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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

What is COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. 

The name is derived from the word Latin "corona", which translates as crown or wreath, and refers to the appearance of the virus as seen through electron microscopy. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world and in humans typically cause respiratory tract infections like the common cold.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China and is thought to have jumped the species barrier from animal to human. Currently, the source of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus (CoV) causing COVID-19 has not yet been identified. Evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has an animal origin and may have been transferred through another animal intermediary host. 

Cambridge Infectious Diseases is an interdisciplinary research centre comprising a community of researchers, academics and practitioners working in the field of infectious diseases. The expertise, knowledge and experience of this community, overlapping and joining up with our sister networks, Immunology and Cardiovascular, are playing a hugely valuable role in the nationwide COVID-19 response. 


Useful links

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit - Nowcasting and Forecasting of COVID-19

UKRI Coronavirus: the science explained

COVID-19 Map - Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre

GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in the UK

Institute of Development Studies K4D COVID-19 Resource Hub

Cambridge Africa Covid-19

Cambridge Global Challenges: Cambridge's response to COVID-19 in ODA-target countries


Covid-19 Webinars, Podcasts, Blogs

Combatting Covid-19: How Cambridge is tackling a global pandemic (a weekly webinar brought to you by Cambridge Infectious Diseases)

Science, Policy and Pandemics weekly podcast (a partnership between Cambridge University's Centre for Science and Policy (CSap), Infectious Diseases and Immunology)

Cambridge Fighting COVID-19 (A weekly webinar by Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology & Infectious Disease (CITIID))

The Naked Scientists: Covid-19

Covid-19: Resources to Make Sense of the Numbers (Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication)


How to help?

The University has set up a dedicated web page to coordinate all offers of help to tackle COVID-19 through research collaborations, by donating equipment or funding research (details here)

Cambridge University Library appeals for help in building a collaborative history of the coronavirus outbreak: Collecting COVID-19

More information

There is a vast amount of information available on COVID-19 and the huge media attention it is receiving can often be both overwhelming and confusing. To help navigate your way through this mass of communication, the list below will take you to the web pages of various media outlets which have consolidated COVID-19 news:

BBC News 

World Health Organization 

Science Media Centre

The Conservation

The Guardian

The Telegraph


Wiley Online Library