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Misunderstandings, colloquialisms, wrong words and false friends: 18


When the pandemia is over, I will go on holiday.

A simple one to sort out, but an error that has become popular thanks to that particular virus...


Pandemia is, basically, Polish for pandemic.


But that makes it a very short correction, so I'll take the opportunity to clarify a couple of things.


The pandemic of 2020 and 2021 has had a number of terms applied to it, with four in particular: coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID, and SARS-CoV-2. So what do all these terms mean?

A coronavirus is a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds; in humans and birds, these viruses can cause infections to your organs that are involved in breathing, including the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. These infections can range from being mild (like a cold) or, at worst, lethal. 

COVID-19 is a particular type of coronavirus. The name is an odd sort of acronym, in that it is formed from parts of two distinct words (COronaVIrus & Disease) and the latter portion of a date (the 19 from 2019). It is a word that most of the media (plus the WHO and Johns Hopkins University) use in upper-case lettering, although there does not appear to be any rules that state this can't be written as Covid-19.

COVID is just the short form of coronavirus, although it has now been used and commonly understood as a general term to mean COVID-19.

Now SARS-CoV-2 is the short form of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome COronaVirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), the virus that causes COVID-19, the respiratory illness responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. It had had other names: 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and human coronavirus 2019 (HCoV-19 or hCoV-19). It is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus that is contagious in humans, and had been described by the US National Institutes of Health as the successor to SARS-CoV-1, the virus that caused the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. The disease is believed to be similar to bat coronaviruses, suggesting that it came from a bat-borne virus. (Thanks Wikipedia.)

So now you know...


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