2020 and the Global COVID-19 Outbreak: A Year to Remember, Or Here Comes the Rainfall
No, it did not come from the deepest corners of outer space. No, there were no wicked space aliens plotting to stage an invasion and takeover of Earth. Yes, it originated right here on Earth. Its name is COVID-19 (for corona.virus.disease-2019). Throughout the year 2020, much like a stalking, prowling, and stealthy tiger in search of prey, the COVID-19 virus lurked and stood ready to pounce upon its human victims. Who could have predicted such a development? Calling all missing-in-action psychics: Where were you? How could you have missed this one?
Yes, 2020 was a year to remember—or, some would prefer to say that it was a year to forget. Year 2020 was a year for the ages. Year 2020 was the year that the COVID-19 virus would leave its downpour of infectious rain all across Earth.
Few would dispute that, more than any of the other events to occur in 2020—and there were quite a few unnerving events (such as dust storms, wind storms, wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons, temperature extremes, law enforcement misconduct, civil unrest, looting, rioting, crime, shooting, murder, etc.)—none of them was as Earth-shaking or comparable to the detrimental and devastating impact on daily human life as was the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
Much like the collecting of dark, dreary, and ominous clouds overhead to signal the impending arrival of stormy weather, in December 2019, the dark, dreary, and ominous clouds of COVID-19 began gathering overhead all across Earth. And, in year 2020, it did storm. Downpour of the COVID-19 virus proceeded to inundate Earth.
Virtually no country on Earth was spared from COVID-19's downpour. Virtually no country on Earth was spared from COVID-19's wrath. The fallout from the COVID-19 virus outbreak produced both detrimental and sometimes fatal outcomes for humans both from physical and mental-health perspectives and also from economic and business perspectives. The COVID-19 virus outbreak resulted in drastic adjustments to day-to-day life on Earth. Face coverings practically were being worn by all in public spaces, and face coverings served as perhaps one of the most visible symbols of these drastic adjustments.
To wax poetic, in 2020, there was no sparkling Sun sweeping across the desert dawn. There was no cacophony of flowers wooing bees to nectar hour. There were no autumn leaves swaying to the summer breeze. There were no ocean waves lapping against the seashell's gaze. There were no fireflies' flights to greet the dazzling star-lit night. There were no skies of blue bouncing off the parrot's hue. There were no birds chirping or croaking frogs nor rooster crowing or barking dogs. Instead, humans were greeted with the frosty fright of COVID-19's icy bite. As illustrated by the next set of storm-related photos, in 2020, there were barrels full of distress and pain as planet Earth was inundated with COVID's rain.
By way of comparison, due to the detrimental impact of malware and viruses on computer operating systems, the term "computer virus" was inspired by actual viruses in Mother Nature. Computer viruses represent the capacity of certain pieces of software code to inflict unimaginable damage on a computer's ability to operate normally. The modus operandi of the typical computer virus is to disrupt, damage, and even disable the ability of a computer to process data. From the perspective of humans, the modus operandi of the COVID-19 virus is to damage and even to kill the human body. Of course, from the perspective of the COVID-19 virus, its modus operandi simply is to find a human host in which it could survive and thrive. By developing therapeutics and vaccines to defeat the COVID-19 virus, humans merely are saying to the virus, "You are going to have to go and find yourself a non-human living host if you wish to continue surviving and thriving."
In the final analysis, the COVID-19 virus infection causes the human body to generate error signals of distress…and here is where the COVID-19 heroes enter the picture.
A Circle of Winners: Four COVID-19 Heroes
It is with great pleasure and with much gratitude that I now announce the 2020 winners of the Annual Bruessard Award. For the year 2020, four winners were selected from a long list of well-deserving candidates. As 2020 has come to be known as the year of COVID-19, these 4 winners are being recognized for their unique contributions in the battle against the COVID-19 virus outbreak. They are responsible for saving the lives of millions—albeit, most unfortunately, over one million lives already have been lost to the virus as of 1-December-2020. The 4 winners of the 2020 Annual Bruessard Award are as follow:
Dr. Zhong Nanshan
Pfizer / BioNTech
Granted, the late Dr. Li Wenliang was the first prominently known doctor in China to publicly sound the alarm on a possible COVID-19 virus outbreak. Dr. Li Wenliang gets honorable mention here for courageously stepping forward and speaking out about the coronavirus situation as early as 30-December0-2019. However, it was China's most esteemed, prestigious, and revered medical expert, Dr. Zhong Nanshan, whose advice and counsel got the attention of China's political leadership. After hearing Dr. Zhong Nanshan's assessment of the COVID-19 virus's potential adverse impacts on the country, China's political leadership sprang into action. China's political leadership went to work with all deliberate speed to launch an aggressive, all-out assault against the COVID-19 virus.
In China, when Dr. Zhong Nanshan spoke, President Xi Jinping intently listened. President Xi Jinping wholeheartedly embraced Dr. Zhong Nanshan's message. President Xi Jinping took immediate steps to implement Dr. Zhong Nanshan's recommendations. On the contrary, and by way of comparison, when the USA's esteemed, prestigious, and revered medical expert (Dr. Anthony Fauci) spoke, President Donald Trump half-heartedly listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci and sometimes outright contradicted him.
When the final tally is completed and when mainland China's total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths are compared to the USA's total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, I think the data will show that mainland China (with its population of 1.3 billion humans), relatively speaking, seems to have gotten it right (with a tally of 86,469 total COVID-19 infections and 4,634 total COVID-19 deaths as of 24-November-2020). The USA (with its population of 330 million humans), on the other hand, seems to have gotten it wrong (with a tally of 12,513,977 total COVID-19 infections and 258,083 total COVID-19 deaths as of 24-November-2020). See table below.
The thing that China got right about tacking the COVID-19 virus outbreak is simple: In the absence of a cure for the COVID-19 virus, in China, the populace was very much disciplined. The populace strictly complied with the various Non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) protocols as supplemented by a heavy hand of governmental enforcement. In the USA, on the other hand, amid outcries of an infringement on individual liberties, and amid outcries of a breach of individual freedoms, the populace loosely complied with or half-heartedly adhered to governmental COVID-19 NPI protocols. And, much like a software virus infecting a computer, the COVID-19 virus exploits human callousness. COVID-19 pounces on humans who lower their guards by ignoring the protocols for protecting themselves against COVID-19's march towards new infections. Hence, this difference in approach coupled with the USA's lukewarm, nonchalant, cavalier, or lackadaisical attitude toward compliance led to increased USA COVID-19 cases and increased USA COVID-19 deaths relative to China. China very handedly outperformed the USA during COVID-19's pre-vaccine days, that is, when comparing the success rate of the two countries in terms of the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths given their population sizes.
In the matter of the USA's approach to COVID-19, probably the most applicable idiom would be the one that says, "You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink." In other words, despite all of the public health warnings, admonitions, and presentations of scientific evidence about how viruses work and despite all of the public service announcements about proactive and preventative measures to take to defeat the COVID-19 virus, far too many USA residents chose to ignore them. Instead, far too many USA residents felt that their freedom to do whatever they wish somehow overrode, took precedence over, or was more important than complying with those public health announcements, warnings, admonitions, and presentations of scientific evidence.
This difference in attitudes and approach between the USA and China towards battling the COVID-19 virus, coupled with the lack of a well-coordinated national USA response to combat the COVID-19 virus, was the primary culprit to explain the overall lackadaisical USA response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and the concomitant comparative worse USA performance in terms of cases and deaths. Far too many USA residents, and the USA national government itself, adopted a nonchalant, non-serious attitude towards complying with the CDC's (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) anti-COVID-19 protocols. The end result, of course, was the USA's relatively high COVID-19 case count and its relatively high COVID-19 death count, say, compared to China. Given the USA's 50-state approach to tackling the COVID-19 outbreak rather than a more coordinated "united states" national approach, when it came to COVID-19, the United States suddenly became known as the Disunited States of America.
When probing deeper, perhaps a lot of this USA disunion could be explained by an even deeper societal schism within the USA. This deeper USA societal schism primarily could be attributable to a combination of things such as hyper-partisan politics, diametrically opposing mass (news) media voices, diametrically opposing social media viewpoints, and racial apprehensions. All of these factors combined to lead to an aura of bad karma hanging over the USA as it has become increasingly more difficult for the citizens to reach a common understanding.
Winner 2 of 4: The Courageous, Heroic, and Compassionate Healthcare Workers All Over the World
In much the same manner as was the case with the Ebola virus outbreak, once again, the healthcare workers sprang into action to do battle with the COVID-19 virus outbreak. In this COVID-19 instance, primarily, the first responders were the healthcare and hospital workers, namely, the hospital doctors, nurses, technicians, paramedics, and janitorial staff. Absent the availability of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, the first responders served as humankind's first line of defense against COVID-19's destructive, debilitating, and sometimes fatal effects.
