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Time to stop the use of ‘Wuhan virus’, ‘China virus’ or ‘Chinese virus’ across the scientific community
  1. Zhaohui Su1,
  2. Dean McDonnell2,
  3. Junaid Ahmad3,
  4. Ali Cheshmehzangi4,
  5. Xiaoshan Li5,
  6. Kylie Meyer6,
  7. Yuyang Cai7,8,
  8. Ling Yang9,
  9. Yu-Tao Xiang10
  1. 1Center on Smart and Connected Health Technologies, Mays Cancer Center, School of Nursing, UT Health San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  2. 2Department of Humanities, Institute of Technology Carlow, Carlow, Ireland
  3. 3Prime Institute of Public Health, Peshawar Medical College, Peshawar, Pakistan
  4. 4Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Nottingham - Ningbo China, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China
  5. 5Program of Public Relations and Advertising, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University, United International College, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
  6. 6School of Nursing, UT Health San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  7. 7School of Public Health, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  8. 8China Institute for Urban Governance, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
  9. 9Department of Geriatrics, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  10. 10Unit of Psychiatry, Institute of Translational Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences; & Center for Cognition and Brain Sciences, University of Macau, Taipa, Macau, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zhaohui Su; szh{at}utexas.edu; Dr Yuyang Cai; caiyuyang{at}sjtu.edu.cn

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Summary box

  • The use of phrases such as ‘Wuhan virus’, ‘China virus’ and ‘Chinese virus’ is prevalent, even among academics.

  • Considering the fact that, to date, no evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 was originated in Wuhan, the use of these phrases to refer to SARS-CoV-2 is unjustifiable and unscientific.

  • In this paper, we discussed how the use of these terms violates the research ethics proposed by the National Institute of Health, ranging from objectivity to responsibility.

  • In addition, we emphasised the fact that these phrases are discriminatory and can have a negative impact on Wuhan and Chinese people’s health and well-being.

  • We concluded by calling for ceasing to use these phrases, as fundamentally, they are misleading and can distract the public’s attention from the most important issue of the day: how to stop the virus from spreading.

In many areas of the world, phrases such as ‘Wuhan virus’, ‘China virus’ and ‘Chinese virus’ have been frequently used by laypeople, influential politicians and mass media to refer to the virus SARS-CoV-2 that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.1 Naming a virus after a geographic location or group of people is not unheard-of, for example, the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the Legionnaires’ disease.2 However, having precedence is not a de facto justification for using these alternatives, as mentioned above, to SARS-CoV-2. Replacing SARS-CoV-2 with ‘Wuhan virus’, ‘China virus’ or ‘Chinese virus’ hinders the public’s understanding and perception of the novel coronavirus.

Inhibiting COVID-19 research development, similar to the accounts of MERS and Legionnaires’ disease, these terms are biased since not only Wuhan or Chinese people would contract the disease (until an iota of evidence emerges that somewhat hints the otherwise). These representations …

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