The World Organization Organization (WHO) has recently announced an official name for the new flu-like coronavirus: COVID-19. Up to now, the virus has infected approximately 43,000 people in many countries around the world.
The first two syllables, CO, stand for corona. The next two syllables, VI, stand for virus, while the last syllable, D, stands for disease. The name was announced by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the general director of WHO at a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
“Naming the virus can be helpful in the prevention of using other names or terms that would be stigmatizing or inaccurate,” said Tedros. “Also, it can help us set up a new standard to apply for any coronavirus outbreak in the future.”
Tedros announced that the WHO wants to prevent the stigmatizing of a specific nation or group. That is the reason why the agency selected a name that is not associated with a group of people, individual, animal, or geographical location.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist of the WHO, said that the new name enables us to name new coronavirus strains in the future with more flexibility.
“Coronavirus is a relatively common virus group,” said Swaminathan. “There are a lot of coronavirus strains. Therefore, it is not impossible that there would be another strain, which can be named by the time when it shows up.”
“It is essential to have a term that everyone can use for different purposes. This can also avoid different confusing names,” she added.
Since the emergence of the virus one month ago in Wuhan, China, it has infected from around 300 up to nearly 43,000 people now, with the number of new affected cases increasing quickly every day.
The coronavirus pneumonia causes symptoms of a mild cold in most infected people. Around 5 percent to 15 percent require intensive care.
The global innovation and research forum of the WHO met for the first time in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the current situation.
Participants include representatives of China and many member states, research funders, bioethicists, as well as infectious disease experts. The main goal of the event is to set up a common standard for the coronavirus and suggest some priorities or measures to improve the current challenges.
One day before, the team worked with other Chinese scientists with the hope of learning the underlying sources of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and the natural host of the virus.