How To Name A Disease (Like COVID-19)

Hi, this is Julián from MinuteEarth. In 2009, a disease swept across the globe
and infected millions, and before it was officially named 2009 H1N1 Flu, it was popularly dubbed
“swine flu.” Panicking countries banned sales of pigs and
pig products, turning the pork industry on its snout and Egypt even went so far as to
slaughter all 300,000 of the country’s pigs to stop the virus in its tracks. The problem? While the virus likely evolved from one that
did infect pigs, the 2009 version was almost exclusively transmitted person-to-person rather
than porcine-to-person. Regardless, the name alone triggered a pig-induced
pandemonium. But pigs aren’t in any way the only victims
of a poorly named disease – historically, we’ve also named viruses after groups of people
or places where people live, which can direct all that disease-associated fear and stigma
onto people, and not only is that incredibly dangerous for those people, but prejudice
doesn’t actually prevent the spread of disease. To help protect people, places, and…well,
pigs from such stigma, in 2015 the World Health Organization penned guidelines for naming
new infectious diseases soon after they’re discovered. No people, places, animals, foods, or occupations. And avoid fear-mongering with terms like “unknown”
or “fatal”. Instead, use descriptive qualities of the
disease itself, like its symptoms, severity or seasonality, and, if known, the actual
bug behind the disease, oh, and definitely keep the name easily pronounceable. Which is how our latest pandemic was named
Coronavirus Disease 2019, abbreviated COVID-19, for the crown-shaped coronavirus that causes
the disease that emerged in 2019. Of course, some people will still be racist
or misinformed and turn their fear on the nearest scapegoat, but at least we’re trying
to head off the spread of stigma by providing standardized names before the harmful ones
can go viral. These days, the world needs all the generosity
it can get, and one really easy – and free – way to donate to a worthy cause is Tab for
a Cause, which donates money to a charity each time you open a new browser tab. I’ve been using Tab for a Cause for at least
six years and, according to my Tab for a Cause stats page, I’ve opened over – holy tab-moly
– 37,000 tabs in that time, which I’ve turned into real donations to my favorite charities,
including their current COVID-19 response fund. If you, like me, open up way too many tabs,
you can feel good about it by going to and downloading the extension now. That’s And there’s one more way you can help the
world from the comfort of your couch: stay there, at least for now. We’re putting this video out in the midst
of a pandemic and – according the World Health Organization – the best way to make sure you
don’t become a carrier of the virus or infect vulnerable people like, say, your grandparents,
is to stay home or, if you absolutely have to go out, stay far away from other people. Let’s help each other out in the comments
by suggesting some awesome things to do while you’re housebound – other than watching MinuteEarth,
of course. And for a much-needed moment of distraction,
here’s our latest caption contest winner. The next image is ready for awesome caption
suggestions from all levels of patrons at

100 thoughts on “How To Name A Disease (Like COVID-19)

  1. Have any great ideas for things to do to avoid boar-dom while confined to our homes? Please share as a reply.

  2. i have an idea. in order to get rid of polution, call a disease: global warming virus. people will immediately try to stop it.

  3. Don't mix politics with science. As you have demonstrated, ignorance can be double-sided.

  4. What about Japanese encephalitis?
    You guys literally named a disease and a virus after the country of Japan and nobody complains. Yay double standard amirite.

  5. Human is Bacterial of the Earth, kill many animals for nothing and infecting the planet.

  6. Now if only a certain world leader would stop calling it the Chinese Flu and spreading a racist panic

  7. Who is here after discussion on corona virus iN ABP news 😅😅😂🤣😅🤣🤣

  8. If you only call a virus by a region name or people group, then racist people and individuals who don't understand pathology fully will start discriminating against those things. At the moment Asia is getting a second wave of cases of Covid-19, mainly from people who had been to countries that assumed that only Asian people were disease carriers. If you only distance yourself against one people group and freely mingle with ones who you think are virus free when they are not, the virus can spread a whole lot more easily.

