June 18, 2024

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WHO experts agree on new name for monkeypox virus variant

WHO experts agree on new name for monkeypox virus variant


WHO experts agree on new name for monkeypox virus variant.

As part of an ongoing effort to align the names of monkeypox diseases, viruses and variants — or lineages — with current best practices, a global expert group convened by WHO has agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants Agree.

They agreed to use Roman numerals to name these branches.




The monkeypox virus was named when it was first discovered in 1958. At that time, the current best practices for naming diseases and viruses had not been adopted.

So does the name of the disease it causes. Major variants are identified based on their known geographic areas of spread.


Current best practice is to name newly discovered viruses, related diseases and virus variants in such a way as to avoid offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic group, and to minimise trade, travel, tourism or negative impacts on animal welfare.


  • Diseases: It is the responsibility of WHO to assign new names to existing diseases according to the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO International System of Classification of Health-Related Categories. The WHO is conducting a public consultation on a new disease name for monkeypox. Anyone wishing to propose a new name can do so at;


  • Viruses: The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) is responsible for naming virus species. ICTV is currently working on the naming of monkeypox viruses;


  • Variants/clades: The nomenclature of existing pathogen variants is often the result of debate among scientists. To expedite an agreement in the context of the current pandemic, the World Health Organization convened a special meeting on August 8, allowing virologists and public health experts to agree on new terms.


Poxvirology, evolutionary biology experts and representatives of research institutions from around the globe reviewed the phylogeny and nomenclature of known and new monkeypox virus variants or clades.

They discuss the characteristics and evolution of monkeypox virus variants, their apparent phylogenetic and clinical differences, and potential consequences for public health and future virological and evolutionary research.


The group reached consensus on a new nomenclature of viral lineages that align with best practice. They reached a consensus on how to document and classify viral lineages on the Genome Sequence Repository website.


The consensus reached is that the former Congo Basin (Central Africa) branch is now called the first branch (I), and the original West African branch is called the second branch (II). Furthermore, it is agreed that the second clade consists of two subclades.


A suitable naming structure would use roman numerals for subclades and lowercase alphanumerics for subclades.

Therefore, the new nomenclature includes I branch, IIa branch and IIb branch. The latter mainly refers to the main circulating variant species in the global epidemic in 2022.

The name of the strain will be proposed by scientists as the epidemic develops. Expert meetings will be convened again as necessary.


As work continues on disease and virus names, the new names for each branch should take effect immediately.





WHO experts agree on new name for monkeypox virus variant

(source:internet, reference only)

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