Former President Donald Trump was heavily criticized for calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” and other similar terms, but geographic identifiers are commonly used to refer to COVID-19 variants.
Some have suggested that Trump referring to coronavirus as “China Virus” and “Wuhan Flu” lead to a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Is this distinction between the “China Virus” and, for example, the “South African variant” a double-standard or a legitimate difference? Several medical experts and scientists told the Daily Caller the difference lies in helping the public understand what’s happening.
So there’s an “Indian,” “Brazilian,” “South African,” and “British” variant? But it’s beyond the pale to name Covid as the “Wuhan,” or “China” virus.
Personally, I always preferred “CCP-19,” to remind the world who was responsible for the mendacity at the heart of the crisis. https://t.co/e3tXTL7Wll
— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) April 4, 2021
The variants of the virus do have different technical names — for instance, B.1.1.7 for the “U.K. variant,” — but the general public can’t realistically be asked to remember all of those, the experts said.
“Some argue for just always using the technical identifier but I think that asks a lot of the reader – I can’t keep them straight half the time either without referring to notes,” said Dr. Eleanor Murray, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Public Health. “No one actually needs the reference back to Wuhan to know what we’re talking about [with COVID-19].”
Others echoed the same reasoning. “There are other names that I try to use, but I think that the general public, if I start talking about 22.214.171.124.2.9 variant, people aren’t gonna know what that means, or 1.1.7, or 126.96.36.199, or P.1. Those are much harder for the general public to understand,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Dr. Paulo Verardi, associate professor of virology and vaccinology at the University of Connecticut, said there isn’t necessarily a standard accepted method of referring to the variants when speaking to a general audience. “Variant names are normally not something would become household