COVID-19 TIMELINE

COVID-19 has made it clear that public health is essential to economic recovery.
The notion that we must choose between them is ridiculous – and has had deadly consequences.

The timeline plots the history of COVID-19, from the first reported case to current events,
which are kept regularly updated.

It can be viewed chronologically, as things happened, or by most recent events first.
Here you can find more a detailed introduction and a guide to abbreviations.

This timeline will be updated approximately weekly throughout 2021.
Please check back for the latest developments.

9 March 2021

• J & J announces that it may fall short of the 55 million dose quota set for the end of June, which may result in  delayed and smaller deliveries to the EU, which is expected to approve the vaccine on 11 March. Source
• Indonesia approves the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. Source
• Antonio Di Naro, president of Italy’s Adienne Pharma, announces that the company plans to start production of  the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine this summer. Source
• A year after its initial lockdown, Italy reaches 100,000 coronavirus deaths – the sixth-highest total globally, and the second highest in Europe, after the UK.  Source
• Norway joins France, Germany and Sweden in clearing the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for use in people age 65 years and over. Source

8 March 2021

• Although US coronavirus cases have dramatically decreased since the end of January, they have now surpassed 29 million. Source
• China introduces a digital vaccine passport, featuring an encrypted scannable code that could also be used by other countries to track traveler’s data. Source
• Pfizer-supported laboratory research reports that its coronavirus vaccine  was effective against the P.1 variant (first identified in Brazil) and the B.1.1.7 variant; the vaccine also had “robust but lower” activity against the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa), although the authors cautioned that real-life data are needed to confirm their results. Source
• The EU announces that it will propose vaccine travel certificates. Source
• Thailand’s Deputy Premier and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that the country will issue documents to fully vaccinated residents enabling them to travel out of the country. The country will reduce its mandatory quarantine from 14 to seven days for vaccinated visitors. Source
• Vaccine hesitancy in the US – where nearly 18 percent of residents have gotten at least one dose – could thwart efforts to control COVID-19; a recent survey by the Census Bureau fond only 54 percent of  unvaccinated people are definitely willing to be vaccinated while  23 percent of people say they probably will be vaccinated and 23 percent say they  will probably not  or definitely not get vaccinated. The same survey reported different levels of vaccine acceptance  by race/ethnicity, with the highest levels among Asian people (68.7 percent), followed by White people (56.3 percent), Hispanic people (54.1 percent) and Black people (42.1 percent). Racial disparities  and well-founded distrust in the healthcare system in the US have led to far lower vaccination rates among people of color. (22 percent of White adults versus 13 percent of Black adults and 11 percent of Hispanic adults). Source
• The coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa,B.1.351, has been detected in a Colorado prison, which is concerning because prisoners are far more likely to become infected than the general population – and because a prior infection with an older version of the virus does not seem to provide immunity to this variant. Source
• Afghanistan has received nearly 470,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus from COVAX. Source
• New Zealand has secured enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for its entire population, although vaccination won’t begin until mid-2021. Source
• Viet Nam began its coronavirus vaccination campaign by inoculating healthcare workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Source
• Italy approves use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in persons over age 65. Source
• Merck and Ridgeback Pharmaceuticals report positive data from a phase IIa trial of their oral antiviral, molnupiravir – based on viral clearance among people with COVID-19 who were not hospitalized – although data on the drug’s  clinical benefits have not yet been reported. Source
• In Austria, a batch of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines has been pulled after one person died from a coagulation disorder and another suffered a pulmonary embolism, both after receiving a dose from the  batch. The government said  there is no evidence linking the vaccine, but it is conducting an investigation. Source
• Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus; both report mild symptoms. Source

7 March 2021

• Globally, over 304 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered. At the current vaccination rate of 7,927,674 daily doses, it will take nearly four years to cover 75 percent of the global population with two doses of vaccine. Source
• Italy launches a trial of a single-injection COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment that its developers claim is 80 times more potent than the one that ex-President Trump received. Source

6 March 2021

• Last week, coronavirus cases in Europe increased by nine percent, to reach one million, driven by variants first found in Brazil, South Africa and the UK. Source
• A pre-print article reports on antibody  and memory B-cell responses to mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna  among  44 people, 11 of them recovered from COID-19. They found that immune responses increased after the second vaccine dose among people who were naïve to SARS-CoV-2, but not in people who had recovered from the infection- suggesting that only one dose of vaccine may be needed in this group. Source
• As more contagious variants drive a surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Brazil, President Bolsonaro refuses to impose  restrictions; instead, he announced that he was going to sign a memorandum of understanding with an Israeli company which is developing a nasal spray which the president called “the real solution to treating Covid,” although it is still in early-stage trials. Source

