Omicron: What could future Covid variants be called? Why were Nu and Xi skipped? Here's the letters left in the Greek alphabet and the names used so far for variants

OMICRON is the latest coronavirus variant of concern to be identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 3:39 pm

Almost 250 cases have been found in the UK so far – while it has also been identified in countries around Europe and the world.

It is the latest variant to take its name from the Greek alphabet.

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Covid: Nearly 250 Omicron variant cases have been confirmed in the UK, including...

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A Covid test. Picture: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

The Kent strain, which was identified in England in December last year and prompted the strict Tier 4 measures in Portsmouth for Christmas, was the first variant to be named by WHO.

It was given the name Alpha – based on the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

Other variants of concern have been identified and called: Beta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, Mu and now Omicron.

The WHO has skipped over two letters in the Greek alphabet – Nu and Xi, with the former being avoided because it sounded too much like new and the later because it is a 'common’ surname. It is also the last name of the current Chinese president.

But what could future variants be called?

Here are the remaining letters in the Greek alphabet:

- Pi

- Rho

- Sigma

- Tau

- Upsilon

- Phi

- Chi

- Psi

- Omega

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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