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Where It All Began

October 24, 2020

origins of COVID-19

where it all began

by Jamal Ross

The name coronavirus stems from the word corona, which is a Latin derivative meaning “crown.” The shape of the coronavirus is a circular structure with spike-like projections resembling a crown. Before the COVID 19 pandemic, coronaviruses were thought to be a relatively harmless group of viruses that caused the common cold. Yet, there are different type of coronaviruses that live in animals and humans. When we come in contact with viruses that live in animals, we can be infected by viruses that our bodies have never seen before. This is called a novel virus infection.

In the term COVID-19, the “C” stands for “corona,” “VI” for “virus,” “D” for “disease” and “19” for the year “2019.” The term COVID-19 was coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to help make this disease easily identifiable. Another name for COVID-19 is SARS-CoV2. This term is very telling to the origins of the COVID-19 virus. What is SARS? What does “CoV” stand for? Why is there a number 2 at the end? Let’s find out.

“SARS” stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. The word SARS was first created in 2003 by the WHO to help track infection by a new deadly coronavirus that was discovered in the Guangdong Province of China in February 2002. The virus spread to Hong King, Vietnam, Singapore. The United States was largely spared. At the end of the epidemic, 8096 cases and 774 deaths were reported. (1) SARS was caused by a coronavirus that is seen in bats. Another name for this SARS virus is SARS-CoV-1, whereby “CoV” stands for coronavirus and “1” represents the first SARS outbreak. Therefore, the “2” in SAR-CoV-2, which is another name for COVID-19, represents the second outbreak for SARS.

Afterwards MERS, another novel coronavirus, was discovered. “MERS” stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. The first case of the MERS was reported in September 2012 in Saudi Arabia. The MERS virus is a coronavirus that is also seen in bats. It appears bats passed this virus onto camels, which in turn was passed onto humans. (2) There were 2484 cases of MERS reported with 858 deaths noted. (3)The majority of cases occurred in Saudi Arabia. The MERS virus is also labeled as MERS-CoV, where the CoV stand for coronavirus.

Fast forward to our present time and we see that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NKJV) Not only does the 1918 flu pandemic demonstrate that the COVID 19 pandemic is not new phenomenon, but we also see that the COVID 19 virus has been in the making for almost 15 years.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Update: outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome–worldwide, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Apr 4;52(13):269-72. PMID: 12729074.
  2. Chan JF, Lau SK, To KK, Cheng VC, Woo PC, Yuen KY. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: another zoonotic betacoronavirus causing SARS-like disease. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2015 Apr;28(2):465-522. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00102-14. PMID: 25810418; PMCID: PMC4402954.
  3. World Health Organization. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (Accesssed on August 10, 2020)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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