Naming of COVID-19 upsc

The Naming of COVID-19 | UPSC


Figuring out COVID-19 terminology

      WHY IN NEWS:

What are some of the key terms being used to describe the novel coronavirus outbreak?

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Health:Diseases: Science and Technology : Naming of COVID-19 : UPSC


For PRELIMS go through the institution and the framework of naming a virus !

For MAINS do you think it is easy for a layman to understand and digest such definitions ? Suggest ways to cope up such ignorance !


Here is a short glossary of terms that you might hear/use regularly, but may not understand entirely.

  • COVID-19 — A term coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to denote the disease that has led to a pandemic.
  • On February 11, 2020, WHO announced a name for the mysterious disease originating in China, caused by a new coronavirus.


COVID-19 stands for :

  • CO stands for corona,
  • VI for virus, and
  • D for disease,
  • 19 refer to the year in which the first case was detected.


  • WHO claimed it had consciously avoided naming the disease after the place of origin, to avoid stigmatising that country/area.
  • The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus, also on February 11, 2020.


The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) authorizes and organizes the taxonomic classification of and the nomenclatures for viruses.

  • The ICTV has developed a universal taxonomic scheme for viruses,
  • They also describe, name, and classify every virus that affects living organisms.
  • The members of the ICTV are considered expert virologists.


  1. To develop an internationally agreed taxonomy for viruses
  2. To establish internationally agreed names for virus .
  3. To communicate the decisions reached by holding meetings and publishing reports.
  4. To maintain an official index of agreed names of virus taxa.
  5. To study the virus effects in modern society and their behaviour.


  • Stability.
  • To avoid or reject the use of names which might cause error or confusion
  • To avoid the unnecessary creation of names.


  • This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003.
  • While related, the two viruses are different.


  • EPIDEMIC — When the incidence of a disease rises above the expected level in a particular community or geographic area, it is called an epidemic.
  • PANDEMIC — A global epidemic.
  • R0 — R-Naught is the basic reproduction number.

  This is the number of new infections caused by one infected individual in an entirely susceptible population.

  • CO-MORBIDITIESSeveral health conditions including uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, cancer, morbid obesity, lung diseases, compromised immune systems put patients at greater risk for contracting the infection, and also have poor clinical outcomes.
  • COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION — When you can no longer tell how someone contracted the disease, or who the source of infection was.
  • CONTACT TRACING — Identifying and monitoring people who may have come into contact with an infectious person.
  • SUPER SPREADER — Some individuals seem to have the capacity to cause more infections in a disproportionately large number of people, than others.
  • POSITIVITY RATE — The percentage of people who test positive among all those who are tested.
  • CASE FATALITY RATE — This is the number of deaths occurring among confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY INFECTION (SARI) — A respiratory disease also caused by a coronavirus, and spread through the same transmission method, i.e. respiratory droplets.
  • RT- PCR (REVERSE TRANSCRIPTION-POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION) — It is the primary test to detect COVID-19 infection across the globe.

  It is a sensitive test that uses swab samples drawn from the nasal/oral cavity to test for the presence of viral RNA (ribonucleic acid).

  • ANTIBODY TESTS — These tests check your blood by looking for antibodies, and that just means you have had a past infection of SARS-CoV-2.

  Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections, and are specific to every disease, granting immunity against getting that particular disease again.

  • CONVALESCENT PLASMA THERAPY — This therapy uses neutralising antibodies from the blood of people who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection to treat patients with COVID-19.
  • HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE (HCQ) — An antimalarial oral drug that is being repurposed for treatment in COVID-19.
  • FLATTENING THE CURVE — Reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases, day on day.
  • HERD IMMUNITY — This is also known as community immunity, and constitutes the reduction in risk of infection within a population, often because of previous exposure to the virus or vaccination.
  • PPE — Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is specialised clothing and equipment used as a safeguard against health hazards including exposure to the disease.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • CYTOKINE STORM — An immune reaction triggered by the body to fight an infection is known as a cytokine storm when it turns severe.
  • The body releases too many cytokines, proteins that are involved in immunomodulation, into the blood too quickly.
  • These cytokines dilate blood vessels, increase the temperature and heartbeat, besides throwing bloodclots in the system, and suppressing oxygen utilisation.
  • If the cytokine flow is high and continues without cessation, the body’s own immune response will lead to hypoxia, insufficient oxygen to the body, multi-organ failure and death.
  • Experts say it is not the virus that kills; rather, the cytokine storm.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU & PIB/DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS for UPSC CSE Prelims & Mains | Mayo Clinic, Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary, Oxford Handbook of Epidemiology for Clinicians | Naming of COVID-19 | UPSC

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