SARS-CoV-2 And COVID-19: What’s The Difference?

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues. The UK is currently in its 3rd lockdown with the PM to set a roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 has been referred to as coronavirus, 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2. However, what is the difference between all of these terms? In this blog post, we will briefly go over what the difference is so that you the reader will have a bit more of an understanding.

SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19: What's the difference?

In 2019 when the infection was first reported in China, experts called it the “2019 novel coronavirus,” in a nutshell this means a new coronavirus that had not been previously identified. Over time the 2019 novel coronavirus changed and identified as COVID-19 and now more recently intertwined with SARS-CoV-2.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are multiple types of coronaviruses, some of which commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. Seven types of coronavirus infect humans, three of which evolved from animal strains.

Referring to COVID-19 as “coronavirus” is very general as this is an umbrella term for more than one virus. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) encourage experts to use COVID-19 when referring to this new disease, a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for disease and 19 indicates the year it was discovered.

We are all familiar with the terminology COVID-19. However, officials have also begun using SARS-CoV-2 in connection with the recent outbreak. ICTV announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus on 11 February 2020.  This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003.  While related, the two viruses are different.

 Why do the virus and the disease have different names? 


coronavirus disease


severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

Viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names.  For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.  People often know the name of a disease, but not the name of the virus that causes it.

There are different processes, and purposes, for naming viruses and diseases.

Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is WHO’s role, so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

So to keep it simple “Coronavirus” is a generic term that includes a large family of viruses, similar to saying someone has the flu. SARS-CoV-2 is a specific virus that can cause COVID-19, a disease.

The pandemic has been one of the worst experiences that will take place in our lifetime. One thing that it has done is to make people more aware of hygiene in the home, business and out and about. It’s important to share best practices for cleaning and disinfecting, especially throughout a pandemic. To help stop the spread of the virus and potentially return back to a normal way of living the NHS has provided a list of do’s and don’ts, here.

For all your essential hygiene products head on over to the HC shop. Check out the Flourish Professional All Surface Sanitiser. It has been proven to kill enveloped viruses in 15 seconds this includes SARS-CoV-2.