To date, the novel coronavirus — currently dubbed “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2,” or SARS-CoV-2 for short — has been responsible for more than 2 million infections globally, causing over 128,000 deaths. Let’s revisit some terms and naming conventions of the disease.
The official names are:
- Disease: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Virus: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the name of the virus while COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the virus. Just like HIV and AIDS. HIV is the name of the virus, while people infected with HIV and develop damaged immune system that is life-threatening, they are defined as having AIDS. According to WHO, it is common for people to know the name of a disease, but not the name of the virus that causes it.
Coronavirus is a name that describes a type of virus. Coronaviruses are a family of RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses. They are called coronaviruses because the virus particle exhibits a crown-like spikes on their surface. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In some cases, they can be transmitted from animals to humans. Three recent examples of this are SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2:
- SARS-CoV (the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
- MERS-CoV (the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
- SARS-CoV-2 (the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19)
SARS-CoV was transmitted from civets to humans, and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. While COVID-19 virus is a close relative of other coronaviruses found circulating in Rhinolophus bat (Horseshoe Bat), there is not enough evidence to explain the original route of transmission to humans which may have involved an intermediate host.
- World Health Organization
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- OIE – World Organisation for Animal Health
**All previous posts about COVID-19 here: https://sciencemediacentremalaysia.com/tag/covid-19/