In December 2019, a cluster of fatal pneumonia cases presented in Wuhan, China. They were caused by a previously unknown coronavirus. All patients had been associated with the Wuhan Wholefood market, where seafood and live animals are sold. The virus spread rapidly and public health authorities in China initiated a containment effort. However, by that time, travelers had carried the virus to many countries, sparking memories of the previous coronavirus epidemics, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and causing widespread media attention and panic. Based on clinical criteria and available serological and molecular information, the new disease was called coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19), and the novel coronavirus was called SARS Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), emphasizing its close relationship to the 2002 SARS virus (SARS-CoV). The scientific community raced to uncover the origin of the virus, understand the pathogenesis of the disease, develop treatment options, define the risk factors, and work on vaccine development. Here we present a summary of current knowledge regarding the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes.
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