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Difference Between Coronavirus and Novel Coronavirus

Coronavirus and novel coronavirus have been used interchangeably since they both refer to the current pandemic. When inspected through a microscope, crown-like spikes are apparent on their surfaces. These spike proteins are used to bind to the receptors of the host cells. 

Generally, someone who hears any of these medical terms would automatically think of the same scenario. For instance, news and research articles are written as “Coronavirus Update”, “Coronavirus Outbreak”, “Brunei Reports First Novel Coronavirus-Related Death”, and “A Review of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Based on Current Evidence”.  These reports pertain to the same content, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

However, to be more precise, coronaviruses is a family of viruses which cause infection in the nose, upper throat, and lungs. On the other hand, the novel coronavirus (in the current situation), specifically pertains to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19. It is the newest coronavirus type that has been discovered; hence, “novel”. The following discussions further probe into their distinctions. 

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which cause infection in the nose, upper throat, and lungs. It is called such because it has crown-like spikes on its surface, as seen through a microscope. There are seven types; four of the coronaviruses are classified as less harmful, they are HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-HKU1. The viruses, 229E and OC43 were first discovered in the 1960s; they are usually the cause of the common cold. NL63 was discovered in 2004 and was identified as mainly causing respiratory tract infection among children.  HKU1 was discovered in 2005 and its symptoms are also of the common cold but it can progress to bronchitis and pneumonia. The other three types have been known to cause epidemics:  MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2.  MERS-CoV which was first discovered in 2012 causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). It causes flu-like symptoms which may progress to pneumonia. SARS-CoV was first identified in 2003 and it causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which is also characterized by influenza-like symptoms including diarrhea.  However, the newly identified SARS-CoV-2 is the most contagious as it is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.  

What is the Novel Coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus, particularly pertains to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19, an infectious disease characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing up sputum, shortness of breath, muscle and/or joint pains, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, this may lead to coughing up blood, decreased white blood cells, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and death.  

This was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC) in December 2019. It is the newest type of coronavirus which has been discovered and it belongs to the Beta generation of coronaviruses which is a prevalent and large class. As compared to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 is the most contagious. It has been spreading in more than 160 countries; the top ten nations which are affected include United States of America (USA), China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom (UK), Switzerland, and South Korea. There are currently more than 24,000 deaths, and 536,000 cases. 

According to a Chinese study, SARS-CoV-2, has been found out to have two strains. After examining samples from 103 COVID-19 samples, S type was found out to be the older strain while L type was more common during the early phases of the outbreak. The scientists believe that a certain strain causes worse symptoms as compared to the other; however, the specific details are yet to be confirmed. 

Difference between Coronavirus and Novel Coronavirus

Definition 

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which cause infection in the nose, upper throat, and lungs. In comparison, the novel coronavirus, particularly pertains to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19, an infectious disease characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Discovery 

The first coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s, 229E and OC43, they often cause the common cold. As for the novel coronavirus, this was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC) in December 2019

Types

Coronavirus has seven types: four of the coronaviruses are classified as less harmful, they are HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-HKU1. The other three types have been known to cause epidemics:  MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. According to a Chinese study, SARS-CoV-2, has two strains. After examining samples from 103 COVID-19 samples, S type was found out to be the older strain while L type was more common during the early phases of the outbreak.  

COVID-19 

As compared to coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is more specifically associated with the pandemic, COVID-19, as the former is a group of viruses (7 types) which cause the common cold, MERS, SARS, as well as COVID-19. 

Rate of Transmission 

The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been specified to have a faster rate as compared to other types of coronaviruses such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. 

 Coronavirus vs Novel Coronavirus

Summary: 

  • Coronavirus and Novel Coronavirus have been used interchangeably since they both refer to the current pandemic.
  • Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which cause infection in the nose, upper throat, and lungs. They are called such because they have crown-like spikes on their surfaces, as seen through a microscope.
  • The novel coronavirus, particularly pertains to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19.
  • The first two types of coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s while the novel coronavirus was first identified in December 2019. 
  • Coronavirus has seven types while the novel coronavirus has two strains. 
  • The novel coronavirus has a faster rate of transmission. 


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References :


[0]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2019_Novel_Coronavirus_Wuhan_China_Infographic-symptoms.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/virus-coronavirus-sars-cov-2-blitz-4915859/

[2]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus (COVID-19)”. March 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (accessed March 27, 2020).

[3]World Health Organization. “Coronavirus”. March 2020. https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1 (accessed March 27, 2020).

[4]Worldometer. “Coronavirus”. March 27, 2020. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (accessed March 27,2020)

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