Our Research | COVID-19 Team

COVID- 19 (SARS-CoV-2)


Coronavirus disease 2019, better known as COVID-19, is a contagious respiratory illness that was first identified in Wuhan, China in 2019.  The illness is caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).  The virus can be spread from person to person and causes a variety of symptoms, which can appear 2-14 days after exposure.  It is responsible for the current global pandemic with more than 77 million cases reported globally and more than 1.7 million deaths.

COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets that are released when an infected person coughs, talks or sneezes.  The infected droplets can then been inhaled into the lungs of uninfected people nearby.  Common symptoms experienced by people infected with COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, difficulty breathing, headache, nasal congestion, muscle or body aches, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea, however some people who are infected with COVID-19 do not develop any symptoms.

Some populations have been identified as higher risk groups for COVID-19 infection.  They include older adults, African Americans, Latinx and those who have underlying medical conditions like heart disease, cancer or obesity.  People who fall into higher risk groups may experience more severe symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 infections.


Several investigational vaccine candidates have moved into Phase 3 clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in large numbers.  People who are at higher risk of infections and bad outcomes from infections have been prioritized in these trials.  In order for the best vaccine candidates to be licensed for COVID-19 as quickly as possible, Operation WARP Speed was implemented in 2020 to allow some steps in the vaccine development process to overlap without cutting corners on safety guidelines.

The CIR is a clinical study site for the the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Phase 3 vaccine research study, the Astra Zeneca Phase 3 vaccine research study and the SARS-CoV-2 Epidemiology and Response in Children (SEARCh).


To date, three COVID-19 vaccines (manufactured by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen) have received vaccine rollout and are slated to become available to all Marylanders 16 an older April 27, 2021.

Until the vaccines become more widely available, the public is still being encouraged to use the universally accepted prevention methods including good hand hygiene, wearing personal protective equipment, frequent cleaning and disinfection of devices and surfaces and social distancing.


CDC COVID-19 Information

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