Coronavirus is a riddle wrapped in an enigma, considering that not everyone wants to admit how exactly it came to be, where it originated (some Chinese sources are trying to pretend it came from the US) – or even what to call it.
Not to mention there’s no effective treatment (or is there? – again, that depends on who you ask), and no vaccine.
Grammar app Grammarly has started flagging the phrase “Chinese virus” in references to the virus and the resulting disease, COVID-19.
The reason some prefer to say Chinese or Wuhan virus is because it’s the place from which the virus started spreading to now become a full-blown global pandemic – but also to counter China’s propaganda effort to place its origin elsewhere.
China, meanwhile, strongly objects to linking the name of the virus and the disease to its own geographical area, even dismissing it as “racist.”
And China’s not alone in this – some in the US also criticize the practice.
Having taken on a life of its own and become a source of passionate disagreement, this controversy, like most do, is likely to produce some over-the-top accusations.
So when reports were coming in that Grammarly was now suggesting not using the phrase “Wuhan virus” to avoid bias and even misinformation (🤷♂️), it might have seemed to some that the accusations could have been exaggerated or fake news.
But Grammarly, that uses machine learning to check grammar and spelling, has confirmed it all.
In a statement to Reclaim The Net, the company said that the new Grammarly Premium suggestions has recently been released and that it deals with providing feedback “relating to formality, confidence, and sensitive language.”
Grammarly has chosen to go with the WHO terminology and flag any mention of “Chinese or Wuhan” virus.
“This follows guidelines put in place by WHO in 2015, which discourage naming diseases using geographic locations, group names, and other nomenclature that can lead to cultural stigmatization,” Grammarly told us.
Lucky that WHO’s guidelines are not retroactive, because we would have to engage in some confusing rewriting of history and renaming of illness such as Spanish Flu, Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, Ebola, Guinea Worm, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ross River Fever, Norovirus (named after Norwalk, Ohio) and Zika, to name but a few.