Discussing Coronavirus Response, Sanders Accidentally Calls it Ebola and Biden Accidentally Calls it SARS

The Democratic presidential debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Sunday night saw a gaffe made by each candidate when addressing the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. Both candidates referred to coronavirus as a previous virus.

Sanders accidentally called it ebola and Biden mistakenly referred to it as SARS.

"No one is in a position where they have a significant financial disability as a consequence of this SARS, of this particular crisis," Biden said during the 11th Democratic debate, hosted by CNN Sunday night.

During a follow-up segment, Sanders also misnamed the novel coronavirus that has resulted in the death of more than 6,500 individuals and infected over 150,000 people around the globe.

"The ebola crisis, in my view, exposes the dysfunctionality of our health care system," Sanders said.

Here are the differences in the viruses:

  • COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an airborne virus that goes from one human to another, and was discovered in China's Wuhan City the last few months. Symptoms include coughing, runny nose, sore throat and fever, and more severe cases can lead to shortness of breath. The mortality rate so far is 1-3 percent.
  • Ebola was first discovered in 1976 with a few cases, then hit pandemic levels during the outbreak from 2014-16 in Western Africa. The virus is rare, but it's highly fatal in humans. It's transmitted from animals to humans, then spread among people in human-to-human transmissions. People who contract the virus experience fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headaches and sore throat, according to the World Health Organization. The mortality rate was more than 50 percent.
  • SARS is a fatal respiratory illness that has the symptoms of dry cough, fever, muscle aches, headache and also a difficulty of breathing. It first appeared in China in 2002, and 774 people died from it during 2003.

The coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan City, which is in the Hubei Province of China. Since then, the virus has affected more than 160,000 people worldwide and is responsible for more than 6,500 deaths worldwide, mostly in China. The virus is starting to spread more rapidly within the United States, with more than 3,600 cases being reported, and 68 deaths in the United States, according to research by Johns Hopkins University.

The Centers for Disease Control on Sunday recommended the cancellation or postponement of all events with 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.

Along with many schools shut down for two weeks around the country, and many businesses advising their employees to work from home if they can, Major League Baseball and the NBA have put their seasons on hold until further notice because of coronavirus. The NCAA has canceled sports for the remainder of its academic year—which includes March Madness.

Several cities around the country have already begun shutting down bars, restaurants, night clubs and other similar outlets that draw large crowds.

Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) looks on during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images