COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. This virus is very contagious, and can cause severe illness or death, especially in infants and young children, people 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions or weakened immune systems.
COVID-19 attacks the lungs and respiratory system, so the symptoms may feel similar to the flu, pneumonia, or even the common cold. Most people with COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough. Some people with COVID-19 may never develop symptoms. Unfortunately, anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread the disease, even if they do not have symptoms.
For some people, the symptoms of COVID-19 will continue to impact their health long after the initial infection has passed. This condition is called, “Long COVID.”
Like all viruses, the virus that causes COVID-19 is constantly changing. These changes occur over time and can lead to new strains of the virus or variants of COVID-19. Slowing the spread of the virus, by protecting yourself and others, can help slow new variants from developing.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you from serious illness, hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19.
Last Reviewed: October 18, 2023