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background Corona FAQ: Questions and answers about the virus

Coronaviruses have been known for decades. They infect both animals and people. The viruses cause a variety of diseases, from the common cold to potentially fatal diseases. For example, the Sars respiratory disease was also triggered by coronaviruses.

  • Where does the coronavirus come from?

According to an analysis by the Berlin virologist Christian Drosten, the coronavirus is a variant of the Sars pathogen from 2002, which also first appeared in China. Around 8,000 people worldwide fell ill from it at that time, and around every tenth patient died. The Sars-CoV-2 virus first appeared in China in December 2019. It was identified in early 2020. The first infections are linked to a fish market in Wuhan, where wild and exotic animals were also sold. Experts see pangolins, bats and civets as possible vectors. According to experts, there is still the most solid evidence for this theory.

In the meantime, however, there are also indications that the virus could have been around for a longer time and may have a different place of origin than previously assumed. China itself refers to the discovery of the virus on frozen products of other countries and thus to a possible import of the pathogen. In Italy and France, the virus appeared as early as autumn 2019, as was only later discovered.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is tasked with researching the origin of the virus. A spokesman has already announced that it is very unlikely that the so-called patient zero will be found.

The coronavirus can cause severe breathing difficulties, fever, and pneumonia. The disease is called Covid-19: "Co" for Corona - "vi" for virus - "d" for disease - 19 for the year 2019 when the disease first appeared. However, there are various symptoms and clinical pictures, and other organs can also be damaged.

  • Why did the WHO classify the outbreak as a pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic is a worldwide Outbreak of a new disease. The WHO has classified the spread of the coronavirus as a pandemic since March 11. For this, the extent of the illnesses and the deaths worldwide were taken into account. The term pandemic says nothing about how contagious or deadly a disease is.

  • How dangerous is the coronavirus?

The risk of infection is rated as high, especially from infected people who do not (yet) show any symptoms. Older people with weaker immune systems are particularly at risk. The risk also increases with previous illnesses. According to the WHO, about 80 percent of all infections are mild, and about a fifth of all cases are severe.

  • Who belongs to the risk group?

The World Health Organization WHO and the German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) define risk patients as:

  • People over 50
  • Smoker
  • People with pre-existing cardiovascular diseases
  • Lung patients
  • Asthmatic
  • chronically ill liver
  • diabetic
  • Cancer patients
  • People with weakened immune systems

There is no evidence that pollen allergy sufferers are more at risk of infection. However, if your eyes are itchy particularly often due to an allergy, you should wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face.

  • What is the death rate?

The death rate cannot be determined at this time, as the number of people actually infected is still unknown.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of deaths in relation to the total number of confirmed infections, the so-called case-deceased proportion, was less than 0.1 percent in patients up to about 50 years of age in mid-November. It rises increasingly from the age of 50 and is often over 10 percent for people over 80 years of age. However, the value depends heavily on who is infected. By far the greatest number of deaths from Covid-19 in Germany were older than 80 years.

For other countries there are sometimes strongly varying data on mortality. They range from 0.3 percent to well into the double-digit range. For Europe, the ECDC put the number of casualties in November at 2.5 percent.

  • Does the blood group have an influence on the course of the disease in Covid-19?

In fact, several studies attest an influence of the blood group on the course of the disease. Joint research by the University of Kiel and the University Hospital Oslo, published in a preprint at the beginning of June, suggests that the blood type has an influence on whether sick people develop severe respiratory failure after being infected with Sars-Cov-2. Accordingly, people with blood group A apparently had a significantly higher risk of the disease progressing with respiratory failure than those with the other blood types. The lowest risk may therefore be borne by people with blood group 0. The findings of studies from China and New York are confirmed.