BELIZE CITY, Tues. Mar. 23, 2021– One year ago, on Monday, March 23, 2020, the first case of the novel coronavirus was identified in the country of Belize. Less than two weeks prior to that, on March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) made the historic declaration in which it classified the novel coronavirus public health crisis as a global pandemic.
One year later, according to WHO, globally, “as of 2:41 p.m. CET, 24 March 2021, there have been 123,902,242 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2,727,837 deaths, reported.”
On November 17, 2019, the first detectable case of the novel coronavirus was identified in China. Almost a month and two weeks later, on December 31, 2019, Chinese health officials informed WHO that a cluster of 41 persons was suffering from an unknown pneumonia-type illness. All the illnesses were reportedly linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market.
On January 1, 2020, that market was closed down. On January 7, 2020, Chinese authorities announced that they discovered that the illness is a new type of coronavirus.
The first COVID-19 related death was recorded days later, on January 11, 2020, and researchers finally published the virus’ genetic sequence. Then, on January 13, the first case was reported outside China; it was found in Thailand.
One week later, on January 20, 2020, the United States of America reported its first COVID-19 case, a man in his 30’s from Washington. Three days later, the city of Wuhan was placed under a total lockdown by Chinese authorities, who also later placed the entire Hubei province under a lockdown.
As the end of the month approached, on January 30, 2020 the WHO declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a public health emergency. The following day, on January 31, 2020, the president of the United States at that time, Donald Trump, banned travel into the US by persons who had been to China within the previous two weeks.
The first COVID-19-related death outside China was recorded in the Philippines on February 2, 2020. About 4 days later, on February 6, an American from California passed away —the first recorded death in the US.
The next day, Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who had become a whistleblower and alerted the public of the emergence of the virus, was also among the first to be claimed by the deadly virus.
On February 11, 2020, WHO formally announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be called COVID-19. Ten days later, cases spiked dangerously in Italy, and on the 8th of March, 2020, the country was placed under a total lockdown.
One month later, on March 11, 2020, as previously mentioned, the COVID-19 global pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization. On that same day, former President Trump banned travel into the US from 26 European countries. Two days later, he declared a national emergency in the United States,
By March 19, 2020, China was reporting no new locally transmitted infections in that country. Two days later, the peak of Italy’s first wave was recorded: 6,557 new cases in a single day.
On March 23, 2020, New York City confirmed 21 thousand cases, and was marked as the epicenter of the virus in the US.
That country topped the international COVID-19 charts three days later — recording 84,404 cases, the highest number of cases in the world, surpassing China and Italy.
By March 31, 2020, at least a third of all humanity was under some type of movement restrictions or lockdown protocol. By April 2, 2020, the tally of COVID-19 infections in the world surpassed 1 million. On the 10th of April last year, around 100,000 deaths were recorded.
On the 24th of April, 2020, the first COVID-19 spike began in Brazil. That country is now losing the battle to its third wave of infections.
By May 2020, several countries began to ease COVID-19 movement restrictions. Many in Europe would see a second, more deadly wave due to this relaxation of measures. During that month, an outbreak also began in India.
Before the end of May 2020, the global number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 5 million. A little over a month later, on June 28, 2020, that number doubled, and global deaths surpassed 500,000.
By September 22, 2020, the death toll in the US from COVID-19 passed 200,000. Global deaths passed 1 million by the 28th of that same month. The third and deadliest surge began in the US on October 23.
On November 9, 2020, the global cases topped 50 million.
The first glimmer of hope was finally seen in early December 2020 when the UK authorized Pfizer and BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The UK began vaccinations on December 8, 2020, with a 90-year-old being the first to receive the jab. On the 11th of that month, the US FDA also gave the Pfizer vaccine its green light. Days later, on December 14, 2020, the US began its rollout of vaccinations.
On December 18, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines were given FDA authorization. The rollout of inoculation programs in various developing countries began, while the COVAX facility engaged in the process of organizing future distribution of vaccines with the host of developing countries in need of aid to start the vaccination of their populations.
On December 20, 2020, London entered a lockdown ordered by its prime minister, Boris Johnson, to limit the spread of a new COVID-19 variant. In late December 2020, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK. In early January 2021, India also approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use, rolling out a mass inoculation campaign.
That country has co-produced million of jabs of Covid-19 vaccines through its Serum Institute and has since become a leader on the vaccination front, donating vaccines to several countries over the world.
On February 16, a new variant was found in South Africa. The new strain of the COVID-19 virus was first detected by South African health authorities and was called the 501Y.V2 variant. That country was poised to begin its inoculation program with a donation of 1 million Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines when local scientists found that this particular vaccine was less effective against the variant in that country.
The inoculation program in that country was thus put on pause.
On February 27, 2021, the Johnson and Johnson vaccines officially received authorization for emergency use in persons 18 years of age or older. The vaccine is the only single-dose inoculation on the market at this time. The EU authorized the Johnson and Johnson jab on March 11, 2021.
On March 15, some additional countries suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZenca vaccine, but days later, on March 18, EU drug regulations classified the AstraZeneca vaccine as safe for use.
In Cuba, the Abdala vaccine moved to its third phase on March 20, 2021. Of note, Russia and China have both created Covid-19 vaccines. In Russia, the Sputnik 5 vaccine is being used to immunize that country’s population, and in China, 16 vaccines are being developed, with Sinovac and Sinopharm being the forerunners.
The US has sent surplus doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to Mexico and Canada. Most recently, as of March 23, some US officials questioned the completeness of the recent AstraZeneca trial results in that country, saying the vaccines provide a 79% rate of efficacy. That vaccine has still not yet been authorized in the US.
At this time, 79 vaccines are currently being tested in clinical trials on humans by researchers, and 23 of those have reached their final stages of testing.