At this time is the 1,065th day of the pandemic and its third anniversary. For the reason that begin of the pandemic, the world has seen over 681.5 million instances and 6.81 million deaths. We’ve learnt a lot over the previous three years but additionally so little.
On March 11, 2020, the World Well being Group declared a pandemic. The novel coronavirus was sweeping the world and the world had misplaced its means to include it, if it ever had had such a functionality.
Senior leaders in lots of nations reacted with denial, an air of incredulity, and naturally worry.
Right here’s how we obtained to that time.
Whereas there have been instances of Covid (which had not but been named) in 2019, the World Well being Group on January 8, 2020 issued a press release discussing a “pneumonia of unknown trigger” that its workplace in China had been notified of on December 31, 2019. As of January 3, 2020, a complete of 44 sufferers with pneumonia of unknown etiology had been reported to the company by the nationwide authorities in China.
In the future later, the WHO mentioned that “Chinese language authorities have made a preliminary willpower of a novel (or new) coronavirus, recognized in a hospitalized particular person with pneumonia in Wuhan,” maybe the primary time the phrase “novel coronavirus” was bandied about within the run-up to the worldwide pandemic.
Public well being officers understandably didn’t grasp the severity of the state of affairs.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the appearing head of WHO’s rising ailments unit, advised Reuters on the time, that “[F]rom the knowledge that we’ve got, it’s attainable that there’s restricted human-to-human transmission, probably amongst households, however it is rather clear proper now that we’ve got no sustained human-to-human transmission.”
Politicians buried their heads within the sand.
Then President Donald Trump, when requested by a CNBC reporter on January 22 about any concern he might need of an impending pandemic, pooh-poohed it. “No. Under no circumstances … We now have it completely underneath management. It’s one particular person coming in from China, and we’ve got it underneath management. It’s going to be simply positive.“
Wuhan, in the meantime, was shutting down and the WHO started to point the opportunity of a world public well being emergency.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, mentioned in a press release on January 23 that the novel coronavirus outbreak was not but a public well being emergency of worldwide concern, however added this ominous warning: “Make no mistake. That is an emergency in China, but it surely has not but turn out to be a world well being emergency. It could but turn out to be one.“
That solely took every week.
On January 29, the pinnacle of the WHO’s Well being emergency Programme issued a dire warning: “The entire world must be on alert now. The entire world must take motion and be prepared for any instances that come from the epicenter or different epicenter that turns into established.”
One of many saddest moments was the demise of Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, on February 7 2020 from Covid. Li had sounded the alarm over the virus virtually a month earlier and was compelled to retract his assertion by Chinese language authorities. In an interview with the New York Occasions previous to his demise, he mentioned that he felt he “was being wronged” however “needed to settle for it.” “If the officers had disclosed details about the epidemic earlier, I believe it will have been loads higher. There needs to be extra openness and transparency,” the courageous physician mentioned.
The WHO named the virus COVID-19 on February 11, with its director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, telling the world “a virus is extra highly effective in creating political, financial and social upheaval than any terrorist assault.“
“If the world doesn’t wish to get up and take into account this enemy virus as public enemy primary, I don’t assume we’ll be taught our classes.”