The Pandemic: Coronavirus / Covid-19 / SARS Cov-2

The coronavirus known as Covid19 by the World Health Organization or SARS Cov-2 by CDCm has many names, and many are proscribed. Some of the names include: American Virus, Chinese Virus, Coronavirus, Covid-19 (WHO), Covid-19 Virus (WHO), European Virus, Hubei Flu, Hubei Virus, Kung Flu, King Fu Flu, SARS Cov-2 (CDC), Trump Virus, Wu Flu, Wuhan Coronavirus, Wuhan Flu, and Wuhan Virus. A casual search of the Internet finds scores of other obscure and little used terms for the virus. Names that relate to China, Hubei or Wuhan have been decried as racist and in some localities criminalized as hate speech, although the names Hubei Flu, Hubei Virus, Wuhan Flu and Wuhan Virus were initially used by Chinese officials. Other geographic terms have not generated any complaints.

Of course, nothing starts with a name. The very first terms used by China were Hubei Flu, Hubei Virus, Wuhan Flu and Wuhan Virus. The use of those terms fell away to be replaced by Coronavirus which was replaced by WHO with Covid-19 and by the CDC with SARS Cov-2. Both WHO and CDC also use Coronavirus interchangeably with the terms they have selected. CDC uses SARS Cov-2 only used for the virus and Covid-19 for the disease caused by the virus.

We descriptored records initially with Coronavirus, Covid-19 (retrospectively), Wuhan Flu and Wuhan Virus. After some time we dropped Wuhan Flu and Wuhan virus as obsolete. Other geographic or “humorous” or political terms like, respectively, the American Flu, Kung Flu, and Trump Flu, only appear in abstracts or documents where a speaker uses such a term. Now, most records about the virus are descriptored with both Coronavirus and Covid-19 but some more social- or business-oriented records only have Coronavirus.

As the whole world was engulfed by coronavirus, much of the reporting about the virus was very multinational, since the virus is does not respect political borders. WHO documents often reference a dozen countries on every continent. And there is no real logic in separating coronavirus records strictly into the individual area studies databases. Accordingly, coronavirus and Covid-19 are global descriptors and all such records appear in all the databases.