The leading British scientific journal Nature apologized in an article published on Tuesday for “associating” the coronavirus with its origin place in China on the grounds that the linkage had inspired racist attacks against people with Asian heritage across the world.
“That we did so was an error on our part, for which we take responsibility and apologize,” the journal said in an article published Tuesday.
The coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China and first appeared in bats thought to have infected wild animals that were sold in the city’s wet markets. Since then, it has spread to at least 177 countries and infected 1.4 million people. As of Thursday morning, at least 89,000 people had died after contracting the respiratory illness.
“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 article read.
Nature remarked that the World Health Organization’s dubbing the new coronavirus COVID-19 was a subtle reminder to “those who had erroneously been associating the virus with Wuhan and with China in their news coverage – including Nature.”
The publication urged that “Coronavirus stigma must stop – now.”
“It would be tragic if stigma, fueled by the coronavirus, led Asia’s young people to retreat from international campuses, curtailing their own education, reducing their own and others’ opportunities and leaving research worse off – just when the world is relying on it to find a way out,” the journal said.
The Nature report also chastised “a minority of politicians,” who are “sticking with the outdated script.”
“Continuing to associate a virus and the disease it causes with a specific place is irresponsible and needs to stop,” the report said.
President Trump briefly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” defending his use of the term by saying “it comes from China,” but later backed away from the phrase after reports of an uptick in violence against Asian Americans.
“Look, everyone knows it came out of China, but I decided we shouldn’t make any more of a big deal out of it,” Trump said early last month.
The Communist Chinese government has denied that the virus originated in China and said that it is “strongly indignant” over the phrase, calling it “a kind of stigmatization.” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang demanded last month that the U.S. “immediately stop its unjustified accusations against China.”