What’s in a name?
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday announced an official name for the novel coronavirus: COVID-19. To break it down, the “CO '' stands for coronavirus, the “VI” for virus, and the “D” for disease. The number 19 refers to the year in which the virus first emerged (December 2019.)
The name was chosen, in part, to avoid stigmatizing a certain location or people, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
“We have to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people,” he said, according to the New York Post.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros added. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
WHO in 2015 released its “best practices” for naming new human infectious diseases. The name for the novel coronavirus appears to follow these guidelines, which aim “to minimize [the] unnecessary negative impact of disease names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.”