FACT CHECK: Viral Image Falsely Claims COVID-19 Stands For ‘Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease’

Jonathan Fonti | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims the acronym “COVID” in COVID-19 stands for “Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease” and the number “19” represents it “being the 19th virus to come out of China.”

Verdict: False

COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

Fact Check:

The internet has become replete with misinformation related to the new coronavirus that has sickened some 463,751 people around the world. The latest example focuses on the nomenclature of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus.

“Hate to break this to all of the morons who call themselves journalists,” claims a March 23 post. “COVID literally stands for ‘Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease’ and the number 19 is due to this being the 19th virus to come out of China.”

That is incorrect, however. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Feb. 11 that COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019,” referring to the year the virus was first detected. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims Hand Sanitizer Poses A Threat To Pets Because It Contains A Toxic Chemical Also Found In Antifreeze)

“We now have a name for the disease and it is COVID-19. And I will spell it: C-O-V-I-D hyphen one nine,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, at a Feb. 11 press conference. “‘CO,’ C-O, stands for ‘corona,’ V-I stands for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for ‘disease,’ so ‘COVID.'”

WHO guidelines on “Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases” state that disease names may not include geographic locations, people’s names, animal species or groups of people, among categories. The naming guidelines aim to prevent any potential negative affiliation with the disease.

The post appears to reference President Donald Trump’s usage of the term “Chinese virus” when referring to the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, a move that some have called racist and xenophobic. His defense for using the terms is that the virus “comes from China, that’s why,” according to The New York Times.

Some Asian Americans have reported being the targets of verbal and physical harassment since the coronavirus pandemic started, according to CBS News.

Jonathan Fonti

Fact Check Reporter
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