COVID-19 Glossary: Terms to Know

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Active infection test A method of determining whether or not a person currently has a virus that is entering cells and replicating (producing more copies of itself), and therefore may also be transmissible to others.

A method of determining whether or not a person currently has a virus that is entering cells and replicating (producing more copies of itself), and therefore may also be transmissible to others.

Antibody A protective immune system molecule generated in response to an infection that binds to the infectious invader, like a virus). Antibodies work as a search-and-tag function labeling something for destruction by other immune system cells. Antibodies are produced by B-cells and are part of what is referred to as the adaptive immune system, because they adapt to identify millions of possible infectious invaders.

A protective immune system molecule generated in response to an infection that binds to an infectious invader (like a virus). Antibodies work as a search-and-tag function labeling something for destruction by other immune system cells. Antibodies are produced by B-cells and are part of what is referred to as the adaptive immune system, because they adapt to identify millions of possible infectious invaders.

Antigen A term used to refer to the thing that creates an immune response. Antigens are usually foreign, or come in from outside the body, like bacteria or viruses. In the context of COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. testing, antigen refers to one of the parts of the virus that is identified, as opposed to a PCR test Polymerase chain reaction, a type of medical diagnostic that assesses whether or not the nucleic acid material from an infectious agent is present, indicating that the infectious agent has replicated in the individual who was tested, therefore providing a positive diagnosis for the disease caused by that agent. PCR works by cycling genetic material through temperature changes in the setting of enzymes (polymerases) and genetic building blocks, which cause chain reactions that build copies of genetic material. The PCR process makes many copies of the genetic material, a process called ‘amplification’ in order to ensure proper identification. which identifies the virus based on genetic material the virus leaves behind.

A term used to refer to the thing that creates an immune response. Antigens are usually foreign, or come in from outside the body, like bacteria or viruses. In the context of COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. testing, antigen refers to one of the parts of the virus that is identified, as opposed to a PCR test Polymerase chain reaction, a type of medical diagnostic that assesses whether or not the nucleic acid material from an infectious agent is present, indicating that the infectious agent has replicated in the individual who was tested, therefore providing a positive diagnosis for the disease caused by that agent. PCR works by cycling genetic material through temperature changes in the setting of enzymes (polymerases) and genetic building blocks, which cause chain reactions that build copies of genetic material. The PCR process makes many copies of the genetic material, a process called ‘amplification’ in order to ensure proper identification. which identifies the virus based on genetic material the virus leaves behind.

Accuracy This refers to how often a test gets the correct result, and not a false negative or false positive. Accuracy takes into account both sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity refers to a test’s ability to report a positive if in fact an infectious agent is present in the sample. Specificity refers to the ability to properly identify the infectious agent, and not classify it as something else.

This refers to how often a test gets the correct result, and not a false negative or false positive. Accuracy This refers to how often a test gets the correct result, and not a false negative or false positive. Accuracy takes into account both sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity refers to a test’s ability to report a positive if in fact an infectious agent is present in the sample. Specificity refers to the ability to properly identify the infectious agent, and not classify it as something else. takes into account both sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity refers to a test’s ability to report a positive if in fact an infectious agent is present in the sample. Specificity refers to the ability to properly identify the infectious agent, and not classify it as something else.

Asymptomatic This refers to the state of a person where a test has determined that the virus may be present, but the individual is currently not displaying common symptoms.

This refers to the state of a person where a test has determined that the virus may be present, but the individual is currently not displaying common symptoms.

Carrier A person who currently has a virus and may pass it on to others.

A person who currently has a virus and may pass it on to others.

CDC The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. Government agency responsible for monitoring, tracking, and responding to disease outbreaks in the U.S., including providing guidance for personal protection, disease awareness, and disease containment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. Government agency responsible for monitoring, tracking, and responding to disease outbreaks in the U.S., including providing guidance for personal protection, disease awareness, and disease containment.

Clinical trial A process by which a new drug, treatment, or vaccine is tested on groups of volunteers in order to ensure the safety, effectiveness, tolerability, and side effect profile of the product being tested.

A process by which a new drug, treatment, or vaccine is tested on groups of volunteers in order to ensure the safety, effectiveness, tolerability, and side effect profile of the product being tested.

Contact tracing A process to help stem the spread of an infectious disease outbreak whereby a person’s interactions are tracked so in case of an infection, others with whom they have been in contact can be warned and possibly stopped from spreading the infection further.

A process to help stem the spread of an infectious disease outbreak whereby a person’s interactions are tracked so in case of an infection, others with whom they have been in contact can be warned and possibly stopped from spreading the infection further.

Coronavirus

The name given to a type of virus that has distinctive structural features in the form of many spikes around a ball that gives the appearance of a crown which in Latin is ‘corona’.

COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus.

The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus.

COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. symptoms

The set of abnormal body indications of COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus, which include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Delta variant A version of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus that has evolved through the accumulation of mutations in the genetic code that builds the spike proteins in its viral surface. The Delta variant has evolved to particularly infectious and possibly have cause slightly different symptoms, with headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever being more common and cough and loss of smell being less common.

A version of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus that has evolved through the accumulation of mutations in the genetic code that builds the spike proteins in its viral surface. The Delta variant A version of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus that has evolved through the accumulation of mutations in the genetic code that builds the spike proteins in its viral surface. The Delta variant has evolved to particularly infectious and possibly have cause slightly different symptoms, with headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever being more common and cough and loss of smell being less common. has evolved to particularly infectious and possibly have cause slightly different symptoms, with headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever being more common and cough and loss of smell being less common.

Diagnosis A determination of an ailment or condition based on clinical observation and medical testing results.

A determination of an ailment or condition based on clinical observation and medical testing results.

Epidemiology The study of the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.

The study of the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.

FDA The Food and Drug Administration, a US government agency responsible for overseeing the quality and safety of food, medicines, vaccines, and over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer medical tests. Immunity: The state where a person’s immune system has generated a protective arsenal of cells and molecules (such as antibodies) that can immediately respond to the presence of an infectious agent and keep it from causing significant illness.

The Food and Drug Administration, a US government agency responsible for overseeing the quality and safety of food, medicines, vaccines, and over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer medical tests.

Immunity

The state where a person’s immune system has generated a protective arsenal of cells and molecules (such as antibodies) that can immediately respond to the presence of an infectious agent and keep it from causing significant illness.

Immunocompromised Refers to individuals who, due to other diseases and/or treatments for those diseases, have immune systems that function less effectively which puts them in danger of having a worse course of disease or possibly death if they come in contact with an infectious agent.

Refers to individuals who, due to other diseases and/or treatments for those diseases, have immune systems that function less effectively which puts them in danger of having a worse course of disease or possibly death if they come in contact with an infectious agent.

Incubation period Refers to the amount of time between when person comes in contact with an infectious agent, such as a virus, and when symptoms begin to appear.

Refers to the amount of time between when person comes in contact with an infectious agent, such as a virus, and when symptoms begin to appear.

Monoclonal antibody Refers to a type of treatment comprised of a millions of copies (clones) of a single (mono) antibody suspended in an injectable fluid, such as saline.

Refers to a type of treatment comprised of a millions of copies (clones) of a single (mono) antibody suspended in an injectable fluid, such as saline.

mRNA Messenger RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. , is a piece of single-stranded nucleic acid molecule that contains the instructions for making something, often a protein or an enzyme of some sort. As humans, our bodies produce thousands and thousands of mRNAs daily. In our cells, ribosomes are the typical recipients of mRNAs and understand how to read them and build a protein from them. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA vaccines contain the instructions for our ribosomes inside our cells to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus, thereby allowing the immune system to develop and response to that part of the virus.

Messenger RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. , is a piece of single-stranded nucleic acid molecule that contains the instructions for making something, often a protein or an enzyme of some sort. As humans, our bodies produce thousands and thousands of mRNAs daily. In our cells, ribosomes are the typical recipients of mRNAs and understand how to read them and build a protein from them. In the case of COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. vaccines, the mRNA Messenger RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. , is a piece of single-stranded nucleic acid molecule that contains the instructions for making something, often a protein or an enzyme of some sort. As humans, our bodies produce thousands and thousands of mRNAs daily. In our cells, ribosomes are the typical recipients of mRNAs and understand how to read them and build a protein from them. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA vaccines contain the instructions for our ribosomes inside our cells to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus, thereby allowing the immune system to develop and response to that part of the virus. vaccines contain the instructions for our ribosomes inside our cells to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus, thereby allowing the immune system to develop and response to that part of the virus.

NAAT Nucleic acid amplification test, refers to a testing methodology where pieces of genetic material, made from nucleic acids, are copied hundreds of times so as to be detectable and identifiable. PCR testing uses the NAAT methodology.

Nucleic acid amplification test, refers to a testing methodology where pieces of genetic material, made from nucleic acids, are copied hundreds of times so as to be detectable and identifiable. PCR testing uses the NAAT Nucleic acid amplification test, refers to a testing methodology where pieces of genetic material, made from nucleic acids, are copied hundreds of times so as to be detectable and identifiable. PCR testing uses the NAAT methodology. methodology.

Novel Coronavirus Refers to a new, not previously identified virus of the coronavirus family. Prior to the 2020 pandemic, there have been many previously identified coronaviruses capable of causing disease.

