WHO Comes Up With an Official Name for the Disease Caused By New Coronavirus

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.”


The World Health Organization (WHO) finally comes up with an official name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus that has infected more than 45,000 people and killed over 1,110 worldwide.

In the meantime, researchers have come up with a new name for the new virus.

On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the new name called “COVID-19” for the new virus.

“COVID” stands for Corona Virus Disease and 19 refers to its discovery in 2019 when the first case was reported in Wuhan, a city in China.

Usually, the names of the new illnesses have often derived from the place, people, or animals where it came from, such as Ebola, Lyme disease, and Spanish flu.

The WHO gave the new coronavirus a temporary name – 2019-nCoV, which made it easier for people and medical professionals to refer to the illness. It was also unofficially called “Wuhan coronavirus.”

Dr. Tedros said, “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.”

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” he added.

In 2012, when another outbreak similar to the newly discovered coronavirus emerged in Saudi Arabia and the WHO named it Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 could now be the official name for the disease caused by the virus. However, that is not the name of the virus itself.

German virologist John Ziebuhr told Gizmodo, “It will be important to emphasize that WHO named the disease and not the virus.”

“It is very important to explain this difference to the public,” he added.

“Unfortunately, the disease and the virus that causes the disease are often confused.”