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Covid-19: a puzzle with many missing pieces

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 19 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m627

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Linked Research

Clinical findings in a group of patients infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov-2)

  1. Pauline Vetter, physician12,
  2. Isabella Eckerle, professor13,
  3. Laurent Kaiser, professor123
  1. 1Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, Geneva University Hospitals, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland
  2. 2Division of Infectious Diseases, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland
  3. 3University of Geneva, Faculty of Medicine, 1205 Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to: P Vetter pauline.vetter{at}

Better information on epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatments are urgent priorities

By 15 February 2020, 51 800 cases of the novel coronavirus disease (formerly known as 2019-nCoV and renamed covid-19), including more than 1600 deaths, had been confirmed in China, mainly in Hubei province. A further 526 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported across 25 other countries.1 As is usual in the early phase of a disease outbreak, the alarm was raised as a result of the most severe cases, and the first reports describe severe pneumonia in patients admitted to hospital.2

In a linked paper, Xu and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.m606) report a case series of 62 patients (median age 41 years) admitted to hospital in the Zhejiang province with laboratory confirmed infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for covid-19.3 All the patients presented with respiratory symptoms, fever or flu-like illness, or both, and all had travelled to Wuhan or been in contact with a patient with confirmed covid-19 while staying in Wuhan. All but one had radiologically confirmed pneumonia, but only one patient was subsequently admitted to an intensive care unit and none has died, similar to other reports describing less severe …

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