The British scientific journal Nature apologized for stoking racism by connecting the COVID-19 outbreak to China, where the virus originated.
Nature published an editorial on Tuesday apologizing for making the association against guidelines made by the World Health Organization for reporting on diseases. The journal said that the pandemic’s association with China has led to “untold human costs” against people of Asian descent.
By naming the disease simply COVID-19, the WHO “was implicitly sending a reminder to those who had erroneously been associating the virus with Wuhan and with China in their news coverage – including Nature. That we did so was an error on our part, for which we take responsibility and apologize,” Nature wrote.
WHO guidelines published in 2015 said that new diseases should not be named after a region or country, a specific person, group of people, or type of animal. The UN health agency listed “examples to be avoided” such as Middle East respiratory syndrome, Chagas disease, and swine flu.
“History tells us that pandemics lead to communities being stigmatized, which is why we all need to exercise more care,” Nature continued. “Failing to do so has consequences. It’s clear that since the outbreak was first reported, people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to racist attacks, with untold human costs — for example, on their health and livelihoods.”
The journal slammed world leaders, such as President Trump, who have pointed out the coronavirus’s origin in order to put pressure on the Chinese Communist Party to conform to modern health standards in the developed world and shut down the country’s wet markets. The editorial called the tactic an “outdated script.”
US intelligence officials say Chinese authorities are misreporting the impact of the coronavirus and that its number of infections and deaths from the pathogen are much higher than what the CCP has claimed. In the weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Wuhan, Chinese officials acted slowly and focused more on snuffing out news of the virus than stopping the spread of the pathogen itself.