Human Coronavirus Types
Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
Human coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The six coronaviruses that can infect people are:
Common human coronaviruses
- 229E (alpha coronavirus)
- NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
- OC43 (beta coronavirus)
- HKU1 (beta coronavirus)
Other human coronaviruses
- MERS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS)
- SARS-CoV (the beta coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS)
People around the world commonly get infected with human coronaviruses 229E, NL63, OC43, and HKU1.
Sometimes new coronaviruses can emerge and make people sick. Two examples of this are MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, which are known to frequently cause severe illness.
- Page last reviewed: November 9, 2017
- Page last updated: November 9, 2017
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