While China was slow to alert the world about the virus's existence, at the outset of the outbreak, China made two very important contributions in helping to defeat the COVID-19 virus and save lives:
On January 11, 2020, China provided the world with the virus's genetic sequences, which enabled the world's scientific researchers to begin developing treatments and cures for the virus.
China led the way in demonstrating to the world how shelter-in-place, wearing facial masks, field hospitals, and testing and tracking should be done to combat the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Much of the world proceeded to emulate these Chinese-inspired examples.
Although, by and large, the world's healthcare workers were out of sight, their battle against the COVID-19 infection should not be understated. Their battle was akin to going to war. For them, everyday, the COVID-19 battle was s red alert and an all hands on deck type of emergency. On a 24/7 basis, the world's healthcare workers very valiantly and commendably did battle with the COVID-19 virus.
In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, sheltering in place or staying at home on a global scale was a new phenomenon for humans of the 21st century. The year 2020 COVID-19 virus outbreak did not stop business ingenuity from finding a way to adapt. Perhaps one of the most popular business adaptations was use of the web conferencing platform to facilitate communications and interactions while humans were domiciled in stay-at-home mode. Web conferencing platforms served as online, virtual replacements for previous face-to-face human endeavors. One of the most popularly adopted and embraced web conferencing platform was Zoom. As the next video amply illustrates, Zoom was used for a variety of tasks in multiple spheres of daily life. These tasks and spheres ran the gamut from online classes (as a substitute for schools), online business meetings (as a substitute for work), online church services (as a substitute for worship), online parties (as a substitute for play), and so forth.
Zoom facilitated a smooth transition from customary in-person, face-to-face human interactions to the new remote, online human interactions.
Zoom emerged as one of the most high profile and the most popular go-to web conferencing platforms to use in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as is typically the case on the World Wide Web, Zoom had its share of challenges such as counteracting threats posed by assorted nefarious actors. Zoom also had its fair share of competitors to contend with. Zoom prevailed and prospered. Zoom emerged as the web-conferencing victor during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Winner 4 of 4: Pfizer / BioNTech
Last of the 2020 Annual Bruessard Award winners to be honored but certainly not the least are the vaccine makers. In the fight against COVID-19, from a pharmaceutical perspective, there were two parallel tracks at play. The first track was to pursue medications to treat patients already infected with the COVID-19 virus. The ultimate medications and treatments are those which effectively neutralized the virus and prevented the virus from killing its host victims. Medical treatments typically are reactive in scope and are utilized to help humans recover after they have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
The second track was to pursue vaccines to administer to the general public. Vaccines are proactive and preventative in scope. Vaccines are meant to disarm the COVID-19 virus before it can infect a human host. A safe and effective vaccine would prevent the COVID-19 virus from ever being transmitted to those humans who have not been infected by the virus. Due to their proactive and preventative natures, vaccines are the preferred choice for ending with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In elementary school, children typically are taught idioms such as "slow and steady win the race," "haste makes waste," and "it is better to go slow and get it right rather than to go fast and get it wrong." When it came to a race for a COVID-19 vaccine, these idioms were discarded.
When it comes to vaccine development, generally speaking, there always has been a slow-and-steady approach. The slow-and-steady vaccine development approach evokes images of the famous "The Tortoise and the Hare" fable, which extols the virtue of going slow and steady and imparts a lesson that slow and stead, indeed, leads to a better outcome.
However, on May 15, 2020, President Donald Trump formally announced the launch of Operation Warp Speed. Operation Warp Speed was likened in importance to the Manhattan Project's operation to build the world's first nuclear bomb. With President Donald Trump's announcement, the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine was set in motion and began in honest. In this particular Operation Warp Speed instance, the COVID-19 vaccine racers or competitors could be likened to the hare instead of the tortoise. Guess what? Unlike the outcome in the "The Tortoise and the Hare" fable, this time the hare actually won the race. In these not-so-ordinary pandemic circumstances, it was the fast yet steady approach that won the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The next image from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows the typical 5-year timeline to develop a new vaccine. It also shows how, by comparison, Operation Warp Speed compressed that virus development timeline from 5 years to 1.5 years.
The next image shows the normal 12-stage approach adhered to by the general scientific community when developing a new drug or vaccine.
As fate would have it, the Russian team of Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology working in partnership with Health Ministry of the Russian Federation was the first to declare victory in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. If the rest of the scientific world was toiling at "warp speed" to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, then the Russian scientists must have been working at "quadruple warp speed." According to clinicaltrials.gov, the Russian team began Phase 1 testing of its Sputnik V vaccine on June 17, 2020. Less than 2 months later, on August 11, 2020, the Russian team was declaring victory. Accolades go to the Russian scientific researchers and financial sponsors for their valiant and noble COVID-19 vaccine development efforts. But, not so fast to declare victory.
A key tenet of scientific research is openness. Scientific researchers need to carefully examine one another's evidence to ascertain its validity. At the time of declaring victory, the problem with the Russian vaccine approach was that the Russian team never produced any scientific evidence to support the safety and effectiveness of their Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. To borrow from the words of that famous Wendy's TV commercial, when it came to proof of concept for the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, the world's scientific researchers were asking, "Where's the beef?," or as the idiom says, "the proof is in the pudding."
In other words, the Russians did not provide the world's scientific researchers with a taste of its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine pudding so that the world's scientific researchers could judge for themselves if that Sputnik V pudding tasted as good as the Russians claimed it tasted. The world's scientific researchers very badly wanted to get a sampling of that Sputnik V pudding. But, initially, the Russians refused to submit their COVID-19 vaccine findings to open and rigorous scientific review on a global scale. The Russians said,"Нет," to the world's scientific community. The Russian COVID-19 development process was closed to international scrutiny.
Instead of accelerating or compressing certain steps in the vaccine development process much like the rest of the world was doing, it appears that the Russians decided to skip over several steps in the vaccine development process to declare victory. The Russian COVID-19 development process was not open to scrutiny and substantiation by their scientific peers in the global scientific community in the same manner as newly developed drugs and vaccines normally undergo. As a result, due to this technicality, it can be stated that the Russian claims of victory were a bit premature as being the first nation to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The Russian premature declaration of victory, in no way, should detract from the devotion, toil, and countless hours of tedious work that the Russian researchers and scientists contributed to developing the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. Their vaccine development efforts were most commendable and appreciated. To be sure, after careful scrutiny of the Sputnik V vaccine is completed and given a seal of approval by the global scientific community, it very well might turn out that Sputnik V is the real deal as originally reported by the news media on August 11, 2020.
For purposes of the Annual Bruessard Award, early indications suggest that the USA/Germany partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech appears to be on track to be the first team to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. In the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to prevent humans from contracting the virus, the competition has been stiff and ferocious yet benign and friendly. The Pfizer/BioNTech team has adhered to widely accepted drug and vaccine development protocols—albeit on a compressed or accelerated schedule as indicated by the above-referenced NEJM image. Pfizer and BioNTech stand poised and are on the precipice of being declared the pharmaceutical winners in the race to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. In my humble opinion, because they were first to successfully develop a safe and effective COIVD-19 vaccine, thus, saving untold millions of lives, and because the Pfizer/BioNTech team successfully developed the vaccine at such record-setting speed (that is, in less than a year), the 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine should be awarded to Pfizer and BioNTech. Development of a safe and effective vaccine on such a very short order was quite an amazing feat and will go down in the annals of medicine science as a most astonishing accomplishment relative the development of previous vaccines. It should be noted that not for one second do I, in any fashion, portrend to tell the Nobel committee how to vote; I merely am expressing a personal opinion about the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
The good news is this about an impending and inevitable 2021 global COVID-19 vaccination campaign: After a downpour of rain, sunshine and a rainbow usually follow to signal a return to normalcy. The arrival of a vaccine for COVID-19 is akin to finding the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after a downpour of rain.
Now that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available, the next challenge is for everyone to actually get vaccinated. Given the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, a return normalcy not only seems likely but also seems inevitable. The vaccine train has reached the station, so to speak. Now, is the time for Earth's 7 billion passengers to climb aboard the vaccine train. To paraphrase the words of that popular Medicare commercial featuring Broadway Joe Namath, the COVID-19 virus will not disappear automatically; humans have to do their part to end the pandemic by actually going to get vaccinated.
At the opposite—but no less important—end of the COVID-19 avoidance spectrum are the various medical treatments or pharmaceutical intervention strategies. Numerous clinical trials are underway to develop and test a large array of drugs as possible candidates to both cure a COVID-19 infection and vaccines to prevent a COVID-19 infection. While vaccines are critical in the global drive to prevent anyone from becoming infected with the virus, vaccines will do little to help the many millions already infected with and harmed by the COVID-19 virus. For those already infected with the COVID-19 virus, safe and effective treatments or therapeutics remain critical in assisting them to overcome the COVID-19 virus. The next image is meant to illustrate the array of pharmaceutical and vaccine testing currently in progress in search of therapeutics and cures for the COVID-19 virus.
