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  • Writer's pictureAshwani Agarwal

Know what are you dealing with – what does the name COVID-19 entail?

From the guidelines and details provided by WHO, every name/virus has a name which contains its details (it’s meaning and its origination), so that they can go down in history that created a pandemic disease such as the one we the world are going through.

So, COVID-19, “COVI” refers to the disease-causing corona virus, “D” stands for disease and 19 represents the year 2019, when the first case of the disease was reported. The causative virus has been named SARS-CoV-2, short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.

Pertinently, the WHO had initially assigned a temporary name to the disease, viz. “2019-nCoV”, as an immediate measure to prevent people from assigning it reprehensible names; inspired from the place of its origin— Wuhan.

The guidelines also specifically provide that the following factors should be avoided while naming a disease:

  1.  Geographic location speculated to be the place of origin of the disease (such as the Spanish Flu, the Bombay plague, etc.);

  2. People’s names (for instance the Chagas disease named after Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, who discovered the disease caused by kissing bugs in 1909);

  3. Causative species of animal or food (like swine flu, bird flu, etc.);

  4. Cultural, population, industry or occupational references;

  5. Terms that incite undue fear (like a fatal, epidemic, etc., however, the word “severe” may be used for diseases having a very high “initial case fatality rate”)

Inter alia, the guidelines stipulate that names should be short and easy to pronounce, and should have evaluated all potential acronyms. The name COVID-19 was made official by the WHO on February 11, 2020.

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