Science: World Health Organization unhappy with new crown named SARS-CoV-2

On the same day, two international organizations named the new coronavirus, which is currently circulating, and the disease caused by the virus. The coincidence ostensibly ended six weeks of uncertainty about the name of the disease, but it also created new confusion. On February 12th a news report published on the website of Science interviewed the World Health Organization and the International Committee on Virus Classification to explain the reasons for naming the two institutions, the process and the misunderstandings and controversies that followed.

(Original title: Science: Who Is Not Satisfied with the New Name of SARS-CoV-2)

Journalist Zhang Wei

On February 11th, local time, WHO Director-General Tan Desai announced in Geneva, Switzerland, that the pneumonia of the new coronavirus infection was named “COVID-19”. COVID-19 is the name of the disease, not the virus that causes it. The virus has a temporary name, 2019-nCoV, indicating that it is a new type of coronavirus that will appear in 2019.

But just before the press conference, the International Committee on Virus Classification, which is responsible for classifying and naming viruses, named pathogens of the disease. In a paper published in BioRxiv, the preprinted paper platform, the Committee’s Coronary Virus Research Group (CSG) has decided that the International Committee on Virus Classification has decided that The new coronavirus (virus) is a variant of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus that broke out in 2002-2003. Therefore, the new pathogen is named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (acute acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), or SARS-CoV-2.

It is worth noting that although the International Committee on Viral Classification Team named the virus SARS-CoV-2, the study group’s chairman, John Ziebuhr, said there was no association between the name (SARS-CoV-2) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as Atypical Pneumonia). (There is no link between the name and the disease SARS)

WHO discontent, naming misunderstandings

Science: World Health Organization unhappy with new crown named SARS-CoV-2

World Health Organization names pneumonia with new coronary viral infection as “COVID-19”

The World Health Organization is not satisfied with the name SARS-CoV-2 and does not intend to use it, Science reported.

In an email to Science,” a WHO spokesman wrote in an email to Science’s website: “From a risk-spreading perspective, the use of the SARS name may have unintended consequences for some people in terms of unnecessary fear, particularly in Asia, where the SARS outbreak was most severely affected in 2003. “。 “For this and other reasons, in public transmission, WHO refers to the virus as ‘the virus that causes COVID-19’ (the virus responsible for COVID-19) or the ‘COVID-19 virus’ (the COVID-19 virus), But neither name is intended to be an alternative to the official name of the virus.”

Misunderstandings about viruses and disease names quickly arose.

A reporter who listened to a press conference from WHO Director-General Tan Desser tweeted that “the virus has finally got a name, COVID-19”, and he soon corrected the misrepresentation.

“Although naming is a minor problem in the growing public health crisis, even some virologists are taken aback by this seemingly contradictory statement,” Science’s website says.

Marion Koopmans of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands wrote on Twitter: “Well, in one day, the same virus has two names” and “sounds like some people need to meet to solve problems.” “

“I agree that it’s a bit confusing,” says Alexander Gorbalenya, a virologist at Leiden University. Gorbalenya is a member of the Coronavirus Research Group of the International Committee on Virus Classification and the first author of BioXIV’s naming of the virus manuscript.

Two different naming principles

The difference between this naming and so on comes from the completely different course that WHO and CSG follow.

A WHO spokesman told Science’s website that WHO experts did not consult with Chinese officials to name the disease in accordance with some generally accepted principles. For example, disease names cannot refer to people, populations or geographic locations, which can cause stigma, nor should animal names be included, which can be misleading because some animal viruses cross species and become human pathogens, as SARS-CoV-2 does. THE NAME CHOSEN BY WHO, “COVID-19”, IS SHORT FOR CORONARY VIRUS DISEASE IN 2019. (The first known case of pneumonia caused by the virus infection occurred in Wuhan, China, in December 2019) the name does not offend anyone, and can be recycled if other coronaviruses are transmitted from animals to humans in the next few years.

