How Covid 19 got its name
Play • 8 min

Did you know there is such a thing as disease branding? Well there is, and it plays a hugely important role in how we respond to outbreaks and pandemics.

This episode:

Why diseases need branding - and rebranding.

  • A short but sordid history of 19th century 'freak shows'
  • Stigmatising names we still use today
  • Gay Related Immunodeficiency (GRID) - a masterclass in the worst possible brand you can give a disease

The pharma business and 'disease awareness' campaigns.

  • Why they exist
  • Pros and cons

The tricky business of naming a disease that's new to science.

  • Naming the pathogens vs naming the disease
  • The World Health Organisation's new guidance on what you can and can't call a disease
  • Novel diseases and how often they occur

How Coronavirus got its name.

  • SARS-CoV-2
  • COVID 19
  • Coronavirus

What happens to a brand when it shares a name with a disease.

  • Corona beer versus Coronavirus
  • Can panic-buyers tell the difference?
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