WHO officially names coronavirus disease COVID-19

2020 02 12 18 38 0515 Virus Coronavirus2 400

The World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 February announced an official designation for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), naming the condition COVID-19.

WHO previously had used the term "novel coronavirus pneumonia" to refer to the disease caused by 2019-nCoV infection. But the agency noted that new coronaviruses will likely emerge in the future, so the term "novel" will no longer be well-suited for the 2019 virus.

WHO noted that the new naming convention will provide a format for referring to new coronavirus diseases in the future. Previous diseases caused by coronaviruses were given names described by their clinical manifestations: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Shortly after the WHO announcement naming the disease, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the virus causing it SARS-CoV-2. The committee presented its rationale in a paper posted to the bioRxiv preprint server.

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