Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Image

Key Facts

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus. The most common symptoms are fever, chills, and sore throat, but there are a range of others.
  • Most people make a full recovery without needing hospital treatment. People with severe symptoms should seek medical care as soon as possible.
  • Over 760 million cases and 6.9 million deaths have been recorded worldwide since December 2019, but the actual number is thought to be higher.
  • Over 13 billion vaccine doses have been administered as of June 2023.


COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. It usually spreads between people in close contact.

COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against severe illness and death. Although a person can still get COVID-19 after vaccination, they are more likely to have mild or no symptoms.

Anyone can get sick with COVID-19 and become seriously ill or die, but most people will recover without treatment.

People over age 60 and those with existing medical conditions have a higher risk of getting seriously ill. These conditions include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, immunosuppression including HIV, cancer and pregnancy. Unvaccinated people also have a higher risk of severe symptoms.


People may experience different symptoms from COVID-19. Symptoms usually begin 5–6 days after exposure and last 1–14 days.

The most common symptoms are:

Less common symptoms are:

People with the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention:


Most people will recover without needing treatment in a hospital.

For those who need it, doctors will suggest treatments for COVID-19 based on the severity of the disease and the risk of it getting worse. They will consider the person’s age and if they have other health problems.


People should get vaccinated as soon as it’s their turn. They should follow local guidance on vaccination and ways to protect themselves against COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines provide strong protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Vaccination against COVID-19 is based on priority groups such as people aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic health problems, immunosuppression (including HIV), obesity, cancer, pregnant persons, and unvaccinated people. In March 2023, WHO updated its recommendations on primary series vaccination (two doses of any vaccine) as well as the need for booster doses. These recommendations are time-limited and can change at any time depending on how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is circulating in your area or country. It is important to stay up to date with local guidelines and recommendations provided by your local health authority.

Since its introduction, COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives across the world by providing protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Even though vaccines protect against severe disease and death, it is still possible to spread SARS-CoV-2 to others after being vaccinated.