Why calling it the Chinese virus is xenophobic and offensive

Kristin Gooding, Editor in Chief

COVID-19 has been called many names such as coronavirus and the more offensive, Chinese virus, Asian virus and Wuhan virus.

Calling this dangerous virus that has infected more than 2,500,000 people worldwide, the “Chinese virus” or other discriminatory names gives the impression it only affects Chinese but according to Worldometers it has actually affected more Americans than Chinese. 

Several right-wing supporters’ argue these titles are appropriate because it is where the virus originated, and we call many viruses based on their origin like the Spanish Flu. But the Spanish Flu actually originated in France, not Spain. The only reason it was called the Spanish Flu is that it affected Spain more than any other country.

Originally FOX News claimed the virus originated in a lab in China as a bioweapon.  But the report was quickly disproved, and the news organization later came to agree with the World Health Organization’s stance. 

“All available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin and is not manipulated or constructed in a lab or somewhere else,” World Health Organization spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said at a Geneva news briefing on April 21.

Calling it the Chinese virus, as our President has done multiple times, is xenophobic. This xenophobia has led many Chinese-Americans to be attacked. 

According to San Fransico State University Asian American studies in their study, News Accounts of COVID-19 Discrimination, “Coronavirus discrimination news increased by 50 percent from 93 articles in week one to 140 stories in week four.”

It’s not just the news that is being discriminatory, but individuals have taken it upon themselves to attack Asian Americans which is considered a hate crime.

“The data shows there have been 23 hate crimes against victim’s whose protected category is classified as “other” so far this year — a 475 percent increase from the four reported over the same period last year,” the New York Post reported in, “Hate crimes against perceived coronavirus carriers spike in NYC.”

Brain Pop put it the best way, “Coronavirus doesn’t care where you’re from or what your background is. So don’t let anyone turn this into an excuse to target someone based on how they look…Let’s stand up for our neighbors.”