    Please, don't call it the Chinese flu. It's far, far bigger than that now. Just stop being racist. It's not helping anyone. 🙁

  9. Speaking of H1N1, pretty sure the total number of deaths from that is higher then the current number of confirmed Covid-19 cases (at the time of this comment)

    I'm not denying that Covid-19 is a pandemic, it definitely is and we need to take it seriously, and of course it's not entirely fair to compare the 2 diseases when one is still ongoing

    But I do not recall the same level of panic happening in 2009, pretty sure restaurants were still open and travel restrictions were minimal, sports games were not canceled, etc. etc.

    What exactly is different about this current virus? Because you would expect more panic from H1N1-2009 given that is appears to have spread faster and was more fatal to children (last time I checked, people in general tend to favor children over the elderly, as harsh as it is to say such a thing) even if the overall fatality rate was very low

    Normally I would chalk this up to being an electron year, but the panic is not limited to the USA

    So what exactly makes Covid-19 worse than H1N1 2009? Or is the panic just because people remember the last one (I think before H1N1, the last major pandemic was a few decades prior)

  10. This one should have been named after China because they need to be held accountable. This isn't the first time they have allowed the wild animal markets to spread stuff like this. China allows different animals to be stacked on top of each other in wire cages where they can piss and shit on the lower animals all before a human buys and eats them. Last time the markets were banned but that only lasted long enough for the rest of the world to stop caring. The rest of the world needs to not stop caring this time and if that means shaming China with the name then who cares.

  11. I did the math for how infectious the disease is going to be for my country…. I regret it.

  12. This video makes no sense. You’re telling me something in 2009 came back in 2020 almost a decade later when no cases were being reported and it happened randomly. Something isn’t adding up, a virus just doesn’t “appear” it can be dormant but it would be seasonal like the flu e covid-19 isn’t

  13. -“Mom can we have Kurzgagst?”
    -“We already have Kurzgagst at home.”

    Kurzgagst at home :

  14. If we were to follow WHO's advices, everyone would have been infected by now.

    WHO, which have been under strong Beijing influence in recent years, was a major reason people underestimated the outbreak while it was still controllable.

  15. It is not racist to call it where it came from. The CCP tries to keep it secret until they let it lose on the world then lie and say it came from elsewhere including from other nations devastated by it and even claim our military took it to Wuhan We need to remind China that we know they are lying about it to avoid criticism from their own citizens.

  16. People are very creative. Even they name COVID-19, some people gonna ask what it's short for, and someone answers Is C for China? And then you know… Education matter. 😂

  17. Well Ebola could be named after a African river, why not Coronavirus ? WHO is afraid of China.

  18. and yet. the idiot president of the united states call it china virus which is so fucking offensive even though im not chinese. trump is showing how racist his country are. damn. so damn.

  19. No one is "prejudiced" against the Chinese people, we all know that the Chinese Communist Party is evil but only because Communism pretends to extole human virtues while instead empowers all the worst of humanity's vices and hides them behind bureaucracy.

    Stop saying criticism is racist, good video though, I am sorry to hear about the pigs in Egypt.

  20. Somebody send the WHO's memo on disease naming to the White House.

  21. Why do people names disease come from pigs is swine virus but can't name disease from human is human virus?

  22. Nice to see what side of the argument you fall on MinuteEarth, this is a topic only zealous left wing identity communists even give a shit about.

    And no we don't call it "influenza virus of 1918" we call it the spanish flu. and you wrongthink police are trying to change the Wikipedia article and re-write history to suit your agenda. go to hell.

  23. Very bad seeing people blaming others or being very prejudice. I think the simplest way to avoid the spreading of the corona virus is by taking relevant precautions.

  24. WHO: The new virus will be called “COVID-19”

    Spanish flu, Japanese encephalitis, Hong Kong athlete's foot, German measles, bird flu, swine flu, Zika virus, Ebola virus:
    Are we a joke to you?

