This page provides general information about coronavirus and COVID-19 and expertise from Michigan Public Health researchers.



What Goes into Developing a Coronavirus Vaccine

Wooden trail in a lush green forest.Latest coverage on coronavirus from Michigan Public Health

In recent days, theories about drugs that will supposedly help treat coronavirus have floated around the media. So-called treatments being debunked, lauded, and may even be putting people at risk. As the public holds out hope for a quick treatment, people are questioning - when are we going to have a vaccine for this disease? Epidemiologist, Emily Martin explains the process of creating a usable vaccine for coronavirus and why looking at the flu vaccine isn’t going to give us a head start.

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What is the coronavirus and how did this outbreak begin?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. The disease caused by a novel coronavirus discovered last year is called COVID-19. The current outbreak started when an unknown animal transmitted the virus to a human in what is known as a spillover event. 

The virus is now transmitting between humans. Experts think it is primarily transmitted person-to-person through close contact (within 6 feet). This person-to-person transmission occurs when an infected person produces respiratory droplets and a nearby person is exposed to them. It may also be transmitted through indirect transmission, where the virus is deposited on a surface, and someone touches the surface and then their mouth, nose, or eyes.

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LISTEN: Population Healthy Podcast - Coronavirus: How We Got Here

Listen to "Special Edition: Coronavirus: How We Got Here 3.20.2020" on Spreaker.


What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have experienced a range of symptoms from mild to no symptoms to severe illness and death. A majority of adults who become ill will develop influenza-like symptoms, including fever and cough. However, some individuals will go on to develop pneumonia and breathing difficulties. In the most severe cases, the illness can be fatal. 

Symptoms may appear between two to 14 days after exposure. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, the CDC recommends calling your healthcare provider for medical advice.

What should you do if you think you may have COVID-19?

If you think you may have COVID-19 or have tested positive, stay at home except to get medical care. Stay in touch with your doctor. People with mild symptoms are able to recover at home. 

If you live with others in your home, separate yourself in a separate room and bathroom, if possible, to limit contact with others.

How is it treated?

Currently the treatment for COVID-19 is supportive care, which may include supplemental oxygen, fluids, and medications standardly used to treat pneumonia. Experts are currently investigating several antivirals for use in treating COVID-19.

Is there a vaccine under development for the coronavirus?

Experts at the National Institutes of Health and other organizations have begun work to develop a vaccine for this new strain of coronavirus. Scientists are just getting started on this work, but their vaccine development strategy will benefit both from work that has been done on closely related viruses, such as SARS and MERS, as well as advances made in vaccine technologies, such as nucleic acid vaccines—DNA- and RNA-based vaccines that produce the vaccine antigen in your own body.

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LISTEN: Population Healthy Podcast - What Goes into Developing a Coronavirus Vaccine

Listen to "What Goes into Developing a Coronavirus Vaccine 3.24.20" on Spreaker.


What is social distancing and how can it help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Social distancing is the practice of creating physical distance between people in order to prevent the spread of disease. Examples of social distancing include working from home, avoiding mass gatherings, and connecting with friends and family virtually. 



Explaining the Spread of Coronavirus with an Iceberg Analogy

The transmission of coronavirus is like an iceberg: what you can't see can hurt you. Many people infected with the disease show few or no symptoms, but as carriers, they can still infect others. This short video from the University of Michigan School of Public Health helps explain why "stay at home" and "social distancing" directives are imperative to stop the spread of coronavirus.


How Coronavirus Infections Show Up (or Don't) in a Population

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to who is infected with coronavirus and who is capable of transmitting it. Testing in China tells us that many more people exhibit mild or no symptoms than those who show symptoms. Learn more about the "continuum of infection in a population" in this short video, narrated by Dr. Sharon Kardia, professor of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.


What can you do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases?

The CDC recommends these steps to prevent illness:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.
  • Consider alternatives to shaking hands.
  • Unless you are sick with a cough, sneezing, and fever, it is not advised to wear a mask.

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Content and Q&A with Michigan Public Health Experts






Michigan Public Health: Coronavirus Updates, March 18, 2020

Experts from the University of Michigan School of Public Health compiled this presentation on the novel coronavirus pandemic for University of Michigan leadership and administration and distributed it on March 18, 2020. In an effort to broaden the understanding of the pandemic, it is also being made available for public consumption. Please note that this presentation is not intended to provide ongoing updates of this dynamic situation, but to serve as foundational knowledge from Michigan Public Health's faculty experts on a broad range of topics related to coronavirus.



Dean F. DuBois Bowman on the Changing Landscape of COVID-19

Michigan Public Health experts led by Dean F. DuBois Bowman recently discussed the coronavirus epidemic with University of Michigan leadership, including President Schlissel. Their presentation covered everything from flattening the curve to mental health support during social isolation and is now available online for our community and the public.







The University of Michigan is maintaining a full list of faculty experts who are available to respond to media inquiries.

To speak with one of our experts, contact Nardy Baeza Bickel at 616-550-4531 or



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