COVID-19: what has been learned and to be learned about the novel coronavirus disease

Int J Biol Sci. 2020 Mar 15;16(10):1753-1766. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.45134. eCollection 2020.


The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has thus far killed over 3,000 people and infected over 80,000 in China and elsewhere in the world, resulting in catastrophe for humans. Similar to its homologous virus, SARS-CoV, which caused SARS in thousands of people in 2003, SARS-CoV-2 might also be transmitted from the bats and causes similar symptoms through a similar mechanism. However, COVID-19 has lower severity and mortality than SARS but is much more transmissive and affects more elderly individuals than youth and more men than women. In response to the rapidly increasing number of publications on the emerging disease, this article attempts to provide a timely and comprehensive review of the swiftly developing research subject. We will cover the basics about the epidemiology, etiology, virology, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prevention of the disease. Although many questions still require answers, we hope that this review helps in the understanding and eradication of the threatening disease.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; outbreak; pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Viral / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Infectious Disease Incubation Period
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Travel
  • Vaccination


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Cytokines

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 serotherapy