You’ve been seeing the word “coronavirus” all over the news lately, and for good reason. The new strain of the virus that was traced to China has now claimed over 1,000 lives and has infected tens of thousands of people.
But there are different strains of coronavirus, so an official name makes sense if we want to differentiate this particular outbreak from other varieties of the same virus. The World Health Organization finally got around to naming this particular strain of coronavirus, so say hello to Covid-19.
As HuffPost reports, the World Health Organization made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday, explaining the decision to name the virus and explaining what Covid-19 actually means. WHO doesn’t give specific names to every virus, or even every virus that infects humans, but it makes sense to do so in cases such as this one.
“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 outbreak,” WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explained.
As for how to decipher the name Covid-19, it’s actually pretty straightforward. The “Co” stands for corona, the “vi” stands for virus, and “d” simply means disease. The 19 is an indication of when the disease was first detected in a human, and in this case that was late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
Of course, naming the virus doesn’t make it any less devastating, and the fact that the outbreak seems to be continuing at a breakneck pace within China while slowly seeding to other countries is certainly a cause for concern. Going forward, scientists and health officials combating the spread of the virus will be dealing with the same problems, just under a new name.