COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the corona virus, SARS-CoV-2, which is a respiratory pathogen. WHO first learned of this new virus from cases in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China on 31 December 2019.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 20% of those who get COVID-19 become seriously ill and require oxygen, with 5% becoming critically ill and needing intensive care.
Complications leading to death may include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys. In rare situations, children can develop a severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection.
People aged 60 and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.
However, anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die at any age.We protect ourselves and others
Stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!
In most situations, a molecular test is used to detect SARS-CoV-2 and confirm COVID-19. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is the most commonly used molecular test. Samples are collected from the nose and/or throat with a swab. Molecular tests detect virus in the sample by amplifying viral genetic material to detectable levels. For this reason, a molecular test is used to confirm an active infection, usually within a few days of exposure and around the time that symptoms may begin.
Rapid tests (sometimes known as a rapid diagnostic test – RDT) detect viral proteins (known as antigens). Samples are collected from the nose and/or throat with a swab. These tests are cheaper than PCR and will offer results more quickly, although they are generally less accurate. We are still learning about how well they perform and when to use them.
Both isolation and quarantine are methods of preventing the spread of the disease.
Quarantine means restricting activities and/or separating people who are not ill but may have been exposed to COVID-19. The quarantine can take place in a designated facility or at home for 14 days.
Isolation means separating people who are ill with symptoms of COVID-19 and/or have tested positive.
The time from exposure to COVID-19 to the moment when symptoms begin is, on average, 5-6 days and can range from 1-14 days. This is why people who have been exposed to the virus are advised to stay home, apart from others, for 14 days, in order to prevent the spread of the virus, especially where testing.
Scientists around the world are working to find and develop treatments for COVID-19.
Optimal supportive care includes oxygen for severely ill patients and those who are at risk for severe disease and more advanced respiratory support such as ventilation for patients who are critically ill.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid that can help reduce the length of time on a ventilator and save lives of patients with severe and critical illness.
Results from the WHO’s Solidarity Trial indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalized patients.
Hydroxychloroquine has not been shown to offer any benefit for treatment of COVID-19.
WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19 and will continue to provide new information as it becomes available.
Not yet. Many potential vaccines for COVID-19 are being studied, and several large clinical trials may report results later this year. If a vaccine is proven safe and effective, it must be approved by national regulators, manufactured, and distributed. WHO is working with partners around the world to help coordinate key steps in this process. WHO is working through the ACT-ACCELERATOR to facilitate equitable access to a safe and effective vaccine for the billions of people who will need it, once it is available.
The world is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. As WHO and partners work together on the response -- tracking the pandemic, advising on critical interventions, distributing vital medical supplies to those in need--- they are racing to find a vaccine.
Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences --- the immune system--- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
There are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase. WHO is working in collaboration with scientists, business, and global health organizations through the ACT Accelerator to speed up the pandemic response. When a safe and effective vaccine is found, COVAX (led by WHO, GAVI and CEPI) will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.