COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ Series - Background on COVID-19

Midwest Allergy Sinus Asthma, SC

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ Series
By Tamara Reeter, NP and Dareen Siri, MD
*created 1/7/21 and subject to change.

Many of our patients are asking us about details regarding COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines. Given MASA, the Food Allergy Center, and SWIA’s expertise in allergy, immunology, medicine and clinical research, we have collected and digested information from validated sources as we begin a Q&A series which will address the majority of questions that our patients have. These documents are intended for general information and should not be taken as specific advice to your particular situation since good care for all patients should be individualized.

Announcement to Patients about COVID-19 (March 2020)
Q&A 1. Background on COVID-19
Q&A 2. What you need to know about the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Q&A 3. Questions about efficacy and safety.
Q&A 4. Questions about allergies, advice, and special circumstances.

We begin this series with a background on COVID-19.

1. What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The worldwide emergence of the virus in 2019 is the reason we call the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

2. What is a COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine will help protect you against the COVID-19 disease.

3. Who can get COVID-19?

Since this virus is a new strain that is affecting humans, it is the cause of a world-wide pandemic, since few people are considered to be protected or immune from this virus. Nearly everyone, young and old, frail and strong, are susceptible to getting infected with SARS-CoV-2.

4. What are the manifestations of COVID-19?

Similar to other respiratory viruses, SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread by respiratory droplets and causes primarily respiratory symptoms. In mild cases, this may seem like a common cold. Common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, headache, myalgia or fatigue, and diarrhea. In severe cases, the infection may lead to severe pneumonia and a severe respiratory inflammatory syndrome called ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).

Both of these severe manifestations may lead to lack of oxygenation to the body, lung scarring, and extended organ damage due to lack of oxygen and inflammation.

Common Symptoms (81%)

Severe Complications

Nasal congestion
Runny nose
Decreased smell / taste Sinus pressure
Sore throat
Shortness of breath Headache
Muscle pain
Abdominal pain
Rash (viral rash, livedo reticularis, pernio/chilblains)

Acute Respiratory Failure
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
Acute Liver Injury
Acute Cardiac Injury
Secondary Infection, Viral Bacterial Fungal and Hospital Acquired
Acute Kidney Injury
Septic Shock
Thromboembolism (blood clots)
Neurological complications (Guillan-Barre, stroke, encephalopathy)
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS and MIS-C in Children)
Death (2.3%)

5. Have people seen coronaviruses before? Where do coronaviruses come from?

Various strains of coronavirus have circulated for some time in the human and animal population. Common coronavirus strains are one of the pathogens responsible for the “common cold” viral illnesses. More virulent strains of coronavirus have been seen prior to 2019. You may remember news regarding the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreaks that have occurred in the past decade. These outbreaks were also the result of novel viruses of the same type — all of them are coronaviruses. SARS emerged in Asia in 2002 and spread to 26 countries before it was contained. No additional cases have been identified since 2004. MERS emerged in 2012 and has spread to 27 countries. There continue to be sporadic cases, centered around Saudi Arabia. All three of these coronaviruses are believed to originate in bats, which are then spread to humans. The delivery of MERS is also thought to involve camels in the transmission chain. It is largely unclear in all these situations how the virus spreads from the animal reservoir to humans. The fatality rate of each virus is estimated as follows: SARS-CoV-2 2-3%, SARS 9.5%, MERS 34.4%.

6. How do I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

COVID-19 illness can be prevented by the following:

  1. Wearing a mask (to cover your nose and mouth and to ask those around you to do the same)
  2. Good hygiene (frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, special attention to precautions taken when drinking and eating)
  1. Social-distancing measures (avoiding crowds and gatherings, standing apart at least 6 feet, avoiding unnecessary travel and exposure)
  2. Getting vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine