In December 2019, an outbreak of an unknown cause of pneumonia (later named coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) occurred in Wuhan, China. This was found to be attributed to a novel coronavirus of zoonotic origin, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2; previously named 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV). The SARS-CoV-2, a new type of highly pathogenic human coronavirus related to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), spread rapidly worldwide and caused 246,303,023 confirmed infections, including 4,994,160 deaths, by October 31, 2021. SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV vary in their specific characteristics, regarding epidemics and pathogenesis. This article focuses on the comparison of the virology, epidemiology, and clinical features of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 to reveal their common and distinct properties, to provide an up-to-date resource for the development of advanced systems and strategies to monitor and control future epidemics of highly pathogenic human coronaviruses.