Short description

SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus belonging to the coronavirus family, which according to current knowledge (as of April 2020), was zoonotically transmitted to humans – just like the first SARS epidemic in 2002/2003. SARS-CoV-2 can trigger the respiratory tract disease called COVID-19.


Detailed description

In December 2019, following an accumulation of respiratory diseases with an unclear cause, a novel coronavirus was identified in China (province of Hubei), initially named 2019-nCoV. Genome analyses showed a close relationship with the SARS virus discovered in 2002. Since February 2020, the virus is therefore called SARS-CoV-2 (= Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2). The disease caused by the virus is called COVID-19 (= Coronavirus Disease 19). To replicate, spike proteins of the virus bind to receptors on the host cell surface (ACE2). SARS-CoV-2 also requires the body's own protease TMPRSS2 to enter human host cells. The new coronavirus is mainly transmitted by droplet infection and can enter the body via the respiratory tract, eyes, mouth and nose. Even people without symptoms or with a mild course of the disease can transmit the virus. Vaccines and antiviral drugs against COVID-19 are under development - also at DZIF.

You can find up-to-date information and behaviour rules concerning COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 here:

Word Health Organization (WHO)

European Centre for Desease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

German Federal Government