Science: World Health Organization unhappy with new crown named SARS-CoV-2

World Health Organization explains reasons for naming on social media

John Ziebuhr, a virologist at the University of Giessen in Germany and chair of the International Committee on Virus Classification And a virologist, said CSG took a scientific approach to naming viruses. According to recent genome sequencing, the new virus belongs to the same species (same species) that caused the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, known as SARS-related coronavirus.

Science: World Health Organization unhappy with new crown named SARS-CoV-2

The International Committee on Virus Classification explains the reasons for the naming of viruses on its official website

Another CSG member, Raoul de Groot of the University of Utrecht, added that “species” is difficult to define in viruses because the genome of viruses is constantly changing, but Gorbalenya’s team has designed such a system for coronaviruses. It was generally accepted that it was described in two papers in 2012.

John Ziebuhr says the virus may be novel to the rest of the world, but not for virus taxonomists, so he named it SARS-CoV-2.

This is not the first time a virus and the disease it causes have a different name, Science’s website notes. For example, variola virus and smallpox, HIV and AIDS.

CSG Chairman: Virus name and SARS are not associated

CSG Chairman John Ziebuhr said who had informed him that the name (SARS-CoV-2) was not appropriate in China, which has refused to compare the current crisis to the traumatised SARS outbreak. But Ziebuhr argues that “it is important to be clear that the name does not refer to the disease caused by the virus.” The name (SARS-CoV-2) is not associated with SARS. That’s the difficulty THAT WHO faces.”

Ziebuhr points out that hundreds of other viruses found in bats and other animals by Chinese researchers share the same name.

Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he would not use the name SARS-CoV-2. “We don’t believe it’s an exact name, it actually confuses a completely different disease (SARS) with that disease (COVID-19),” he said. “

But Ziebuhr believes that many other researchers may start using the new name (SARS-CoV-2). “The positive response I’ve received from many colleagues, including Chinese scientists … is that I’m not going to be able to do that,” he said. I believe that in a very short period of time, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be widely accepted by the research community and other fields. “

Same Day Named: Uncoordinated Coincidences

It seems a coincidence that the two names appear almost simultaneously.

Alexander Gorbalenya, a virologist at Leiden University and the first author of the aforementioned BioXIV virus named manuscript, revealed that he sent the manuscript to bioRxiv on Friday. Yesterday afternoon (February 11), the manuscript had not appeared online, so he sent an email to bioRxiv asking why there was a delay. “Then it’s posted in an hour,” “but I don’t know if the WHO will announce it.” “

According to CSG Chairman John Ziebuhr, CSG also submitted the manuscript to a magazine that sent it to WHO. (The science publisher has previously committed to immediately sharing any new information about the virus with WHO.) )

But a WHO spokesman said the timing of the who-announced the naming message was not affected by the delivery of the manuscript.

John Ziebuhr hopes to coordinate the work of the CSG team with WHO, as he did when MERS-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012. At the time, the WHO, the Saudi government and other stakeholders agreed to the name, in effect making a joint statement. (Partners involved in naming have agreed to make an exception to the no-place rule, arguing that the Middle East is big enough for no particular group to be humiliated.) )

Ziebuhr says such coordination is now impossible. “The WHO is overwhelmed by what’s going on there and has no time,” he said. But he also said naming “needs to be clarified” and “scientists want clear guidance.” “

“Ideally, the publication of these messages should be coordinated,” said Koopmans, a member of whose advisory board on disease. She called what happened on February 11 “a bit confusing” but did not think it was a big deal.

Mike Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, commented on the incident, saying, “I find the whole naming situation unfortunate, and although the two groups clearly knew the other side was working on it, there was little coordination.”

“Our hope is to reconsider the naming of viruses and diseases and make efforts to reconcile them so that they are more similar and more likely to describe the effects of the virus on humans and to integrate it into coronavirus virology.” “