It may be confusing to see both “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” mentioned in news about the pandemic. However, there’s no need to be confused. It is correct to use either term because coronavirus 2019 and COVID-19 are the same thing.
The coronavirus 2019 is a disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe originates as an animal virus. However, the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID 2019, strain has been passed on to humans and spreads person-to-person. “The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community,” according to the CDC.
Other kinds of coronaviruses include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The current virus that the world is dealing with is a novel (new) strand of the disease.
Officials identified the geographic source of the coronavirus linked to the new strain impacting humans as a live animal market in Wuhan City. COVID-19 was first documented among dozens of people in December 2019 by doctors in the Chinese city. That is why health officials reference the 19 when discussing this virus. The term COVID-19 is essentially an abbreviation of coronavirus disease 2019.
In February, the World Health Organization officially named the coronavirus disease 2019 as COVID-19.
We now have a name for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus: COVID-19.
Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. #COVID19https://t.co/HTNjm27BHw
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) February 11, 2020
Some politicians, including President Donald Trump, have referred to COVID-19 as the “China/Chinese virus” or even the “Kung flu” because it emerged in Wuhan, China. However, the use of these terms are offensive and stigmatizes people of Asian descent. The publicizing of these offensive terms has led to racialized attacks and cases of harassment against Asian Americans.
“Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem,” the CDC states.
By Thursday, April 3, there were well over 900,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among countries testing for the disease.