Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-CoV-2, which affects the lungs and other organs. COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 in China and later declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Symptoms of COVID-19 range from mild illness to pneumonia and severe respiratory failure with multiple organ failure. The most frequent symptoms are fever, cough, and respiratory problems. Many will recover easily while the disease may rapidly progress in others, ultimately requiring oxygen supplementation and intensive care support.

One of the most insidious aspects of COVID-19 is the permanent organ damage that has been found in many patients. Imaging tests, taken months after recovery from COVID-19, have shown lasting damage to the heart, even in individuals who experienced only mild symptoms. This may increase the future risk of heart failure or other cardiovascular complications. The type of pneumonia often associated with COVID-19, can cause long-standing damage to the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The resulting scarring can lead to long-term respiratory problems. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of neurological disorders.

Great effort is ongoing to develop effective vaccines and therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19. However, a number of mutations have given rise to variants of concern that have had a significant impact on transmissibility, severity and/or immunity, altering the epidemiological situation worldwide. Due to the emergence of these variants, there is an ongoing need for next-generation COVID vaccines and new effective drugs.