5 March 2021

• South Korea approves the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Source
• Researchers in Oregon identified a new, troubling coronavirus variant. It has the same backbone as the more contagious and deadlier B.1.1.7 variant and the E484K mutation (found in variants from Brazil, New York City and South Africa), which blunts the immune response to vaccines. Source
• South Africa, which has vaccinated 92,000 people (and aims to vaccinate two-thirds of its 60 million residents by the end of 2021), will not achieve its target of 1.5 million by the end of this month due to a  vaccine shortage. Only 700,000 people will be inoculated by the end of March. Source
• A pre-print study of electronic medical records from 1,407 people – 27 percent of whom have long COVID –  found that 32 percent  of them were initially asymptomatic. Source
• The UK RECOVERY Trial halts enrollment in the colchicine study, based on lack of efficacy:  it made no difference in 28-day mortality among11,162 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Source
• France supports Italy’s decision to block AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from export to Australia. Source
• UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries defended the proposed 1 percent wage increase for National Health Service workers as the  “….most we think we can afford,” as the British Medical Association described it as a “kick in the teeth” for the NHS workforce, which had “literally kept this country alive for the past 10 months,” SOURCE
• The New York Times reports that coronavirus vaccinations rates  reflect long-standing racial disparities in access to health care, with half as many Black people receiving the vaccine than White people – and even fewer Hispanic people were vaccinated (in the 38 states that track this data). Source
• China is requiring that some overseas travelers undergo anal swab testing for coronavirus. Source

4 March 2021

• The EMA announces that it is conducting a rolling review of data on the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Source
• In Turkey, Professor Serhat Unal, who headed the 10,030-person  phase III clinical trial of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine, announced that efficacy dropped from an interim result of 91.25 percent among 1,322 people (which was reported in December), to 83.5 percent, with 32 of 41 infections among people who got placebo – although the vaccine was 100% effective at  preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Source
• Novavax reports 51 percent overall efficacy of  its coronavirus vaccine in a 4,387-person phase IIb clinical trial in South Africa, where over 90 percent of COVID-019 cases during the study were caused by the B.1.351 variant. The vaccine was 60.1 percent effective for HIV-negative study participants, and 49.4 percent effective for HIV-positive study participants.  The researchers noted that a prior coronavirus infection did not protect people from the B.1.351 variant. Source
• Italy blocks over 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines from being flown to Australia, invoking a new EU regulation that  stops vaccines produced within the bloc  from being sent abroad if the manufacturer has not yet met its supply obligations to member countries. Source
• The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency announced that it will fast-track the process  for coronavirus vaccines that are adapted to new variants, basing approval on evidence of immune responses rather than full clinical trials; vaccines producers need to demonstrate the safety of their products and can draw from  clinical trials of the original vaccine as well as from vaccine roll-out programs. Source
• Novartis announced that it will help to manufacture the bulk drug substance for CureVac’s mRNA coronavirus vaccine; this will enable production of as many as 50 million doses by the end of 2021 and 200 million doses by the end of 2022. Source
• During a meeting of the World Bank, Adar Poonawalla, head of India’s Serum Institute, warned that a US law, the Defense Production Act – which was invoked to help Pfizer scale up coronavirus production – is blocking exports of raw materials for vaccine production (such as vials, glass, plastic and stoppers), which could cause serious delays.  WHO will hold a meeting with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations and the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network to discuss global coordination of supplies. Source
Bloomberg reports that Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, paid Pfizer $30 per dose for its coronavirus vaccine (about 50 percent more than the US price) and offered to share national data with the company, which began shipping millions of doses to Israel – so much that it has not used 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. At the same time, Pfizer delayed and/or sent smaller shipments  of its vaccine to the EU (where they discussed an initial price of €54 per dose, later dropped to €15 to €30, depending on volume), Bahrain, Canada (which wound up ordering vaccines from COVAX to make up for the shortage), Mexico, Oman and Saudi Arabia (both of which are paying $30 per vaccine).

Pfizer- which invested $2 billion in the vaccine- expects initial profit of 20 percent, and $15 billion in revenue this year, plans to freeze-dry the vaccine to make it easier to ship and store – and post-pandemic vaccine price hikes, according to its Chief Financial Officer Frank D’Amelio, who said “We’re in a pandemic pricing environment,” he said. “Obviously we’re going to get more on price.” Source
• The NIH halts two sub- studies of  potential COVID-19 therapies – VIR-7831, a monoclonal antibody, and a combination monoclonal antibody therapy containing BRII-196 and BRII-198, both for futility. Source
• A 476-person clinical trial of ivermectin in people with mild COVID-19 did not find that it shortened symptoms. Source

