What diseases do you currently have

COVID-19: symptoms & course

In the majority of cases, COVID-19 disease takes a mild or moderate course. This means that the symptoms are rather mild and subside on their own without special treatment and without hospitalization.

Diseases with a severe or fatal course are also possible. There is an increased risk of this in particular for elderly and immunocompromised people as well as for people with previous illnesses. However, severe disease can also occur in young and healthy people without risk factors.

NoteThe proliferation of new virus variants (Worrying Variants, VOCs) has led to a sharp increase in serious illnesses that need to be treated in hospital or even in intensive care units. In addition, severe courses are now more common in young, otherwise healthy people than at the beginning of the pandemic. More on the topic: COVID-19: Transmission

It is currently difficult to estimate how high the individual risk of a severe disease course is. In the following groups of people, severe disease courses are observed more frequently:

  • elderly people; the risk increases steadily from the age of 50 to 60 years
  • male gender
  • advanced, chronic lung diseases that require permanent treatment,
  • chronic heart disease with consequential damage to organs (e.g. heart failure),
  • active cancers with associated treatment within the last six months or cancer in an advanced stage,
  • Diseases treated with immunosuppression (suppressing the immune system)
  • advanced chronic kidney disease,
  • chronic liver disease,
  • Obesity from grade III with a BMI> 40,
  • diabetes mellitus not properly adjusted as well
  • Chronic high blood pressure not properly adjusted.

Current information on the number of COVID sufferers who are treated in Austria in hospitals and intensive care units can be found on the AGES dashboard.

mortality

The information on mortality from the disease is sometimes very different. They vary between individual countries and differ particularly in different age groups.

  • Current studies currently assume an average infection fatality rate (IFR) of around 0.27 percent in most regions of the world.
  • However, the infectious mortality fluctuates widely - depending on age, gender, population density and the situation of the health system etc. of the respective population.
  • For those under 25, the IFR is almost 0 percent, for 25 to 50-year-olds it is less than 0.1 percent and for those over 65, depending on the risk factors, between one and ten percent, in exceptional cases even higher.
  • In certain risk groups (e.g. cancer patients, patients with advanced diseases), the mortality increases significantly in some cases.

In the western industrialized countries, around one percent of the population dies every year from causes other than COVID-19 (total mortality of the population). If there is a strong spread of COVID-19 infections in the population, this can lead to a significant increase in overall mortality per year, according to experts.

According to Statistics Austria, there were around nine percent more deaths in Austria in 2020 than in the previous year. Every 14th death (around 7 percent) in 2020 can be traced back to COVID-19. 97 percent of those who died from or with COVID-19 were older than 60 years. More information on the topic: Statistics Austria

You can find more information on mortality from COVID-19 here.

NoteComparisons with death rates from other diseases (e.g. influenza) are very difficult. Various factors play a role (e.g. different types of data collection and evaluation, number of tests carried out, groups of people tested, etc.).

The latest information on the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide and the number of deaths worldwide can be found on the WHO website.

Children, adolescents & pregnant women

According to the current state of knowledge, children and adolescents do not have an increased risk of a severe course of the disease. In most cases, COVID-19 is very mild or even symptom-free in childhood and adolescence. Affected children often only have a single symptom of the disease. Fever, cough and runny nose are among the most common complaints. Gastrointestinal involvement is more common than in adults.

Babies under one year of age as well as children and adolescents with certain chronic diseases, such as asthma, overweight, diabetes, etc. are excluded. In these cases, the risk of a severe course is increased - as is the case with adults with previous illnesses.

A dreaded complication that has been observed in children and adolescents in connection with COVID-19 infections is the so-calledPediatric Multisystem Inflammation Syndrome (PIMS): This leads to massive overreactions of the immune system, which can be associated with severe skin and mucous membrane symptoms, cardiac involvement and even shock (similar to the so-called Kawasaki syndrome, a vascular inflammation that can affect the arteries of various organs). Overall, the clinical picture is rare and usually occurs after a SARS-COV-2 infection, so that the PCR test can already be negative.

Even pregnant women do not seem to have an increased risk of a severe course compared to non-pregnant women.

Long term consequences & immunity

About eventualLong-term consequences It is not yet possible to make a reliable statement about a past COVID-19 illness. However, it is increasingly observed that those affected can still show symptoms weeks and months after the infection ("Long Covid") and that these symptoms last significantly longer than with classic bacterial pneumonia. This applies in particular to the following complaints:

  • Feeling weak,
  • Signs of fatigue,
  • Breathlessness,
  • Voice changes,
  • Anxiety and depression,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • Memory disorders and
  • Hair loss.

In addition, there is increasing evidence that SARS-CoV-2 viruses also damage the brain and nerve cells directly and can cause meningitis or encephalitis, for example. Severe encephalopathies (diseases or damage that affect the brain as a whole) or autoimmune diseases of the brain and nerves can also be a possible long-term consequence of the infection.

Complications from treatments (e.g. long-term ventilation) are also possible.

In very rare cases, a COVID-19 disease can occur again after a previous infection. The infection usually leads to the formation of special antibodies that are directed against components of the virus (immunity). These antibodies are detectable from about the second week after the onset of symptoms, but not in all patients. It has not been sufficiently clarified whether or for how long these antibodies can offer adequate protection against re-infection. It is currently assumed that there is only a very low risk of repeated infection, at least for a certain period of time. More on the topic: COVID-19: Transmission