COVID is an infection caused by a novel coronavirus – novel means that the virus is new to humans. The first COVID virus was found in Wuhan, China, in 2019.
Most viruses change over time; this is the same for the COVID virus. Some of the changes; called variants can affect:
- How ill we feel
- How easily the virus can be passed onto others
- How the vaccines work
- Medications that are used to treat the virus
The full name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
There are many different types of coronavirus, and some will affect your throat and lungs. Illnesses from viruses can range from the common cold and flu like problems to severe flu and pneumonia.
Data suggests that the top five symptoms reported during the acute infection are:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
The latest data has shown that people who have been vaccinated and infected with the Omicron variant are ill for a shorter period of time and are less likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID.
People who are vulnerable to getting a severe infection may be treated by antiviral medicines and should ask their GP for advice.
Some people may get pneumonia following COVID. This is commonly caused by bacteria and antibiotics can only be used if the illness is caused by bacteria.
Usually, antibiotics will not treat COVID, but you might need to take antibiotics if you are very unwell and you have a bacterial infection.