COVID-19 (summary)

Dr Rohit Sharma and Dr Henry Knipe et al.

This summary article is intended to be used as a quick reference guide. Please see our complete COVID-19 article for more detail. 

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a viral infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 and is currently a World Health Organization (WHO) declared pandemic. As of September 2020, over 30 million people had been infected globally with over 1 million deaths 13.

Many people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic 9. Symptoms and signs of COVID-19 are non-specific 1 but in symptomatic individuals most commonly include:

  • fever (85-90%)
  • cough (65-70%) with sputum in 30-35%
  • smell and taste disturbances (50%) 12
  • fatigue (35-40%)
  • shortness of breath (15-20%)

The likelihood of severe illness requiring hospitalization correlates closely with male sex, advanced age and presence of comorbidities. 

  • ~5% admitted patients require ITU admission.

Multiple serious sequelae have been reported including:

SARS-CoV-2 is a member of the Betacoronavirus genus, one of the genera of the Coronaviridae family of viruses. SARS-CoV-2 is indirectly zoonotic, but transmission is now primarily interhuman. The closest animal coronavirus by genetic sequence is a bat coronavirus 5. The cause of death is usually respiratory failure secondary to massive alveolar injury.

The primary findings of COVID-19 are those of atypical or organizing pneumonia 2,3. Up to 18% of cases demonstrate normal chest x-rays or CT when mild/early in the disease course 10. Bilateral and/or multilobar involvement is common, more often with a lower zone distribution.

The primary findings on CT in adults have been reported as 2,3:

Treatment is primarily supportive including ventilation for some patients. Dexamethasone has been shown to reduce mortality in ventilated patients or on oxygen therapy 14.

No vaccine is currently available but this area is being actively researched (August 2020). The mortality rate is estimated to be 3.6% 10

Article information

rID: 75235
System: Chest
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (summary)

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Cases and figures

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  • Case 2
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  • Case 3
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  • Case 4: with rapidly progressive ARDS
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  • Case 5: COVID-19 pneumonia - pediatric
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  • Case 6
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  • Case 9
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  • Case 10
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  • Case 11
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