Why won’t the WHO call the coronavirus by its name, SARS-CoV-2?
FROM OUR OBSESSION
Even small changes in China have global effects.
It started out as the “Wuhan virus”, with everyone from researchers to news outlets—including those inside China—referring to it as such. Then it was the “Wuhan coronavirus” and “China coronavirus,” and subsequently 2019-nCoV. Finally, on Feb. 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the disease an official name: Covid-19.
To be clear, Covid-19 refers to the disease. “Co” refers to corona, “vi” to virus, and “d” to disease. The virus that causes the disease is SARS-CoV-2, which was named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The “SARS” part of the name refers to the new coronavirus’ genetic link to the virus that caused the 2003 SARS outbreak. So one tests positive for SARS-CoV-2, not Covid-19, as it’s the virus and not the disease that does the infecting. The WHO lays out this distinction clearly on its website.
But despite the virus having a full name, the WHO almost never refers to it as SARS-CoV-2. Instead, it uses “the virus responsible for Covid-19” and “Covid-19 virus.” Technically, the latter is redundant: spelled out, it would essentially read “coronavirus disease virus.”
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