A GP guide to what we know about COVID-19

COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Here is a current summary of COVID-19, the understanding of which is rapidly changing

Need to know:

  • SARS-CoV-2 causes milder disease overall than SARS and MERS, leading to greater community transmission via mild or subclinical infection
  • Age, immunocompromise, hypertension and smoking are key risk factors for severe disease
  • The evidence is unclear whether infection and recovery results in durable immunity
  • Cough, sore throat and fever are common but not universal symptoms. Anosmia and dysgeusia may be unique symptoms.
  • The asymptomatic infection rate varies depending on the population studied, but may be as high as 30%.
  • Upper respiratory sampling may be falsely negative, even in severe disease, so repeat sampling or lower respiratory sampling (with appropriate PPE precautions) is warranted when clinical suspicion is high
  • Treatment and vaccine trials are ongoing, but for now supportive treatment in appropriate settings is the mainstay of therapy

SARS-CoV-2 is a