BRIEF: Stop calling it the “South African variant”

South Africa is popping up in international news for all the wrong reasons: 501Y.V2, the so-called “South African variant” of Covid-19. But is it fair to associate us negatively with this variant? After all, the major reason we identified it, similar to the UK and its variant, is that both countries have advanced virus genome testing processes – and we were transparent about it. Other countries likely have similar mutations that they have yet to identify, or own up to. And while the 501Y.V2 variant is thought to have originated in South Africa, there is a chance this could have been via someone from another country who later entered SA, according to world-renowned SA infectious diseases specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim. After all, the variant has now been found in over 30 countries. Now if only the scientists would find a better name than “variant 501Y.V2”, we can lose the “South Africa” misnomer once and for all.

This brief was originally published in The Wrap here.

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