|Disease||Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)|
|Virus strain||Severe acute respiratory syndrome|
coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2)
|Source||Bats, likely indirectly|
|Index case||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Date||November 2019 – present|
|5,277,841 (reported) |
8.7–20.8 million (estimated)
|Part of a series on the|
The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019; a lockdown there and in other cities in surrounding Hubei failed to contain the outbreak. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Multiple variants of the virus emerged, led by the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants. As of 8 December 2021, more than 267 million cases and 5.27 million deaths have been confirmed, making the pandemic one of the deadliest in history.
COVID-19 symptoms range from none to life-threatening. Severe illness is more likely in elderly patients and those with certain underlying medical conditions. COVID-19 is airborne, spread via air contaminated by microscopic particles. The risk of infection is highest among people in close proximity, but can occur over longer distances, particularly indoors in poorly ventilated areas. Transmission can also occur, albeit rarely, via contaminated surfaces or fluids. Infected persons can remain contagious for up to 20 days, and can spread the virus even absent symptoms.
Vaccines have been approved and distributed in various countries. Mass vaccination campaigns began in December 2020. Other recommended preventive measures include social distancing, wearing face masks in public, ventilation/air-filtering, covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing, hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, and quarantining those who have been exposed or are symptomatic. Treatments focus on addressing symptoms, but work is underway to develop antiviral medications. Governmental interventions include travel restrictions, lockdowns, business closures, workplace hazard controls, testing protocols, and tracing contacts of the infected.
The pandemic triggered severe social and economic disruption around the world, including the largest global recession since the Great Depression. Widespread supply shortages were caused by panic buying, supply chain disruption, and food shortages. The resultant near-global lockdowns saw an unprecedented decrease in the emission of pollutants. Numerous educational institutions and public areas partially or fully closed, and many events were cancelled or postponed. Misinformation circulated through social media and mass media, and political tensions intensified. The pandemic raised issues of racial and geographic discrimination, health equity, and the balance between public health imperatives and individual rights.
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