Coronavirus COVID-19 Vocabulary 🦠
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This glossary of terms related to coronaviruses and COVID-19 in particular is intended for learners of English though it may be of interest to a wider audience. In times of crisis, knowing and understanding the terminology involved may help alleviate some of the fears and even panic that such times breed.
COVID-19 (alternative pronunciation)
coronavirus: /kəˈrəʊ.nəˌvaɪə.rəs/ [coROnaVIrus]
COVID-19: /ˈkəʊ.vɪdˌnaɪnˈtiːn/ [COvid-nineTEEN]
coronavirus: /kəˈroʊ.nəˌvaɪ.rəs/ [coROnaVIrus]
COVID-19: /ˈkoʊ.vɪdˌnaɪnˈtiːn/ [COvid-nineTEEN]
Real-time Map of COVID-19 Worldwide
[Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)]
A virus is a micro-organism, too small to be seen without a microscope, that causes infectious disease in animals and humans.
It is believed (subject to further investigation) that COVID-19 originated in the city of Wuhan in the province of Hubei in the country of China. It subsequently spread to other countries and was officially pronounced a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020.
Peter Heilig, Dr. med. Univ.-Professor
Science can flourish only in an atmosphere of free speech. Albert Einstein
Each of the following terms, listed in alphabetical order, has 1) a basic definition and 2) an example sentence showing how the term may be used in context.
animal-human interface (noun): any point where animals (domestic and wild) and humans meet - Animal diseases can potentially pass to humans at any animal-human interface such as a zoo, farm or animal market.
asymptomatic (adjective): showing no symptoms of a particular disease - She had no idea her husband had coronavirus because he was asymptomatic.
carrier (noun): a person or animal that transmits a disease to others, whether suffering from it themselves or not - People who are asymptomatic can still be carriers.
community spread (noun): transmission of a disease directly within a community and not by importation from a foreign source - With this many new positive cases, the evidence suggests that we now have community spread right here in our county.
contact tracing (noun): identification and monitoring of people who may have had contact with an infectious person - By insisting on strict contact tracing as soon as someone was potentially infected, they managed to control the spread of the disease.
contagious (adjective): describing a disease that can pass from person to person, usually by direct contact; describing a person with such a disease. See infectious - Patients who are still contagious are kept in isolation.
COVID-19 (noun): official name for the novel coronavirus disease that emerged in China in 2019. COVID-19 = COronaVIrus Disease-2019 - All countries are requested to report any new confirmed case of COVID-19 within 48 hours.
diagnose (verb): identify an illness by examining the symptoms - Only a medical professional can properly diagnose the cause of your problem.
diagnosis (noun): identification of an illness by examination of the symptoms - If you're not happy with the doctor's diagnosis you could always get a second opinion.
disease (noun): illness; sickness; a disorder of the body - Polio is one of several serious diseases that have been nearly eradicated.
droplets (noun): the spray produced when people cough or sneeze, and which can spread diseases like COVID-19 - Health care personnel wear protective clothing to guard against the disease carried in droplets when infected people sneeze or cough.
flatten the curve (verb - figurative): change the steep upward curve on a graph of new disease cases to a flatter, shallower upward curve over a longer time period through measures such as social distancing - Authorities hope that by introducing social distancing they will be able to flatten the curve and avoid hospitals being rapidly overwhelmed with new cases.
gain-of-function (noun): modification of a virus (naturally or artificially) that makes it more virulent or deadly - It is believed that scientists were secretly engaged in gain-of-function research in a race to create new bioweapons.
herd immunity (noun): an indirect protection from a disease resulting from a large percentage of the population gaining immunity (as a result of either recovering from the disease or being vaccinated) - This virus is unlike other coronaviruses because there is currently no herd immunity to it, he said. According to Prof. Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, herd immunity to Covid-19 by vaccination is not possible because it still infects vaccinated individuals.
incubation period (noun): the time from a person’s first exposure to a disease to the time when symptoms develop - When they know the incubation period they will know how long to keep people in quarantine.
infect (verb): affect a human or animal with a disease-causing organism - But can it infect human beings?
infected (adjective/past participle): affected with a disease-causing organism - They were able to cure the infected left lung before the infection could spead to the right lung.
infection (noun): process of infecting; state of being infected; infectious disease - Breast milk can help protect babies against various infections.
infectious (adjective): describing a disease that can be transmitted through the environment; describing a human or animal capable of spreading an infection. See contagious - Avoid the dogs as they may still be infectious.
isolate (verb): keep an infected person away from healthy people - They will isolate anyone suspected of having the disease.
lockdown (noun): official restriction of movement within or access to an area in the interests of public health - Sweden was one of the few countries that did not impose blanket lockdowns.
mask (noun): a piece of fibre or cloth that fits over the nose and mouth to protect other people from the wearer's germs and/or the wearer from germs in the air - The World Health Organization have historically offered varying advice on whether or when people should wear masks.
mass psychosis (noun): an epidemic, or even pandemic, of madness driven by individual irrational fear. It occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusion. Mass psychosis sufferers are unaware of their condition. In blind panic they subconsciously sink to a lower moral and spiritual level, becoming increasingly irrational, irresponsible, emotional and unstable — able finally to commit atrocities that they would normally be incapable of. - Psychologists cite the American and European witch hunts of the 16th/17th centuries and 20th-century totalitarianism as examples of mass psychosis.
pandemic (noun): occurrence of a particular disease throughout a whole country or the world. See epidemic, outbreak - Just after the First World War there was a pandemic of flu which killed up to 40 million people worldwide.
patient zero (noun): the person identified as the first to become infected with a disease in an outbreak - Authoritites usually try to determine who patient zero was in any given outbreak as can help answer important questions about how, when and why it started.
