Coronavirus and COVID-19 are not the same thing, but sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that have crown-like spikes on their surface. The scientific name for the new coronavirus that emerged from China in December 2019 is SARS-CoV-2, which stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus and stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Fever, aches, and a cough are symptoms commonly found in patients with either COVID-19 or the flu. Both diseases can range in severity from mild to severe and may lead to the development of pneumonia. Although both viruses may be fatal, COVID-19 is associated with a significantly higher mortality rate than the flu. Estimates vary, but approximately 1% to 3% of people with COVID-19 will die from the disease.

There are several reasons why the coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu:

  • Coronavirus is twice as contagious as the flu. Research indicates that a person with the flu infects an average of 1.28 other people. However, a person with coronavirus can infect between 2 to 3 other people.
  • Coronavirus has a longer incubation period. The incubation period is the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms. People with coronavirus might not have symptoms for up to 14 days, and some may not develop symptoms at all. People with the flu usually develop symptoms within 2 days of infection. Since coronavirus has a significantly longer incubation period, infected individuals may unknowingly spread the virus for a longer period of time.
  • There is an effective vaccine available for the flu. There is no vaccine available for COVID-19, but development and testing are in progress.

Based on currently available information, people aged 65 years and older and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Preexisting medical conditions that increase the risk of serious illness include:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate-to-severe asthma
  • Cardiovascular disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and serious heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease and dialysis
  • Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or more)
  • Immunosuppression (bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or long-term use of corticosteroids)

People who are at high risk of serious illness with COVID-19 should practice good hand hygiene and social distancing to minimize their chance of contracting the new coronavirus.

The new coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet before falling to the ground. If you are in close proximity to someone who is infected, you may inhale the virus.

Coronavirus can also be transmitted from objects and surfaces that are contaminated with the virus. Studies suggest that the virus can live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days, depending on the surface and environmental factors. A small amount of virus can be found on plastic for up to 3 days, on stainless steel for up to 2 days, and for up to one day on cardboard. It is important to practice good hand hygiene to minimize the risk of infection. It is recommended that you wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to prevent the spread of the virus.

Symptoms could appear as soon as 2 days or as late as 14 days after exposure to the virus. The median time for symptoms to develop is about 5 days. If you believe you have been exposed to the new coronavirus, it is important to quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

It is estimated that on average people with COVID-19 first develop symptoms approximately 5 days after exposure to the virus. However, symptoms may develop between 2 and 14 days after exposure. One study found that people with COVID-19 were contagious approximately 2 to 3 days before symptom onset and were most infectious the day before symptoms appeared.

People infected with the new coronavirus can be contagious without symptoms. It is estimated that up to 50% of people infected with coronavirus remain asymptomatic. However, these people are still contagious. One study found that people with no symptoms were the source of 44% of diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

A serologic test is a blood test that identifies antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins created by your immune system to fight infections. Since it takes your body 5 to 10 days to produce enough antibodies to be detected in a test, serologic tests cannot be used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection, even in patients with severe disease.

Serologic tests can be used to identify people who have been infected with the new coronavirus during the course of the pandemic. However, since the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is new, there is still much we do not know about it. Scientists are working to determine if antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 provide protection against future infections by this virus. If antibodies do provide immunity, we do not know what amount, or titer, of antibodies would provide protection or for how long this protection would last.

There are currently no approved agents for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.

In late April, the FDA issued a warning against the use of the anti-malarial medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in patients not enrolled in clinical trials. Several studies have shown that these medications do not decrease the risk of death from COVID-19 and may increase the risk of life-threatening heart rhythms.

One clinical trial found that patients with COVID-19 who received remdesivir, an antiviral drug, recovered faster than patients who received a placebo. Several other drugs are also under investigation for the management of COVID-19. However, it may take up to a year before any drugs for the treatment of COVID-19 are available to the general public. Clinical trials must be performed to ensure that new medications are safe and effective and to determine what the proper dosage should be.

Some doctors in France advise people against using ibuprofen (i.e., Advil®, Motrin®) to manage the symptoms of COVID-19. There were several reports of healthy patients with COVID-19 who were taking ibuprofen and developed severe disease, particularly pneumonia. However, there were no scientific studies to support this advice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) initially recommended using acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol®) instead of ibuprofen to reduce the fever, aches, and pains related to coronavirus infection. However, the WHO now states that either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. It is important to make sure that you do not exceed the maximum daily dose of 3,000 milligrams of acetaminophen per day.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html

He X, Lau EHY, Wu P, et al. Temporal dynamics in viral shedding and transmissibility of COVID-19. Nature Med. 2020;26:675.

Geleris J, Sun Y, Platt J, et al. Observational study of hydroxychloroquine in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. N Engl J Med. 2020;May 7: Epub ahead of print.

Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). IDSA COVID-19 Antibody Testing Primer. Available at https://www.idsociety.org/globalassets/idsa/public-health/covid-19/idsa-covid-19-antibody-testing-primer.pdf

National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH clinical trial shows remdesivir accelerates recovery from advanced COVID-19. Available at www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/nih-clinical-trial-shows-remdesivir-accelerates-recovery-advanced-covid-19

Silva Borba MG, Almeida Val FF, Souza Sampaio V, et al. Effect of high vs low doses of chloroquine diphosphate as adjunctive therapy for patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3:e208857.

World Health Organization (WHO). The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in patients with COVID-19. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/the-use-of-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs-(nsaids)-in-patients-with-covid-19

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Patient Toolkit

The COVID FRONTLINE Patient Toolkit is a resource center for patients who have been diagnosed with or who are interested in learning about COVID-19. Choose from the options below to learn more.

Clinical Toolkit

The COVID-19 Clinical Toolkit is an online tool that aims to provide clinicians with up-to-date information on the presentation, prognosis, pathophysiology, and treatment strategies for COVID-19. Click on one of the options below to learn more.

This activity is provided by Med Learning Group. This activity is co-provided by Ultimate Medical Academy/CCM.
This activity is supported by educational grants from AbbVie, Astellas, Genentech, Merck & Co., Inc., and Pfizer.

Copyright © 2019 | COVID Frontline | All Rights Reserved | Website by Divigner

Updates in the Treatment and Prevention of COVID-19​

Vaccine candidate BNT162b2 found to be 95% effective

Primary efficacy analysis of the vaccine candidate BNT162b2 found it to be 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose. The efficacy was consistent across all age, gender, race, and ethnicity demographics. The observed efficacy in adults over 65 years of age was 94%. The phase 3 trial enrolled more than 43,000 subjects, with 162 confirmed COVID-19 cases observed in the placebo group versus 8 in the vaccine group. Pfizer and BioNtech report that the vaccine was well tolerated across all populations with no serious safety concerns observed. The only grade 3 adverse events with a frequency ≥2% were fatigue (3.8%) and headache (2.0%).1

Emergency use authorization granted for baricitinib plus remdesivir

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for baricitinib in combination with remdesivir for hospitalized adults and children at least 2 years old with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who require supplemental oxygen, mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).2 Baricitinib plus remdesivir was shown to significantly reduce the time to recovery within 29 days of initiating therapy compared with placebo plus remdesivir (7 vs 8 days, respectively; P= .04). The odds of improvement in clinical status at day 15 were 30% greater in patients treated with baricitinib plus remdesivir compared with remdesivir alone (odds ratio, 1.3; P= .04).3

Treating recently diagnosed COVID-19

The FDA granted an EUA to the investigational neutralizing antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) 700 mg for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in patients 12 years and older with a positive COVID-19 test, who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Bamlanivimab should be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID-19 test and within 10 days of symptom onset. The EUA is based on data from the randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 2 BLAZE-1 study. Patients treated with bamlanivimab in the outpatient setting showed reduced viral load and lower rates of symptoms and hospitalization.4

Interim analysis of vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 demonstrates 94.5% efficacy

An interim analysis of a phase 3 trial of the vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 94.5% against COVID-19. The trial enrolled more than 30,000 participants, with 90 cases of COVID-19 observed in the placebo group versus 5 cases in the vaccine group. Moderna reported that the vaccine was well tolerated. Grade 3 adverse events with a frequency ≥2% included injection-site pain (2.7%) after the first injection and fatigue (9.7%), myalgia (8.9%), arthralgia (5.2%), headache (4.5%), pain (4.1%), and redness at the injection site (2.0%) after the second injection.5


  1. Pfizer press release. Pfizer and BioNTech conclude phase 3 study of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, meeting all primary efficacy endpoints. November 18, 2020. Available at www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-and-biontech-conclude-phase-3-study-covid-19-vaccine
  2. Lilly press release. Baricitinib receives emergency use authorization from the FDA for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. November 19, 2020. Available at https://investor.lilly.com/node/44041/pdf
  3. Lilly press release. Baricitinib has significant effect on recovery time, most impactful in COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen. October 8, 2020. Available at https://investor.lilly.com/node/43806/pdf
  4. Lilly press release. Lilly’s neutralizing antibody bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) receives FDA emergency use authorization for the treatment of recently diagnosed COVID-19. November 9, 2020. Available at https://investor.lilly.com/node/43931/pdf
  5. Moderna press release. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate meets its primary efficacy endpoint in the first interim analysis of the phase 3 COVE study. November 16, 2020. Available at https://investors.modernatx.com/node/10316/pdf