SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus

We want to help overcome the crisis with our top-level research. A significant part of our work is now focused on studying coronavirus.

Otmar D. Wiestler

We’re facing incredible challenges due to the COVID-19-pandemic, both as a society and as individuals. As Germany’s largest scientific organisation, Helmholtz is making key contributions to overcoming the coronavirus crisis through its top-level research.

Case numbers

Cases in Germany (Robert Koch Institute)

Cases in Europe (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)

Cases worldwide (Johns-Hopkins-University)

The Robert Koch Institute’s (RKI) and Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) figures differ. The JHU team of scientists uses a self-developed tool that accesses data from the World Health Organization (WHO), national authorities, local media and even organizations’ Twitter accounts on a daily basis and generates figures from it. This results in an extrapolation, whereas the RKI only includes figures officially reported by the German health authorities in its statistics.

Coronavirus and diseases

The Pulmonary Information Service (Helmholtz Zentrum München) has compiled information on the novel coronavirus and the lung disease caused by the virus.

The Cancer Information Service (German Cancer Research Center) is responding to questions regarding coronavirus and cancer (in German).

Definitions and clarification of terms

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are part of a large family of viruses that can lead to various respiratory illnesses. Several coronaviruses are known to cause common colds. The pathogens that caused SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002/2003 and causes MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), which can also lead to pneumonia, are coronaviruses as well. Coronaviruses can also infect various animals, in addition to humans.

What is SARS-CoV-2?

This is the abbreviation for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2. The pathogen that is causing the current pandemic was given this name in February 2020. Sars-CoV-2 is also frequently referred to as the novel coronavirus.

What is COVID-19?

Not everyone who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 will become ill. Those who show symptoms are suffering from COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). Typical symptoms include a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, as well as body aches and fatigue. However, symptoms vary widely from one person to the next.

Spread of the virus in the German states

Researchers at MDC have developed a new online tool that maps the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic in Germany as a whole as well as broken down by the individual federal states. The map and timeline showing the spread of coronavirus are freely available online.

Spread of the virus

Online learning resources at Helmholtz AI

The Helmholtz Artificial Intelligence Cooperation Unit has compiled a list of online learning opportunities for the home in English. The goal is to better understand the corona pandemic’s outbreak. The offer includes free online courses and open access publications.

Online courses for COVID-19


Animation video

SARS-CoV-2: What research is being done?

To the video

More articles