PCR test (noun): test that detects viral particles in blood or other body fluids. (PCR = polymerase chain reaction) - The PCR test is one of the tools that doctors use to diagnose certain coronavirus diseases.
personal protective equipment (PPE) (noun): special clothing, headgear, goggles, masks and other garments that shield people from injury or infection. - Much of the PPE worn by doctors and nurses has to be worn once only and destroyed after use.
person-to-person (adjective): describing the spread of a disease from one person to another, typically through touch including shaking hands, kissing, sexual intercourse etc. - In January an infected American woman returning home from China transmitted the virus to her husband, marking the first known example of person-to-person spread of the virus in the USA.
quarantine (noun): isolation and monitoring of people who seem healthy but may have been exposed to an infectious disease to see if they develop symptoms - For centuries it's been common for ships arriving from infected areas to be kept in quarantine at the docks, originally for 40 days which is where the term comes from.
SARS-CoV-2 (noun): Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2; final official name for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. (This virus was previously known as 2019-nCoV.) - SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus and COVID-19 is the name of the disease.
screening (noun): testing of people for the presence of a disease. For COVID-19 the first step in screening is usually taking a person’s temperature - They now conduct screening for all incoming passengers.
self-isolate (verb): isolate oneself; put oneself in quarantine, away from other people - The prime minister's wife has tested positive for COVID-19 and the couple are now self-isolating and working by phone and Skype.
superspreader (noun): person infected with a virus etc who transmits or spreads it to an unusually large number of people - One so-called "superspreader" in South Korea infected at least 37 people at her church with the virus.
symptomatic (adjective): showing symptoms of a particular disease - Anyone who is symptomatic is advised to phone a doctor and get tested.
symptoms (noun): a physical or mental feature that indicates illness/disease - Typical symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath.
test negative | test positive (verb): if you take a test for an infection and you test negative, that means you do not have the infection. If you test positive, that means you have the infection. - The President is pleased to announce that he has tested negative for the virus.
transmission (noun): transfer of a disease from animal to human or from human to human - Transmission of many diseases can be direct or indirect.
transmit (verb) - often passive: cause a disease to pass from animal to human or from human to human - Many diseases are transmitted through physical contact.
treat (verb): attempt to cure or alleviate an illness or injury through medical care - Doctors cannot currently treat COVID-19 directly and instead concentrate on relieving symptoms.
treatment (noun): medical care given to a patient for an illness or injury - There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, and infected patients receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
vaccine (noun): a substance used to protect humans and animals from a disease - A vaccine for cholera was invented in 1879.
vax (noun, informal): vaccine, vaccination - Have you had your flu vax this year? | anti-vaxer, anti-vaxxer (noun): a person opposed to vaccines and vaccination on principle - Some anti-vaxxers are against vaccines on religious grounds and others just believe vaccines are dangerous to health.
virus (noun): a living thing, too small to be seen without a microscope, that causes infectious disease in animals and humans - Like all diseases caused by viruses, the common cold cannot be cured with antibiotics.
Nobody has the right to obey'
Recommended Coronavirus/COVID-19 links
- WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard
- Must-Know Vocab For COVID-19 NPR
- Taiwan Can Help
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic World Health Organization
- Coronavirus disease 2019 Wikipedia
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 Wikipedia
- COVID-19 Mortality Analyses Johns Hopkins University
- PCR Tests Scientifically Meaningless Bulgarian Pathology Ass.
- How the coronavirus is changing the way we talk LA Times
- Science of Hand Washing - audio lesson
- We will meet again HM Queen Elizabeth II
- Great Barrington Declaration - recommending Focused Protection
- Letter to the FBI - Request for expedited federal investigation into scientific fraud in covid‑19 public health policies
- Nuremberg Principles Wikipedia
- The Nuremberg Code (1947) - Permissible Medical Experiments BMJ
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
- The origin of covid: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan? Nicholas Wade, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 5 May 2021 - 100 seconds to midnight
- What Really Happened in Wuhan Sky News Australia, YouTube
- Corona Documents Corona Committee
- The Coronavirus: A Crash Course by Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-Jen YouTube
- Study finds Covid lockdowns caused more deaths instead of reducing them
- UK Prime Minister and officials explain relative mildness of Covid-19 [TV]
- Covid-19 Resource Centre The Lancet
- Why Did So Many Doctors Become Nazis?
- Alarm grows as UK mortuaries fill with thousands of extra non-Covid deaths MSN
- Reinfection from Covid-19 is rare, severe disease even rarer CNN
- Spain's Constitutional Court says government exceeded its powers and violated Human Rights - must refund residents fined for violating covid-19 lockdown rules
- National Institutes of Health admits USA funded gain-of-function in Wuhan New York Post
- What Really Happened In Wuhan: A Virus Like No Other, Countless Infections, Millions of Deaths Sharri Markson
- COVID-19 and the Global Predators: We Are the Prey Peter Breggin
- Inventing the AIDS Virus Peter Duesberg
- Pandemia: How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives Alex Berenson
- The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
- Dancing Naked in the Mind Field PCR inventor Kary Mullis
- The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events: A Seth Book Jane Roberts
- Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World Michael P Senger
- Covid: Why most of what you know is wrong Sebastian Rushworth
- A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America Scott W Atlas MD
- The 21-Day Immunity Plan Dr Aseem Malhotra
- The Truth About Contagion: Exploring Theories of How Disease Spreads Thomas S. Cowan MD, Sally Fallon Morell