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A Dictionary of COVID-19

  May 05, 2020

A Dictionary of COVID-19


Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illness. They can cause cold-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis).


Patient not showing signs that they have the disease.


Chloroquine is a drug used to treat malaria. It is being explored and tested as a possible treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Community spread

Community spread refers to a process when the virus starts spreading in the general masses. Community spread is detected when a confirmed case of the virus is found without having a known origin. It happens when a person without any travel history or interaction with any infected person contracts the virus.


It refers to a medical condition, in which a person has more than one disease at the same time. Cases of comorbidity have a higher risk of turning sensitive in case of COVID-19. For example, if someone has high blood pressure and is also diabetic, they have comorbidities and have a higher risk of developing complications.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing is finding out all the people who have come into direct contact with a person infected with a disease. Quarantining such people (known as contacts) and isolating them, if they become infected, helps slow the spread of the disease.


Coronavirus is actually a family of virus which already exists in the world and is known to cause diseases in humans. The entire family of coronaviruses is called Coronaviridae and some of them also cause minor diseases, such as common cold. SARS-CoV-2 is a strain of severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARSr-CoV).


The technical term of the virus is SARS-CoV-2 and no one clearly knows what led to its emergence. The virus was first detected in 2019 in China with symptoms such as fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. WHO named it COVID-19 stand for CO for Corona, VI for Virus, D for diseases and 19 for year 2019.

Fatality rate

Also called fatality risk, this is the percentage of people who die from a disease compared with the total number of people who were diagnosed with the disease in a certain time frame.

Flatten the curve.

The COVID-19 "curve" refers to the trajectory of how the disease spreads. On a graph, an early, high curve reflects a surge in cases that can overwhelm the health care system in a country, leading to shortages in intensive care beds and lifesaving equipment. By implementing population-wide measures like social distancing early, the onset of cases can be delayed with more time for hospitals to prepare and fewer total cases resulting. On a graph, the flatter curve rises more gradually with a lower peak of total cases.


This describes an inanimate object or surface that could act as a vehicle for transmitting an infectious organism like the coronavirus. It may be possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a fomite contaminated with the virus and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Herd immunity

Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, whether through previous infections or vaccination, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.


People with a weakened immune system are sometimes described as being immunocompromised. Cancer patients in active treatment, people being treated for autoimmune conditions like lupus, pregnant women and others may have weaker immune systems, which may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission or symptom severity.

Incubation period

Incubation period refers to the time period required for the virus to develop symptoms in the body. In simpler terms, it is the time period between contracting a virus and emergence of its symptoms. The incubation period of COVID-19 is somewhere between 2-14 days.

mRNA-1273 vaccine.

An experimental vaccine called mRNA-1273, developed by the biotechnology firm Moderna as a candidate to protect against the novel coronavirus, is in early stages of clinical trials with healthy adult participants.

Novel coronavirus.

Scientists use the word "novel" to distinguish the new form of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) currently making people sick from previous types of coronaviruses (such as SARS and MERS). Because it is a novel virus that no one has previously been exposed to, that means no one has had a chance to build immunity (with the possible exception of people who have recently recovered from COVID-19).


A disease is termed as a pandemic when it spreads all over the globe and in most countries of the world. COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic by WHO (World Health Organization) after its spread was confirmed in more than 100 countries.

Patient zero

Patient zero refers to the person who is identified as the first person infected with a communicable disease during an outbreak.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

Personal protective equipment is specialized clothing or gear used to prevent contact with infectious or hazardous materials. PPE to protect wearers – like health care workers –from exposure to the coronavirus includes gloves, gowns, surgical masks, respirators, face shields and goggles.

Pooled testing

The pooled testing method involves putting multiple swab samples together, and testing them using a single RTPCR test. If that test is negative, it means that all the people tested are negative. However, if the test is positive, everyone whose samples were part of the test have to be tested separately, to identify positive individuals.

Quarantine and isolation

It refers to the form of precaution of isolating yourself in case you detect symptoms or have returned from a trip abroad. While isolation is when someone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 is separated from other people in order to stop the spread of the virus.


The experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir is being tested against the novel coronavirus in several clinical trials. Remdesivir is made by Gilead Sciences.


Respirator masks, also called N95 masks, are close-fitting masks made from cloth-like filter material that protects wearers from inhaling infectious particles. Respirators are issued to health care workers who are properly fitted in an annual, 15-minutes test to identify the correct size, make and model for them to ensure the mask effectively seals their nose and mouth from tiny particles.


A drug used for treatment of HIV/AIDS. It inhibit the protease of HIV, an important enzyme that cleaves a long protein chain into peptides during the assembly of new viruses.

R-naught or R0 

Every virus has a basic reproduction number (R0). The R0 (pronounced R-naught) is the average number of additional people that one person with the virus will infect. That number depends not only on how transmissible the virus is, but also how easy or difficult the behaviour of the community makes it for the virus to spread. Estimates published in Nature on March 18 suggest the R0 of COVID-19 is between 2 and 2.5.


They are used for treatment of Cancer. They are under trails for treatment of COVID-19.


Screening is examining a person to see if they have a disease. This frequently involves taking their temperature, asking about symptoms, and asking about potential exposures to infected people.

Social distancing

It basically means keeping a safe distance of about three to six feet from others. This distance will not only prevent you from contracting any kind of infection but will also break the chain of the disease.


A superspreader is an individual who transmits an infectious disease to multiple other people. Superspreader events can occur in environments where many people are in close quarters for sustained periods, such as the coronavirus outbreaks originating in some nursing homes, cruise ships and church gatherings.


cases of COVID-19 include things like fever, cough and shortness of breath.


A ventilator is a machine that supplies oxygen to the lungs of a patient with severe respiratory problems when oxygen levels in the patient's bloodstream drop below a certain point. So that the ventilator can deliver oxygen to the patient, a tube is placed down the patient's throat, or intubation, to open up the patient's airways.

Viral load

Viral load is the amount of a virus in a sample, especially a person’s blood or other bodily fluids. Viral load is typically measured as the number of virus particles per milliliter.

WHO-Solidarity Trials

"Solidarity” is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for COVID-19, launched by the World Health Organization and partners.

The Solidarity Trial will compare four treatment options against standard of care, to assess their relative effectiveness against COVID-19. By enrolling patients in multiple countries, the Solidarity Trial aims to rapidly discover whether any of the drugs slow disease progression or improve survival. Other drugs can be added based on emerging evidence.


COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, which means it exists in animals but can also infect humans.