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Why is it called coronavirus?

The full name is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.

ATLANTA – It is the topic of nearly every conversation, but it’s quite possible you’ve never stopped to think about how the coronavirus got its name.

The novel virus that causes the disease now known as COVID-19 is one of seven coronaviruses that can infect people. Coronaviruses are named for the very characteristic that enables them to make people sick.

A coronavirus is spherical with tiny spikes protruding from the surface. When viewed through an electron microscope, the virus looks like it’s wearing a crown. Those spikes allow the virus to attach and enter the cells inside the body.

In both Latin and Spanish, the word for “crown” is “corona”

“Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s,” according to the CDC. “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.”

There have been other forms of coronavirus over the years including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current coronavirus is genetically related to the SARS virus that spread worldwide in 2003.

 The full name of this virus is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.

It results in a disease the World Health Organization has dubbed COVID-19.

“Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names,” according to the WHO. “WHO has begun referring to the virus as ‘the virus responsible for COVID-19’ or ‘the COVID-19 virus’ when communicating with the public.’

The “CO” in COVID-19 for corona, “VI” for virus, “D” for disease, and “19” represents the year it all began, 2019.


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