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Coronavirus: How the WHO Named the Disease and Why It Matters

New Delhi, Thu, 20 Feb 2020 Deepak Kumar

The World Health Organization declared novel Coronavirus originating from China as a global emergency last month, till now more than 2000 people died of novel Coronavirus infection. Till date more than 75,000 persons have been infected worldwide. Due to the high rate of mortality rate and not availability of any sure treatment, WHO finally declared this outbreak of Coronavirus WHO declared global emergency.

The Coronavirus has been making news for the past several months now. The deadly medical condition has affected over 75,000 people worldwide. Currently, researchers across the world are seeking a cure in the most advanced medical labs. While that is happening, they have named the virus as COVID-19. There is a very good reason for why the virus has been named as such and knowing the history will help everyday person avoid the illness.

Why the Coronavirus Name Important?

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, the virus is best named COVID-19. In his statement, as given on Tuesday 11.02.2020, he explained that 'CO' in the term stands for Corona; 'VI' stands for virus and the 'D' stands for disease. 

Tedros further explained that the WHO was very careful in naming the virus since it wanted to avoid stigmatization. Another reason was to avoid confusion with other viruses and medical conditions. Further, they also wanted to pool the COVID-19 virus into the right family for scientific purposes.

How does the COVID-19 Nomenclature Affect WHO’s Policies?

After the Coronavirus was named COVID-19, it has been officially inducted into a very specific family of viruses. The most well-known and dangerous viruses in this family include the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Accurate Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) respectively. 

According to the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), the Coronavirus should only be called by its proper name. The reason why they want to avoid misnaming the virus is obvious. Using the region of origin for the virus as a name such as Ebola or Zika has an adverse impact on the region. Similarly, denoting a virus through a common name like swine flu for H1N1 has negative impacts on the related industry.

Author: Deepak Kumar

Deepak Kumar is Science Graduate from Delhi University with more than 18 years of experience in Technical field. Currently his interest lies in researching for Media and Journalism field. He has years of rich experience in various technological fields. With a background in Science and Media field, Deepak has been offering services in the media houses and technical research. He has worked as director and chief in many companies. As a technical writer, editor and reviewer, he is offering services to many research organizations, media houses and online educational portals.

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