One of the greatest struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the fact that the entire world has to watch the normal scientific process happen in realtime. Scientists don't have the space to hypothesize, experiment, and discover new things before it all goes public. Everyone wants certainty; they want immediate answers. But that's not how science works.
This new feature from the UCSF Magazine offers the most comprehensive, detailed, and surprisingly accessible breakdown of the virus so far, including that whole process of discovery — what we knew when, why that led to certain conclusions that were correct, and so on.
In late January, when hospitals in the United States confirmed the presence of the novel coronavirus, health workers knew to watch for precisely three symptoms: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. But as the number of infections climbed, the symptom list began to grow. Some patients lost their sense of smell and taste. Some had nausea or diarrhea. Some had arrhythmias or even heart attacks. Some had damaged kidneys or livers. Some had headaches, blood clots, rashes, swelling, or strokes. Many had no symptoms at all.
By June, clinicians were swapping journal papers, news stories, and tweets describing more than three dozen ways that COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes, appears to manifest itself.
This includes a succinct explanation of how it works as a vascular (as opposed to respiratory) virus, and why that was such a jarring realization:
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The novel coronavirus, an RNA virus named SARS-CoV-2, has become notorious for its skill at breaking and entering human cells.