UPDATE:The virus causing the current outbreak of coronavirus disease has been named "severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2" (SARS-CoV-2). The manuscript describing the name also reports the work of the ICTV Coronaviridae Study Group that determined the virus belongs to the existing species, Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) is concerned with the designation and naming of virus taxa (i.e. species, genus, family, etc.) rather than the designation of virus common names or disease names. For an outbreak of a new viral disease, there are three names to be decided: the disease, the virus and the species. The World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for the first, expert virologists for the second, the ICTV for the third.
As experts on coronaviruses, the ICTV Coronaviridae Study Group is currently studying the classification (taxonomy) of the new virus. And given that they are experts on this family of viruses, they are also contributing their expertise to the naming of the virus.
The disease name (which may be different from the virus name) has been designated as COVID-19 by the WHO. WHO guidelines for naming of new human diseases can be found at0 "WHO issues best practices for naming new human infectious diseases" and "WHO Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases"
The following article may also be of interest:"Naming diseases: First do no harm"
The process of ratifying the next update to the ICTV taxonomy is underway. ICTV Members (consisting of Executive Committee (EC) Members, Subcommittee Members, Study Group Chairs, Life Members, and National Members) are currently voting to ratify the proposals discussed and approved by the EC during its 51st meeting in July, 2019 in Berlin.
Copies of the proposals under consideration can be found at https://ictv.global/ratification/.
Copies of proposals to be considered at the next meeting of the EC can be found under Pending Proposals.
The article, "Binomial nomenclature for virus species: a consultation" has now been published in Archives of Virology:http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00705-019-04477-6
Comments and further discussion on the topics raised in the article can be discussed in the Binomial Species Name forum.
Files pertinent to this discussion can be found at https://ictv.global/files/binomial.
For previous news announcements, please see https://talk.ictvonline.org/information/w/news
The new 2018b ICTV taxonomy is now available online at https://ictv.global/taxonomy.
The new ICTV Master Species List 34, 2018b is available for download as an Excel Spreadsheet.
This new release contains taxonomic changes approved by the ICTV membership in February, 2019. One major change is that all RNA viruses have been moved under the new taxon, Riboviria, at the rank of Realm.
A paper describing this release has been published in an Archives of Virology, Virology Division News article:"Changes to virus taxonomy and the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature ratified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (2019)".
Official taxonomy proposals representing all of the taxonomic changes approved by the ICTV since the publication of the ICTV 8th Report can be found at https://ictv.global/Official_ICTV_Proposals.htm.
The Virus Metadata Resource (VMR) is a downloadable spreadsheet that provides information on exemplar viruses for each species. This information includes GenBank and RefSeq accession numbers for exemplar viruses and isolate and common names for viruses belonging to a species. The most recent VMR release adds information on the known categories of hosts infected by the virus or the source environment from which the virus was isolated. New VMR Release posted November 27, 2019.
The article, "Why virus taxonomy is important", published in Microbiology Today by Stuart Siddell, ICTV Vice President, discusses the importance of virus taxonomy and its role in helping to define the evolutionary relationships between viruses and understand the consequences of virus diversity.
An article appearing in the Nucleic Acids Research 2018 Database issue, "Virus taxonomy: the database of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV)" describes the ICTV database and the web-based tools available to query that database: Lefkowitz EJ, Dempsey DM, Hendrickson RC, Orton RJ, Siddell SG, Smith DB. Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Oct 13. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx932. PubMed PMID: 29040670.
ICTV welcomes taxonomic proposals from any interested individual. To submit a proposal, download and complete the relevant parts of the proposal template and e-mail it to the appropriate subcommittee chair (Animal DNA Viruses and Retroviruses, Animal dsRNA and ssRNA- Viruses, Animal ssRNA+ Viruses, Bacterial and Archaeal Viruses, Fungal and Protist Viruses, or Plant viruses).
ICTV gratefully acknowledges financial support from the American Society for Virology, Microbiology Society, the Virology Division of IUMS, and Wellcome. ICTV also very gratefully acknowledges the support it receives from all its Executive Committee members, Study Group members and National Representatives who volunteer a huge amount of their time and financial support to ensure that ICTV continues to function for the good of virology. We would also like to thank Donald Dempsey and Curtis Hendrickson from the University of Alabama at Birmingham for their work on the development of the web site and taxonomy database.