“What are the most common symptoms of COVID-19?”
Symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to that of a common cold or flu, such as fever, chills, cough, body aches, loss of smell or taste, headache, fatigue, weakness, and gastrointestinal symptoms (such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.) If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s recommended you get tested for the virus. (You can find a local testing centre by clicking here.) In severe cases it is also possible to develop shortness of breath or have trouble breathing. If this happens to you, you should seek immediate medical attention by calling 911.

“How contagious is COVID-19?”
COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that is spread through respiratory droplets (or aerosols) that release when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, or talks. You can become infected with the virus through having close contact with an infected individual, or by touching a contaminated surface and then by touching your face (such as your mouth, nose, or eyes.) The main way the virus spreads is through inhalation of these particles, which get into the airways and cause infection. There is also evidence to suggest that airborne particles can remain suspended in the air for extended periods of time, as well as travel certain distances, therefore increasing the risk of transmission of the virus.

“How can I prevent myself from getting the virus?”
One of the most important things you can do to prevent yourself from spreading the virus as well as prevent passing it on to others is to continue to utilize all the layers of protection that we know work – including washing your hands with soap and water regularly (or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water isn’t immediately available), keeping at least six feet apart from others when out in public, wearing a face mask, and staying home if you’re sick. Individuals who are over the age of 60 or those who have certain underlying health conditions, such as a respiratory disease (i.e., asthma, COPD), heart disease or diabetes, are at much higher risk of contracting COVID-19. If you are someone who happens to fall into the high-risk category, then you need to take extra precautions to protect yourself – even if all layers of protection are already in place and being carefully followed, as these measures do not come with a 100% guarantee that you won’t contract the virus. The extra precautions that high-risk individuals should be taking include things like working from home, ordering groceries and other necessities online, and simply staying home as much as possible.

“What does it mean to be “asymptomatic”?”
The term asymptomatic refers to someone who is infected with COVID-19 but does not develop any symptoms. While the virus is considered to be most contagious when someone does have symptoms, it’s still possible to transmit the virus to others without developing any symptoms at all and without knowing you actually have it – which, again, is why things like hand washing, mask wearing, and physical distancing are so important.

“How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?”
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use what’s known as messenger RNA – or mRNA – which mimics the S protein (also referred to as the “spike”) that causes the infection, which then results in the body’s immune response. When it comes to these particular vaccines, you will need to receive two injections. In order to achieve a strong immune response to help prevent the virus, the World Health Organization recommends receiving your booster shot 21 to 28 days after the first. However, given the slow rollout and delays of the vaccine in some areas, the World Health Organization says the second dose of the vaccine can be scheduled for administration up 6 weeks after receiving the first dose.

“How long does immunity last after receiving the vaccine?”
Because the COVID-19 vaccines are so new, it’s not yet known how long immunity from them lasts. This is, of course, something that researchers are following carefully. That being said, studies have shown the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be 94.1% to 95% effective.