Is Coronavirus Capitalized? COVID-19 or COVID-19?

The coronavirus pandemic has spread quickly across the globe in 2020 and we want to make sure that news sources are capitalizing the disease correctly when reporting on it.

Is COVID-19 Capitalized?

It depends on the style guide that you or your organization uses and major news companies differ on the capitalization. On one hand, the Associated Press says that the abbreviated name of the disease should be written in all capital letters as “COVID-19” which is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” Other style guides, including the MLA style guide, recommend either COVID-19 or Covid-19. Many news channels such as CNN have adopted the Covid-19 capitalization. Some new companies, such as The New York Times, have gone even further and dropped the “-19” so they just write “Covid”.

It is agreed upon at least that the first letter, “C”, should be capitalized, but the capitalization of “ovid” varies.

This is also true for the official name of the disease “SARS-CoV-2” except that the “o” in this name is lowercase.

You should also capitalize other coronavirus diseases include “SARS” (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and “MERS” (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

Is Coronavirus Capitalized?

Even when referring to the novel (new) coronavirus, you should not capitalize coronavirus unless used in a headline or abbreviated to “COVID-19.”

The word “coronavirus” can refer to a number of different viruses ranging from the common cold to the 2019 novel coronavirus. Since there are a number of coronavirus variants, coronavirus is usually lowercase except when used in a headline.

Are Varients Capitalized?

Again, it depends on the news organization whether they capitalize variants or not. Some style guides, including the AP Stylebook recommend lowercasing variant names, such as delta and omicron. The Washington Post and USA Today are are lowercasing variant names. However, The New York Times and Stat News are capitalizing the word “Delta” and “Omicron.”

Recommended reading:

To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.


  1. Right. The article is wrong to say COVID-19 is an abbreviation for coronavirus. As you said, it’s the name of the disease. Oddly, they explained “COVID-19” correctly above and “coronavirus” correctly below.

    Also, the Associated Press is one news organization with one opinion. The New York Times (“Covid-19”) and the Washington Post (“covid-19”) are other news organizations, and they both disagree with AP.

    Maybe look to the World Health Organization. They named COVID-19.

    • The World Health Organisation use COVID-19 in all of their publications and this capitalised version has been adopted fairly consistently throughout the scientific community and most government organisations worldwide. However, as you point out, some organisations have adopted other conventions, such as the New York Times and some British newspapers capitalising only the first letter, Covid-19, to align with their convention used for other acronyms pronounced like a word rather than as a series of letters, eg: Unicef. Seems odd to me considering those same organisations (including UNICEF) always write their own names in all capitals.

    • Early in the year, I remember reading (somewhere…) that “CoViD-19” was the “correct” capitalization. Being one of those Type-A, perfectionistic, annoyingly-desiring-to-be-accurate people, I decided to confirm my method. I’m kind of disappointed that you and I seem to be the minority. I would be willing to concede that “CoviD-19” could be an alternativve, since coronavirus is technically a single word. Alas: Wouldn’t CD-19 have been simpler? “Seedy-19” rolls of the tongue almost as well as “Wuhan Flu.”

  2. Thank you for the information. Just if you don’t mind, “Covid-19” (coronavirus disease 2019) is the name of the disease, and “SARS-CoV-2” (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is the name of the virus (not the name of the disease like what you said above)!


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