letter was not chosen.
Instead of calling B.1.1.529 the “xi variant,” omicron — the next letter in the Greek alphabet — was picked.
Xi is part of the name of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has unilaterally run China and its military since 2013.
Paul Nuki, an editor with The Telegraph, pointed out the odd inconsistency of variant naming on Twitter.
“A WHO source confirmed the letters Nu and Xi of the Greek alphabet had been deliberately avoided. Nu had been skipped to avoid confusion with the word ‘new’ and Xi had been skipped to ‘avoid stigmatising a region,’” Nuki tweeted. “All pandemics inherently political!”
A WHO source confirmed the letters Nu and Xi of the Greek alphabet had been deliberately avoided. Nu had been skipped to avoid confusion with the word “new” and Xi had been skipped to “avoid stigmatising a region,” they said.
All pandemics inherently political!
— Paul Nuki (@PaulNuki) November 26, 2021
Cruz shared the tweet with a comment of his own.
“If the WHO is this scared of the Chinese Communist Party, how can they be trusted to call them out the next time they’re trying to cover up a catastrophic global pandemic?” he asked his followers.
If the WHO is this scared of the Chinese Communist Party, how can they be trusted to call them out the next time they’re trying to cover up a catastrophic global pandemic? https://t.co/wURdLcdqw2
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 26, 2021
Omicron becomes the fifth variant to be designated an area of concern by the World Health Organization, according to the New York Post. The other designations are alpha, beta, gamma and delta.