You are here

What is COVID-19? 

BACK TO PREVIOUS PAGE »

As the coronavirus causing COVID-19 is genetically similar to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus), it will be referred to hereinafter using its official term SARS-CoV-2. The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of animal origin, but studies are still ongoing to confirm the source and transmission methods.

The virus can cause cough, fever and breathing difficulties.

Droplet infection is the main mode of transmission, the virus spreads mainly through close contact with a person who has symptoms characteristic to the infection, especially cough.
 

What does this virus do to an organism – does it damage specific organs?

COVID-19 symptoms are nonspecific and their severity can vary. The disease can run its course without symptoms of illness, but infection can also include severe pneumonia, and for people in risk groups, in worst case, the illness can end in death.

For most people infected with the coronavirus, the illness runs its course without complications and they get well. It is important to point out that the virus risk group includes the elderly and people with chronic diseases, who exhibit the severe forms of the disease more frequently.

 

How does COVID-19 differ from influenza?

In addition to the spread of the coronavirus, this is also the flu season.  Therefore it is very important to be able to distinguish between coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza. Although there are still very many unknown factors regarding COVID-19, two main aspects of the disease can be compared.

COVID-19

SYMPTOMS
Coronavirus – headache, loss of smell, blocked nose, cough, tiredness and weakness, muscular pain, runny nose, loss of taste, throat pain, fever, breathing difficulties, chest pain, speech and movement disorders.
Most cases of COVID-19 infection are not serious.



VIRUS SPREAD
Coronavirus is more infectious than influenza. Each person infected with the COVID-19 virus infects an average of 2.2 people.

MORBIDITY
In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk.  Co-morbidity increases the disease risk.
Children infected with coronavirus usually have mild symptoms or do not have any symptoms.

MORTALITY
COVID-19 mortality varies from region to region and depends on age and other factors. the most vulnerable were the elderly.
Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.

TREATMENT
No specific treatment or any approved antiviral medicine exists yet for COVID-19. Doctors can therefore recommend the usual measures: rest, take medicines to reduce pain and fever, and consume fluids to prevent dehydration. There is no vaccine against COVID-19 yet, but it can be assumed that after the disease has run its course, immunity will develop for a certain time, but it is not known for how long.

PREVENTION
You should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent any flu-like viruses, including COVID-19, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.


SEASONALITY
It is not known whether and how the weather affects the COVID-19 virus. Even if the spread of the COVID-19 virus declines in the spring, it may return in the autumn.

FLU 

SYMPTOMS
Flu - fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, headache, runny or blocked nose, fatigue, sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea.
The flu symptoms have a sudden onset. Most patients recover within less than two weeks. In some patients flu may cause serious complications, including pneumonia. The prevalence of flu is very similar every year.

VIRUS SPREAD
Every person infected with the influenza virus infects an average of 1.3 healthy people.


MORBIDITY
In case of coronavirus or influenza infection, people aged over 60 with weakened immune system and/or chronic diseases are at the highest risk.  Co-morbidity increases the disease risk.
Influenza is much more dangerous for children, especially very young children who can fall severely ill.

MORTALITY
Although COVID-19 mortality is not exactly known, most studies show that it is higher than the influenza mortality.




TREATMENT
The mortality of influenza would be higher if there were no treatment and vaccination. For the treatment of influenza, there are several prescription medications that have a good impact if they are taken within one or two days of the onset of symptoms. There are also medicines that are given to prevent flu for people who have been in contact with the virus carrier. In addition, there are widely available vaccines against influenza that generate a certain level of immunity.

PREVENTION
You should wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to prevent any flu-like viruses, including COVID-19, avoid contact with your face if hands are unwashed, avoid contacts with sick people, stay at home in the case of illness, and disinfect surfaces and objects you touch daily.

SEASONALITY
In the case of influenza, a pattern is observed that the spread of the disease decreases in the spring and returns in the autumn when the weather gets colder.