WHO announces official name of novel coronavirus; hopes rapid infections will cease soon

February 14, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally announced the official name of the deadly virus from China, “COVID-19” – “co” stands for corona, “vi” for virus and “d” for disease, while “19” was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified in late December 2019. WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” and China’s National Health Commission was temporarily calling it “novel coronavirus pneumonia” or NCP; but under a set of new guidelines issued in 2015, WHO settled for a name that would avoid stigma or fear in the public mind. The agency also mentioned that the virus represented a “very grave threat” for the world, even though 99% of cases are currently concentrated in China.

WHO Chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged the world to “wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one.” He added that fair support would stop the outbreak and save lives.

COVID-19 was first identified in the city of Wuhan in central China on 31 December; and has regrettably killed about 1,000 people, infected over 42,000 and reached some 25 countries. The WHO has declared it a global health emergency.

While scientists are reviewing the virus transmission and possible vaccines at the first major WHO conference on fighting the epidemic, Chinese epidemiologist and medical adviser, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, said numbers of new cases were falling in some parts of China and hopes the madness would be over by April. Dr. Zhong is well-known for successfully combating an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

WHO has repeatedly advised countries to consider “open and equitable sharing of data, according to the principles of fairness and equity,” in order to further research into the disease. WHO took the first step by applying an R&D Blueprint, which would allow the rapid rollout of research and development activities; several teams of experts in Australia, Britain, China, France, Germany, and the US are also racing to develop a vaccine, shunting a process that could normally take years.

This week, a team of scientists at Imperial College London is believed to be the first to start animal testing of a possible vaccine in mice, however, the COVID-19 virus may die out before a vaccine could be fully developed – just like the deadly 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.


Category: Features, Health alert

Comments are closed.