What is COVID-19?

COVID-19, or Coronavirus disease, is an infectious disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2)

It can spread easily from person to person. It can make you feel like you have a cold, flu, or pneumonia, with symptoms like coughing and breathing difficulty.

While most people who get COVID-19 have mild symptoms, some get very sick and can require medical attention.

Most of the symptoms of COVID-19 resolve on their own. However, there could be lingering effects that persist later. Studies have shown that around 10-20% of individuals who are infected with COVID-19 have complications that last for months or years.

Corona Virus is constantly changing and over time have created new versions (variants) of itself. WHO has identified numerous variants across the Globe. Some of the prominent ones that have led to new waves of the pandemic are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Omicron etc.

How has it originated?

The origins of the Corona Virus (SARS-CoV-2/ Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2) are not exactly known.

When scientists studied genes of SARS-CoV-2, it was suggested that the virus has been hidden in animal reservoirs like bats which has spilled it over into humans.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Direct spread

When an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or breathes, person releases small particles from their mouth or nose. If you breathe in these particles, you can get infected too. This is called droplet transmission.

These droplets remain in the air for longer, specially in places where airflow is restricted.

Indirect contact

The virus can spread when individuals touch things that have the virus on them and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Symptoms of COVID-19

COVID-19 is the disease caused by Corona virus (SARS-CoV-2).

The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 vary from person to person.

Typically, symptoms start from about 3-4 days after you are infected, and they can last up to 14 days.

Most of the infections are mild to moderate and resolve on their own. However, some infections can be serious and need hospitalization.

People with health issues such as heart or lung disease, HIV, diabetes, cancer, or obesity are more likely to develop a serious COVID-19 infection.

Most common symptoms




Loss of taste or smell

Less common symptoms

Sore throat


Muscle aches


A rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes

Red or itchy eyes

Serious symptoms

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Loss of speech


Chest pain

What is the Omicron variant?

The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) was identified in South Africa in November 2021 and is considered as a variant of concern (VOC) by the WHO.

It is more infectious and spreads faster than the previous variants.

Most of the infections across the globe are now omicron and its variants. These variants have spread to more than 100 countries Including India, China, Japan, Denmark and England

The omicron variant has also shown to evade immunity of individuals who have been vaccinated or even infected with the earlier variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Prevalence of the omicron variant, June 5, 2023

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