Skip to main content
Read about

COVID-19 vs Other Coronaviruses

Learn why COVID-19 is so dangerous—and what makes it different from other coronaviruses.
A COVID-19 virus and another coronavirus.
Table of Contents
Tooltip Icon.
Last updated August 29, 2022

Try our free symptom checker

Get a thorough self-assessment before your visit to the doctor.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that have been infecting humans for a very long time. They are named after the crown or the "corona" of spikes that is seen when the virus is looked at under a microscope.

Coronaviruses are quite common. And the various strains cause similar symptoms in humans, like cough, fever, headache, sore throat. They also spread easily from person to person.

What varies from strain to strain is their severity. One strain may cause a mild cold. While other strains—like COVID-19, SARS, AND MERS—can cause severe symptoms for certain people. This is especially true for people over age 65, or those with a weakened immune system or chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, which means it was first in animals and then was transmitted to humans. SARS AND MERS also evolved from animals and then infected humans.

Scientists are trying to understand why COVID-19 is so dangerous. What they do know is that it can cause life-threatening complications like severe pneumonia and organ failure. So the risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher than it is for other more mild coronavirus strains.

COVID-19 is particularly difficult to control because most people have either mild or even no symptoms. And it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. This is why self-isolation for two weeks is key. If too many people get sick at the same time, it will overwhelm our healthcare workers and hospitals. Slowing down the spread of COVID-19 is the most effective way to try to save lives.

The scientific understanding of COVID-19 as well as guidelines for its prevention and treatment are constantly changing. There may be new information since this article was published. It’s important to check with sources like the CDC for the most up-to-date information.

Share your story
Once your story receives approval from our editors, it will exist on Buoy as a helpful resource for others who may experience something similar.
The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.

Was this article helpful?

Tooltip Icon.
Read this next
Slide 1 of 13