The first coronavirus was discovered in 1953. It is named after its crown-like appearance under the microscope. Scientists were studying an animal called the feline enteritis virus when they observed this crown-like pattern. The virus was named coronavirus after the Latin word corona which means crown. In the past, human coronaviruses caused mild flu-like diseases. However, the current coronavirus is causing COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus. It has a genome of about 30 million base pairs and encodes two-thirds of the genome. Its protein is similar to SARS-CoV. It shares 79% of the lab technician whole genome with the SARS-CoV, but only 53% with the common cold CoV. Most importantly, it contains genes that are related to those of betacoronaviruses, bat SARS-like coronaviruses and the common cold CoVs. These three types of coronaviruses share more than 95% of their sequences. Therefore, it is very possible that these three types of coronaviruses originated from the same ancestor. It is also possible that the SARS-CoV originated from bats.