What is the coronavirus?


Corona viruses are a family of RNA viruses. RNA viruses are viruses whose genetic material consists of ribonucleic acid. Ribonucleic acid is a component that plays a decisive role in the conversion of genetic information into proteins. Coronaviruses can infect humans and animals and in the course of the disease can end up in a harmless cold or fatally.

The name coronavirus is derived from the coronary appearance of the viruses. They are also the trigger of the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome” (SARS), which already led to a pandemic in 2002 and 2003 and killed 774 people worldwide.

What do SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 mean?

At the end of 2019, a new type of corona virus broke out in China. It was named SARS-CoV-2 because of its close relationship to the SARS virus. It causes the disease COVID-19, the course of which can range from mild to fatal. Vaccines against the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (first known as 2019-nCoV) are in the development phase.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?
Most people only have mild cold symptoms, in others it is like the flu. Some of the possible symptoms include:

shivering and chills
Sore throat
Respiratory problems
possibly fever and (dry) cough as with flu
Nausea and diarrhoea
headaches and aching limbs
However, some corona infected people do not show any symptoms.


About Author

Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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