Speaks out against scapegoating of Asians and Pacific Islanders

The American Medical Association, on May 4, urged public health officials and the media to refrain from using “racially-charged and xenophobic language that associated the virus with geography or populations of people,” and to call Covid-19 by its name.

“With the world reeling from the health and economic crisis of Covid-19, anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric exacerbates the pandemic, threatening people’s wellbeing and driving us further apart,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, in a statement. “The AMA strongly condemns xenophobic and race-based scapegoating against Asians and Pacific Islanders in America and against Asian-presenting people. Racism and xenophobia lead to negative health consequences for segments of our population and this shouldn’t be tolerated.”

When the World Health Organization (WHO) named the virus, they did so using their specific protocol for naming viruses:

“Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, during a press briefing on Feb. 11 announcing the name of the then novel coronavirus. “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

Hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders have been on the rise, exacerbated perhaps by public officials calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus,” or the “Wuhan Virus.” The ADL outlines the increasing number of reports of these hate crimes.

Most recently, the Trump Administration has been offering up a theory linking the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic to a Chinese government-run lab in Wuhan in an attempt to lay blame for the outbreak on China. However, most intelligence agencies are saying the evidence for this is slim to none, the New York Times reports.

This is just the latest round of President Donald Trump adding fuel to the fire that the virus is Chinese in origin. On March 20, as reported by The Washington Post, during a White House press briefing, Trump has crossed out the word corona and inserted “Chinese” as his referent to the virus.

In its statement, the AMA asked the health care community to “denounce xenophobia and racism — both interpersonal and structural — as both are root causes of ongoing health inequities.”

Candace Hoffmann, Managing Editor, BreakingMED™

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