From the therapeutics perspective, both Eli Lilly and Company and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. deserve honorable mentions. Their monoclonal antibody treatments are showing promising results in treating patients already infected with the COVID-19 virus. Whereas COVID-19 vaccines are meant to impede the spread of virus by preventing new infections, these monoclonal antibody treatments are meant as cures for those already infected with the virus—including other medicinal therapeutics such as remdesivir and dexamethasone.
Special Song Tributes to the Above-Cited 4 Winners
The following four songs serve as special tributes to the 4 winners of the 2020 Annual Bruessard Award.
A Few Honorably Mentioned Unsung Heroes in the Battle against COVID-19
As mentioned earlier, there was a long list of deserving COVID-19-related candidates to win the 2020 Annual Bruessard Award. For, there was no shortage of heroes during the COVID-19 virus outbreak. In the USA alone where I reside, mayors, governors, captains of industry, charitable organizations, celebrities, and ordinary private citizens alike stepped up in big ways and made unique contributions in the fight against the COVID-19 virus outbreak. They stepped forward and made differences at a point in time during the COVID-19 outbreak when no reliable treatments existed to counteract a COVID-19 infection. Because I reside in the USA, I am a bit more intimately familiar with events and news occurring inside the USA. For this simple reason, the unsung heroes mentioned in the bullet points below primarily are domiciled in the USA.
Inside the USA, initially, first news of a potential virus outbreak received a lukewarm reception. But, much like a snowball effect, before long, the COVID-19 virus began to expand somewhat exponentially. Following is a brief chronology of initial USA reactions to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
According to wikipedia.org, the first report of a COVID-19 case in the USA occurred on January 20, 2020. A man who resides in Snohomish County, Washington had returned home on January 15 after visiting his family in Wuhan. He sought medical attention on January 19, 2020. According to wikipedia.org, the second report of a COVID-19 case in the USA occurred on January 24, 2020. A woman in her 60's who resides in Chicago, Illinois had returned to her home on January 13 from a visit to Wuhan, China. One week later, she was hospitalized with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19. Within the USA, the January virus outbreaks generally were viewed as no-big-deal, 1-in-300-million types of outbreaks. They were not taken too seriously.
According to wikipedia.org, on February 6, 2020, the earliest confirmed USA death from COVID-19 occurred in Santa Clara County, California. A 57-year-old a manager for a semiconductor company appeared to have recovered from her flu-like symptoms before dying suddenly of what was first believed to be a heart attack. It is not clearly understood how the woman contracted the COVID-19 virus. Her February 5th death from a COVID-19 infection coupled with the widely reported February 7th death of popular Chinese doctor Li Wenliang also from a COVID-19 infection, shocked USA residents into attention. The eyes of many USA resident suddenly became wide open to the potential COVID-19 threat. And the rest (after February 7th), as they say, is history. With the USA having tallied its first COVID-19 case (on January 20th) and its first COVID-19 death (on February 6th), here is where the unsung COVID-19 heroes enter the picture.
As illustrated by the bullet points immediately below, by mid-February and early March 2020, the general public within the USA seriously began taking note of the coronavirus outbreak. At that particular juncture in time, it was widely reported in the news that 26 residents of the Life Care Center of Kirkland (Washington) had died and that 13 of those deceased residents subsequently had tested positive for exposure to the COVID-19 virus. At this February 19th juncture in time, the dominoes, so to speak, began falling. Public and private institutions sprang into action and began following the non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) protocols.
Strict adherence to NPI protocols is perhaps the most effective way to minimize the need for COVID-19-related hospitalizations, that is, absent a vaccine for prevent citizens from contracting the COVID-19 virus, absent widespread citizenry willingness to get the vaccine once it becomes available, and absent safe and effective therapeutics to treat those already infected with the COVID-19 virus. The next image is meant to illustrate some non-medical, non-drug, or non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) protocols to follow to safeguard against contracting the COVID-19 virus. These NPIs were crucial in the fight against COVID-19 during the initial outbreak when there was a scarcity of reliable medical treatments. These NPIs remain vital until universal worldwide vaccination and global herd immunity are achieved.
Again, the following bullet points and chronology of COVID-19-related events capture some of the unsung USA heroes in the battle against the COVID-19 virus. They are heroes because they, too, sought to ease the pain or save the lives of millions who were adversely impacted by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Most notably, if Pfizer and BioNTech deserve to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine for developing a safe and effective vaccine in record-setting time, then surely Jack Dorsey deserves to win some type of a philanthropic award for donating $1 billion of his personal wealth to aid in the battle against the COVID-19 virus outbreak—and for taking quick action to protect the employees of his businesses from getting infected with the virus. A billion dollars (USD) is a whole lot of money to give away.
Obviously, there are only so many personal material comforts that one person can purchase with a billion dollars, which makes the philanthropic sharing of wealth a viable option for disposing some of the wealth. Even if the billionaire spent, say, $100 million (USD) on the most luxurious material comforts in the world (such as a luxury home, car, yacht, private aircraft, works of art, furnishings, diamonds, pearls, clothes, shoes, etc.), there still would be $900 million leftover to spare. Perhaps one of the most popular ways that the super rich dispose of their wealth is by investing it in other business ventures, which makes it illiquid wealth as assets on the books.
January 19, 2020 - A Snohomish County (state of Washington) resident is infected with the new coronavirus. It is the first confirmed case of the coronavirus on United States soil.
February 7, 2020: Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang dies, causing an unprecedented outpouring of grief and anger on Chinese social media and widespread publicity about the seriousness of COVID-19 in the global news media.
February 21, 2020 - Verizon pulled out of the RSA conference, along with AT&T and IBM.
February 28, 2020 - The first death from coronavirus in the state of Washington was reported at the Evergreen Health Medical Center in Kirkland, Washington. The city of Kirkland was the first city in the country to suffer a cluster of cases of coronavirus infections.
February 29, 2020 - The American Physical Society cancelled its annual March Meeting.
March 1, 2020 - The state of New York announces its first COVID-19 case. New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, was perhaps the most prominent national example of government leadership in the face of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. He was instrumental in demonstrating to USA government officials how to harness, lasso, and rein in a pandemic.
March 2, 2020 - Twitter was among the first technology businesses to encourage its employees to work from home. Twitter's CEO, Jack Dorsey, pledged to donate a whopping $1 billion worth of equity in Square to his limited liability company (LLC) named Start Small to fund COVID-19 relief around the world.
March 4, 2020 - Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and other technology firms urged all employees based in the Seattle and Bellevue, Washington areas to work from home to slow spread of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in that area of the country.
March 6, 2020 - The state of Washington now has 70 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 COVID-19 deaths.
March 6, 2020 - The annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, was cancelled.
March 10, 2020 - The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California was cancelled.
March 10, 2020 - Facebook, Google, Slack, Apple, Airbnb, and other Silicon Valley technology firms in the state of California's greater San Francisco Bay Area begin instructing all of their employees to work from home to protect them against contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.
March 11, 2020 - The NBA (National Basketball Association) abruptly suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for COVID-19 moments before a game began in Oklahoma City. Other major sporting leagues followed the NBA's lead the next day by suspending their seasons, too, namely, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), National Lacrosse League, 2020 Masters Tournament, Kentucky Derby, and so on.
March 12, 2020 - The NCAA canceled both the men's and women's college basketball tournaments, known as March Madness, after most conferences suspended their post-season tournaments.
March 12, 2020 - California's colleges decided to cancel most in-person classes, campus gatherings, and travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
March 12, 2020 - Chef Andrés, the founder of the World Central Kitchen charity, customarily has reached out to, and prepared countless free meals for, those in need during disasters all across the USA (and other parts of the world, too). On March 12, he embarked on a trip to Oakland, California to provide free meals to those remaining passengers and crew members quarantined aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship due to a COVID-19 virus outbreak aboard the ship.
March 16, 2020 - San Francisco Mayor London Breed, as a preemptive step to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus among the citizens of San Francisco, issued the nation's first (citywide) shelter-in-place order effectively closing all "non-essential" places of business. The streets of San Francisco were desolate, and it felt like living in a ghost town. Other cities and counties in the greater San Francisco Bay Area soon followed Mayor London Breed's lead by announcing their own shelter-in-place orders.
March 19, 2020 - California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the nation's first statewide shelter-in-place order.
March 30, 2020 - Sean Penn, a co-founder of the non-profit organization CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), initiated free, drive-through COVID-19 testing in the Los Angeles, California area.
April 2, 2020 - After the dangers and challenge of COVID-19 had become apparent to the general public, numerous celebrities stepped up and made large-dollar donations of their personal wealth to assist in various ways to battle the COVID-19 virus outbreak. These celebrities included (but not limited to):
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and the digital payments platform Square, who pledged to donate a whopping $1 billion worth of equity in Square to his Start Small LLC to fund COVID-19 relief around the world.
Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to the non-profit organization Feeding America to help replenish its national network of food banks and pantries, which are being depleted by COVID-19-related food shortages.
Steve Ballmer, owner of the L.A. Clippers professional basketball team, pledged $25 million to help in the battle against COVID-19.
TV host, actress, producer, media executive, and author Oprah Winfrey donated $10 million to various COVID-19-related relief efforts in communities across the country.
Professional football quarterback, Drew Brees, pledged to donate $5 million to the state of Louisiana to assist in its battle with COVID-19.
Actor, film producer, and entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds and his actress wife Blake Lively have donated in excess of $2 million to various COVID-19-related efforts.
Numerous other celebrities have donated at least $1 million dollars (USD) in the battle to defeat COVID-19.
Needless to say, in addition to the above large-dollar celebrity donations, numerous private corporations have donated untold millions of dollars in the battle to defeat COVID-19 or in the battle to assist those adversely impacted by COVID-19.
Meanwhile, by March 17, 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak had spread to all 50 USA states. In large measure, USA residents grudgingly abided the stay-at-home orders until May 25, 2020. It was on May 25, 2020 when George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Given the fact that portions of the USA public were still simmering over the circumstances surrounding the Ahmaud Arbery killing on February 23, 2020 coupled with the police killing of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020, the police killing of George Floyd triggered a huge public outcry against these particular kinds of law enforcement-related killings. Citizens of all racial backgrounds across the USA—and across the world—began demonstrating and protesting in the streets under the banner of "Black Lives Matter" (BLM). With so many residents demonstrating in the streets against these kinds of law enforcement-related killings, it seemed that, gradually, strict adherence to the various stay-at-home orders began to loosen, erode, and evaporate. All bets were off when it came to USA citizens playing it safely by staying at home as a precaution to not contract the COVID-19 virus.
Whereas many USA residents already viewed mask wearing, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders as intrusions on their individual liberties, when the George Floyd killing occurred, the COVID-19 compliance dam had burst wide open, so to speak. Citizens no longer felt a duty to stay at home or social distance. Citizens felt a higher duty to take to the streets and vocally express their disapproval, displeasure, anger, and outrage with these law enforcement-related kinds of killings. The protests and demonstrations were tantamount to a giant release valve for a lot of the pent up frustration and disgust over these law enforcement-related kinds of killings.
In the process, instead of looking like a ghost town, one unintended effect of the protests and demonstrations was that the freeways and streets began to become congested with cars and pedestrians again (often for reasons not related to the protests and demonstrations). A general sentiment was, "If the protesters can leave home and disobey the stay-at-home orders and social distancing edicts, then we can, too. If the demonstrators are not staying inside their places of residences, then we are not obligated to stay inside either." Commerce began to pick up again. There was little enforcement of stay-at-home orders. More and more USA residents began leaving their places of residence each day as a matter of course.
Meanwhile, during this end-of-May-2020 timeframe of the USA in turmoil, the COVID-19 virus continued in its unabated march across the country due east, west, north, and south. The COVID-19 virus continued to rage in its unrelenting attempts to infect as many USA residents as it possibly could infect despite the existence of the so-called COVID-19-fatigue phenomenon.
The COVID-19 virus does not respect, honor, pause, relax, take into consideration, or take a break from human fatigue, human impatience and human indifference to its presence. The COVID-19 virus does not give a care about individual liberties. Understandably, humans would like to resume a life of normalcy as hastily and as thoroughly as possible. The fact remains that, if humans do not diligently follow the NPI protocols and absent widely embraced safe and effective therapeutics and vaccines, then much like the Energizer bunny, the COVID-19 virus simply will keep growing and growing and growing… The COVID-19 virus is very patient and deliberate in its aim to infect as many humans as it possibly can infect. The COVID-19 virus loves it when humans drop their guards to its presence. The COVID-19 virus loves it when humans become complacent. To be complacent is akin to being complicit in spreading the virus.
The following song is meant to serve as a special nod to all of those unsung heroes who were honorably mentioned in the above bullet points. This tribute song seems to reflect the message that the honorably mentioned unsung heroes are sending out to the world.
2020 Retrospective and Reflections: The Year of COVID-19
Not only is the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines akin to finding the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after a downpour of rain but also the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is akin to finally seeing a glow of light at the end of a very long, dark, and dreary tunnel. The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines implies that humans can finally begin to look forward to the day when the pandemic ceases to exist. In looking back at the COVID-19 virus outbreak, the following PBS/NOVA documentary provides a good encapsulation or overview of how the COVID-19 virus outbreak occurred and how the world responded to the outbreak. The following photos, graphics, statistics, and timeline are presented below to further recap year 2020's global COVID-19 pandemic.
Again, I reside in the USA. I am intimately more familiar with events and news occurring inside the USA. For this simple reason, many of the events listed below represent COVID-19-related occurrences taking place inside the USA. Click each button or month below to reveal timeline information. Click the button again to trigger its open and close functionality.
January 1, 2020: World Health Organization (WHO) requested information on the reported cluster of atypical pneumonia cases in Wuhan from the Chinese authorities. WHO activated its Incident Management Support Team (IMST), as part of its emergency response framework, which ensures coordination of activities and response across the three levels of WHO (Headquarters, Regional, Country) for public health emergencies.
January 5, 2020: The WHO publishes its first disease outbreak bulletin on “pneumonia of unknown cause” to alert the scientific and public health community.
January 5, 2020: 77th Golden Globe Award broadcast live from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
January 7, 2020: The December 31, 2019 pneumonia-like outbreak in Wuhan, China, formally, was identified as a new coronavirus.
January 7, 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) establishes the Coronavirus Incident Management System.
January 8, 2020: The CDC issued its first public alert about the coronavirus.
January 10, 2020: Centers for Disease Control launches dedicated COVID-19 website
January 11, 2020: Chinese state media report the first known death due to the virus.
January 11, 2020: WHO tweeted that it had received the genetic sequences for the novel coronavirus from the People’s Republic of China and expected these to soon be made publicly available. This event provided the world's scientific researchers with a blueprint from which start development of potential cures for the virus.
January 13, 2020: The Ministry of Public Health in Thailand reported an imported case of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus from Wuhan, the first recorded case outside of the People’s Republic of China.
January 13, 2020: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship (LSU Tigers vs. Clemson Tigers) played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
January 18, 2020: HHS Secretary Azar discussed the coronavirus outbreak with President Donald Trump, who, Azar said, criticized him as alarmist.
January 19, 2020: Pulmonologist Nanshan Zhong announces human-to-human spread of the novel coronavirus.
January 20, 2020: Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping and State Council premier Li Keqiang issued the first public warning about the coronavirus to Chinese citizens.
January 20, 2020: South Korea confirms its first case of COVID-19. The patient did not report visiting markets in Wuhan.
January 23, 2020: Wuhan placed under quarantine.
January 23, 2020: The CDC sought an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA enabling states to use its newly developed coronavirus test.
January 24, 2020: Nepal confirms the first case of COVID-19 in the country.
January 24, 2020: France informed WHO of three cases of novel coronavirus, all of whom had travelled from Wuhan. These were the first confirmed cases in the WHO European region (EURO).
January 24, 2020: The U.S. Senate was briefed on the coronavirus by key health officials.
January 24, 2020: USA President Donald Trump praised China for its coronavirus efforts in a tweet.
January 25, 2020: The COVID-19 virus reaches more countries. Australia confirms the first case of 2019-nCoV in the continent, with health authorities announcing three more cases later in the day.
January 27, 2020: Cambodia, Germany and Sri Lanka each confirm their first COVID-19 cases.
January 26, 2020 - 62nd Annual Grammy Awards ceremony was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
January 29, 2020: USA President Donald Trump establishes a White House Coronavirus Task Force.
January 29, 2020: Wuhan, China, repatriation flight #1 arrives in Alaska and transits to March Air Reserve Base, Calif.
January 30, 2020: World Health Organization declares the novel coronavirus outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), WHO's highest level of alarm.
January 31, 2020: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declares a public health emergency for the United States to aid the nation's healthcare community in responding to the coronavirus.
January 31, 2020: USA President Donald Trump proclaims travel restriction on China for entering the United States.
January 31, 2020: USA President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed credit for acting early with the travel ban. However, the Washington Post reported that 300,000 people traveled to the U.S. from China during the month prior to the ban. [The travel ban was not a ban, but a 14-day waiting period.] Also, a month before January 31st, not even WHO believed COVID had human-to-human transmission and there were no known cases in the United States until January 21st. The New York Times reported that more than 40,000 persons traveled from China to the U.S. after the January 31 partial ban, and around 430,000 total between the December 31 disclosure of the outbreak by China and April 4th. The Washington Post reported that six other countries had restricted travel from China before January 30, six did so on January 31, and by the time U.S. travel restrictions became effective on February 2, 38 other countries had taken action before or at the same time as the U.S. restrictions. Flights from Europe were not banned until March 11, with hundreds of thousands crossing the Atlantic into the U.S., due to disputes about the impact on the U.S. economy among Trump Administration officials.