Refers to a new, not previously identified virus of the coronavirus family. Prior to the 2020 pandemic, there have been many previously identified coronaviruses capable of causing disease.

Pandemic A situation whereby disease spreads across several or many countries, infecting large numbers of people.

A situation whereby disease spreads across several or many countries, infecting large numbers of people.

Pathogen An infectious agent capable of causing disease, such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus.

An infectious agent capable of causing disease, such as a bacterium, virus, or fungus.

PCR test Polymerase chain reaction, a type of medical diagnostic that assesses whether or not the nucleic acid material from an infectious agent is present, indicating that the infectious agent has replicated in the individual who was tested, therefore providing a positive diagnosis for the disease caused by that agent. PCR works by cycling genetic material through temperature changes in the setting of enzymes (polymerases) and genetic building blocks, which cause chain reactions that build copies of genetic material. The PCR process makes many copies of the genetic material, a process called ‘amplification’ in order to ensure proper identification.

Polymerase chain reaction, a type of medical diagnostic that assesses whether or not the nucleic acid material from an infectious agent is present, indicating that the infectious agent has replicated in the individual who was tested, therefore providing a positive diagnosis for the disease caused by that agent. PCR works by cycling genetic material through temperature changes in the setting of enzymes (polymerases) and genetic building blocks, which cause chain reactions that build copies of genetic material. The PCR process makes many copies of the genetic material, a process called ‘amplification’ in order to ensure proper identification.

Rapid diagnostic test A point-of-care test that assesses a person’s disease status within a shortened period of time, such as 15-30 minutes, as opposed to reference tests that are sent away to a lab and may take 1-2 days to yield a result. Rapid diagnostic tests tend to not be as accurate as reference tests.

A point-of-care test that assesses a person’s disease status within a shortened period of time, such as 15-30 minutes, as opposed to reference tests that are sent away to a lab and may take 1-2 days to yield a result. Rapid diagnostic tests tend to not be as accurate as reference tests.

Remdesivir An FDA approved treatment for person’s diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19. It is an anti-viral therapeutic, designed to help the body fight off the viral infection.

An FDA The Food and Drug Administration, a US government agency responsible for overseeing the quality and safety of food, medicines, vaccines, and over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer medical tests. Immunity: The state where a person’s immune system has generated a protective arsenal of cells and molecules (such as antibodies) that can immediately respond to the presence of an infectious agent and keep it from causing significant illness. approved treatment for person’s diagnosed with and hospitalized for COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. . It is an anti-viral therapeutic, designed to help the body fight off the viral infection.

RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA.

Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. .

RT-PCR revers-transcription PCR, a form of diagnostic testing, useful particularly for assessing infections from viruses that carry RNA. Typically, PCR works on DNA, but many viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , carry RNA instead. The reverse transcription part of the process first converts the RNA back into DNA.

revers-transcription PCR, a form of diagnostic testing, useful particularly for assessing infections from viruses that carry RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. . Typically, PCR works on DNA, but many viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , carry RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. instead. The reverse transcription part of the process first converts the RNA Ribonucleic acid, a single-stranded form of genetic material. Humans produce RNA strands from our DNA, which are used as messengers to produce proteins and enzymes. Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , do not have DNA, but only RNA. back into DNA.

SARS

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a viral respiratory disease caused by a type of coronavirus that was identified at the end of 2013. This differs from, but is related to, SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , which is the virus that causes COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. , and was discovered and identified in 2019.

SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013.

Symptomatic Displaying characteristic signs of an infection. In the case of COVID-19 disease, common symptoms include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Displaying characteristic signs of an infection. In the case of COVID-19 The name of the particular disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. virus. disease, common symptoms include: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Test negative To be given a medical diagnostic result that indicates that an infection has not occurred.

To be given a medical diagnostic result that indicates that an infection has not occurred.

Test positive To be given a medical diagnostic result that indicates that an infection has occurred or is occurring.

To be given a medical diagnostic result that indicates that an infection has occurred or is occurring.

Variant Refers to a version of an infectious agent. In the case of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, mutation and evolution are common. Variants are versions of the virus where genetic changes, or mutations, have led to advantages in the viruses’ current environment that enable it to exist and proliferate alongside its parent version.

Refers to a version of an infectious agent. In the case of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, the name given to the virus that causes a respiratory illness similar to SARS that was identified in 2013. , mutation and evolution are common. Variants are versions of the virus where genetic changes, or mutations, have led to advantages in the viruses’ current environment that enable it to exist and proliferate alongside its parent version.

Zoonotic Disease that typically infects in animals but can also infect humans.

Disease that typically infects in animals but can also infect humans.

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