After the mainstream media berated former President Donald Trump for calling COVID-19 by other names, his successor has reportedly lobbied the World Health Organization to change the name of another virus.
According to sources cited by Politico, the White House was successful in its bid, prompting the WHO to announce that the virus has a new name: MPOX.
The name of the disease, which overwhelmingly impacts gay men, had been denounced by some critics as somehow stigmatizing individuals of color. This was reportedly the primary concern expressed by President Joe Biden.
The WHO had previously confirmed that it was considering a name change. Earlier this year, Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the agency was “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes.”
According to another organization representative, the WHO believes that coming up with names for diseases “should be done with the aim to minimize the negative impact and avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.”
The Biden administration has been joined by a range of other officials and experts in calling for a name change.
In a letter earlier this month, a group of scientists cited a perceived “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing nomenclature for monkeypox virus.”
In June, another joint letter asserted: “In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing.”
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor of the Aspen Institute elaborated on the primary semantic arguments against the name, citing “two major reasons” that he believed it should be changed.
“First, there is a long history of referring to Blacks and monkeys,” he said. “Therefore, ‘monkeypox’ is racist and stigmatizes Blacks. Second, ‘monkeypox’ gives a wrong impression that the disease is only transmitted by monkeys. This is wrong.”
Thus far since the virus began spreading across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recorded nearly 30,000 cases.
According to the CDC, “gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak,” noting that anyone who comes into close contact with an infected individual could be at risk of contracting the disease.