Corona viruses: reaching far beyond the common cold|
Coerdt, Kathleen M & Khachemoune, Amor
Background: Human coronaviruses (HCoVs) are one of the most common causes of the “common cold”. Some HCoV
strains, however, can cause fatal respiratory disease. Some examples of these diseases are severe acute respiratory syndrome
(SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19). This article will review the
etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, and management of HCoVs.
Methods: A systematic literature review was performed using the terms “human coronaviruses”, “MERS-CoV”, “SARSCoV”,
“SARS-CoV2”, “COVID-19”, and “common cold” in OVID MEDLINE, PubMed, and Cochrane Library.
Findings: Most HCoVs cause mild upper respiratory infections which resolve with supportive care and no sequelae. In recent
decades, however, there have been outbreaks of novel HCoVs that cause more severe disease. This is largely due to HCoVs
having large genomes which undergo frequent recombination events, leading to the emergence of novel and more virulent
strains of the virus. These severe respiratory illnesses can lead to acute respiratory distress requiring invasive intervention, such
as mechanical ventilation. These severe infections can lead to long-lasting sequelae in patients. Scientists continue to investigate
potential treatments for these viruses, though supportive care remains the gold standard. Scientists have succeeded in developing
numerous vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and ongoing data collection and analysis will shed even more light on the
next steps in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conclusion: Due to the frequency of recombination events and the subsequent emergence of novel strains, HCoVs are becoming
more prevalent, making them a global health concern as they can lead to epidemics and pandemics. Understanding the
epidemiology, etiology, clinical features, diagnosis, and management of HCoVs is important, especially during this worldwide
Coronavirus; common cold; severe respiratory disease; COVID-19.