On March 2, Nature-Microbiology published the International Committee on Virus Classification’s Coronary Virus Research Group (ICVT-CSG) naming statement on the new coronavirus. On 11 February, the virus was named “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronary Virus 2” (SARS-CoV-2) by ICVT-CSG due to genetic similarity between the new coronavirus and the same virus modelled on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV).
In a newly published article, ICVT-CSG members describe the naming process for the virus, analyze the possible causes of naming confusion, and emphasize the importance of careful classification of new viruses.
In the article, Alexander Gorbalenya of Moscow State University in Russia, John Ziebuhr of Giessen University in Germany and other members of ICVT-CSG stated that the practice of classifying new viruses is to assess their genetic association with known viruses. Many of the 39 identified coronavirus species and 10 initially identified coronavirus species contain dozens or even hundreds of different viruses.
ICVT-CSG assessed the genetic similarity of the new coronavirus to previously known coronaviruses. By comparing genomic data, especially the variation of conservative proteins involved in virus replication, they found that the new coronavirus belonged to the same cluster as the SARS-related coronavirus species.
Other teams have also reported on this relationship. “The two viruses are so similar that they can classify the new coronavirus as this known species without the need for a new one,” they wrote. “
ICVT-CSG says the new coronavirus is named SARS-CoV-2 because of its genetic association with the SARS-related coronavirus species. The team says the species is named after SARS-CoV, the original virus that triggered outbreaks of human respiratory diseases from 2002 to 2003, and SARS-CoV, which in turn came from its associated disease SARS.
According to ICVT-CSG, SARS-related coronavirus species contain hundreds of known viruses, mainly isolated from humans and bats, all of which are named after SARS-CoV. However, its members explained that SARS in these virus names is intended to highlight their evolutionary relationship with the original virus, not to the clinical disease level.
Current SARS-CoV-2 characterization data show that disease characteristics and transmission may differ from those reported by SARS-CoV. ICVT-CSG members believe that researchers should link sars-CoV-2 outbreaks to SARS-CSG
The popularity of CoVs is treated differently. But they also stressed that the two viruses are genetically similar and suggested that a study of the link between the same virus should be conducted to help people better understand these human pathogens.
WHO named SARS-CoV-2-caused disease COVID-19 on 11 February.
ICVT-CSG says the virus’s clinical characteristics and prognosis appear to be very widespread and varied, and the way it separates the virus can help draw a watershed between the virus and the disease. The authors recommend that you do not mix names when referring to outbreaks of viruses and clinical diseases.
Related papers: https://nature.com/articles/s41564-020-0695-z