group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds

Coronavirus is a virus in the family Coronaviridae.[1][2] They are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense RNA genome.[3] They have a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry. The genome size of coronaviruses is about 26 to 32 kilobases,[4] which is extraordinarily large for an RNA virus. They infect various kinds of mammals. There are four major groups of coronaviruses, called alpha, beta, gamma and delta. The most famous coronavirus is one of the betas, the kind that causes Coronavirus disease 2019 in humans.

Coronaviruses 004 lores.jpg
Virus classification
Group IV ((+)ssRNA)
Type species

The name "coronavirus" comes from the Latin word corona, meaning "crown" or "halo", and refers to how virions look under an electron microscopy (E.M.).[5] They have a fringe of large, bulbous surface projections looking like a crown. This morphology is created by the viral spike (S) peplomers, which are proteins on the surface of the virus. They decide which cells the virus can infect.

Proteins that contribute to the structure of coronaviruses are the spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M) and nucleocapsid (N).

Coronaviruses often stick to the hands, and the virus is often caused by people touching their hands to their mouth. It gets in the trachea and makes its way down to the lungs, where it sticks to cells and tissues to replicate itself.


3D Animated virion of The SARS-CoV-2 virus strain

Coronaviruses infect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts of mammals and birds. Six different strains of coronaviruses infect humans. These include:

Coronaviruses are believed to cause many common colds in human adults. The significance and economic impact of coronaviruses is hard to assess. Unlike rhinoviruses (another common cold virus), human coronaviruses are easy to grow in the laboratory.

Related pagesEdit


  1. de Groot R.J. et al 2011. "Family Coronaviridae". In King A.M.Q. et al (eds) (eds.). Ninth Report of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. Elsevier, Oxford. pp. 806–828. ISBN 978-0-12-384684-6. Cite uses deprecated parameter |editors= (help)
  2. International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. "ICTV Master Species List 2009 – v10" (xls). Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  3. enveloped = has viral envelopes covering their protective protein capsids; positive sense = the RNA sequence may be directly translated into the desired viral proteins.
  4. One kilobase = 1000 base pairs
  5. virion = complete virus particle.