Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s. The name "coronavirus" refers to the appearance of coronaviruses under the microscope, which is reminiscent of a crown or wreath (Latin corona = wreath, crown). Some of the common colds in humans are triggered by coronaviruses.

The novel coronavirus was named "novel" because it is a new virus in the coronavirus family, first identified in December 2019. As of 11 February 2020, this virus, tentatively named 2019-nCoV, has a new name: SARS-CoV-2. The acronym SARS here stands for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome".

The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019). Coronaviruses can infect humans or animals. In some cases, coronaviruses that previously infected only animals can spread to humans and also cause severe disease. In the past, this was the case with the outbreaks of SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). This is also the case with the coronavirus.

  • How does infection/transmission occur?

    Infection occurs mainly through droplets or aerosols ("airborne particles") in the air. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs or talks, they excrete droplets and aerosols containing viruses. These spread, float in the air and settle on surfaces.

    The closer a person gets to the infected person, the more infectious droplets and aerosols can reach them. The minimum distance of 1.5 metres protects you from inhaling viruses. The more consistently you keep the distance, the less likely it is that the coronavirus will be transmitted to you.

    The COVID-19 vaccines have a high individual protective effect and protect the vaccinated person from a severe course of the disease. However, infection can also occur in rare cases despite a Corona vaccination: The vaccination does not offer one hundred percent protection. Therefore, it is important to stick to the AHA formula despite vaccination and to limit contacts as much as possible.

    Infection can also occur if the infection took place shortly before vaccination (i.e. if vaccination took place during the incubation period). The average incubation period for COVID-19 is five to six days if the infection occurs in the first few days after vaccination, before the vaccine protection has fully developed. An effect of the vaccination usually occurs ten to 14 days after administration.

    However, respiratory infections caused by other pathogens are often mistaken for vaccination failure. However, a febrile cold due to other pathogens does not mean failure of the COVID-19 vaccination. In addition, the vaccination itself can cause mild febrile reactions. However, this is a natural reaction of the immune system and should not be confused with a respiratory or SARS-CoV-2 infection.

  • How can I protect myself?

    Corona vaccination offers the best protection against infection, disease and especially against severe COVID-19 courses. The vaccines approved to date have been very effective in clinical trials. The trial data show that participants vaccinated against COVID-19 were between 70 and 95 per cent less likely to get sick than the trial groups vaccinated with a placebo. The period over which a vaccinated person is protected against COVID-19 disease, i.e. how long the vaccination protection lasts, is still being investigated.