Do you know what COVID-19 stands for?
The pandemic has a lot of names: coronavirus, COVID-19, or even Rona, a coronavirus slang word coined and popularized by younger generations. Coronavirus is a term that has been used for decades, derived from the fact that entire virus particles have a “corona,” or halo surrounding them, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But while people are talking about COVID-19, many don’t even know what the acronym COVID actually stands for.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus strain, and the name COVID-19 was given to the disease by the organization on Feb. 11. The acronym stands for “CO,” as in corona, “VI,” as in virus, and “D,” for disease–and the 19 stands for the year 2019, when the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan, China.
“Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 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,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, told press in the media briefing on Feb. 11.
However, this official explanation hasn’t stopped rumors about COVID from spreading around the internet. Reuters reported on Apr. 24 that social media users had been sharing images online that falsely claimed COVID-19 stood for Certificate of Vaccination by Artificial Intelligence–the number 19 being a reference to artificial intelligence, or A.I., the first and ninth leaders of the alphabet. And Snopes reported a false claim in late March because users had circulated the rumor that COVID-19 stood for the 19th “Chinese-Originated Viral Infectious Disease.”