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A group of global experts convened by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has given new names to the variants of the monkeypox virus that are currently circulating worldwide. They have used Roman numerals to name the variants/clades so that they are in line with current best practices.
According to a WHO statement, the new names were given to "avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare."
The monkeypox virus was first discovered in 1958, and its major variants were identified by the regions where they were circulating.
The WHO had convened an ad hoc meeting on August 8, which included virologists and public health experts, to reach a agreement on the new names of the Monkeypox variants.
The former Congo Basin (Central African) clade would now be referred to as Clade one (I) while the former West African clade would be called Clade two (II).
Additionally, the expert group agreed that the Clade II consists of two subclades.
While a Roman numeral represents the clade, the subclades will be represented by lower-case alphanumeric characters, they decided.
For example, they have named the existing subclades as Clade I, Clade IIa and Clade IIb, with the latter referring primarily to the group of variants largely circulating in the 2022 global outbreak.
However, the experts are still working on deciding the disease and virus names.
For assigning a new name for monkeypox disease, WHO is holding an open consultation asking people to propose new names. If you have a good name in mind, you can propose it here.
Meanwhile, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) has begun work on deciding the name of the monkeypox virus.
Further, the scientists will be proposing the naming of lineages as the outbreak evolves, and the experts would be meeting when needed, the WHO stated.
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