Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)


COVID-19 summary1-3

Pathogenic agent

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)




Breathing airborne virus-containing droplets dispersed during coughing, sneezing, or speaking among people in close contact; poorly ventilated or crowded settings; hand contact with contaminated surfaces spread to eyes, nose, or mouth by touching.


  • As of January 2022, there have been approximately 300 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally. Of those, it is estimated that almost 5.5 million have resulted in death due to COVID-19
  • May affect people of any age group; higher risk in elderly and people with chronic conditions (hypertension, heart/lung disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer)

As of January 2022, approximately 300 million people worldwide have been infected with the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).1

Of those, it is estimated that almost 5.5 million people have died.1 First detected in China in 2019, this virus quickly spread around the world, becoming the deadliest pandemic since the influenza pandemic of 1918, which resulted in 50 million deaths worldwide.4-6

The world is not a stranger to coronaviruses. These viruses have been around for millennia in animals, with the first coronavirus being detected in humans in 1965.6-8

What characterizes SARS-CoV-2?

Coronaviruses are characterized by their distinctive spike-shaped proteins that cover the surface of the virus; before the SARS outbreak in 2002 and the MERS outbreak in 2012, they were only known for causing typical cold-like symptoms.9,10

As we have seen with this most recent pandemic, coronaviruses can mutate, resulting in new variant virus strains, which have the potential to cause more severe respiratory disease and to spread more rapidly through the population, causing death and disability and disrupting economies.4,7,10 People of all ages can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but older people are especially vulnerable, in particular those with underlying respiratory diseases and comorbidities.11,12

Vaccines provide protection

Apart from supportive care, there is only one drug approved, an antiviral (remdesivir), which can be used as a medical treatment for people with COVID-19, and an FDA emergency use-authorized nonvaccine antibody combination (casirivimab and imdevimab) to prevent infection.13,14 Accordingly, development of effective and safe vaccines that provide broad immunization against susceptible strains, as well as new variants, is considered the best approach in helping to protect people against the spread of this disease.15 To this end, multiple vaccines and access programs are being set up to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 around the world.

  1. World Health Organization Covid-19 Dashboard. [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scientific Brief: SARS-CoV-2 Transmission. [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People with Certain Medical Conditions. [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  4. Liu Y-C, et al. COVID-19: the first documented coronavirus pandemic in history. Biomed J. 2020;43:328–333.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus). [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  6. Chang L, et al. Coronavirus disease 2019: coronaviruses and blood safety. Transfus Med Rev. 2020;34:75–80.
  7. Wertheim JO, et al. A case for the ancient origin of coronaviruses. J Virol. 2013;87(12):7039–7045.
  8. Kahn JS, McIntosh K. History and recent advances in coronavirus discovery. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2005;24:S223–S227.
  9. Fung S, Liu D-X. Human coronavirus: host-pathogen interaction. Annu Rev Microbiol. 2019;73:529–557.
  10. de Wilde AH, et al. Host factors in coronavirus replication. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2018;419:1–42.
  11. Perrotta F, et al. COVID-19 and the elderly: insights into pathogenesis and clinical decision-making. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020;1–10 [epub ahead of print].
  12. Mueller AL, et al. Why does COVID-19 disproportionately affect older people? Aging (Albany NY). 2020;12(10):9959–9981.
  13. United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA). FDA News Release: FDA Approved First Treatment for COVID-19. 22 October 2020. Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  14. Pharmaceutical Technology. FDA grants EUA for Regeneron’s antibody cocktail to prevent Covid-19. [Accessed 27 Aug 2021].
  15. Xantus GZ, et al. How to best handle vaccine decliners: scientific facts and psychological approach. Postgrad Med J. 2021;139835 [epub ahead of print].

COVID-19 Vaccine news

Nov 28, 2023

Novavax's Updated Protein-based COVID-19 Vaccine Now an Option for All 194 Member States of the World Health Organization

Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq: NVAX), a global company advancing protein-based vaccines with its Matrix-M™ adjuvant, today announced that Nuvaxovid™ XBB.1.5 COVID-19 Vaccine (NVX-CoV2601) has been...

Oct 31, 2023

Novavax's Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Now Approved in the EU

Novavax's updated COVID-19 vaccine is the only updated protein-based non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccine available in the European Union for individuals aged 12 and older Novavax is working closely with EU...

Oct 31, 2023

Novavax's Updated Nuvaxovid™ COVID-19 Vaccine Receives Positive CHMP Opinion in the EU

Pending a European Commission decision, Novavax's vaccine will be the only updated protein-based non-mRNA COVID-19 vaccine available in Europe for individuals aged 12 and older GAITHERSBURG, Md.,...

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