COVID-19 11. Februar 2020


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[3] Viral taxonomy: SARS-CoV-2
Date: Tue 11 Feb 2020
Source: bioRxiv [edited]

Ref: Gorbalenya AE: _Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus_ -- The species and its viruses, a statement of the Coronavirus Study Group. bioRxiv 2020.02.07.937862; doi:

The present outbreak of lower respiratory tract infections, including respiratory distress syndrome, is the 3rd spillover, in only 2 decades, of an animal coronavirus to humans resulting in a major epidemic. Here, the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, which is responsible for developing the official classification of viruses and taxa naming (taxonomy) of the _Coronaviridae_ family, assessed the novelty of the human pathogen tentatively named 2019-nCoV. Based on phylogeny, taxonomy and established practice, the CSG formally recognizes this virus as a sister to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoVs) of the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus and designates it as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). To facilitate communication, the CSG further proposes to use the following naming convention for individual isolates:
SARS-CoV-2/Isolate/Host/Date/Location. The spectrum of clinical manifestations associated with SARS-CoV-2 infections in humans remains to be determined. The independent zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 highlights the need for studying the entire (virus)
species to complement research focused on individual pathogenic viruses of immediate significance. This research will improve our understanding of virus-host interactions in an ever-changing environment and enhance our preparedness for future outbreaks.

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[4] COVID-19 the disease, SARS-CoV-2 the virus
A. Date: Tue 11 Feb 2020 12:10 p.m. EST
Source: Washington Post [edited]

Why there are 2 new names for the coronavirus epidemic?

There are 2 new names associated with the epidemic unfolding in China and in 2 dozen countries around the world. The "novel coronavirus" will be designated "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2," or more simply "SARS-CoV-2."

The disease it causes is "COVID-19."

The name of the disease was announced by the director general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday [11 Feb 2020] at a news conference. The naming of the virus came from a committee of experts who published a paper on a biology preprint site that described their research and rationale for giving the new virus a derivative name.

"It will be like HIV and AIDS -- different names for virus and disease," said Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University at Texarkana and a co-author of the paper.

The naming of the virus came after close study of its genetic makeup by a dozen scientists, including Neuman, who form the Coronavirus Study Group, part of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Neuman said the new virus is the same species as the virus that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China in 2002-2003.

"Same species, but different member of the species," Neuman said.

[Byline: Joel Achenbach]

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B. Date: Tue 11 Feb 2020
Source: NPR [edited]

The new coronavirus disease that was first identified in Wuhan has received an official name from the World Health Organization (WHO): "COVID-19." "COVI" comes from coronavirus. The "D" stands for disease. The 19 represents 2019, the year the virus was first identified, in
December [2019]. The name will apply for the "entire spectrum" of cases, from mild to severe, according to a WHO spokesperson. The disease had been given the temporary name "2019-nCoV" by WHO in January [2020], identifying the pathogen as a novel (previously unidentified, that is) coronavirus that first emerged in humans in 2019.

As weeks went by, people began calling it "Wuhan virus." But that's a problematic label. WHO guidelines for naming infectious diseases, issued in 2015, discourage names that refer to specific places, people and professions, aiming to avoid negative repercussions from
stigmatizing a geographic area or a population group. In addition, no food or animal names should be used, the guidelines say -- "swine flu" is listed as an example to be avoided after fear of that pathogen led the Egyptian government to order the slaughter of hundreds of
thousands of pigs.

There are other considerations besides stigma. "The attempt is to describe a disease using terms that people can understand as well as possible," says Keiji Fukuda, a professor at the University of Hong Kong who helped draft the WHO guidelines. "So not to be too jargon-y."
And speed is of the essence. Fukuda says in the absence of an easy-to-use, descriptive virus name, it's easy for other monikers to take hold. "You really are racing pretty quickly to get a name out there. If someone coins a phrase which is catchy and which other people quickly begin repeating, it can be very hard or impossible to pull back," Fukuda says.

When SARS -- a member of the coronavirus family, like COVID-19 -- began spreading internationally in 2003, there was no formal process for naming it. Dr. David Heymann, who was leading the WHO's infectious diseases unit in Geneva at the time, had just left for a camping trip with his son's Boy Scout troop when he got a call about the disease's growing reach. He left his son with the other Scouts and headed back to the office. It was a quick meeting -- half an hour, maybe less.
"There were no rules at that time about how to name it, so we just went ahead and did it," says Heymann, who is now an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "The 1st thing we decided was it would be good to have a name that had the same type of a ring as AIDS -- easy to say and short."

Fukuda says despite the ad hoc nature of Heymann's meeting, the group came up with a solid name.

In other recent outbreaks, naming the virus didn't go so well. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, named in 2013, now appears in the "examples to be avoided" column of the WHO's guidance. "That's currently held up as an example of sort of what not to do," says Neuman. "It name-checks a particular region of the Earth, when really a virus is happy infecting anybody that it can get to. It just happens to originate in a particular area."

In addition, an 11-member committee from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has proposed a name for the virus that causes the disease now known as COVID-19. The name they are proposing is SARS-CoV-2, which, according to the naming committee "formally recognizes this virus as a sister to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses."

[Byline: Brett Dahlberg and Elena Renken]

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[We will be changing the name of this thread (the subject line) from Novel coronavirus to COVID-19 in keeping with the official naming released today.

- Mod.MPP]

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