  25. Welp, this is strike two.

    If you can't keep your destructive ideology in check, I'm out.

    Avoid politics, it makes you look bad, ill informed and above all, a puppet.

  26. naming is one way of helping the situation socially, but it is sad to see this disease need another country to have an outbreak before we know its true nature. The chinese government has clearly hide information from WHO, or else WHO would never have such lax advice in the beginning. What happened in Italy is exactly what happened in China when Dr Li whistle blow online. But since every official source (from china and WHO) said the severity is exaggerated back in Jan and early Feb, the rest of the world is fooled (except Singapore, Taiwan, and HK, because they never trust china). If the virus is originate in another country other than china, i think the pandemic would much better controlled, since WHO and the rest of the world would knows its real severity. back when SARS or H1N1 were discovered, the world is much better informed than COVID-19 , and they were unknown. without the 4 weeks of china coverup, the situation would never be this bad.

  27. Nah, we should have named this disease. Not-enough-planted-flowers Disease 2019

  28. Protect the pigs, or protect the pig industry?
    These viruses came from exploiting animals.
    The next one will too.

  29. The misnamed Spanish flu of 1918 began at the Fort Riley (US) military base on March 4, 1918.

  30. Nah bro pigs are disgusting they dig their snout into the ground not caring about if anyone took a shit in there and literally eat it they are unpleasant

  31. Totally shouldn't name diseases after their symptoms either… Cuz scared people might blast you in the face for showing said symptoms.

  32. It's important people realise the Chinese government is culpable for this crisis. It's not racist to call out totalitarian regimes that suppress scientists and journalists.

  33. How to name a virus without referring to its place of origin:
    1. Have the virus originate in China.
    2. Be bought out by Chinese money.

    There. You've just upended decades of precedent.

  34. The name #ChineseCoronavirus didn't do as much harm as the Chinese Communist Party covering up the original outbreak in Wuhan, China for two months, allowing it to spread into a pandemic. #CCPcoronavirus

  35. Disease that needs a new name: IgG4-related disease should be called Neild's disease (after Guy H. Neild, the first doctor to reported it) as it's a scientific mouthful that confuses the layman and sometimes it isn't even related to IgG4 anyway. lf l had a penny for every time my dad referred to the Coronavirus as Parvovirus, l could retire… Some diseases have places' names (Lyme, Rocky mountain and Minamata) and calling this disease Wuhan's Disease only makes sense considering that it's a disease that arose in Wuhan (Maybe this will set a precedent and force cities to actively prevent diseases to start there and make governments far less likely to try to censor and imprison those who report them in the first place). Being called a racist for naming a disease in the midst of a pandemic is moronic to an encephalopathy sufferer's degree.
    Edit: Wrote 'allow' instead of 'prevent'. Fixed it.

  36. MinuteEarth: – "Should we make a video on the Coronavirus? …Yeah, let's do it!"
    Title l'm expecting: – "How to prevent yourself from getting the Coronavirus"
    The video: – "How not to be racist in the midst of a deadly pandemic"
    The Chinese overlords: – "Well done MinuteEarth, here you have your well earned ¥ens!"
    Upcoming video: – "Why is being senile actually very presidential"

  37. I think the name coronavirus backfired because some people thought it was caused by the beer.

  38. It's not racism, the virus came from china. Stop getting offended whenever you can.

  39. @ a particular someone who insists on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” 🤦🏼‍♂️

  40. I do not understand the reason for not permitting diseases to be named after the person or people discovering them.

  41. If the COVID-19 pandemic is happening right now and everyone is stuck at home does that mean everyone is


  42. Did the disease jump from bats to humans and first detected in the wuhan city in China ? Because someone probably consumed a diseased bat ?

  43. So, what are we gonna do with Japanese Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Ebola (named after a region in Africa called Ebola), etc.?

  44. Related MinuteEarth video:
    "These Names Can Kill Animals" (Dec. 2018)

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