January 31, 2020: Gilead Sciences issued a statement from Merdad Parsey, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer, Gilead Sciences: "Gilead is working closely with global health authorities to respond to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak through the appropriate experimental use of our investigational compound remdesivir." Remdesivir is not yet licensed or approved anywhere globally and has not been demonstrated to be safe or effective for any use. Gilead is working with health authorities in China to establish a randomized, controlled trial to determine whether remdesivir can safely and effectively be used to treat 2019-nCoV. We are also expediting appropriate laboratory testing of remdesivir against 2019-nCoV samples.
February 2, 2020: The United States denies entry to foreign nationals (other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents) who have traveled in China. Those entering face health screening and up to 14 days in self-quarantine.
February 2, 2020: First death outside China due to COVID-19 occurs in the Philippines. The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese male, and known companion of the 38-year-old woman who tested positive for 2019-nCoV on January 30th and the first case in the Philippines.
February 2, 2020: National Football League (NFL)'s Super Bowl LIV National Championship (Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers) played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida
February 3, 2020: CDC submitted an EUA package to expedite FDA-permitted use of the CDC diagnostic panel in the United States. FDA issued the EUA the next day, and CDC sent the test kits to state and local public health laboratories. The CDC test was soon found to be defective.
February 4, 2020: HHS and Regeneron Collaborate to Develop 2019-nCoV Treatment. BARDA and Regeneron now will leverage their partnership agreement to develop multiple monoclonal antibodies that, individually or in combination, could be used to treat this emerging coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV. These monoclonal antibodies are produced by a single clone of cells or a cell line with identical antibody molecules. The antibodies bind to certain proteins of a virus, reducing the ability of the virus to infect human cells. Medicines developed for 2019-nCoV through the expanded BARDA-Regeneron partnership will leverage Regeneron's monoclonal antibody discovery platform called VelocImmune, part of the company's VelociSuite technology.
February 5, 2020: More than 3,600 passengers are quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, as passengers test positive for novel coronavirus.
February 5, 2020: USA Senate acquits President Donald Trump on both impeachment charges following USA House of Representatives' having voted earlier to impeach President Trump on December 18, 2019
February 5, 2020: WHO's headquarters began holding daily media briefings on the novel coronavirus, the first time that WHO has held daily briefings by the Director-General or Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
February 6, 2020: First COVID-19 death in the United States. Patricia Dowd, a 57-year-old Silicon Valley auditor, dies abruptly, and tissue samples later confirm she had COVID-19
February 7, 2020: Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang dies, causing an unprecedented outpouring of grief and anger on Chinese social media. In an interview with The New York Times the week before, he said that patients in Wuhan already were treated under quarantine in December and that officials should have been more open. He hoped to recover in 15 days and "join medical workers in fighting the epidemic."
February 9, 2020: 92nd Academy Awards ceremony took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
February 11, 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) formally rebrands the SARS-CoV2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) disease as COVID-19 (whereby CO means corona, VI means Virus, D means disease, and 19 means 2019 (with December 31, 2019 serving aa the date that dozens became ill in Wuhan, China with pneumonia-like symptoms).
February 14, 2020: France announces the first European death due to COVID-19.
February 15, 2020: the CDC announced it had grown the COVID-19 virus in cell culture, which is necessary for further studies, including for additional genetic characterization. The cell-grown virus was sent to NIH’s BEI Resources Repositoryexternal icon for use by the broad scientific community.
February 18, 2020: China's National Medical Products Administration has approved the marketing of Favilavir, formerly known as Fapilavir, an antiviral medication that has shown efficacy in treating the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Favilavir was developed by Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical, which is the 1st drug that has been approved for marketing in China. Fapilavir is reported to have demonstrated efficacy with minor side effects in an ongoing 70-patient clinical trial in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
February 19, 2020: Iran reported two coronavirus cases. Hours later, officials confirmed that both patients died.
February 18, 2020: The New York Times reported that the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Duane C. Caneva, continued hosting a series of coronavirus e-mail chains begun in January among a group of infectious disease experts from academia and government...On February 17, an e-mail from one participant indicated that the type of social gathering on the Diamond Princess cruise ship wasn't that different from a mall, school, or work environment. Another February 17 e-mail indicated that non-pharmaceutical interventions ("NPI") such as school and business closures would be difficult for local officials to direct without federal action to provide political cover. By the third week of February, the group had "effectively concluded that the United States had already lost the fight to contain the virus, and that it needed to switch to mitigation" such as NPI's. This was based on the "realization that many people in the country were likely infected and capable of spreading the disease, but not showing any symptoms". For instance, by the time of the European travel ban on March 11 (a containment strategy), the group considered such containment steps ineffective. Trump still had not directed NPI's as of March 11. As late as March 13, the CDC was still questioning the benefit of closing schools. Governors began to implement NPI's thereafter, "largely without federal leadership".
February 24, 2020: USA President Donald Trump tweeted, "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA ... CDC and World Health [Organization] have been working hard and very smart."
February 24, 2020: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tours Chinatown businesses in San Francisco to prop slumping trade, telling crowds there, "We think it's very safe to be in Chinatown, and hope that others will come."
February 25, 2020: Algeria reports its first case of COVID-19 — an Italian adult, who arrived in the country on Feb. 17. This is the second confirmed case on the African continent. Switzerland, Croatia, and Austria report their first cases.
February 25, 2020: Latin America has first confirmed COVID-19 case, a Brazilian who traveled to Italy. Greece, Georgia, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania and Pakistan report their first cases of COVID-19.
February 26, 2020: At a news conference, President Trump said, "When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done."
February 27, 2020: USA Vice President Mike Pence announces Ambassador Debbie Birx as White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator.
February 27, 2020: Innovation Pharmaceuticals announced the signing of a Material Transfer Agreement with one of the country’s 12 Regional Biocontainment Labs (RBL) to research it's lead defensin mimetic drug candidate, Brilacidin, as a potential novel coronavirus treatment. Mechanism of action studies of Brilacidin, along with assessing possible synergistic effects with other antivirals, are also planned. It is anticipated these tests might be completed within several weeks of the RBL’s receipt of Brilacidin.
February 28, 2020: USA President Donald Trump at a rally in Charleston, S.C., accuses Democrats of "politicizing the coronavirus" and calls attacks on his handling of the situation "their new hoax." Trump downplays the new virus compared with the flu, saying "so far we have lost nobody" and "we are totally prepared."
February 28, 2020: The CDC revised its faulty test for COVID-19.
February 29, 2020: USA President Donald Trump institutes travel restrictions to Iran.
February 29, 2020: The FDA rolls back restrictions for U.S. public and private laboratories to manufacture coronavirus test kits. Health officials across the United States struggle to get tests to those who need them.
February 29, 2020: Ecuador, Qatar, Monaco, and Luxembourg report first cases of COVID-19.
March 1, 2020: In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announces the state's first reported case of COVID-19: a woman in her late 30s, who apparently contracted the virus while traveling in Iran and is self-isolating at home, in New York City.
March 1, 2020: Czech Republic, Iceland, and Armenia report their first cases of COVID-19. The Dominican Republic also reports the first confirmed case of COVID-19 — a 62-year-old Italian man who arrived in the country on Feb. 22. This is the first confirmed case in the Caribbean.
March 2, 2020: Indonesia, Senegal, Portugal, Andora, Latvia, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia report their first cases of COVID-19.
March 3, 2020: New York officials announce the state's second confirmed case: a man in his 50s in New Rochelle, Westchester County who had not recently traveled to any foreign countries affected by the outbreak.
March 5, 2020: South Africa confirms its first case of the coronavirus, a 38-year-old man who returned from Italy with his wife. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Palestine report their first cases of COVID-19.
March 6, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, passing $8.3 billion for crisis response for non-Department of Defense relief, an act of Congress enacted on March 6, 2020.
March 6, 2020: Slovakia, Bhutan, Peru, Costa Rica, Columbia, Cameroon, and Togo report first cases of COVID-19.
March 7, 2020: Malta, Moldova, Paraguay, and the Maldives report first cases of COVID-19.
March 8, 2020: Italy declares a country-wide lockdown.
March 9, 2020: It is reported that the Trump administration, without explanation, postponed the Director of National Intelligence's (DNI) annual US World Wide Threat Assessment which warns that the U.S. remains unprepared for a global pandemic. The office of the DNI was scheduled to deliver the Assessment to the House Intelligence Committee on February 12.
March 9, 2020: DOD begins housing American passengers of the Grand Princess cruise ship at installations in California, Texas and Georgia in support of the Department of Health and Human Services. The individuals will be tested for COVID-19 and quarantined 14 days.
