The head of Omicron chain of ophthalmological clinics from Novosibirsk, Alexander Padar, filed a lawsuit against the Russian office of the World Health Organization (WHO) because of the name of the new COVID-19 strain.
The name of the clinic completely coincides with the name given by the WHO to the new coronavirus strain from South Africa. The organization omitted two letters of the Greek alphabet because 'nu' was consonant with 'new' in English, and 'xi' was similar to a Chinese surname.
According to Novosibirsk Online, Alexander Padar filed the claim with the Moscow Arbitration Court on November 30.
The businessman demands the use of the word 'omicron' for the new strain of coronavirus or any other infection be prohibited. He wants the WHO to remove the term from all documents and reimburse with him for the state fee in the amount of 6,000 rubles ($80).
"Our name is a registered trademark, primarily in the field of medicine and health care, since this is our main activity. The association with a coronavirus strain causes damage to our business reputation,” said Padar.
The lawsuit notes that the businessman invested a lot of money in advertising the brand of his clinics. Until recently, search engines would take users to the website of his clinics when they searched for 'omicron'. Now people have to deal with information that "instills anxiety, fear and horror and has nothing to do with the medical activity of the plaintiff."
The businessman claims that the new coronavirus strain named Omicron, just like his chain of clinics, has caused him "enormous financial losses."
The Omicron coronavirus strain was first identified in South Africa on November 11. British scientists found that it had a record number of mutations. In their opinion, this could make the virus resistant to existing vaccines. The WHO called the new strain a "threat" because it spreads faster than the previous variant.
According to doctors from South Africa, symptoms of the Omicron strain are mild and similar to those of common flu. Professor at Gamaleya Research Centre, Anatoly Altshein, said that there was no reason to conclude that the Omicron variant could cause either a more severe course of the disease or death.