One year of coronavirus: How the pandemic has unfolded and what’s next

New Delhi (NVI): It was on this very day in 2019, the first case of coronavirus was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which marked the starting of a pandemic, not seen since the Spanish flu over a century ago.

Following the outbreak, the world was plunged into a crisis that triggered financial turmoil among sectors across the globe, that rendered millions of people jobless in the months that followed.

In March, the South China Morning Post published an article based on Chinese government data that showed the first known case of COVID-19 can be traced back to November 17, 2019 — possibly a 55-year-old individual from Hubei province, although “patient zero” is yet to be confirmed.

Furthermore, on January 11, a 61-year-old man with severe underlying health conditions became the first confirmed death from the new virus.

However, Chinese authorities did not officially identify the first case of the new disease until December 8, 2019.

Initial reports put the source of the pandemic down to a live animal wet market – the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market – but the cause is still unknown.

According to the Chinese CDC, initial laboratory tests from patients suffering from the viral pneumonia were negative for 26 common respiratory pathogens. It was not until January 7 that Chinese scientists confirmed that a novel coronavirus, dubbed 2019-nCoV, was the cause of the mysterious outbreak.

Over the course of January, international media took an increasing interest in the growing coronavirus outbreak as the virus spread around the world.

On January 12, China publicly shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus. And just a day later, officials in Thailand confirmed a case of COVID-19—the first outside China itself.

By January 20, the virus had spread all around China and to a handful of other countries including Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the United States, as governments scrambled to respond to the outbreak.

On January 30, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kerala, India.

Notably, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020, and a pandemic in March 2020, by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The outbreak of the pandemic has changed the scenario across the world. Several countries had to enforce a lockdown to control the pandemic.

The hunt for a vaccine too has been a long one. On Monday, US-based biotechnology giant Moderna announced that its COVID-19 vaccine has shown to be 94.5 per cent effective in preventing the deadly disease, bringing a glimmer of hope to a world ravaged by the pandemic.

Long before the COVID-19 outbreak started, experts had been warning of the risks of a deadly global pandemic. In September 2019, shortly before the novel coronavirus emerged, a team of international scientists said in a report that efforts to prepare for such an event were “grossly insufficient.”

US, India and Brazil remain the worst affected countries respectively in terms of number of cases and fatalities caused by the deadly contagion.

Although countries around the world are engaged in developing effective vaccines for the novel coronavirus, it is still uncertain as to when will a vaccine be made available.

In the meantime, only one thing is certain: COVID-19 is not done with us yet.

The virus has now claimed the lives of more than 1.2 million people worldwide, with cases surpassing 50 million in 190 countries.

-CHK/ARK