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REMINDER: WHO’s Key Term for a Pandemic, ‘PHEIC,’ IS LITERALLY PRONOUNCED ‘FAKE’


Here’s a reminder that the WHO’s acronym for Public Health Emergency of International Concern—or PHEIC—IS LITERALLY PRONOUNCED “FAKE.” Listen to experts as they discuss PHEIC (“FAKE”) emergencies, like the one declared for the COVID-19 “pandemic.”


In a twist of irony that seems far, far, far too ludicrous to be true but still is, it turns out the World Health Organization (WHO) phonetically refers to (supposed) global outbreaks of disease as “fake” emergencies. The term the organization uses is “PHEIC”—or Public Health Emergency of International Concern—and it is undeniably pronounced as “fake.” Something David Heymann, a Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, makes crystal clear in the video immediately below.

“A PHEIC [‘fake’] is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern—P, H, E, I, C,” Heymann says in the video. He adds that “a PHEIC [‘fake’] is a decision made by the [WHO] Director General on evidence he collects from many different sources about a current infectious disease outbreak—whether or not it’s unexpected, and whether or not it’s spreading internationally and might require a global effort to stop.”

Heymann notes in the video that the term arose after the SARS outbreak in 2003. “It’s a part of a long history of attempts to control the international spread of infectious diseases, which began with the International Health Regulations in 1969,” Heymann says. “Those regulations were a treaty, which required countries to report one of four diseases if it occurred in their country: yellow fever, cholera, plague, and smallpox.”

Image: CGTN

“When the PHEIC [‘fake’] for COVID-19 was determined, there was epidemiological information that came in from China and other countries where outbreaks were occurring,” Heymann adds. “And there was information coming in from experts from around the world—public health experts—as what they might expect from this outbreak based on what was known about the SARS outbreak and the MERS coronavirus outbreak.”

“The implications for countries are that they must begin to share all data that they have about the outbreaks occurring in their own countries, and any information they may know about the outbreaks occurring elsewhere,” Heymann says. “And at the same time it calls for solidarity in helping the WHO develop a way of working that interferes minimally with travel and trade but gets maximum impact on containing outbreaks that are occurring.”

For those who think Heymann’s pronunciation of PHEIC is a mere one-off interpretation, see the video from China Global Television Network (or CGTN) immediately above. CGTN, which has nearly three million subscribers on YouTube and is headquartered in Beijing, specifically notes PHEIC is pronounced “fake.”


Feature image: WHO

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