Difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Dec 21, 2022, 18:36

In the last few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of misinformation has spread about the disease. This necessitates an understanding of the difference between SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19. Both COVID-19 and SARS emanate from a coronavirus, which is a very diverse virus that is found in a number of animals and even humans.

SARS-CoV-2 is a type of mutated coronavirus found initially in bats that developed an ability to transfer rapidly to humans. We have shared the further difference between SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19 here.

SARS-CoV-2 vs COVID-19: Meaning

In late 2019, when the first reports of the spread of the virus had started pouring in from China, it was being called the '2019 novel coronavirus'. The virus was termed as such, considering its nature and the fact that a virus of such characteristic had not been detected before.

Now that the unique characteristics of the COVID-19-causing virus have been discovered, we can list down the difference between Coronavirus and SARS. But before that, let’s find out what is coronavirus, what is SARS and what is COVID-19.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses belong to a family of viruses that thrive on an extensive range of hosts, which can be animals or humans. Most coronaviruses are observed in bats but they can also reside in humans. This type of virus attacks the human respiratory system and can cause symptoms like the common cold, fever, and body ache.

What is SARS?

  • The virus that causes SARS is termed SARS-CoV.
  • SARS-CoV is a new type of coronavirus that can emerge when a virus develops the ability to transfer from an animal to a human.
  • SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome.
  • The first SARS outbreak occurred in 2013.
  • SARS is a type of respiratory disease that one can get from a coronavirus.
  • One of the first symptoms of SARS-CoV is fever, but it may be accompanied by several other symptoms such as cough, body aches, and pains.

What is SARS-CoV-2?

  • The evolved SARS-CoV that causes COVID-19 is termed SARS-CoV-2.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is an evolved coronavirus that attacks the human respiratory system.
  • It spreads rapidly in humans and can also attack the immune system.
  • The number of infected cases of coronavirus has risen dramatically over the years.
  • Given its current trajectory and how it is mutating, the virus has proven to be a challenge to contain.

Difference between COVID-19 vs SARS-CoV

There are multiple points of difference between SARS-CoV and COVID-19. The following pointers highlight how they are different -





The common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle aches, pains, headaches, and diarrhoea.

SARS may exhibit only fever, cough, body aches, pains, and headaches.


Cases of COVID-19 are thought to be milder than SARS. Only 20% of those affected require mechanical ventilation.

Out of the affected, almost 30% of the patients can require mechanical ventilation.


COVID-19 transmission occurs more easily than SARS. This could be due to the development of enough viral load which occurs shortly after a person is infected with COVID-19.

SARS is not transmitted as easily as COVID-19.

Incubation Period

4 to 5 days

5 days

Mortality Rate



Male to Female ratio



COVID-19 vs SARS CoV: Which Will Last Longer?

COVID-19 and SARS are caused due to coronaviruses that originate in animals before transmitting to humans. While the two viruses have many similarities, they are quite different from each other in terms of their symptoms. Another difference between COVID-19 and SARS is that SARS has been contained while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

SARS first originated in 2013 and spread rapidly in humans. However, it has successfully been contained, thanks to medical advancements. On the other hand, COVID-19 is an ongoing global pandemic, although its severity has been contained ever since its vaccine was developed.

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FAQs on Difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19

Q.1. What is the difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19?

COVID-19 is spread from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On the other hand, SARS is another respiratory disease whose symptoms are similar to COVID-19. The SARS outbreak first happened in 2013 and was successfully contained while COVID-19 still continues to be a global pandemic.

Q2. Which spreads faster - COVID-19 or SARS-CoV?

The main difference between COVID-19 and SARS is that COVID-19 spreads much faster than SARS. Cases of SARS were contained meticulously through early detection and social distancing but in the case of COVID-19, detection of the virus is trickier. Those infected with COVID–19, tend to shed their viral load much before they develop visible symptoms of the infection.

Q.3. What is the difference between the mortality rates of Coronavirus SARS-CoV and COVID-19?

The location and characteristics of the population significantly affect the rate of mortality in both diseases. The average rate of mortality for the disease of SARS is higher than COVID-19. When we compare the difference between SARS-CoV and COVID-19, we see that the mortality rate of SARS is 10.8% while that of COVID-19 is 4.6%.

Q.4. What are the similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19?

Despite the difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, both diseases are respiratory problems that are caused by coronaviruses and show similar stability on surfaces and air. Most of their symptoms are also similar and they can attack at-risk groups with underlying health problems.

Q5. What is SARS CoV 2 full form?

SARS CoV 2 full form is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which is caused by an evolved form of the coronavirus (denoted by CoV 2). SARS CoV 2 is also more commonly known as COVID-19. It first appeared in 2019 in China and gradually spread throughout the world.