The Official Name of the Coronavirus Disease Is COVID-19

After weeks of mild confusion and cumbersome hashtag names (like typing # 2019-nCoV), the Wuhan coronavirus disease finally got a catchy, accurate, non- stigmatizing name: COVID-19.

The name was announced by the World Health Organization this morning. COVID is an acronym for Coronavirus Disease, and the number 19 refers to the time it was first identified at the end of 2019.

There is no “Wuhan” in the name because no one wants their hometown to be famous for the disease. How would you feel telling people that you live on the banks of the Ebola River?

It is not just a “coronavirus” because the coronavirus is a family of viruses including SARS, MERS, and several viruses that cause the common cold. (The new coronavirus itself will actually be called SARS-CoV-2 because it is so similar to the original SARS virus. COVID-19 is the disease it causes.)

Several years ago, WHO issued guidelines for naming new diseases . While they are reasonable, they rule out many of the more obvious options. Do not name them after places, people or animals (for example, “swine flu”), because these names are either stigmatizing or give the wrong impression to people – as in the case of swine flu, assuming you can avoid getting sick. avoiding pigs.

So, we have COVID-19, which is quite scientific and descriptive, but at the same time pronounced. This is catchy! It’s also a bit like the name you’ll hear in an outbreak thriller . In any case, it will definitely stick.

Updated on 02/11/2020 at 13:02 to clarify that COVID-19 is a disease, and the virus itself has a different name – SARS-CoV-2.

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