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Coronaviruses

General Information

Coronaviruses are enveloped RNA viruses. The characteristic surface of a coronavirus virion has a crown-like appearance that can be seen under the electron microscope. 

Most coronaviruses infect animals (i.e. bats, birds and mammals), which act as reservoirs and intermediate hosts, but can sometimes change host and infect humans.

There are currently 7 coronaviruses known to infect humans, four of them causing mild-to-moderate disease (HCoV-OC43, HCoV-HKU1 and HCoV-229E, HCoV-NL63) and three of them cause more severe and possibly even fatal disease

  • SARS-CoV, responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (2002).
  • MERS-CoV, responsible for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) (2012).
  • SARS-CoV-2, responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (2019).

 

Transmission

Coronaviruses are transmitted through the inhalation of or direct contact with respiratory droplets from an infected individual (including aerosols generated through sneezing, coughing, speaking, singing, or breathing).

Symptoms

Symptoms may vary, both in frequency and severity, depending on the variant causing the episode.

Severe COVID-19 disease usually manifests as pneumonia with shortness of breath and pulmonary infiltrates on chest imaging. Other severe complications include thromboembolism circulatory shock, myocardial damage, arrhythmias, and encephalopathy. 

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Epidemiology

2023

MERS-CoV: from 2012 to May 2023, over 2,600 confirmed cases, with a death rate of 36%.

 

SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19): over 700 million confirmed cases, with over 6 million deaths at global level by August 2023.

SARS CoV2 + Influenza:

Vaccines
Pipeline

3
Vaccines in
the pipeline

Technology Platforms

    mRNA (2)
    Protein nanoparticles (1)

DEVELOPMENT PHASES

    Phase I (1)
    Phase II (2)

TRIAL POPULATION

    Adults + Older Adults (2)
    N/A (1)

SARS CoV2 + Influenza + RSV:

Vaccines
Pipeline

1
Vaccines in
the pipeline

Technology Platforms

    mRNA (1)

DEVELOPMENT PHASES

    Phase I (1)

TRIAL POPULATION

    Adults + Older Adults (1)

SARS CoV2 + RSV:

Vaccines
Pipeline

1
Vaccines in
the pipeline

Technology Platforms

    mRNA (1)​

DEVELOPMENT PHASES

    Phase I (1)​

TRIAL POPULATION

    N/A (1)​

COVID-19 and other coronaviruses:

Vaccines
Pipeline

18
Vaccines in
the pipeline

Technology Platforms

    Monoclonal antibody (2)
    mRNA (10)
    Protein nanoparticles (2)
    Protein subunit (1)
    Virus-like particle (3)

DEVELOPMENT PHASES

    Phase I (5)
    Phase II (5)
    Phase III (6)
    Under review (2)

TRIAL POPULATION

    Paediatric (1)
    Adults (5)
    Adults + Older Adults (8)
    Paediatric + Adults + Older Adults (3)
    N/A (1)

Sources:
https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/latest-evidence/coronaviruses
https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/communicable-disease-threats-report-24-30-july-week-30
http://www.emro.who.int/health-topics/mers-cov/mers-outbreaks.html
[Accessed: November 2022]

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