Coronavirus: A look back
- 5 mins Read
7 January 2020
Report of a mysterious illness - 59 cases of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness in China, linked to a wet market in Wuhan. The affected individuals became ill between 12 and 29 December 2019.
9 January 2020
WHO reports Chinese authorities have identified a completely novel coronavirus as the cause of the illness and sequenced its genome, less than a month since the first person became ill.
The world records its first coronavirus death - China reports that a 61-year-old man has become the first known victim of the novel coronavirus. He was a regular customer at Wuhan’s wet market.
Wuhan Lockdown - Wuhan is put under a strict lockdown by the Chinese government. All travel in and out of the city is prohibited.
The coronavirus makes it to Europe - The first case of coronavirus in Europe is confirmed in France. The UK reports its first case on 31 January.
The disease is named - WHO names the disease caused by the coronavirus “covid-19” or” coronavirus disease 2019”, after the year the first cases were reported.
Europe’s lockdowns begin - Italy records its first coronavirus death and 50,000 people from 10 towns in the north of the country enter lockdown.
UK’s first coronavirus death - The UK records its first death, a woman in her 70s. 115 cases have now been confirmed in the UK.
The start of nationwide lockdowns - Italy becomes the first European country to impose a nationwide lockdown. Sports events are postponed, schools and universities closed and over 60 million people ordered to stay at home.
WHO declares covid-19 a pandemic
A potential vaccine offers hope
Europe closes its borders. The world’s first human trial of a covid-19 vaccine, an mRNA vaccine developed by US biotechnology company Moderna, begins.
The UK enters its first lockdown - Following other European nations, the UK enters a nationwide lockdown. Shortly afterwards, UK prime minister Boris Johnson tests positive for the coronavirus.
One million cases - Global cases reach one million as the US records the most daily deaths from covid-19 of any country so far. New York City is particularly hard-hit, with hospitals in the city at capacity.
Cases begin to rise again - WHO warns cases are starting to rise again in Europe, as a result of the easing of restrictions in many countries.
Masks become mandatory in England - With WHO acknowledging evidence that the coronavirus can spread indoors via air particles, it becomes mandatory to wear masks in shops in England, bringing it in line with Scotland and other European nations including Italy and Germany.
Lockdowns return - Ireland becomes the first European country to impose a second nationwide lockdown. England follows two weeks later.
Vaccine trials prove successful - Pfizer and BioNTech announce that results from phase III trials show their mRNA vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic covid-19.
Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is shown to be effective.
The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s viral vector-based vaccine is also said to have done well in trials.
Vaccines get their first approvals - The UK government becomes the first in the world to authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Mass vaccination begins - The UK’s mass-vaccination programme begins as over 50 hospitals in the UK start administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people aged over 80.
New variants - A new variant of the coronavirus, possibly associated with a faster spread, is identified in the county of Kent in the UK.
UK cases surge - hospitals risk being overwhelmed by surging cases, with evidence suggesting this is partly due to the variant first detected in Kent, which spreads faster.
UK deaths reach 100,000
Vaccinations ramp up (unequally) Over 7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the UK, compared to just 25 doses in the west African state of Guinea.
Worldwide vaccination - More than 216 million people have now received their first dose worldwide.
Staying ahead of the virus - 6 people in the UK test positive for the P.1 coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil. Five of those six had either returned or had close contact with people returning from Brazil. One of several variants, along with the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 that may be more transmissible, vaccine developers are already modifying existing vaccines to stay ahead of the virus.
UK moves into ‘phase 2’ of lockdown roadmap - re-opening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and beer gardens and outdoor hospitality.
Majority of indoor and remaining outdoor economy reopens, and gathering limits increase. The Stay in the UK restriction lifted allowing people to travel to green list countries, if they permit inbound travel.
UK’s so called ‘Freedom Day’ sees all remaining restrictions lifted.
(Credit: New Scientist)
The creation and subsequent approvals of the vaccinations gave real hope to the world. As we’ve seen the roll out of these across the UK, we’ve seen the loosening of lockdown restrictions and people being able to return to more of a sense of every day life.
(Credit: Data sourced from Gov.uk)
(Credit: data sourced from Gov.uk)
New information is surfacing every day presenting us with further potential issues to overcome. As we head towards a new school term and into the winter months, Scientists now fear that the vaccination protection wanes after six months. Plans for booster jabs are in discussions and Professor Tim Spector, the lead author of the Zoe research, has said Coronavirus booster jabs should be prioritised over vaccinating children if the UK wants to reduce deaths and hospitalisations.
With the world’s leading scientists pouring endless time and resources into getting ahead of the virus, we have to be thankful to the wonders of modern medicine to create mass vaccinations in record time periods. There is still a long way to go in the fight against this disease but we’re thankful for the progress that’s been made so far.