What’s the difference between

COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2?


2020 brought an overwhelming amount of new terms to try to decipher. Terms like COVID-19, coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, quarantine, social distancing, and more were once nonexistent or had a very different meaning to society. It’s been hard to keep up with these new terms, especially the medical ones. 

After all, what is the difference between COVID-19, coronavirus, and SARS-CoV-2? Is there even a difference? Are they all describing the same thing? We get it – it’s simply overwhelming to keep up with it all. Don’t worry – we’ve compiled some information from trusted sources so you won’t have to feverishly Google search anymore.

What is the coronavirus?

Many people have called COVID-19 the coronavirus, which is where much of the confusion starts. Coronaviruses are actually a very diverse family of viruses that cause more diseases than just COVID-19. According to the Mayo Clinic, coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illnesses such as the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and more.

Related: Do I Have Allergies or COVID-19?

Coronavirus Timeline

New types of coronaviruses emerge when an animal coronavirus evolves, making it transmittable to humans. When a coronavirus makes the jump from an animal host to a human host, it can cause serious illness due to the lack of experience the human’s immune system has with the virus. This type of transmission has happened multiple times in the past 20 years:

  • 2003: SARS-CoV, the virus that caused SARS, was first identified
  • 2012: MERS-CoV, the virus that caused Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), was first identified
  • 2019: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was first identified

What is SARS-CoV-2? 

To put it in simpler terms, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus causing the COVID-19 disease. COVID-19 is one type of disease caused by a coronavirus, but not the only type. HIV and AIDS are other health conditions that can help clarify this difference. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, but not everyone with HIV has AIDS. Similarly, not everyone who carries SARS-CoV-2 has COVID-19. There are many asymptomatic carriers that are spreading the virus with no symptoms of COVID-19.

Related: What To Do If You Test Positive For The COVID-19 Virus

During these difficult times, you’re seeking answers to many health questions. If you’re looking for a simpler way to get your health questions answered, look no further than empowerDX. With a wide range of resources and COVID-19 testing options, we’ll make sure you have the power and knowledge of your health in your own hands. Order your at-home test today, and get the peace of mind you deserve. 

Related: Stop Community Spread of COVID-19 With Frequent Testing

Note: This is a brief overview of emerging evidence and should not be taken as treatment advice or treatment recommendations for any individual or specific medical condition. The strategies reviewed may not be appropriate for you. For any treatment advice or consideration we strongly suggest discussions with your personal healthcare professionals.

What activities are putting me at risk for COVID-19?

While none of these activities can be considered risk free, this guide can help you decide what activities are right for you based on your health.

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