Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus.

Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory tract infections that can be mild, such as some cases of the common cold (among other possible causes, predominantly rhinoviruses), and others that can be lethal, such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19.

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Origins of (Corona-)Viruses

Coronviruses were first discovered in the 1930s when an acute respiratory infection of domesticated chickens was shown to be caused by infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). In the 1940s, two more animal coronaviruses, mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), were isolated.

Human coronaviruses were discovered in the 1960s. The earliest ones studied were from human patients with the common cold, which were later named human coronavirus 229E and human coronavirus OC43. Other human coronaviruses have since been identified, including SARS-CoV in 2003, HCoV NL63 in 2004, HKU1 in 2005, MERS-CoV in 2012 and SARS-CoV-2 in 2019. Most of these have involved serious respiratory tract infections.

The social history of viruses describes the influence of viruses and viral infections on human history. Symptoms in other species vary: in chickens, they cause an upper respiratory tract disease, while in cows and pigs they cause diarrhea. There are yet to be vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

“The world now has no choice but to count on science.”
– Jacques Fellay

Life After This Outbreak

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“Someone has to collect the garbage, deliver the foods and medicines, and keep basic services running, no matter what. We are going to have to learn to live with this [COVID-19] virus to some degree, until there is a vaccine — no matter what the data shows. Otherwise, there is no economy.”
– Michael T. Osterholm

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