Coinciding with the Biden administration’s massive flip-flop on Covid protocol, which now requires that Americans – regardless of their vaccination status – go back to donning masks in public, Forbes published an article suggesting English speakers are the most pervasive super-spreaders of the coronavirus.
At first, I was tempted to dismiss this story, written by one Alison Escalante, as classic clickbait, another one of those woke-style tirades in the vein of ‘math is white supremacy’ genre. But then it dawned on me that the idea is so shockingly dumb that it actually borders on genius, or rather evil genius. More on that a bit later. First, how is it possible that speaking English may spread more coronavirus than other languages?
The wobbly foundation for that theory is based on a 2003 scientific study that argues that the possible reason Americans traveling to China were infected by the SARS virus was because the English language is riddled with so-called “aspirated consonants” – spit-producing letters such as [p], [t], and [k], which are said to produce a lot of airborne droplets.
Researchers were puzzled as to why the Japanese who traveled to China at the same time (2003) as the Americans recorded zero cases of SARS. (On this point, there is some serious discrepancy in the data. While the study states that 70 Americans had acquired SARS, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, “in the United States, only eight persons were laboratory-confirmed as SARS cases … All of the eight persons with laboratory-confirmed SARS had traveled to areas where SARS-CoV transmission was occurring.”