The World Health Organization (WHO) believes that the AT.1 variant of the coronavirus detected in Russia that has been put on the monitoring list should not be called the "Russian variant". No country should be "stigmatized" for detecting and reporting variants, press service of the Geneva-headquartered organization told TASS.
"WHO is tracking a variant designated as an "Alert for Further Monitoring" that was first detected in Russia [Pango lineage AT.1]. However, we wouldn’t call it the "Russian variant". No country should be stigmatized for detecting and reporting variants," press service of the organization told TASS in reply to request letter about AT.1. Starting May 31, coronavirus variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOI) have been named with Greek letters, WHO noted.
AT.1 has not been given such a name, though it has been put on a separate monitoring list together with other 14 strains. It was detected in Russia in January 2021, whereas the World Health Organization put it on its monitoring list on June 9. Apart from AT.1, the list includes strains registered at different times in Brazil, Britain, Indonesia, the US, the Philippines, and other states.
WHO has been tracking variants since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020, the organization noted. "With the emergence of new variants of concern, we are stepping up these efforts so that we can set up systems to quickly identify and study emerging variants. One of the reasons for why variants might emerge are the ‘selection pressures’ brought about by widespread transmission of the virus. We are emphasizing the importance of limiting transmission in our communications with countries and the public to limit the emergence of variants of concerns," press service said.