Is COVID-19 the same as the SARS virus or MERS?


No. Coronaviruses are a family of respiratory viruses, named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. While some coronaviruses can cause cold-like diseases in people, other types of the virus cause illness in certain types of animals like cattle, camels and bats.

The virus may cause illness in both animals and humans. Coronaviruses are highly contagious and can spread from human to human. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can spread to people. This happened with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. For example, the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) originated from camels while SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) originated from civet cats

The virus that causes COVID-19 is likely to have also originated in an animal and spread to humans. The coronavirus most similar to the virus causing COVID-19 is SARS-CoV. There are ongoing investigations to learn more. The situation is changing, and information will be updated as when it becomes available.