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SARS CoV-2 Virus and COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Find the Information You Need to Make an Informed Vaccine Decision


SARS-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19

Most coronaviruses, including those causing the common cold, are not associated with significant mortality. The novel SARS-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) identified in 2019 causes a collection of symptoms that can cause severe illness, which has become known as COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is contagious1 and infected persons can be asymptomatic2 or exhibit symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms include fever; chills; cough; shortness of breath/difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle, joint or body aches; rash; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.3  

Complications of SARS-CoV-2 include pneumonia, acute respiratory failure, Acute, Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), acute kidney, liver, and heart injury, septic shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown), chronic fatigue syndrome, blood clots and death. Many complications may be caused by a condition known as a cytokine storm.4 Click to learn more about SARS-CoV-2 virus…

COVID-19 Vaccine

New ways to make vaccines including new technologies and production platforms, such as mRNA vaccines, have  become favored over the older traditional ways to make vaccines in the COVID-19 vaccine race.5 6 Nearly 300 different types of COVID-19 vaccines are being developed worldwide.7 Currently, three experimental COVID-19 vaccines have been granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution and use in the U.S.8 9 10 Several more experimental COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be given EUA status in 2021.11 12

U.S. Emergency Use Authorization does not mean that the FDA has evaluated all safety and efficacy data and officially approved licensure of the vaccine. Instead, the EUA status allows vaccine manufacturers to release an experimental vaccine for voluntary use and requires that vaccine recipients must “have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine.”13 NVIC encourages consumers to make informed vaccination decisions and to read the FDA fact sheet and other information and resources provided on our website. Click to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines…

Quick Facts


  • A few coronavirus strains can cause very severe respiratory disease with significant mortality, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that emerged in China in 2002-200314 and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.15 SARS-CoV-2, which was identified in China in late 201916 and declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020,17 18 has a much lower mortality rate than SARS or MERS.19
  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020 about 94 percent of COVID-19 related-deaths occurred in persons over age 65 and individuals with underlying poor health conditions.20 Among those the CDC consider to be at highest risk for severe COVID-19 disease are the immunocompromised and women who are pregnant, as well as individuals with chronic heart, lung or kidney disease; obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Down’s syndrome, sickle cell disease and thalassemia. There are other chronic health conditions that might increase risks for severe COVID-19 disease, including asthma, high blood pressure, dementia  and neurologic conditions, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and type 1 diabetes.21

Coronavirus Vaccine

  • In December 2020, two experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccines developed and produced by Pfizer with BioNTech and Moderna with NIAID were granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for distribution and use in the U.S.22 23 In February 2021, Janssen Biotech, Inc. of Johnson & Johnson, was granted an EUA by the FDA for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which uses a human advenovirus vector.24 25 26
  • As of July 17, 2021, health officials at the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH) have warned that, while there is evidence that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 disease, there is a lack of evidence that the vaccines are effective in preventing infection and transmission of SARS-Cov-2.27 28 29 The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine was also granted an EUA based on efficacy data that demonstrated evidence for protection against symptomatic COVID-19 disease rather than protection against infection and transmission of the new coronavirus.30 Click to read more COVID-19 Quick Facts…

Learn More About SARS-CoV-2 Virus and COVID-19 Vaccine

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about covid-19 and the covid-19 vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

« Return to Vaccines & Diseases Table of Contents

Updated July 22, 2021


1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How COVID-19 Spreads. In: COVID-19. May 13, 2021.

2 Rivett L, Sridhar S, Sparkes D, et al. Screening of healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 highlights the role of asymptomatic carriage in COVID-19 transmission. ELife 2020; 9:e58728.

3 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of COVID-19. In: COVID-19. Feb. 22, 2021.

4 WebMD. Complications Coronavirus Can Cause Aug. 19, 2020.

5 Tregoning JS, Brown ES, et al. Vaccines for COVID-19. Clin Exp Immunol. 2020 Nov;202(2):162-192.

6 Cohen J. Vaccine designers take first shots at COVID-19Science Magazine Apr. 3, 2020.

7 World Health Organization. COVID-19 vaccine tracker and landscape. July 13, 2021.

8 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. June 11, 2021.

9 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. July 7, 2021.

10 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine. Feb. 27, 2021.

11 Knapp A, Rosenbaum L. Here’s What You Need to Know About Astra Zeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine. Forbes Nov. 23 2020.

12 Robert-Guroff M. Replicating and non-replicating viral vectors for vaccine development. Curr Opin Biotechnol. December 2007;18(6):546-556.

13 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Emergency Use Authorization for Vaccines Explained. Nov. 20, 2020.

14 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions about SARS. In: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). May 3, 2005.

15 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About MERS. In: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Aug. 2, 2019.

16 Wu YC, Chen CS, Chan YS. The outbreak of COVID-19: An overview. J Chin Med Assoc March 2020; 83(3): 217-220.

17 Cucinotta D, Vanelli M. WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic. Acta Biomed March 2020; 91(1): 157-160.

18 Fisher BL. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: NVIC Special Report. National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) February-June 2020. 

19 Hewings-Maven Y. How do SARS and MERS compare with COVID-19? Medical News Today Apr. 10, 2020.

20 Garg S, Kim L, Whitaker M, et al. Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Patients Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–30, 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2020; 69(15): 458-464.

21 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with Certain Medical Conditions. In: COVID-19. May 13, 2021.

22 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. June 25, 2021.

23 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. July 7, 2021.

24 Levine H. The 5 Stages of COVID-19 Vaccine Development: What You Need to Know About How a Clinical Trial Works. Johnson & Johnson Sept. 23, 2020.

25 Weintraub A. J&J COVID-19 vaccine candidate protects monkeys after single dose. Fierce Biotech July 30, 2020.

26 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine. Press Release Feb. 27, 2021.

27 Sky News Australia. WHO doesn’t have evidence vaccines prevent people transmitting virus to others. You Tube Dec. 28, 2020.

28 Kim S. Dr. Fauci on Mandatory COVID Vaccines: ‘Everything Will Be on the Table. Newsweek Jan. 1, 2021.

29 Fisher BL. WHO and Fauci Warn COVID-19 Vaccines May not Prevent Infection and Disease Transmission. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 4, 2020.

30 Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Authorized by U.S. FDA for Emergency Use – First Single Shot Vaccine in Fight Against Global Pandemic. Feb. 27, 2021.

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