Stack Exchange Network
Stack Exchange network consists of 181 Q&A communities including
Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.
Visit Stack Exchange
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It only takes a minute to sign up.
Sign up to join this community
Anybody can ask a question
The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
1 year, 4 months ago
A tweet claims WHO skipped a letter of the Greek alphabet when designating new COVID-19 variants to avoid using "xi".
News of new Nu variant, but WHO is jumping the alphabet to call it Omicron, so they can avoid Xi.
Is there any information why it was skipped?
Can it be verified that the letter "Xi" was skipped for political reasons, to avoid the connection to the Chinese president Xi Jinping?
Nov 26, 2021 at 22:41
Ruslan Oblov Ruslan Oblov
3,473 5 5 gold badges 18 18 silver badges 37 37 bronze badges
Yes, according to a reporter for the
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.
Nov 26, 2021 at 22:45
41.5k 15 15 gold badges 171 171 silver badges 169 169 bronze badges
The New York Times
names a WHO spokesman the paper quotes:
“‘Nu’ is too easily confounded with ‘new,’” Tarik Jasarevic, a W.H.O. spokesman, said on Saturday. “And ‘Xi’ was not used because it is a common last name.”
He added that the agency’s best practices for naming diseases suggest avoiding “causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.”
My guess is that they would equally have skipped "Putin" or "Obama" if such letters existed.
Nov 28, 2021 at 22:04
Yes (to avoid confusion and offence), as confirmed in a statement by the WHO to The Associated Press:
In a statement provided to the AP, the WHO said it skipped nu for
clarity and xi to avoid causing offense generally.
“‘Nu’ is too easily confounded with ‘new,’ and ‘Xi’ was not used
because it is a common last name,” the WHO said, adding that the
agency’s “best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding ‘causing
offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or
Nov 29, 2021 at 15:34
Stacker Lee Stacker Lee
949 3 3 silver badges 8 8 bronze badges
log in to answer this question.
By clicking “Accept all cookies”, you agree Stack Exchange can store cookies on your device and disclose information in accordance with our
Accept all cookies
Necessary cookies only