A century ago, the Influenza A virus H1N1, which became known as the “Spanish flu”, affected half a billion people. At the time, this was one-third of the world’s population. In only two years, the virus had killed 50 million people. In the year 2020, the global population is estimated close to eight billion, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which most likely will go down to history as “the Chinese flu”, has affected less than 80 million people and killed about two million. The damages, however, could have been far less if people had been warned earlier.
Historically, flu pandemics besides their scientific definition, are given common names for ordinary people to understand what they are talking about. A century ago, the term “H1N1” meant nothing to people but “the Spanish Flu” meant a lot.
The scientific definition of the pathogen is based on two proteins – haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidases (N) – both of which constitute the external shell of the virus and relate to the way it is transmitted.
The common names that become widely used by the general public always relate to the origins of the virus. In 1918, we had the Spanish flu (H1N1). In 1957, the Asian flu (H2N2), in 1968 it was the Hong Kong flu (H3N2); the Bird flu (H5N1) in 2004; 2009 had the Swine flu (H1N1); in 2012, there was the Camel flu (MERS), and many others, such as the Russian flu and others, that had a minor impact on the world’s epidemiological situation.
The current deadly pandemic originated in Wuhan, China in 2019 and its common name, instead of “COVID-19”, should be “the Chinese flu”. However, the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda machine, which had anticipated the contextual dimension that the term “Chinese flu” would have taken on while in the throes of a new Cold War with the West, forced the change of the everyday name of the disease.
As a result, “Chinese Flu” was dropped in favor of “COVID-19”, which is, in reality, a distortion of “SARS-CoV-2”, the actual scientific name of the virus, the meaning of which is “severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus”.
The World Health Organization had a truly catalytic role in the success of the worldwide spread of Chinese propaganda and the disassociation of the name of the pandemic from its geographic origins. The “COVID-19” moniker was officially imposed by the WHO following a push by its head, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a man who had formerly served as the foreign minister of Ethiopia. Earlier in his career, Tedros had served in the ministry of health of the Derg, Ethiopia’s Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist military junta that ruled the country for most of the 1980s. Tedros was nominated and later officially appointed to the top position of the World Health Organization with the full support of Beijing, making him the Chinese Communists’ man in the WHO.
History will at some point certainly restore the common name of the ongoing pandemic. It will also clarify certain crucial questions related to the outbreak, including the possible responsibility that China bears for the origins of the Wuhan virus and its dissemination. History will also reveal the responsibility of the World Health Organization for having taken six months to officially declare the spread of the virus was a pandemic.
Taiwan alerted the WHO about the deadly virus as early as the autumn of 2019, but this warning was ignored due to the fact that the notification came from Taiwan, which is not a member of World Health Organization because the Chinese consistently block Taipei’s attempts to officially join the WHO.
This delay, which probably cost millions of lives and trillions of euros, may one day bring those responsible at the WHO before the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity.