Update on COVID-19 pandemic
Over 92.3 million cases have been reported globally, with over 50.9 million cases recovered so far, and approximately 1.9 million deaths according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The US has the highest number of reported infections and deaths in the world. India has the second largest number of reported cases, followed by Brazil, Russia, the UK, France, Turkey, Italy, and Spain.
What’s new at this update
Epidemiology: updated data on children and pregnant women.
Etiology: updated data on secondary attack rates for VOC 202012/01 variant.
History and exam: updated risk factors (chronic respiratory diseases; gut dysbiosis); updated diagnostic factor (neurologic symptoms).
Investigations: FDA warns of possible false-negative results of molecular tests with new SARS-CoV-2 variants; WHO warns that COVID-19 vaccines may affect serology tests; new data on sensitivity of using saliva samples for molecular testing.
Emerging: UK guidelines recommend interleukin-6 inhibitors (e.g., tocilizumab, sarilumab) in critically ill patients who meet specific criteria.
Prevention: Moderna vaccine authorized in the UK; WHO recommends countries experiencing exceptional epidemiologic circumstances may consider delaying administration of second dose; new WHO guidelines on vaccination in specific patient populations and people with allergies/anaphylaxis.
Patient discussions: new UK guidance on returning to physical activity after illness.
Complications: updated post-COVID-19 syndrome (long COVID) section with new epidemiology data.
Listen to our COVID-19 podcasts:
See our separate topic on the management of coexisting conditions in the context of COVID-19:
This topic is based on the best evidence currently available, but as this is a rapidly evolving situation, evidence is limited and some recommendations may be based on case reports, observational studies, and retrospective analyses, as well as randomized controlled trials and guidelines.
Original source of updateexternal link opens in a new window
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious acute respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) was informed of cases of pneumonia of unknown microbial etiology associated with Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China on 31 December 2019. The WHO later announced that a novel coronavirus had been detected in samples taken from these patients. Since then, the epidemic has escalated and rapidly spread around the world, with the WHO first declaring a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January 2020, and then formally declaring it a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Clinical trials and investigations to learn more about the virus, its origin, how it affects humans, and its management are ongoing.
A potentially severe acute respiratory infection caused by the novel coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The clinical presentation is generally that of a respiratory infection with a symptom severity ranging from a mild common cold-like illness, to a severe viral pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome that is potentially fatal. Characteristic symptoms include fever, cough, dyspnea, and loss of taste/smell, although some patients may be asymptomatic. Complications of severe disease include, but are not limited to, multi-organ failure, septic shock, and venous thromboembolism. Symptoms may be persistent and continue for more than 12 weeks in some patients.
History and exam
- myalgia or arthralgia
- sputum production/expectoration
- chest tightness
- gastrointestinal symptoms
- sore throat
- neurologic symptoms
- ocular symptoms
- rhinorrhea/nasal congestion
- chest pain
- cutaneous symptoms
- bronchial breath sounds
- crackles/rales on auscultation
- residence/work/travel in location with high risk of transmission
- contact with probable or confirmed case
- older age
- residence in a long-term care facility
- male sex
- presence of comorbidities
- cardiovascular diseases
- chronic respiratory disease
- chronic kidney disease
- sickle cell disease
- solid organ transplant
- cerebrovascular disease
- chronic liver disease
- metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease
- autoimmune disease
- vitamin D deficiency
- air pollution
- climate and latitude
- residence in urban or deprived areas
- ACE inhibitor/angiotensin-II receptor antagonist use
- statin use
- proton-pump inhibitor use
- HIV infection
- Down syndrome
- children with certain underlying conditions
- blood groups A and B
- gut dysbiosis
- real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
- pulse oximetry
- comprehensive metabolic panel
- blood glucose level
- coagulation screen
- cardiac biomarkers
- serum C-reactive protein
- serum erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- serum lactate dehydrogenase
- serum interleukin-6 level
- serum procalcitonin
- serum ferritin level
- serum amyloid A level
- serum creatine kinase and myoglobin
- blood and sputum cultures
- chest x-ray
Consultant and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases
Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
NJB is partially supported by the National Institute of Health Research Health Protection Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is affiliated with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, or PHE.
Senior Clinical Lecturer and Defence Consultant in Infectious Diseases
Royal Liverpool University Hospital and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
TEF is a consultant/expert panel member to the World Health Organization, and is funded by the UK Surgeon General, the NHS, and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. TEF is partially supported by the National Institute of Health Research Health Protection Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at University of Liverpool in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He is affiliated with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. He has received research grants from the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, and the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST). The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, or PHE.
H. Barrie Fairley Professor of Critical Care
University Health Network and Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine
Clinical Epidemiology and Health Care Research
Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto
Tory Trauma Program
RF declares that he has no competing interests.
Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health
University of Virginia
WAP declares that he has no competing interests.
The Fifth Medical Center of PLA General Hospital
Clinical Division and Research Center of Infectious Disease
XZ declares that he has no competing interests.
Associate Professor in Medicine
Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center
RNP has received research grants from US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Hebrew University, Rosetrees Trust, and SpeeDx. He is chair of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) Study Group for Mycoplasma and Chlamydia Infections (ESGMAC). RNP is a consultant for and has stocks in eDAS Healthcare. He is also chairperson of the Israeli Society for Infectious Diseases guidelines committee.
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