Photograph of a group of cows

What does it mean?

A quick guide to some of the terms used in our medicine pages

Coronaviruses get their name from the shape of the virus, when viewed through a microscope, that has a ring that looks like a crown (Corona from the Latin word for crown)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).  COVID-19 is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, D’ for disease, 19 for 2019.

Pandemic – Describes when a disease is widespread over a whole country or the world

Epidemic – lots of cases of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time

Clinical trial – A clinical trial compares the effects of one treatment with another. It may involve patients, healthy people, or both. Clinical trials help doctors understand how to treat a particular illness.

Vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases.

Antibodies – By receiving a very small dose of an illness the human body creates antibodies – Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood – which then prevent the person getting a more severe version of the illness.

Inoculation – This is the means of receiving a vaccine which is often in the form of an injection

Protection – Since vaccines were introduced in the UK, diseases like smallpox, polio and tetanus, that used to kill or disable millions of people, are either gone or seen very rarely.

Bacteria are about 100 times bigger than viruses and are classed as a living organism which can reproduce without a host cell.

Viruses are not a living cell, they are a strand of genetic information (DNA or RNA) inside a protein coat. They can only reproduce inside a living cell. Common viruses are flu (influenza) or chicken pox.

Antibiotics can be used to fight bacteria but do not work on viruses.

Did you know?

The word vaccine comes from the name for the cowpox virus, ‘vaccinia’ which was the source of the smallpox vaccine

Relative size:

If coronavirus was the size of a football, then a human being would be as tall as the planet earth!



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