Coronaviruses are common viruses that will affect most people at some point in their lives. Human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold.

Coronaviruses are named for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are four main sub-groupings of coronaviruses, known as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.

Most people will be infected with one or more of the common human coronaviruses over their lifetime. Young children are most likely to get infected. However, people can have multiple infections over their lifetime.

The ways that common human coronaviruses spread have not been studied very extensively. However, it is likely that human coronaviruses spread from an infected person to others through – the air by coughing and sneezing, and through close personal contact, such as by touching or shaking hands.

These viruses may also spread by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.