GENEVA, Switzerland (NBC) – The World Health Organization has classified the coronavirus as “public enemy number one.”
Tuesday, the WHO officially named the new coronavirus “COVID-19,” adding that the first vaccine targeting China’s coronavirus could be available in 18 months.
The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the virus’ new name was chosen to avoid stigmatizing people or places. “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” Ghebreyesus said. “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing.”
Ghebreyesus added, “A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action, and that’s true. And if the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons.”