COVID-19 is the name given by the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 11, 2020 for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It started in Wuhan, China in late 2019 and has since spread worldwide. COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.
What does COVID-19 mean?
COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Viruses and the diseases they cause have different names. For example, AIDS is the disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.
As mentioned above, COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease of 2019.
Who named COVID-19?
When was the coronavirus given the “COVID-19” name?
On December 31, 2019, a strange new pneumonia of unknown cause was reported to the Chinese WHO Country Office. A cluster of these cases had appeared in Wuhan, a city in the Hubei Province of China. These infections were found to be caused by a new coronavirus which was given the name “2019 novel coronavirus” (2019-nCoV).
It was later renamed “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2,” or SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses on February 11, 2020. It was named SARS-CoV-2 because the virus is a genetic cousin of the coronavirus which caused the SARS outbreak in 2002 (SARS-CoV).
The unofficial name for the virus is “the COVID-19 virus.”
Why was the coronavirus renamed to COVID-19?
The WHO press release of February 11 explained why a name was needed for this new disease: “to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity, and treatment.”
Diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). For COVID-19, the name was decided based on agreed guidelines between the WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The name was chosen because it didn’t refer to a specific geographic location, a specific animal, or a specific group of people. It also had to be easy to pronounce and related to the disease.
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