March 9, 2020: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard announced the intent to provide seed-funding up to $125 million to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 disease epidemic by launching the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.
March 9, 2020: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio downplays the coronavirus’s transmissibility, especially in crowds, and says the city didn’t plan on closing schools: "Is it anywhere near to where we are now? No."
March 10, 2020: "Testing has gone very well," Trump tells lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But records reveal that while more than 10,000 people per day are tested in South Korea, fewer than 15,000 tests in total have taken place in the United States.
March 11, 2020: Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Guyana, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines confirm first cases of COVID-19.
March 11, 2020: With more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and nearly 4,300 deaths due to COVID-19, the WHO declares the COVID-19 disease a global health pandemic.
March 11, 2020: In the second prime-time Oval Office speech of his term, President Trump announces a 30-day ban on travel by foreign nationals from 26 nations in Europe, later expanded to include the United Kingdom and Ireland. The president’s misstatement of his order, "suspending all travel from Europe," prompts Americans overseas to rush airports needlessly and creates confusion in the cargo industry.
March 12, 2020: Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, and Gabon confirm first cases of COVID-19.
March 13, 2020: Kazakhstan, Sudan, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Uruguay, Guatemala, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Mauritania confirm first cases of COVID-19.
March 13, 2020: The Director-General said that Europe had become the epicentre of the pandemic with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from the People’s Republic of China.
March 13, 2020: “The next eight weeks are critical,” says President Trump, formally declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency in a Rose Garden speech. The order opens access to $50 billion in aid to states, asks hospitals to activate emergency preparedness plans, and waives laws to allow telehealth and other critical healthcare responses. New restrictions limit flight arrivals of U.S. citizens to 13 U.S. airports.
March 14, 2020: USA President Donald Trump proclaims travel restrictions on the United Kingdom and Ireland.
March 16, 2020: A Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has begun at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle. The vaccine is called mRNA-1273 and was developed by NIAID scientists and their collaborators at the biotechnology company Moderna, Inc., based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) supported the manufacturing of the vaccine candidate for the Phase 1 clinical trial.
March 16, 2020: White House announces "15 Days to Slow the Spread," a nationwide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 through the implementation of social distancing at all levels of society.
March 16, 2020: DOD approves an Health and Human Services request to provide 5M N95 respirators. U.S. Air Force flies 500,000 swabs for COVID-19 testing kits from Italy to the United States.
March 17, 2020: Grand Princess repatriation flights 1 and 2 arrive at Travis AFB, Calif., and Lackland AFB, Texas.
March 17, 2020: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced scientists have now isolated hundreds of virus-neutralizing, fully-human antibodies from the company's VelocImmune® mice, which have been genetically-modified to have a human immune system. Regeneron has also isolated antibodies from humans who have recovered from COVID-19, in order to maximize the pool of potentially potent antibodies. From this large pool of candidates, Regeneron will select the top two antibodies for a 'cocktail' treatment based on potency and binding ability to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, as well as other desirable qualities.
March 17, 2020: DOD announces the Department will make available up to 5M respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from its strategic reserves to Department of Health and Human Services for distribution. DOD will make approximately 2,000 deployable ventilators available to Department of Health and Human Services. DOD has also made 14 certified testing labs available to test non-DOD personnel, and two labs would be added to that total.
March 17, 2020: Global biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (based in New York City USA) announced the signing of a letter of intent with BioNTech SE (based in Mainz Germany) for the co-development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection.
March 18, 2020: WHO and partners launched the Solidarity trial, an international clinical trial that aims to generate robust data from around the world to find the most effective treatments for COVID-19.
March 18, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing $3.5B emergency supplemental appropriations related to COVID-19, as well as waivers and modifications of Federal nutrition programs, employment-related protections and benefits, health programs and insurance coverage requirements, and related tax credits during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
March 18, 2020: DOD launches the "Hack-a-Vent" challenge, assembling a rapid response team of medical professionals and engineers that will harness innovation to address a projected shortfall of ventilators.
March 19, 2020: The U.S. State Department issues a Level 4 "do not travel" advisory, the highest it can issue, recommending that U.S. citizens avoid any global travel. The EU also moves to close its borders to travel from outsiders.
March 20, 2020: WHO Health Alert, which offers instant and accurate information about COVID-19, launched on WhatsApp. It is available in multiple languages with users around the world.
March 19, 2020: USA President Donald Trump invokes the Defense Production Act.
March 20, 2020: New York City declared US outbreak epicenter
March 20, 2020: White House announces an agreement with Mexico to restrict non-essential travel across shared border.
March 24, 2020: Japan postpones Olympics
March 25, 2020: The UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan was launched by the WHO Director-General, UN Secretary-General, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UNICEF Executive Director...a US$2 billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world's most vulnerable countries in a bid to protect millions of people and stop the virus from circling back around the globe.
March 26, 2020: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences announces more than 200 medical and graduate nursing students will forgo graduation ceremonies in order to join the ranks of their military counterparts faster.
March 27, 2020: President Donald Trump signs the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities) Act, a $2 trillion economic aid bill Congress passed the same day, sending money to small businesses, nonprofits, churches, and individuals: Title I – Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act; Title II – Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses; Title III – Supporting America’s Health Care System in the Fight Against the Coronavirus; Title IV – Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the United States Economy; Title V – Coronavirus Relief Funds; Title VI – Miscellaneous Provisions. As additional economic stimulus, Title IV of the CARES Act authorizes the Treasury Secretary to make up to $500 billion worth of loans and loan guarantees to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities. Title IV is to be implemented by the Department of the Treasury in conjunction with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
March 27, 2020: USA President Donald Trump invokes the Defense Production Act, requiring GM to make ventilators.
March 31, 2020: FUJIFILM Toyama Chemical Co., Ltd. announced today the initiation of phase III clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of influenza antiviral drug “Avigan Tablet” (generic name: favipiravir) in Japan for patients of COVID-19 disease, a respiratory infection caused by the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
March 31, 2020: WHO announced the launch of a chatbot with Rakuten Viber, a free messaging and calling app. Subscribers to the WHO Viber chatbot receive notifications with the latest news and information directly from WHO. It is available in multiple languages with users around the world.
April 3, 2020: The CDC recommends Americans wear masks in public.
April 6, 2020: RedHill Biopharma Ltd. announced that it has received authorization from the Italian National Institute for Infectious Diseases and Central Italian Ethics Committee for an expanded access program allowing immediate compassionate use of its investigational drug, opaganib (Yeliva®, ABC294640), in Italy, for patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection with life-threatening clinical manifestations. Approximately 160 patients are planned to be treated in three major hospitals in northern Italy, one of the current major epicenters of the pandemic.
April 6, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces 3M has agreed to provide 166 million+ masks for front-line health care workers.
April 6, 2020: WHO issued updated guidance on masks, including a new section on advice to decision-makers on mask use by healthy people in communities.
April 8, 2020: Wuhan ends its lockdown after the city reports only three new cases in the past three weeks.
April 9, 2020: The U.S. Federal Reserve announces a multi-trillion-dollar expansion of its direct lending programs, the first since the 1930s, aimed at midsize businesses crippled by the economic shutdown
April 13, 2020: Defense Logistics Agency awards $415 million contract for 60 Battelle Memorial Institute Critical Care Decontamination Systems that can decontaminate up to 80,000 N95 used respirators per system per day, enabling mask reuse up to 20 times.
April 14, 2020: AP reported that "Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation's economy ... Fauci said that a May 1 target is 'a bit overly optimistic' for many areas of the country. Any easing off the strict social-distancing rules in place in much of the country would have to occur on a rolling basis, not all at once."
April 14, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces he is cutting off the nation’s contributions to the World Health Organization, criticizing the agency for mismanaging the response. It is unclear whether he has the authority to do so.
April 16, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces guidelines on the three phases of Opening Up America Again.
April 18, 2020: WHO and Global Citizen co-hosted the 'One World: Together At Home' concert, a global on-air special to celebrate and support front line healthcare workers. The concert raised a total of $127.9 million, providing $55.1 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and $72.8 million to local and regional responders.
April 19, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces he will use the Defense Production Act to increase COVID-19 testing swab production in one U.S. facility by over 20 million additional swabs per month.
April 21, 2020: DOD announces details for $133 million Defense Production Act Title 3 COVID-19 project. Three companies awarded contracts to increase U.S. domestic N95 mask production by over 39M in the next 90 days: 3M ($76 million), O&M Halyward ($29 million), and Honeywell ($27.4 million).
April 22, 2020: USA President Donald Trump issues temporary suspension in new immigrant visas for the next 60 days.
