Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that affects the lungs and other organs. COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City, 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. As of November 2020, over 50 million people worldwide have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 and 1.25 million have died.
One of the most insidious aspects of Covid-19 are the high rates of permanent organ damage that has been found in a high percentage of 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 risk of heart failure or other heart 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 developing Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
Great effort is currently ongoing to develop effective vaccines and therapeutics for the treatment of Covid-19.