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CoVE Package: COVID-19 Vaccine Education
The importance of the COVID-19 vaccine for individual and societal health

6. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a new coronavirus discovered in 2019.1

It is very infectious. By May 2021, there had been over 150 million confirmed cases and over 3 million deaths, worldwide.2

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms are cough, fever, headache and loss of taste or smell. Some people may feel very tired, have aching muscles, or diarrhoea and vomiting. Others may have symptoms similar to those of the common cold such as a runny nose or a sore throat.

Many people only have mild or moderate symptoms. Some have no symptoms at all (‘asymptomatic’), but are still infectious. A small number of people develop severe disease which may require hospitalisation or admission to intensive care.3

In severe cases, COVID-19 can progress to sepsis, thromboembolism (blood clots) and damage to the heart, kidneys and liver.4

Who can catch it?

Older people and people who have pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity or cancer are much more likely to become severely ill with the virus, but young healthy people can also get very ill and can die from it.5

About 1 in 10 people are still unwell three months after they catch COVID-19. This includes young, fit people, those who were only mildly unwell, and those who were previously in very good health.

Watch this 3D Animation to see how COVID-19 spreads

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