April 23, 2020: Eli Lilly reported the company entered into an agreement with the NIAID to study baricitinib as an arm in NIAID's Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Phase 3 Trial. The company also announced that it will advance LY3127804, an investigational selective monoclonal antibody against Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2), to Phase 2 testing in pneumonia patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who are at a higher risk of progressing to acute respiratory distress syndrome. And, the company entered into an agreement with AbCellera to co-develop antibody products for the potential treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
April 24, 2020: In a virtual event co-hosted by WHO, President Emmanuel Macron of France, President Ursula Von der Leyen of the European Commission and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Director-General launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. The ACT-Accelerator is organized into four pillars of work: diagnostics [led by FIND and Global Fund], treatment [led by Wellcome and Unitaid.], vaccines [led by CEPI, GAVI and WHO.] and health system strengthening [led by World Bank and Global Fund].
April 24, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, providing additional funding to support Americans impacted by the coronavirus.
April 27, 2020: CNN reported hospitals in New York are giving COVID-19 patients heartburn medicine. Preliminary results of the clinical trial of famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid, could come out in the next few weeks, said Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health. So far, 187 patients have enrolled in the clinical trial, and Northwell eventually hopes to enroll 1,200, he said.
April 27, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces blueprint for testing to help safely open up America again.
April 28, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs Executive Order regarding using the Defense Production Act to ensure that Americans have a reliable supply of products like beef, pork, and poultry.
May 5, 2020: WHO launched the COVID-19 Supply Portal, a purpose-built tool to facilitate and consolidate submission of supply requests from national authorities and all implementing partners supporting COVID-19 National Action Plans. The Portal is accessed via the COVID-19 Partners Platform.
May 8, 2020: Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the U.S. jobless rate reached 14.7% in April, the highest level since the Great Depression. The White House noted that many of the job losses are due to temporary layoffs.
May 13, 2020: Designed to inform health care workers to help them care for COVID-19 patients and protect themselves, the WHO Academy App launched, together with the WHO Info app for the general public.
May 14, 2020: Abivax SA announced that ABX464 inhibits replication of SARS-CoV-2 in an in vitro reconstituted human respiratory epithelium model, as assessed by Transepithelial electrical resistance and RTqPCR. ABX464 has already been shown to be an effective drug candidate in severe inflammatory disease, ulcerative colitis.
May 15, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces "Operation Warp Speed," the administration's national program to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 medical countermeasures. DOD will join key agencies in the public-private partnership to support in diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, production and distribution, and security and assistance.
May 15, 2020: Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. announced that its anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody, STI-1499, demonstrated 100% inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in an in vitro virus infection experiment at a very low antibody concentration. As recently announced, Sorrento aims to generate an antibody cocktail product that would act as a "protective shield" against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection and remain effective even if virus mutations render a single antibody therapy less effective over time.
May 20, 2020: For the first time since U.S. states implemented stay-at-home measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, all 50 states have begun to partially lift restrictions.
May 22, 2020: Cuba credits two drugs with slashing coronavirus death toll. One is itolizumab, a monoclonal antibody produced in Cuba and elsewhere. The other is a peptide that Cuba says its biotech industry discovered and has been testing for rheumatoid arthritis in Phase II clinical trials.
May 24, 2020: USA President Donald Trump suspends travel from Brazil, which has hit a record surge of COVID-19 cases, effective at 11:59 p.m on May 26.
May 29, 2020: Thirty countries and multiple international partners and institutions launched the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), an initiative to make vaccines, tests, treatments and other health technologies to fight COVID-19 accessible to all. Voluntary and based on social solidarity, C-TAP aims to provide a one-stop shop for equitably sharing scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property.
May 29, 2020: USA President Donald Trump says during a press conference the country is "terminating" its relationship with WHO and "redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs." He says the move comes because WHO failed to make requested reforms.
June 1, 2020: Avifavir, a Favipiravir-based drug, has received a temporary registration certificate from the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation. Avifavir is Russia’s first COVID-19 drug and has shown high efficacy in treating patients diagnosed with COVID-19 disease during human clinical trials.
June 5, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs into law the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020, modifying provisions for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program.
June 16, 2020: WHO welcomed initial clinical trial results from the UK that showed dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, could be lifesaving for patients critically ill with COVID-19. This is the first drug shown to save the lives of people requiring oxygen or ventilator support. The news built off the Global Research and Innovation Forum, which took place in Geneva in mid-February, to accelerate health technologies for COVID-19. The Forum highlighted further research into the use of steroids as a priority.
June 22, 2020: USA President Donald Trump extends the temporary suspension on new immigrant visas that was implemented on April 22 through the end of the year.
July 4, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs into law a bill that reauthorizes lending under the Paycheck Protection Program through August 8, 2020, and separates the authorized limits for commitments under the program from other Small Business Administration loan programs.
July 6, 2020: The U.S. submits its formal notification to withdraw from WHO. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is reviewing whether the U.S. has met the conditions to do so.
July 13, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs into law the "Emergency Aid for Returning Americans Affected by Coronavirus Act," which increases from $1 million to $10 million the amount that the Department of Health and Human Services may spend for the provision of assistance to repatriated U.S. citizens in Fiscal Year 2020.
15 July 2020: The COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, secured engagement from more than 150 countries, representing over 60% of the world’s population and is a part of the broader Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) consortium.
July 16, 2020: Novartis announced a new initiative to help patients in low-income and lower-middle-income countries access affordable medicines to treat the major symptoms of COVID-19. The Novartis COVID-19 portfolio includes 15 medicines from its Sandoz division for gastrointestinal illness, acute respiratory symptoms, pneumonia as well as septic shock. The medicines were chosen based on clinical relevance and availability to ensure demand can be met globally.
July 20, 2020: Synairgen plc, which originated from research at the University of Southampton, announce positive results from its clinical trial of SNG001, its wholly-owned inhaled formulation of interferon beta, in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The company stated patients who received SNG001 had a 79% lower risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease, compared to placebo. And, patients who received SNG001 were more than twice as likely to recover from COVID-19 as those on placebo.
22 July 2020: WHO, the United Nations Development Programme, and Georgetown University launched the COVID-19 Law Lab, a database of laws implemented in over 190 countries in response to the pandemic. The initiative's goal is to ensure that laws protect health and wellbeing, while adhering to international human rights standards.
July 27, 2020: Moderna and Pfizer begin Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. This step builds toward the Operation Warp Speed goal to begin delivering millions of doses of safe and effective vaccines to Americans by January 2021.
July 28, 2020: The CDC calls for reopening American schools, in a statement written by a White House working group that includes Redfield but has minimal representation from other CDC officials.
July 29, 2020: Google announces that its employees will continue working at home until July 2021.
August 4, 2020: ANA Therapeutics announced today that the U.S. FDA has cleared its investigational new drug application for ANA001 (niclosamide capsules) as a potential treatment for COVID-19 disease, making it the first U.S.-based company to conduct a human clinical trial to determine the efficacy of niclosamide to treat COVID-19. In pre-clinical research, niclosamide has been shown to stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from replicating and to be more potent than remdesivir in the same assay. Furthermore, niclosamide has documented anti-inflammatory properties.
August 4, 2020: A new antibody treatment study in the US National Institutes of Health’s Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) program launched. Patients admitted with COVID-19 disease at select hospitals in the USA may now volunteer to enroll in a clinical trial to test the safety and efficacy of a potential new treatment for the disease.
August 6, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on ensuring essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs are made in the United States.
August 7, 2020 - Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi (The Vaccine Alliance), announced new landmark collaboration between the Serum Institute of India (SII), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries in 2021.
August 8, 2020: USA President Donald Trump signs a memorandum authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for major disaster declarations related to COVID-19.
August 23, 2020: The Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.
August 25, 2020: USA President Donald Trump announces additional steps, including new testing requirements, to help protect nursing home residents from COVID-19.
August 27, 2020: The Trump Administration announces its purchase and production of 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests, to be distributed across the country.
September 9, 2020: Dr. Reddy's Laboratories announced the launch of Redyx, which is a potential treatment for COVID-19 pneumonia in India. The launch is part of the licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, Inc. that grants Dr. Reddy’s rights to register, manufacture and sell Remdesivir, in 127 countries, including India. In the USA, Remdesivir is now known as Veklury.
September 14, 2020: The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists have isolated the smallest biological molecule to date that completely and specifically neutralizes the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the cause of COVID-19. This antibody component, which is 10 times smaller than a full-sized antibody, has been used to construct a drug—known as Ab8—for potential use as a therapeutic and prophylactic against SARS-CoV-2.
September 1, 2020: The CDC is using its authority, derived from USA President Donald Trump's 8-August-2020 Executive Order on assisting renters/homeowners, to temporarily halt evictions through the end of 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
September 16, 2020: The Department of Health and Human Services and DOD release two documents outlining the Administration's strategy to deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine doses to Americans as quickly and reliably as possible. The documents provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for jurisdiction operations.
September 28, 2020: DOD, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services, signed a $20 million contract with On Demand Pharmaceuticals to develop domestic production of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients. This collaboration is expected to increase onshore production of ingredients that form the building blocks for medicines used to treat critically ill U.S. service members and COVID-19 patients.
