COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus from the Coronaviridae family known as SARS-CoV-2. Other members of the family, which affect humans, are four “common cold” seasonal coronaviruses, which cause mild upper and lower respiratory syndromes, and widely known SARS (SARS-CoV-1) and MERS (MERS-CoV) coronaviruses, which were responsible for outbreaks in 2003 and 2014 in Asia and the Middle East among thousands of people, causing severe acute respiratory syndromes.
SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus; its genome is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA. It was first identified in December 2019, in Wuhan, China, after several individuals had developed severe pneumonia symptoms resembling SARS-Cov-1 infection. The virus quickly spread to all world countries, and in March 2020, WHO officially announced COVID-19 as a pandemic.
The incubation period of the COVID-19 infection usually ranges from 1 to 14 days. The virus is mainly detected in respiratory secretions, and the general transmission of infection is considered airborne. It has been shown that the virus attaches to pulmonary cells using their ACE-2 receptors, followed by endocytosis. Immune response is expected to build starting from a week. Symptoms vary between patients and may include fever, dry cough, anosmia, sputum production, headache, dyspnea, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and others. While some cases can be asymptomatic, others lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and even death.
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