The disease caused by the novel coronavirus has a name: Covid-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, announced the name Tuesday, giving a specific identifier to a disease that has been confirmed in more than 42,000 people and caused more than 1,000 deaths in China. There have been fewer than 400 cases in 24 other countries, with one death.

In choosing the name, WHO advisers focused simply on the type of virus that causes the disease. Co and Vi come from coronavirus, Tedros explained, with D meaning disease and 19 standing for 2019, the year the first cases were seen.

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The virus that causes the disease has been known provisionally as 2019-nCoV. Also on Tuesday, a coronavirus group from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, which is responsible for naming new viruses, proposed designating the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2, according to a preprint of a paper posted online. (Preprints are versions of papers that have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.) The name reflects the genetic similarities between the new coronavirus and the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003.

In selecting Covid-19 as the name of the disease, the WHO name-givers steered clear of linking the outbreak to China or the city of Wuhan, where the illness was first identified. Although origin sites have been used in the past to identify new viruses, such a namesake is now seen as denigrating. Some experts have come to regret naming the infection caused by a different coronavirus the Middle East respiratory syndrome.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros said. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

Viruses and the disease they cause do not have to have related names — think HIV and AIDS — but more recently those responsible for the formal naming process have kept them associated. For example, SARS, the disease, is caused by SARS-CoV, the virus.

The provisional name of the new virus stemmed from the year it was first seen (2019), the fact that it was new (n), and a member of the coronavirus family (CoV).

A clear name could also stop the ad hoc identifiers that have sprung up in the press and online, many of which, like the Wuhan virus or Wu Flu, linked the virus to the city.

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  • I’m glad that they are taking the xenophobia against asian people seriously. The amount of hate they have received is unforgivable. The MERS and Ebola were names of the past and they caused huge mountains of racial hate. We cannot change the past but we can change for a better future. Great article!

    • thanks for your words as was a students of WHU. we should name people’s disease, not name people’s house.

  • This shows WHO is brought by China. Ebola was named Ebola because of the Ebola River. This one should be named WHOwuhan to remind us that this was brought to the world by WHO and Wuhan.

    WHO delayed in declaring this as global threat and complained about the travel enacted by each country to protect each citizens. The could disaster could had been reduced have travel bad enacted early part in January. If this become epidemic in any country, that the said country economy will suffer. But it seems WHO does not care.

    Wuhan for bringing to the world this new coronavirus and for its criminal act of hiding from the world that there was a new SARS like virus circulating in Wuhan. The medical lab had informed Wuhan officials about the test results in late December, but the government official whose to hide this from the public. The mayor of Wuhan was shamelessly lying when he said they don’t have enough information. The have the labs result in December that is was very closely associated to SARS.

  • Thus this name really matters now? . as i keep writing and speaking about the Antimicrobial Resistant Super Bugs for more than Two Years to current time . this is only one of the Disasters to affect us down the road . Still yet we have the elites noise makers and the Washington Politicians ,Main Stream Media Of The Fourth Estate still in their glows shouting about climate change .global warming . we are finish . no doubt about this

  • Although the reporting is appreciated, to in any way imply that this did not have a Wuhan epicenter is simply fallacious. More politically correct, utterly misleading reporting. Did this come down from the Chinese government in order to take attention away from the fact that they are in a large way responsible? STAT somehow doesn’t sound very much like a “Free Press”.

  • Bringing people back to GB was wrong .considering no vaccine available. Putting people at risk.stop people entering ,and leaving GB before it’s too late.

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