September 29, 2020: A further collaboration among the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, Gavi and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will accelerate the manufacture and delivery of up to an additional 100 million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC, a mechanism within the COVAX Facility.
October 1, 2020: USA President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, senior presidential adviser Hope Hicks, and other White House staff test positive for COVID-19.
October 1, 2020: The FDA revised it's Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to reflect changes in the distribution and allocation of the antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir).
October 2, 2020: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. confirmed that it provided a single 8-gram dose of REGN-COV2, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, for use by President Trump, which was provided in response to an Individual Patient Investigational New Drug application submitted by the President's physicians.
October 2, 2020: USA President Donald J. Trump was administered a dose of the antiviral Veklury (Remdesivir) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, located in Bethesda, Maryland.
October 2, 2020: Bill Stepien, USA President Donald Trump’s presidential re-election campaign manager, tests positive for COVID-19 as does Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. Other recent prominent White House visitors to test positive for COVID-19 include former advisor Kellyanne Conway, Senator Mike Lee, and Senator Thom Tillis.
October 3, 2020: Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is one of USA President Trump’s closest outside advisers and who also helped the President to prepare for the second Presidential debate, tests positive for COVID-19.
October 5, 2020: USA President Donald Trump walked out of Walter Reed Military Medical Center shortly after 6:30 p.m. and returned to the White House following three days of treatment for a COVID-19 infection. Meanwhile, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced that she tested positive for the COVID-19 infection.
October 10, 2020: White House Dr. Sean Conley issued a statement declaring USA President Donald Trump no longer poses a risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others.
October 14, 2020: First Lady Melania Trump posted her experience with COVID-19 on the whitehouse.gov website and revealed that she subsequently tested negative for the COVID-19 infection.
October 24, 2020: Five of USA Vice President Mike Pence's aides, including his chief of staff and his senior political adviser, tested positive for COVID-19 marking the second time during the month of October 2020 that the White House became the focal point of a COVID-19 outbreak. USA Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative.
November 9, 2020: Pfizer and BioNTech announce vaccine candidate against COVID-19 achieved success in first interim analysis from Phase 3 study
November 9, 2020: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives authorization to Eli Lilly and Company to release its COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment for emergency use.
November 9, 2020: In another COVID-19 outbreak at the White House, it was announced that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary Ben Carson, USA President Trump's campaign strategist Nick Trainer, and David Bossie (who leads USA President Trump's election legal team) tested positive for contracting the COVID-19 virus including positive COVID-19 cases for four more unnamed White House staffers.
November 12, 2020: COVID-19 outbreaks continue to follow the trail of USA President Donald Trump. Corey Lewandowski, an adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign, is the latest White House visitor to test positive for the coronavirus.
November 13, 2020: In the wake of USA President Trump’s campaign travel, it was announced that more than 100 USA Secret Service officers are either infected with the COVID-19 virus or have been told to self-isolate after being exposed to someone who tested positive for contracting the virus.
November 19, 2020: In anticipation of the 31-December-2020 spending deadline, USA Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell requesting the return of roughly $445 billion in unused funds allocated to several programs under the CARES Act, which was a bill passed by the USA Congress to counter the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and signed into law by USA President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020.
November 20, 2020: Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and son of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, tested positive for COVID-19.
November 20, 2020: It was announced that USA President Donald J. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., had contracted the COVID-19 virus.
November 21, 2020: The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for use of its COVID-19 antibody drug cocktail to treat COVID-19 patients.
November 21, 2020: USA President Donald J. Trump attended the virtual Group of 20 (or G-20 comprising 19 countries and the European Union) summit’s opening session but opted to go golfing rather than listen to the group of world leaders discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.
The race continues across the globe in pursuit of a vaccine. Although drug makers Pfizer and BioNTech seem to have sprinted into an early and unofficial lead in the race to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, no vaccine candidate has attained final FDA approval for its safety and effectiveness as of December 1, 2020 [that is, at the time this web page was launched]. Drug makers Pfizer and BioNTech stand poised to claim first place in the race to develop a vaccine. The two videos below depict high-level overviews of the race.
As of December 1, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic unrelentlessly continues to infect more and more humans and shown in the following COVID-19 tracker by Our World in Data.
Our World in Data's COVID0-19 Tracker
Tracker Credit: Max Roser, Hannah Ritchie, Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Joe Hasell (2020) - "Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)". Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: 'https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus' [Online Resource]
As the world becomes better equipped to broadly test the population for the presence of a COVID-19 infection, the number of COVID-19 cases per person might increase in the short run. At the same time, as the world becomes more knowledgeable about the most effective treatments for COVID-19 and as these treatments become more widely available, the number of deaths per person from COVID-19 can be expected to decrease. There should be a corresponding increase in the number of COVID-19 patients released from hospitals with the emergence of more effective COVID-19 medical treatments. Even with the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, given the number of humans already infected—and untreated—with the virus, there is every reason to think that COVID-19 will remain a potent human threat for all of year 2021 but more so in some countries than others depending on the availability of care.
The Next Pandemic Outbreak: Are Humans Prepared?
To paraphrase, the Holy Bible's Old Testament (Deuteronomy 15:11) before Christ and its New Testament (Matthew 26:11) after Christ profess that "the poor will always be with you." On the one hand, it is my hope that, one day, these two Biblical professions prove to be false. On the other hand, I think it is reasonable to conclude the notion that, "pandemics—and natural disasters—will always be with you," represents an accurate reflection of the contemporary human condition.
How, then, do humans prepare for the next global pandemic if it is inevitable? The simple answer is this: Human can prepare by stockpiling emergency supplies and resources, planning, training, and rehearsing so as to be better equipped to respond to the next pandemic. A great deal of work and preparation might go into detailed documenting, stockpiling, planning, training, rehearsing, and simulating pandemic outbreaks. The preparatory process would not be too dissimilar to the disaster recovery programs that many large businesses devise and rehearse. In preparation for war, military generals normally devise extensive and detailed battle plans and scenarios to win the war. Similarly, in preparation for the next pandemic, policy makers have to devise various scenarios to arrest the pandemic.
In terms of contemporary efforts to better prepare for the next pandemic, honoroable mention goes to the legendary Bill Gates. He, perhaps, is the most popularly known spokesperson to sound the pandemic-alert alarm long before the COVID-19 virus reared its head and proceeded to engulf Earth. In a very public-facing way, when it comes to virus pandemics, Bill Gates has served as the proverbial canary in a coal mine. He has sought to warn USA political leaders of the perils of not preparing for the next virus pandemic by marshalling the required resources as illustrated by the next video.
Though not as popularly known or as familiar to the public as Bill Gates, long before Bill Gates emerged on the pandemic scene, there was the legendary John Barry. John Barry has devoted a lifetime of public service to studying and warning all who would listen about the urgent need to prepare for pandemic virus outbreaks. John Barry also played a role in devising the now-familiar NPIs.
The following flipbook, which was prepared from a Prescription for Pandemic Flu document published by the American Public Health Association's (APHA), provides some insights into how humans can better plan and train for the next pandemic flu. The broader objective is to not drop below condition level 3 as depicted in the graphic at the end of this section.
Why do pandemics represent cause for concern and alarm? Why is preparing for the next pandemics so essential? The answer is because pandemics possess exponential growth properties. What does exponential growth mean (as contrasted with, say, incremental growth)? The following "A Penny a Day" video offers a lesson in exponential growth. If the next pandemic, in fact, were to spread exponentially in the same manner as illustrated in the "A Penny a Day" video (and assuming no treatments or cures existed and inadequate preventative measures existed), then one thing becomes vividly clear: The pandemic very quickly could spiral out of control and cause lots of casualties (injuries) and fatalities (deaths). If the next global pandemic grew exponentially and also happened to be as lethal as, say, the Ebola virus, then it would pose an existential threat to human existence given the non-existence of effective preventative measures or cures to combat the particular pandemic in question.
Speaking of exponential growth, it further is worthy to note that, in recent human history (namely, the past 200 years), the human population growth rate has begun exhibiting exponential growth-like properties. Given the existence of limited resources (such as arable land, minerals, and fresh water) on Earth juxtaposed against a virtually unlimited human demand for products and a concomitant human demand for higher living standards, yet another essential challenge facing humans is the need for them to control their population growth rate. Heretofore, a primary mechanism for controlling an unlimited demand for products has been widespread adoption of a market-based system of demand, supply, and price with money serving as a medium of exchange between buyers and sellers or producers and consumers. Stated simply, those humans who lacked the monetary resources to pay the market prices for products would consume the least. This availability of money reality—or lack thereof—suggests a certain stability, discipline, and astuteness are required in the management of household income (primarily, through adopting long-term saving and investing strategies), that is, if one wishes to prosper in a material sense. A primary mechanism for controlling the population growth explosion has been concerted worldwide adoption of various family-planning strategies.