On February 18, Jiang Shibo, Shi Zhengli, Gao Fu and others published an online article on the Lancet website, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 should be renamed Human Coronary Virus 2019 (HCoV-19). The International Committee on Virus Classification (ICTV), which previously proposed the name “SARS-CoV-2”, told the news (www.thepaper.cn) that the work of naming SARS-CoV-2 was not done in the official role of ICTV. ICTV is only officially involved in the creation and naming of virus species (virus taxa).
On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the official name “COVID-19” for diseases caused by the infection of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
On the same day, the International Committee on Viral Classification’s Coronary Virus Research Group (CSG) published a manuscript on bioRxiv naming the virus “Severe Acute Disease-CoV-2” 2, can be translated as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2.
International Committee on Virus Classification: Only officially involved in the naming of virus species
Jiang Shibo et al. said in the article that “SARS-CoV-2” is misleading, suggesting that it can lead to SARS or similar diseases. That’s why the World Health Organization is unhappy with SARS-CoV-2 and does not intend to use the name. In response to similar views and discussions in the international academic community and WHO, The News contacted the International Committee on Virus Classification.
Elliot J. Lefkowitz, a professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, responded on behalf of ICTV. He said naming the virus SARS-CoV-2 was not done by the ICTV Coronavirus Research Group in its official role as ICTV.
Elliot J. Lefkowitz says ICTV is only officially involved in the creation and naming of virus species (virus taxa), such as species, genus, sections, etc., not virus names. “If the 2019 coronavirus is determined to represent a new species, Then ICTV will approve the creation and naming of the new species. But as you know, the new virus is the same as SARS-CoV, so no new species name is required. “
Lefkowitz said that as an expert on coronaviruses, the International Viral Classification Commission’s Coronary Virus Research Group was involved in the selection of virus names and published in a manuscript of bioRxiv, a preprinted platform. “The work of naming the virus Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2) is not done in its official ICTV duty. ICTV also has no position on WHO naming the disease (COVID-19). “
Lefkowitz says naming viruses does not require official approval. Naming is usually done by the discoverer of the virus, but is occasionally assisted by a committee of experts. As long as the scientific community accepts and uses the name, it becomes the de facto standard.
Chinese virologist: misleading, suggested hCoV-19
The above-mentioned articles by Jiang Shibo, Shi Zhengli, Gao Fu and others were published in the form of correspondence entitled “A distinct name is needed for the new coronavirus (new corona virus needs a different name),” The authors include Jiang Shibo, a professor at Fudan University’s School of Basic Medicine, Shi Zhengli, a researcher at the Wuhan Virus Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Gao Fu of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The article says SARS is a disease name, and naming the new virus SARS-CoV-2 actually suggests that it can cause SARS or similar diseases, especially for scientists and citizens who don’t know much about virology.
And the name doesnot match the disease name COVID-19. “SARS-CoV-2 is a naturally occurring virus, unlike all other sars classes or SARS-related coronaviruses. “
As of February 17, 2020, the article states that as of February 17, 2019-nCoV caused 71,331 infections and 1,775 deaths in China and 24 other countries, which differ from SARS-CoV in biological, epidemiological and clinical characteristics. Therefore, it is misleading to name 2019-nCoV (new coronavirus) SARS-CoV-2. It should have its own unique name for this epidemic virus, which is clearly of international concern.
The 2019-nCoV is still evolving, and it is too early to predict the outcome of the outbreak, the article said. Some experts predict that 2019-nCoV could evolve into a low-pathogenic but highly contagious coronavirus that may relapse every winter, like the virus that causes seasonal flu. If so, the name SARS-CoV-2 could have a negative impact on social stability and economic development in China and the world.
According to the article, according to the special clinical, virological, epidemiological characteristics of the new coronavirus and its uncertainty, in order to avoid misleading and confusing, to help scientists and the public better communication, a group of Chinese virologists proposed to change the name of SARS-CoV-2 to human coronavirus 2019 (HCoV-19). The name distinguishes this virus from SARS-CoV and is consistent with WHO’s name for the disease, COVID-19.