Medwave 2021;21(5):e8206 doi: 10.5867/medwave.2021.05.8206

Characteristics of the coronavirus disease 2019: A review of emerging literature

Rocío Fuentes-Aspe, Sayén Huaiquilaf-Jorquera, María-José Oliveros, Álvaro Soto


The 2019 coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID-19) spread rapidly around the world. The extent and ultimate effect are still unclear, as it is an ongoing and constantly evolving pandemic.

To compile the literature and synthesize in Spanish-Latin American language the available international information describing the etiological, pathophysiological, epidemiological and management aspects of COVID-19.

Narrative review, using specific sections created in the databases. The criteria for selecting studies depended on the specific area addressed: etiological, pathophysiological, epidemiological aspects, treatment alternatives, etc. References in Spanish and English were included.

The World Health Organization reports that COVID-19 is a disease of zoonotic origin that was transmitted to a human host. The first cases were identified in late 2019 and January 2020, in Wuhan city, China. It was categorized as highly contagious and transmissible between humans, which is attributed to the structural features of this novel coronavirus. The clinical presentation is variable and nonspecific, as well as its severity. With a clear tropism for the respiratory system, the most severe cases may develop pneumonia, respiratory failure, multiorgan failure and thus death. It occurs in all age groups, with a lower percentage in children under 19 years of age (2.4%). Mortality varies between countries and regions (between 1.5 to 9.3% over the total of reported cases). Associated risk factors are the presence of comorbidities, advanced age, and immunosuppression.

To date there have been thousands of scientific articles that attempt to explain the onset, progression, possible treatment options and global impact of the disease. There is still no certainty about the level or quality of this evidence. It is essential to generate documents synthesized and translated into Spanish or other languages that can bring this information to all the places and countries that are being impacted by this disease.


No English version is available for this article.

  1. Epistemonikos. Methods and report. Living overview of the evidence COVID-19. L·OVE; 2021. [On line]. | Link |
  2. Organización Mundial de la Salud. COVID-19 : cronología de la actuación de la OMS. Ginebra: OMS; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  3. World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus (‎2019-nCoV)‎: situation report, 10. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  4. World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus (‎2019-nCoV)‎: situation report, 1. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  5. World Health Organization. Coronavirus. Health topics. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  6. Paules CI, Marston HD, Fauci AS. Coronavirus Infections-More Than Just the Common Cold. JAMA. 2020 Feb 25;323(8):707-708. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  7. Coronaviridae Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus: classifying 2019-nCoV and naming it SARS-CoV-2. Nat Microbiol. 2020 Apr;5(4):536-544. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  8. World Health Organization. Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it. Geneva: WHO; 2021. [On line]. | Link |
  9. World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus (‎2019-nCoV)‎: situation report, 11. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  10. World Health Organization. Novel Coronavirus (‎2019-nCoV)‎: situation report, 51. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  11. Beeching NJ, Fletcher TE, Fowler R. BMJ Best Practice Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). BMJ; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  12. Park M, Cook AR, Lim JT, Sun Y, Dickens BL. A Systematic Review of COVID-19 Epidemiology Based on Current Evidence. J Clin Med. 2020 Mar 31;9(4):967. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  13. Lu R, Zhao X, Li J, Niu P, Yang B, Wu H, et al. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet. 2020 Feb 22;395(10224):565-574. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  14. Lauer SA, Grantz KH, Bi Q, Jones FK, Zheng Q, Meredith HR, et al. The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application. Ann Intern Med. 2020 May 5;172(9):577-582. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  15. World Health Organization. COVID-19 Strategy Up Date. Geneva: WHO; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  16. Jin Y, Yang H, Ji W, Wu W, Chen S, Zhang W, et al. Virology, Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, and Control of COVID-19. Viruses. 2020 Mar 27;12(4):372. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  17. Chen Y, Guo Y, Pan Y, Zhao ZJ. Structure analysis of the receptor binding of 2019-nCoV. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2020 Feb 17;525(1):135–40. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  18. Walls AC, Park YJ, Tortorici MA, Wall A, McGuire AT, Veesler D. Structure, Function, and Antigenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein. Cell. 2020 Apr 16;181(2):281-292.e6. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  19. Wu F, Zhao S, Yu B, Chen YM, Wang W, Song ZG, et al. Author Correction: A new coronavirus associated with human respiratory disease in China. Nature. 2020 Apr;580(7803):E7. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  20. Malik YA. Properties of Coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2. Malays J Pathol. 2020 Apr;42(1):3-11. | PubMed |
  21. Park SE. Epidemiology, virology, and clinical features of severe acute respiratory syndrome -coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2; Coronavirus Disease-19). Clin Exp Pediatr. 2020 Apr;63(4):119-124. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  22. Ye Q, Wang B, Mao J. The pathogenesis and treatment of the 'Cytokine Storm' in COVID-19. J Infect. 2020 Jun;80(6):607-613. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  23. Xu Z, Shi L, Wang Y, Zhang J, Huang L, Zhang C, et al. Pathological findings of COVID-19 associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Lancet Respir Med. 2020 Apr;8(4):420-422. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  24. Guan WJ, Ni ZY, Hu Y, Liang WH, Ou CQ, He JX, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 30;382(18):1708-1720. | CrossRef | PubMed |
  25. Ministerio de Salud de Chile. Informe Epidemiológico N° 75 Enfermedad por SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Chile: MINSAL; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  26. World Health Organization. Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). WHO-China; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  27. Phua J, Weng L, Ling L, Egi M, Lim C, Divatia JV, et al. Review Intensive care management of coronavirus disease 2019 ( COVID-19 ): challenges and recommendations. Lancet Respir. 2020;8(5):506–17. | CrossRef |
  28. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists . Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19-Related Treatments: Updated 05/27/2021. ASHP 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  29. National Institute of Health. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Treatment Guidelines. NIH; 2020. [On line]. | Link |
  30. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine . COVID-19 Data in Motion. 2021. [On line]. | Link |
  31. Ministerio de Salud de Chile. Cifras Oficiales COVID-19. Informes. Chile: MINSAL; 2021. [On line]. | Link |
  32. Ministerio de Salud de Chile. Informe Epidemiológico COVID-19. Chile: MINSAL; 2021. [On line]. | Link |


Licencia Creative Commons Esta obra de Medwave está bajo una licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 3.0 Unported. Esta licencia permite el uso, distribución y reproducción del artículo en cualquier medio, siempre y cuando se otorgue el crédito correspondiente al autor del artículo y al medio en que se publica, en este caso, Medwave.
Address: Villaseca 21, Of. 702, Ñuñoa, Santiago de Chile.
Phone: 56-2-22743013
ISSN 0717-6384