By now, you probably know the disease at the center of the global pandemic is called COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). At the same time, the WHO announced an official name for the novel coronavirus that causes the disease: SARS-CoV-2. It reflects the fact that the new virus is a genetic relative of SARS-CoV, the virus responsible for the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (better known by the acronym SARS).
According to WHO, most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with serious underlying medical problems (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer) are more likely to develop serious illness.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) . The virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
According to CDC, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.