Humanity has faced pandemics since the beginning of time. The twentieth century saw multiple influenza pandemics, and now we are facing a COVID-19 pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are not new to humans or even to you. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses best identified by the crown-like spikes that cover their surface (corona is Latin for 'crown'). Coronaviruses cause upper-respiratory tract illnesses like the common cold and the 2003 SARS and 2012 MERS outbreaks. In the winter of 2019, a new coronavirus, now officially called SARS-CoV-2, emerged in Wuhan, China. The virus made the jump from animals to humans and causes a disease called COVID-19. For some people, often children and young adults, SARS-CoV-2 causes few or no symptoms. For others it can lead to severe lung damage and even death. The virus can be spread fairly easily, including by people who are infected but display no symptoms, and as a result, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, with nearly all countries in the world reporting an increasing number of infected individuals. Scientists and health professionals around the globe are working hard to rapidly learn more about this new coronavirus and the disease it causes and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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When you get the flu, viruses turn your cells into tiny factories that help spread the disease. In this animation, NPR's Robert Krulwich and medical animator David Bolinsky explain how a flu virus can trick a single cell into making a million more viruses. See and hear the rest of the story on NPR.org: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114075029 Credit: Robert Krulwich, David Bolinsky, Jason Orfanon Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use…
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