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Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need to Know: PubMed Resources

Coronavirus has made headlines across the world, and with cases popping up across the United States every day, medical professionals and students need to be prepared. This guide will serve as a starting point for resources on COVID-19

Latest Information from NIH

Please visit for the latest research available from the National Institutes of Health on COVID-19

Searching PubMed

The term "coronavirus" doesn't just apply to the most recent virus causing an outbreak. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses, so searching for the general term of "coronavirus" will lead to an overwhelming amount of information. 

As you can see, a simple search for "coronavirus" returns over 15,000 results; far too many for any researcher to comb through in a timely manner. 

Instead, try using a more specific search, like: "2019 ncov"[tiab] OR (("novel coronavirus"[tiab] OR "new coronavirus"[tiab] ) AND (wuhan[tiab] OR 2019[tiab]))This brings back 27 results, which is a much more manageable amount to review. Officially, this latest virus is known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, or COVID-19, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 2. Any of these terms will be a better choice than "coronavirus" if you're looking for information about the most recent outbreaks. 

You can also use the following search terms on PubMed to search for articles on COVID-19: 

covid-19[tw] OR COVID19[tw] OR COVID-19[nm] OR SARS-CoV-2[tw] OR SARS-CoV2[tw] OR severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2[nm] OR severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2[tw] OR 2019-nCoV[tw] OR 2019nCoV[tw] OR coronavirus[tw] OR coronavirus[mh] 

Just copy and paste into your PubMed search bar and run the search. 

Australian Library and Information Association PubMed Searches

The Australian Library and Information Association has created a page for PubMed searches on COVID-19. This page provides automatic PubMed searches on a range of COVID-19 topics. Topics include Prevention, Diagnosis, Management, Health Services, and Other. 

Preferred Browser: Any modern browser (Chrome, Firefox etc). If you have to use Internet Explorer then you may need to copy the search URL (right click on the search name and copy link address or similar).

Full Text: Most of the COVID-19 literature is open access with immediate access to full text. If not however, contact your health service library or try one of these other options. 1) If your Library subscribes to BrowZine then install the Chrome extension LibKey Nomad for much easier access to full text PDFs. 2) If your Library uses PubMed OTool then open up PubMed (using the special URL) in another tab before using the links on this page.

Search Alerts: You can use any of these searches as the basis for regular email alerts which will show you new articles in that area. When you are on the PubMed results page, click on the Create Alert link. This short video (old PubMed) gives more details.

Modifying a Search: The provided links will give you a set of search results but these can be modified by removing or adding words to those in the white search box in the centre of the results page. If available, an information professional can advise.

Please Note: This page will be updated as frequently as possible. Searches have been provided in good faith by librarians to help in the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributions and suggestions are welcome.

Using the MeSH Database

In light of the current outbreak, the NLM has added both Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 and COVID-19 as a supplementary concepts to MeSH in response to updates issued by the CDC and WHO. "Coronavirus" was added to the MeSH database as a MeSH term in 1994. Using it in a MeSH search will return a large number of results. MeSH is built as a hierarchy, meaning terms will branch down to be more specific. You can see below that Coronavirus has many subcategories or branches under it. If you're looking for articles on COVID-19, this won't be a helpful term.


For better results, the NLM recommends using the new supplementary concept Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 for searching the MeSH database. This term was added on January 14, 2020, so its much newer and more specific. You can also use the entry terms listed below.

You can also search using the MeSH Supplementary Concept COVID-19. This is a newer concept added to the MeSH database on February 13, 2020.