Avoid stigmatizing names for 2019 novel coronavirus

The coronavirus that is currently causing severe respiratory illness worldwide has now been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease is COVID-19. When the virus first emerged last December, it was generally described in medical journals as the ‘2019 novel coronavirus’. Nature, however, used ‘China coronavirus’ and ‘Wuhan coronavirus’. Such interim terminology based on geographic characteristics is objectionable because it can stimulate prejudice and discrimination against Chinese people, fuelled internationally by fear spread through social media.

China’s different shades of greening

Your view that China’s re-vegetation of its deserts could exacerbate water shortages risks oversimplifying an incredibly complex eco-restoration problem (Nature 573, 474–475; 2019). Far from just planting trees in arid areas, China’s re-vegetation codes vary for different regions and greening programmes. The nationwide Grain-to-Green programme, for example, aims to restore unstable and low-productivity farmlands to forest or natural vegetation. In humid areas, research optimizes greening programmes for plant selection and socio- economic benefits.