COVID-19, short for "Coronavirus Disease 2019," is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province, China, and has since spread globally, leading to a pandemic. COVID-19 is characterized by a range of symptoms that can vary from mild to severe, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, and in some cases, severe respiratory distress.

The virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or through contact with contaminated surfaces. It can result in a wide spectrum of outcomes, from mild or asymptomatic cases to severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, death, especially among older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have included public health measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, quarantine and isolation protocols, and the development and distribution of vaccines. Multiple vaccines have been developed and authorized for emergency use to help protect against COVID-19, and vaccination campaigns have been launched worldwide to reduce the impact of the pandemic. 

It's important to note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, and new strains have been discovered.

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