The World Health Organization is planning to rename the monkeypox virus to "MPOX" in an effort to avoid racist stigma surrounding the old name. The WHO reportedly made this decision after a group of scientists expressed concerns about potential discrimination connected to the virus's African origins. The scientists argued that "continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African” would be “discriminatory and stigmatizing."
A formal announcement regarding the new name is expected at any time, according to a report by Politico. It has been several months since the virus first gained a foothold in Europe, the United States, and numerous other nations.
The WHO said this past June that it would begin the renaming process because “monkeypox” did not adhere to its current guidelines discouraging the use of geographic regions or animals in the naming of viruses. The organization has already renamed two variants of the virus emanating from the Congo Basin clade and West African clade to the more generic “Clade I” and “Clade II,” respectively. (For those of you who don’t know what clade means, as I didn’t until about 20 minutes ago, here is the Merriam-Webster definition: a group of biological taxa (such as species) that includes all descendants of one common ancestor.)
The monkeypox virus was first named in 1958 at a time when virus names were typically related to the regions where the diseases appeared to first proliferate. (See also the West Nile Virus, German Measles, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.)
By contrast, WHO now states: "Current best practice is that newly-identified viruses, related disease, and virus variants should be given names with the aim to avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.” Okay, that essentially leaves us with “Virus 1,” “Virus 2,” “Virus 3,” etc., which doesn’t really tell us much, but WHO am I to opine?
“MPOX” is much more hip and modern, and is in keeping with the trend to shorten monikers. (Other than the acronym LGBTQIA+ which seems to grow by another letter or symbol every year.)
“X-box,” “C-SPAN,” “J-lo,” “KFC”…”MPOX.” Why not?
Will the WHO soon announce that “chickenpox” has been rebranded as “CPOX?” If not, why? Is it somehow okay to offend domesticated fowl and/or humans who lack courage?
It would be nice if the WHO, an offshoot of the UN that claims to be responsible for “international public health,” spent more time addressing legitimate health concerns and less on woke monkey-business. (Sorry, “MBIZ.”)