Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by a virus, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first known case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The disease spread worldwide, leading to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Symptoms of COVID‑19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, breathing difficulties, loss of smell, and loss of taste. Symptoms may begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. At least a third of people who are infected do not develop noticeable symptoms. Of those people who develop symptoms noticeable enough to be classed as patients, most (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging), and 5% develop critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). Older people are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms. Some people continue to experience a range of effects (long COVID) for months after recovery, and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long-term effects of the disease.
COVID‑19 transmits when people breathe in air contaminated by droplets and small airborne particles containing the virus. The risk of breathing these in is highest when people are in close proximity, but they can be inhaled over longer distances, particularly indoors. Transmission can also occur if splashed or sprayed with contaminated fluids in the eyes, nose or mouth, and, rarely, via contaminated surfaces. People remain contagious for up to 20 days, and can spread the virus even if they do not develop symptoms.
Several COVID-19 testing methods have been developed to diagnose the disease. The standard diagnostic method is by detection of the virus’s nucleic acid by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), or by reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) from a nasopharyngeal swab.
Several COVID-19 vaccines have been approved and distributed in various countries, which have initiated mass vaccination campaigns. Other preventive measures include physical or social distancing, quarantining, ventilation of indoor spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, hand washing, and keeping unwashed hands away from the face. The use of face masks or coverings has been recommended in public settings to minimize the risk of transmission. While work is underway to develop drugs that inhibit the virus, the primary treatment is symptomatic. Management involves the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, isolation, and experimental measures.
Nomenclature Main article:
During the initial outbreak in Wuhan, the virus and disease were commonly referred to as “coronavirus” and “Wuhan coronavirus”, with the disease sometimes called “Wuhan pneumonia”. In the past, many diseases have been named after geographical locations, such as the Spanish flu, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and Zika virus. In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended 2019-nCoV and 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease as interim names for the virus and disease per 2015 guidance and international guidelines against using geographical locations or groups of people in disease and virus names to prevent social stigma. The official names COVID‑19 and SARS-CoV-2 were issued by the WHO on 11 February 2020. The Director-General, Tedros Adhanom explained that CO stands for corona, VI for virus, D for disease, and 19 for 2019, the year in which the outbreak was first identified. The WHO additionally uses “the COVID‑19 virus” and “the virus responsible for COVID‑19” in public communications.
One common symptom, loss of smell, results from infection of the support cells of the olfactory epithelium, with subsequent damage to the olfactory neurons. The involvement of both the central and peripheral nervous system in COVID‑19 has been reported in many medical publications. It is clear that many people with COVID-19 exhibit neurological or mental health issues. The virus is not detected in the CNS of the majority of COVID-19 patients with neurological issues. However, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected at low levels in the brains of those who have died from COVID‑19, but these results need to be confirmed. While virus has been detected in cerebrospinal fluid of autopsies, the exact mechanism by which it invades the CNS remains unclear and may first involve invasion of peripheral nerves given the low levels of ACE2 in the brain. The virus may also enter the bloodstream from the lungs and cross the blood-brain barrier to gain access to the CNS, possibly within an infected white blood cell.
Tropism and multiple organ injuries in SARS-CoV-2 infection
Research conducted when Alpha was the dominant variant has suggested COVID-19 May cause brain damage. It is currently unknown if such damage is temporary or permanent, and whether Omicron has similar effects. Observed individuals infected with COVID-19 (most with mild cases) experienced an additional 0.2% to 2% of brain tissue lost in regions of the brain connected to the sense of smell compared with uninfected individuals, and the overall effect on the brain was equivalent on average to at least one extra year of normal aging; infected individuals also scored lower on several cognitive tests. All effects were more pronounced among older ages