COVID-19 vs. Coronavirus

What's the Difference?

COVID-19 and Coronavirus are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two terms. Coronavirus refers to a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans, with the common cold being a mild example. On the other hand, COVID-19 is the specific disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which emerged in late 2019. While Coronavirus encompasses a broader range of viruses, COVID-19 specifically refers to the respiratory illness caused by this particular strain.


OriginWuhan, ChinaBelieved to have originated in bats
Virus FamilyCoronaviridaeCoronaviridae
TransmissionPrimarily human-to-humanPrimarily animal-to-human
SpreadGlobal pandemicGlobal pandemic
SymptomsFever, cough, shortness of breathFever, cough, shortness of breath
SeverityVaries from mild to severeVaries from mild to severe
Mortality RateVaries by region and demographicsVaries by region and demographics
Incubation Period2-14 days2-14 days
PreventionHand hygiene, wearing masks, social distancingHand hygiene, wearing masks, social distancing
VaccineMultiple vaccines availableNo specific vaccine available

Further Detail


COVID-19 and Coronavirus are terms that have become ubiquitous in our daily lives since the outbreak of the pandemic. While they are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the subtle differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of COVID-19 and Coronavirus, shedding light on their origins, symptoms, transmission, and impact on society.


COVID-19, short for "Coronavirus Disease 2019," is caused by a novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. The term "coronavirus" refers to a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s, and they derive their name from the crown-like spikes on their surface when viewed under a microscope.

Coronaviruses, on the other hand, have been known to cause respiratory infections in humans for many years. They were responsible for previous outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. These earlier coronaviruses are distinct from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


Both COVID-19 and other coronaviruses can lead to respiratory illnesses, but there are some differences in their symptomatology. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, headache, and congestion. Some individuals may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Coronaviruses, on the other hand, often present with symptoms similar to the common cold, such as runny nose, sore throat, cough, and mild fever. However, in severe cases, they can also cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. It is important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary widely between individuals for both COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.


COVID-19 and other coronaviruses are primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or breathes heavily. These droplets can be inhaled by individuals in close proximity or land on surfaces that others may touch, leading to transmission through contaminated hands. It is crucial to practice good hand hygiene, wear masks, and maintain physical distancing to reduce the risk of transmission.

While COVID-19 and other coronaviruses share similar modes of transmission, there are some differences in their contagiousness. COVID-19 has been found to be highly contagious, with the ability to spread rapidly within communities and cause large-scale outbreaks. Other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, were also contagious but had a lower overall transmission rate compared to COVID-19.

Impact on Society

The impact of COVID-19 on society has been unprecedented. The global pandemic has resulted in widespread illness, loss of lives, overwhelmed healthcare systems, economic downturns, travel restrictions, and social disruptions. Governments and organizations worldwide have implemented various measures to control the spread of the virus, including lockdowns, testing, contact tracing, and vaccination campaigns.

Coronaviruses, in general, have also had significant impacts on society in the past. The SARS outbreak in 2002-2003, for instance, led to travel advisories, economic losses, and changes in healthcare protocols. Similarly, the MERS outbreak in 2012 affected several countries in the Middle East, resulting in hospitalizations, deaths, and economic consequences.

However, the scale and magnitude of the impact caused by COVID-19 surpasses that of previous coronaviruses. The global nature of the pandemic, coupled with its high transmission rate, has necessitated unprecedented measures to mitigate its effects and protect public health.


COVID-19 and other coronaviruses share similarities in terms of their respiratory symptoms and modes of transmission. However, COVID-19 stands out due to its highly contagious nature and the global impact it has had on society. Understanding the differences between COVID-19 and other coronaviruses is crucial for effective public health measures, research, and the development of vaccines and treatments. By staying informed and following recommended guidelines, we can collectively combat the spread of COVID-19 and protect ourselves and our communities.

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