Fact:  A pandemic is a serious public health problem that can originate from any part of the world.  Bacteria and viruses occur in nature.  Preventing the spread of disease, thus lessening the human impact, requires coordinated and decisive action, and is the responsibility of all countries working together.


  • As far as we know the virus did first start to spread within Wuhan, China.

  • BUT

    1. the virus was not created by the Chinese.  It occurred in nature, the same as the influenza virus or the measles virus. (Science Daily March 17, 2020).  While it is under investigation, no evidence indicates that the virus was accidentally released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (Washington Post May 1, 2020)

    2. The spread of disease is terrible, but historically diseases have spread globally from many different parts of the world.  For example

      • The HIV virus originated in Africa and by 2018 there were about 38 million people living with HIV, and about 770,000 deaths had occurred from AIDS (source UNAIDS).

      • The 2009 swine flu (or H1N1) pandemic originated in the US and Mexico (source: US CDC).  It eventually spread to up to 21% of the world population resulting in up to 595,000 deaths, and “the majority of these deaths occurred in Africa and Southeast Asia” (source Wikipedia)

      • MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) originated somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula in 2012 (US CDC) and eventually spread to 27 countries including those in the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia (WHO). The impact of MERS has been much smaller, with about 2,500 cases but 858 deaths since 2012 (source WHO)

      • SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) originated in Southern China in 2002, with about 8,000 cases and 774 deaths worldwide

      • Some epidemic flu strains in North America originate in South America  (Azziz-Baumgartner E, et al. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015;doi:10.3201/eid2107.140788.)

  • Containing the spread of disease to limit the human impact depends on coordinated actions to detect and isolate infections, and the ability of medical care to help those that become sick.

    1. Rapid testing and isolation contained the spread in China and other areas such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

      • In South Korea, by March 20th, more than 600,000 tests were done (source Statista.com April 28, 2020), with 10,761 confirmed cases, and only 246 deaths (or about 2.3%) (source NY Times April 28, 2020)

Fact:  The risk of someone being infected and then infecting others is related to whether they themselves were exposed and could be carriers.  Anyone, regardless of race, could have been exposed during travel through an infected area,  such as China, Italy, Spain, or even within affected areas in the US.  It could also even have occurred in their local community, or even at home from an infected family member.  Race does not indicate whether the person is a risk for infection.  Past exposure to the virus is the main risk.


  • The COVID-19 virus is mostly spread from person to person, usually by close contact with someone known to have COVID-19 (US CDC)

  • A person may have the COVID-19 infection because they traveled to and from Wuhan, China.  But a person could also have been infected if they traveled to and from other infected areas such as Italy, Spain, Germany or Iran (source:  Johns Hopkins).

  • Because someone is Asian American does not mean they were exposed.  They may have been born in the US and have not recently traveled to China, or been outside of the US.  You would not assume that all Italian Americans recently traveled to Italy, and therefore is a risk for being infected.  And even if they had traveled, they might or might not have been exposed. 

  • Two recent studies analyzing genomes from coronaviruses taken from New York patients showed that most cases came from Europe and not China.  The likely source of infection was from New Yorkers traveling home from Europe with the virus (NY Times 4/9/2020).

  • Countries in Asia now face a wave of new cases as a result of international travelers back from other countries (NY Times 3/31/2020), highlighting that exposure, not race, is the key factor determining the risk of being infectious.

©2020 by Asian Americans Against COVID19