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27 March 2020 1 min read

The first outbreak of novel coronavirus COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

Since then, COVID-19 has spread from an outbreak, to an epidemic, to a global pandemic.

How? This video explains the basic characteristics of viruses. This includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

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SARS CoV-2 is part of the coronavirus superfamily, like SARS and MERS.

Coronavirinae (the scientific name for coronavirus) are a subfamily of these viruses. They cause disease in humans, other mammals and birds. In animals, they can cause a wide variety of disease. But it's mainly respiratory disease and gastroenteritis.

For humans, coronavirus can cause respiratory tract infections. Symptoms can be mild (like the common cold) or potentially lethal (like some cases of COVID-19).

But SARS CoV-2 is unusual from other coronavirinae. It has an outer fatty membrane to protect the capsid and virion.

Want more information about a virus’ structure? What about on COVID-19’s ability to spread? And how to stop the spread of COVID-19? Check out our blog: How does a virus like COVID-19 spread

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