What is COVID 19?

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the recently discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by a new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China in 2019. Of people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 50% have no symptoms and another 30% have only mild symptoms of COVID-19. However, COVID-19 can also cause severe illness and even death, particularly in older adults who have underlying medical conditions called comorbidities. According to the US CDC, adults of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness and death from the virus that causes COVID-19:

According to the WHO, the following are symptoms of COVID-19:

  • loss of smell (anosmia)
  • loss of taste (ageusia)
  • red eyes
  • rash
  • fever (88%)
  • cough (68%)
  • fatigue (38%)
  • shortness of breath (19%)
  • muscle / joint pain (15%)
  • sore throat (14%)
  • headache (14%)
  • chills (11%)
  • nausea / vomiting (5%)
  • nasal congestion (5%)
  • diarrhea (4%)


COVID-19 mortality data accumulated during the past 12 months clearly indicate an age-related mortality risk which increases as the number of comorbidities increase. As of February 19, 2021, Health Canada reports a total of 21,234 deaths from COVID-19 (see Figure 1). Those Canadians aged 60 years and over represent 96.12% of all deaths (i.e., 20,410 of 21,234) whereas those under age 60 make up about 3.9% of all COVID-19 deaths (i.e., 824 of 21,234).

 Figure 1. Source: Health Canada Age and Gender Distribution of Deceased COVID-19 Cases across Canada as of February 19, 2021


COVID-19 deceased cases data from the Province of Alberta clearly indicates the high levels of comorbidities with deaths (see Figure 2). As of February 15, 2021, 72.1% of COVID-19 deceased cases in Alberta had 3 or more comorbidities, 14.1% had two comorbidities, 9.3% had one comorbidity and 4.5% had no known comorbidity.

Figure 2 (originally labeled as Figure 15 at source). Source: Alberta Public Health deceased cases data with comorbidities as of February 15, 2021.