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Why is the COVID-19 virus called SARS-COV-2?

When any new viruses emerge, it is given a name based on its genetic structure so that the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines can be facilitated. The names are given by International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). The COVID-19 virus has been named as SARS-COV-2 because it has been found to be genetically related to SARS-COV (now, also referred as SARS-COV-1) coronavirus that caused SARS outbreak in 2003, leaving over 8000 people infected and nearly 800 people dead worldwide. Similarities between SARS-COV-2 and SARS-COV Both the viruses have been noted to be similar in many ways. These include:

  1. Appearance – They both look similar (like a crown) under a microscope.

  2. Origin – They both appear to have originated from bats and have jumped from there to humans through intermediary hosts.

  3. Transmission – They both spread through respiratory droplets of persons infected with the respective viruses.

  4. Stability – They both can remain active in air and on surface for almost the same period of time.

  5. Illness – They both cause respiratory illnesses.

  6. Symptoms – They both cause similar symptoms (cough, fever and breathing problem)

  7. Severity – Respiratory problems can at times become so severe that patients may have to be put on oxygen and mechanical ventilators.

Now, one may ask that if there are so many similarities between the two viruses why is that the COVID-19 causing SARS-COV-2 has been more damaging than the SARS causing SARS-COV to the world? Where the later has sickened less than 10,000 people and claimed less than 1000 lives over a period of one and half years (Nov 2002 – April 2004), the former has already infected over 2.5 million and killed 1.7 million people in just about four months (Dec 2019 – 20 April 2020) of its outbreak. Well, SARS-COV has been noted to be a more deadly virus than SARS-COV-2. Data shows that the SARS mortality rate is about 10% whereas COVID-19 mortality rate is about 1%. Yes, transmission rate in the case of COVID-19 is exorbitantly high. This may be because about 80% of people with COVID-19 experience and exhibit mild to no symptoms but may be, as reports suggest, silently expelling the virus and transmitting the disease. On the hands, symptoms appear to be more severe in the case of SARS, leading to easy identification and early isolation.

Disclaimer: Indian Health Bureau does not claim any responsibility for the information contained in this article. The information may not hold good for everyone. The post is for general awareness only and should not be construed as a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Please consult your doctor to know what is good for you.



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