The World Health Organization on Tuesday said it’s given the coronavirus illness an official name and that the first vaccine could be 18 months away. It’s now called COVID-19, with “CO” representing “corona,” “VI” for “virus” and “D” for disease.
An official name will help prevent inaccuracy and stigmatizing while also providing a standard format for any future outbreaks, WHO said during a media briefing to provide updates on the outbreak. The virus itself was given the designationwhen it was discovered.
“Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization, we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization.
The organization said it’s assisting other countries withand how to help those who are already sick.
The viral outbreak started at the end of December in Wuhan, China. According to WHO, the country has 42,708 confirmed cases with more than 1,000 deaths attributed to the virus. There are 393 cases in 24 countries, with the US accounting for 13 confirmed cases. So far, one death has been found outside of China.
Originally published on Feb. 11, 8:47 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:18 a.m. PT: Adds background details.