Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoVs) are a large family of viruses, several of which cause respiratory diseases in humans, from the common cold to more rare and serious diseases such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Atomic model of coronavirus is presented as a blue sphere representing the virus outer membrane. On the membrane surface, many spike proteins are located, with glucose molecules attached to them. Besides spike proteins, ‘M’ and ‘E’ proteins are also present on the virus membrane.

Figure 1: Atomic model of coronavirus.

Worldwide pandemic and response

The first human cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, were first reported from Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. It caused a worldwide epidemic that caused death of more than 4 million people. Sudden appearance and very fast spread of the infection prompted researchers and health organizations to create vaccines and monitoring programs to constantly monitor the disease status in various communities around the world. Thanks to extended knowledge on the family of coronaviruses gathered throughout many years of research, the pharmaceutical companies could respond to the pandemic with diagnostic tests and vaccinations in a fast and efficient way.

The first mass vaccination program started in early December 2020. As for September 2021, at least 13 different vaccines (across 4 platforms) have been administered in 206 countries.