Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause respiratory illnesses in humans ranging from common colds to more severe conditions such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the virus that causes COVID-19. The name SARS-CoV-2 was chosen because of the viruses similarity to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.