“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Shakespeare
The same goes for a virus. What is in a name? That which infects and kills by the millions by any other name would still be as infectious and deadly. Yet, emails obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests show that in the infancy of the pandemic scientists were more concerned with what we should call the virus than developing the treatments and vaccines to defeat it.
On Thursday, February 14th, 2020, Dr. Shi Zhengli, one of the directors of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, sent an email to Dr. Ralph Baric, the scientist at the University of North Carolina widely regarded as the godfather of gain-of-function research (or, research centered on ways to weaponize viruses and increase their lethality), asking him to have the CoV study group consider revising the technical name they’d given to the Wuhan coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
(The virus named SARS-CoV-2 because it is indeed a SARS virus, a coronavirus, and the second of the outbreaks that have originated in China from a SARS Coronavirus in the last two decades.)
Shi initially took umbrage with the fact that an international coalition had changed the name of the virus from 2019-nCoV, referring to the year it was “discovered” and the fact that it was a novel coronavirus, to SARS-CoV-2, referring more accurately to the family of viruses to which the virus belongs – which seems like a logical development as more information was known.
She wrote (original spelling preserved):
We heard that the 2019-nCoV was renamed as SARS-CoV-2. We had a fierce discussion among Chinese virologists. We have some comments on this name, I’m wondering if the CoV study group would consider a revision.
I attached the comments from me na dmy Chinese colleague.
Considering the long-term professional relationship the two virologists had it seems like a collegial request, and it certainly seems helpful that she attached comments from her colleagues. But, as I mentioned in an earlier piece, what people sometimes fail to consider is the level of autonomy even someone like Dr. Shi has. Those comments were vetted and approved by the CCP apparatus and the email was probably sent because of a directive from a party leader.
What was Dr. Shi’s reason for the request? It had to be for scientific accuracy and clarity, right? Nope. In the comments document attached to the email, Shi says it’s a matter of feelings and Chinese pride – and even mixes in a little “after all we’ve lost, this would be a terrible reminder”:
“By 11 February 2020, the new coronavirus had caused more than 40,000 confirmed infections and more than 1,000 deaths, mostly in mainland China, in spite of efforts by the Chinese Government and its people to contain the spread of the virus in past weeks. It goes without saying that the effects of the epidemic on all aspects of Chinese life are devastating and, possibly, irreversible. Consequently, appropriately naming the virus and disease becomes a matter of importance to the Chinese people…”
What? Why would the name of the virus be of “great importance to the Chinese people?” We can call it anything we want to just as long as we’re trying to figure out a way to stop it and treat the virus they foisted upon the globe. Why wasn’t that the concern of Chinese virologists when naming variants like the UK Variant or the South African variant? Is the naming of the variants not of “great importance” to those people as well?
Yet Shi continues, fully utilizing American SJW guilt trip techniques:
“All proposed names are either too generic, or too similar to previous well-known viruses, or contain an Arabic number. This makes it hard to remember or recognize, leading to a tendency among the general population and scientists alike to use a shorthand term such as ‘Wuhan coronavirus’ or ‘Wuhan pneumonia.’ This has, in fact, been the case since it was named 2019-nCoV. This practice would, however, stigmatize and insult the people in Wuhan, who are still suffering from the outbreak.”
Gee, doesn’t that sound like the talking points that came out of every single Democrat and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media around that time? Also, for a virologist to argue that a scientific name should be changed because “it’s too hard for the general population to remember all those numbers” is pretty unheard of.
Pardon me, Dr. Shi, but I hardly think that being concerned with who takes offense to the name of a virus has bothered us at all for the course of the last 100 years. As the Trump administration pointed out, this was often the case for most viral strains and pathogens for a long time:
Spanish Flu. West Nile Virus. Zika. Ebola. All named for places.
Before the media’s fake outrage, even CNN called it “Chinese Coronavirus.”
Those trying to divide us must stop rooting for America to fail and give Americans real info they need to get through the crisis.
— The White House 45 Archived (@WhiteHouse45) March 18, 2020
Dr. Shi continues by suggesting a few new names, all of which hardly suggest the origin of the virus or the genesis of the deadly pathogen. Shi jumps to conclusions about the virus, suggesting things we “knew” about the virus – but remember, this virus was still in its infancy and we (allegedly) knew very little about its pathogenesis. Yet, Shi felt enough was known about the virus to argue semantics over a name.
US scientists connected to Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, who famously funded and conducted gain-of-function studies at the Wuhan Institute of Virology also piled on the issue of the name of SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that the scientifically accurate name was not scientifically accurate.
Penn State’s Susan Weiss, who co-authored a piece disputing the lab leak theory with Daszak-affiliated researcher Linda Saif, sent an email dated February 12, 2020 questioning the naming of the virus. From the email, Weiss appears to have not reviewed the science contained in the very long email thread and was simply adding her name to lend credibility to the project. She wrote:
“I am still in Spain, going home Saturday.
Yes please add my name as co-author. This is important!!
Is the new virus now names SARS-2; maybe not a good name – should be different from SARS
I hope I am not too late.
(More about that “scientific” piece disputing the lab leak theory – and Dr. Ralph Baric’s involvement with it – soon.)
Dr. Shi, who has recently renewed her vehement denials that the virus originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, seems to be pushing against the factual evidence that is beginning to come out showing that this could have been an accidental release from her lab. Many of her US virologist colleagues have defended her, suggesting that Shi would never compromise science for cover-up, but as we have previously questioned, what choice would Shi actually have? Does anyone honestly believe that had the virus originated in the lab, that Shi would be allowed by CCP officials to admit to such a startling discovery, especially in consideration of the liability the Chinese Government would open itself to in the wake of the deaths of 3 million people? Of course, they don’t, which is likely why we are seeing an exodus from the “definitive natural zoonotic event” camp.