SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, affects those it infects in widely varied ways. Its symptoms of fever, coughing, and fatigue can be so mild that a person can go about their daily routine normally, or so severe that they develop into pneumonia, which is the path that is leading to the disease's fatalities. But it is the former group -- and those who are infected but show no symptoms at all -- that have allowed the disease to spread so widely. There have now been over 92,000 confirmed cases worldwide according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
A former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention hypothesizes that children, who are rarely being diagnosed with the illness -- perhaps because they don't exhibit as intense symptoms as adults -- may be the secret carriers of the disease, according to an article in The New York Post.
As Dr. Tom Frieden noted, doctors reported in the medical journal The Lancet on a family of six patients, five of whom had traveled to Wuhan, China. One of the family members was a 10-year-old who was asymptomatic, but who nonetheless tested positive for the coronavirus and had signs of an infection on a chest X-ray.
There aren't any approved treatments yet for COVID-9, but Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) is currently testing its Ebola virus drug remdesivir in a late-stage clinical trial. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) has developed mRNA-1273, a vaccine for the coronavirus, and plans to start a clinical trial next month. Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) also has a vaccine candidate, INO-4800, and intends to start a clinical trial in 30 healthy volunteers in the U.S. next month. Larger drugmakers, such as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), have also announced that they're working on vaccines and treatments for the disease.