Fighting COVID-19: What’s in a Name?


  • Thomas Kun Pak Carver College of Medicine
  • Aline Sandouk Carver College of Medicine
  • Phuong Le University of Mississippi Medical Center



COVID-19, Asian Americans, Racism, Xenophobia, Wuhan Virus, Chinese Virus


While the COVID-19 virus has infected over 3 million people in the United States of America, Asian Americans face unique unfair treatment due to COVID-19. In America, many anti-Asian incidents have been reported, and the FBI warns of increased hate crimes to Asian Americans due to COVID-19. Americans and high-level politicians use inappropriate names, such as “Chinese Virus,” for the COVID-19 virus, which fuels racism and xenophobia. In this Experience piece, we discuss the harm of referring to the COVID-19 virus based on the geographic location where it was first identified.


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Author Biographies

Thomas Kun Pak, Carver College of Medicine

Thomas Pak is an Asian American medical student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, Iowa. Thomas has published in USA Today.

Aline Sandouk, Carver College of Medicine

Aline Sandouk is a medical student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Iowa and in her final year of graduate school toward a PhD before returning to medical school to finish her MD. Previously, Aline was a 2013-2014 Fulbright Fellow to Germany and a 2009-2011 Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Phuong Le, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Phuong Le is a 4th year medical student at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Phuong was a Rhodes Fellow and a recipient of the 2018 Medical Student Anesthesiology Research Fellowship.


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How to Cite

Pak, T. K., Sandouk, A., & Le, P. (2020). Fighting COVID-19: What’s in a Name?. International Journal of Medical Students, 8(2), 200–202.