March 20, 2020

COVID-19: basic information

Last updated on February 22, 2021

This post is part of an ongoing
series on COVID-19

The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. In this post, I will cover some of the basics of COVID-19.

Embrace Autism | COVID-19: basic information | image COVID 19
In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP, File) THE CANADIAN PRESS

Why is it called COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) released the official names for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (previously known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes. The official names are:[1]Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it | World Health Organization

What is the source of SARS-CoV-2?

Rarely, animal coronaviruses emerge that infect people, and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred in the case of SARS-CoV-2, which appears to be primarily transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.

Can your pet get COVID-19?

Currently, no research suggests that your animal can get COVID-19.[2]Should I be concerned about pets or other animals and COVID-19? | CDC[3]COVID-19: FAQs for pet owners | American Veterinary Medical Association

But pet fur can still carry the virus,[4]Pets and COVID-19 coronavirus | Animal Humane Society and until we know more, if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have a pet:


COVID-19 prevention: wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and cover your cough or sneeze.

Two strains

Research shows that there are two strains of SARS-CoV-2, with one being more deadly than the other. The two strains are:[7]On the origin and continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 (Tang et al., 2020)

  • L type, which has a prevalence of approximately 70%.
  • S type, which has a prevalence of approximately 30%.

S type was found to be the ancestral version, but L type appears to be more aggressive, and spreads more quickly.[8]On the origin and continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 (Tang et al., 2020)

This article
was written by:
I’m a dually licensed registered psychotherapist and naturopathic doctor, and a Canadian leader in trauma, PTSD, and integrative medicine strictly informed by scientific research.And not only do I happen to be autistic, but my autism plays a significant role in who I am as a doctor and how I interact with and care for my patients and clients.


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