Get answers to basic questions about COVID-19, the virus-induced disease, and the coronavirus pandemic.
What are coronaviruses and what do COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 mean?
Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The name "Coronavirus" refers to the appearance of the coronavirus under the microscope, which is reminiscent of a crown or a wreath (Latin corona = wreath, crown). Some of the common colds in humans are caused by coronaviruses. The novel coronavirus is referred to as "novel" because it is a new virus in the coronavirus family that was first identified in December 2019. Since February 11, 2020, this virus, which was provisionally designated 2019-nCoV, has had a new name: SARS-CoV-2. The acronym SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019). Coronaviruses can infect humans or animals. In some cases, coronaviruses, which previously only infected animals, can spread to humans, spread further and also lead to serious illnesses. In the past, this has been the case with the SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks. This is also likely to apply to the new type of corona virus.u.
What is the difference between SARS and SARS-CoV-2?
The acronym SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The syndrome was first discovered in November 2002. The SARS pathogen comes from the same virus family as the coronavirus. The coronavirus is therefore very similar to the SARS virus. Because of this close relationship, the virus is known as SARS-CoV-2.t.
A key difference between viruses is that with SARS, symptoms often appear before the virus can be transmitted any further. This makes it easier to break chains of infection. In contrast, the coronavirus can be transmitted before the first symptoms. In some cases there are no symptoms at all.
Where does the coronavirus come from and when was it discovered?
It is believed that the coronavirus pandemic originated in Asian bats, but no direct evidence has yet been found. It is not clear whether the virus was transmitted directly from a bat to humans or whether another animal species transmitted the virus from the bat to humans. According to current knowledge, the first people were infected at a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where wild animals or organs from other animals and reptiles were also offered. The first infections became known in December 2019. According to the current state of knowledge, the native bats play no role in the current coronavirus pandemic. Therefore there is no reason to persecute these strictly protected species, to scare them away from homes or to destroy their quarters. Direct contact between bats and humans is extremely rare per se. It cannot be ruled out that the pathogen is carried into our native bat populations by infected people.
When do we speak of a pandemic and when do we speak of an epidemic??
If a disease occurs in a limited time and place, it is called an epidemic. Unlike an epidemic, a pandemic affects the entire world; That is, it is not limited to one place and is cross-border and cross-continent. The worldwide spread of COVID-19 was influenced by theWHO on March 11, 2020 declared a pandemic. If one only speaks of the current number of cases in Germany, the term epidemic can be used. Infection epidemiological evaluations of the situation in Germany provide thatRobert Koch Institute available online.
What does the term wave "mean in relation to the coronaviruss?
The term wave is not a scientifically precisely defined term. Some define a wave as an exponential increase in new infections, others only speak of it when the health system is overwhelmed. The Robert Koch Institute provides onee Analysis of the first wave of COVID-19 in Germany on his website.
What does the coronavirus mutation mean for us and what is known about it?
The increasing spread of newly emerged virus variants has been reported from Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil since the end of 2020. These variants have increased transferability and a higher number of reproductions. In order to get a better overview of virus mutations, the federal government is promoting nationwide sequencing of viruses. The RKI provides basic virological data and virus variants for SARS-CoV-2 here to disposal.
In view of the newly appeared mutations, it is all the more important to use the known one AHA formula must be strictly observed in order to generally prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and to contain the spread of the new, possibly even more contagious variant.
How dangerous is the mutation of the coronavirus?
Scientifically sound information on the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants in Great Britain, South Africa and the Brazilian state of Amazon can be found atRobert Koch Institute.
What are the long-term consequences of COVID-19 disease?
Due to the novelty of the virus and the disease, there is as yet no definition for the long-term effects and possible consequential damage of a COVID-19 disease. Long-term consequences of a COVID-19 illness are therefore not viewed as a uniform phenomenon, but are described as different clinical pictures that can occur both with a time delay and in different forms in parallel.
So far, for example, organ-specific long-term effects can be observed after intensive treatment. In addition, even with milder courses, long-term symptoms of fatigue, memory disorders, memory problems or word finding disorders occur. Unusual symptoms such as sudden vomiting and severe dizziness have also been reported in the literature. Little is known about the clinical course of COVID-19 after very mild disease courses or asymptomatic infections.
Reliable, representative data on the proportion of patients with long-term consequences are currently not available. In a prospective study of COVID symptoms, 13.3% of sufferers had symptoms for more than 4 weeks, 4.5% for more than 8 weeks, and 2.3% for more than 12 weeks. The main risk factors for long-term effects were older age, higher body mass index (BMI) and female gender. This proportion is higher in severe cases - data from England suggest that around 40% of hospitalized patients need long-term support.
Does COVID-19 have a seasonal effect?
ToInformation from the Robert Koch Institute Viruses causing respiratory diseases spread better in the colder months of the year than in summer, mainly due to the low temperatures and the decreasing UV radiation. The fact that people spend more time indoors in winter also contributes to such seasonality. Hence the L is in ther AHA + L-Formula to be observed in particular: Ventilation helps prevent aerosols from spreading and the exchange of air reduces the risk of infection.
New studies on the coronavirus are reported almost daily, what do these studies tell us?
Research-based science is currently working flat out on new findings in connection with the coronavirus. There are, for example, various studies on antibodies or vaccines. This high number of studies, some of which have different results, can seem confusing at first glance. The Robert Koch Institute offers a specialist audienceDatabase about clinical studies further exploring the coronavirus. In addition, you will findhere further antibody studies. You will also find external studies in this overview. You will also find assessments of studies on the RKI website.
What does nowcasting mean in relation to COVID-19?
Nowcasting creates an estimate of the course of the number of COVID-19 cases in Germany that have already occurred. The diagnosis, reporting and transmission delay are taken into account. Based on the nowcasting, an estimate of the time-dependent reproduction number R can be carried out. The reproduction number describes how many people an infected person infects on average. Further information is available on the website of theRobert Koch Institute. You can find out more about the number of reproductionshere.