The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday that it has named the new coronavirus raging in China and elsewhere COVID-19, a word coined from an abbreviation of the virus name and the year of the first reported infection.

In revealing the name at a press conference, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus said that the organization picked a name that does not refer to China's central city Wuhan -- the epicenter of the pneumonia-like illness -- or the country based on international agreements.

"Under agreed guidelines between WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, we had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease," he said.

With regard to vaccines for the coronavirus, Tedros said, "The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, so we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus, while preparing for the long-term."

"The development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda -- but it is only one part," the WHO chief said, adding that the development of vaccines "will take time."

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