WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah wasn't the only ConWeb denizen who went conspiratorial over the naming of the omicron variant of COVID. CNSNews.com's Patrick Goodenough didn't explicitly push the conspiracy theory in his Nov. 28 article, but he sure tried to hint at it:
From the moment the World Health Organization last May announced its decision to name new variants of the virus causing COVID-19 after letters of the Greek alphabet, it was only a matter of time until the sequence reached the letter spelled “Xi.” But when it did, the U.N. agency balked.
On Friday the WHO announced it was using the name “omicron” for the newly-identified variant first reported by South African health authorities two days earlier, after a WHO technical advisory group recommended that it be designated a “variant of concern” and governments rushed to issue bans on travelers from southern Africa.
Explaining the naming decision, the WHO said, “Xi was not used because it is a common surname and WHO best practices for naming new diseases (developed in conjunction with FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and OIE [Organization for Animal Health] back in 2015) suggest avoiding ‘causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.’”
Xi (pronounced “kzai”) is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet. Xi (usually pronounced “shee”) is a surname in China, although not among the 20 most common Chinese surnames (which range from Wang in first place, used by more than 101 million people, and Luo in 20th place, used by some 14 million people.)
Xi is also the rendering in English of the surname of the Chinese president. The WHO has fended off accusations since early last year that it has gone out of its way to avoid upsetting the leadership of the country where the coronavirus first emerged in late 2019.
Contrary to some reporting and social media discussion, this is the first time the WHO has skipped letters when naming variants in this pandemic. Although they were much lower profile than the widespread delta variant, other “variants of concern” or “variants of interest,” subsequently downgraded to “variants being monitored<,” were named for intervening letters lambda, gamma, kappa etc.
Goodenough went on to grouse:
Critics had earlier pointed to a perceived double standard, noting that while references to China and Wuhan were deemed to be offensive and even “racist,” media and other sources had commonly referred to strains first detected in other countries as the “U.K.” or “South African” or “Indian” variant.
But the only critic Goodenough cited was a months-old tweet from Ari Fleischer, a right-wing political activist who is anything but objective. He didn't mention the comments on that post where people insisting on calling COVID-19 the "China virus" or "Wu-flu" or "kung flu" did, in fact, have derogatory or even racist intent, something that can't really be said for the other country references. (Never mind the fact that COVID is not the flu.)