SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is a coronavirus, which is included in the line of betacoronaviruses. It is an enveloped RNA virus, which was identified as the cause of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 19) in early 2020. The virus has now formed numerous variants (mutations).

The infectious disease COVID-19 that is caused by SARS-CoV-2 is expressed as a respiratory disease, which involves symptoms such as coughing, a cold and fever, as well as impairment of the senses of smell and taste. In the event of severe disease progression, shortness of breath and pneumonia occur, which may result in fatal respiratory failure.

The risk of severe disease progression increases with age. People with pre-existing conditions are also particularly at risk.

SARS-CoV-2 is spread worldwide. The specific route of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans is not yet clear.

Relevance of pathogen in transmission in endoscopy

  • Gastroenterology: Low

  • Pulmonology: Low

  • Ear, nose, and throat: Low

  • Urology: Not relevant

Relevance for endoscope surveillance

  • Low or moderate concern organism

Transmission route

The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs primarily via droplets/aerosols. In this case, particles containing the virus created when breathing, coughing, talking, singing and sneezing are absorbed by another person via respiration.

Transmission via direct contact with contaminated hands and contaminated surfaces can also not be ruled out, but based on current knowledge this might be less significant.

Also read the article on the reprocessing of endoscopes that have been used on COVID-19 patients: No evidence of SARS-CoV-2 on endoscopes.

Sources and further readings

  1. Boškoski I et al. Endoscopes used in positive and critically ill patients are SARS-CoV-2 negative at virological assessment, Gut 2021;0:1–3.

  2. Epidemiologischer Steckbrief zu SARS-CoV-2 und COVID-19, Robert Koch-Institut, Stand: 14.7.2021, Accessed on 08.11.2021.

  3. Hu B et al. Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, Nat Rev Microbiol. 2021 Mar;19(3):141–154.

  4. Kampf G et al. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents, J Hosp Infect. 2020 Mar;104(3):246–251.

  5. Scientific Brief: SARS-CoV-2 Transmission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Accessed on 08.11.2021.

  6. van Doremalen N et al. Munster VJ. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1, N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 16;382(16):1564–1567.

  7. WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part, Joint WHO-China study: 14 January – 10 February 2021, 30 March 2021.