3 March 2021

• China, which has vaccinated an estimated 50 million people – or 3 Percent of the population,  announces that it aims to vaccinate 40 percent of the population by the end of June 2021 – which will require production of five million doses per day. Source
• COVAX ships coronavirus vaccines to Angola, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Source
• An interim efficacy analysis- which has not been per-reviewed – from the 25,800-person phase III trial of COVAXIN, Bharat Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine –  found that it was 81 percent effective, based on a total of 43 COVID-19 cases (36 of them in the group given placebo) among study participants. An additional interim analysis is scheduled in 81 days, and a planned analysis will occur when COVID-19 cases in the trial reach 130.  Source
• The NIH halted a trial of convalescent plasma after finding it did not  work for people with moderate cases of COVID-19. Source
• As a more contagious coronavirus spreads in Brazil and the health care system is on the verge of collapse, the country recorded a record-breaking daily death toll of over 1,700. Source
• In Los Angeles, coronavirus cases among vaccinated healthcare  workers have dropped by 94 percent since inoculations began in late November of 2020. Source
• As Israel institutes its “Green Badge” for vaccinated travelers, EU countries are also considering vaccine passports – and people are voicing concerns that they may widen inequality, wealth gaps and discrimination. Source

2 March 2021

• COVAX publishes its first round of vaccine allocations. Source
• Two WHO investigators sent to China to investigate the origin of SARS-CoV-2, Vladimir Dedkov from Russia’s Pasteur Institute and Fabian Leendertz from Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, downplay China’s theory that the virus arrived in the country via frozen food, saying “…the virus is not born from a piece of plastic…Cold chain is never the source.” Source
• The US will not share its coronavirus vaccine supply with Mexico, saying that discussions could take place after its current priority – ensuring that all of its residents are vaccinated –has been achieved. Source
• A pre-print article from the UK reports on effectiveness of two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine and one dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus for preventing symptomatic COVID-19  in older people. Overall, the researchers reported that one dose of either vaccine is approximately 80% effective at preventing hospitalization for COVID-19 among older adults, and one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 85% effective at preventing death from COVID-19.

In people age 80 years and above, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 70 percent effective at 10-13 days post- vaccination: by 14 days after the second dose, it was 89 percent effective. In people age 70 years and up, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 61 percent effective at 28-34 days post-vaccination, while the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine was 60 percent effective at 14-20 days post-vaccination, increasing to 73 percent at 35 days after vaccination. A single dose of both vaccines reduced the risk for hospitalization (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, by 43 percent; the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine reduced this risk by 37 percent). Source
• A variant of the coronavirus, B.1.526, which can evade monoclonal antibodies and possibly vaccines, was first identified in New York in November. Since then, it has spread to 14 other states; officials have detected 735 cases. 585  of them within the last two weeks. Source
• As the UK  government reviews potential policies about the requirement for vaccination, a YouGov poll of 1,757 people found that  76 percent of respondents supported a “vaccine passport” to enter the country, and 65 percent favored allowing vaccinated people to return to work before those who had not gotten a vaccine; 48 percent agreed that people should be vaccinated before going to restaurants or pubs. Source
• US President Biden announces that he has brokered a deal between rivals Merck and J & J for joint  production of J & J’s coronavirus vaccine, which could double production capacity. Based on this deal and agreements with Pfizer and Moderna, Biden says there will be enough vaccine doses to cover all US adults by the end of May  2021. Source
• AstraZeneca announces that it has sent its coronavirus vaccine to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and will be sending vaccines to Fiji, Indonesia, Moldova, MongolIa and the Philippines this week. Source
• Novavax has asked the US FDA to consider data from its coronavirus vaccine trials in South Africa (where it was 49.4 percent effective)  and the UK (where it was 89.3 percent effective) to expedite its emergency use authorization. Source
• Former US President Trump and his wife received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine before he left office, although he did has not disclosed it.Source

1 March 2021

• The New York Times reports that the P.1. variant, first identified in Brazil during December 2020 – which has since spread to 24 other countries – is more contagious and can escape antibodies from a previous infection with an older version of the coronavirus, leaving people vulnerable to reinfection. In addition, laboratory experiments indicate that CoronaVac, the vaccine available in Brazil, may be less effective against the P.1 variant, although it may remain protective against severe illness. Source 
• After facing increasing pressure for refusing to vaccinate Palestinians in its occupied territories, Israel announces that  it will inoculate Palestinians who have work permits – an estimated 110,000 people. Source
• AstraZeneca sells its 7.7 percent stake in Moderna (which forecasts revenue of $18.4 billion in 2021),  generating  $1.2 billion. Source

28 February 2021

• The US FDA grants emergency use authorization for J & J’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine. Source
• Researchers at Cambodia’s Institut Pasteur report finding a virus that is 96.2 percent identical to SARS-CoV-2,( although it lacked the spike protein) in a horseshoe bat which had been frozen for a decade. Their discovery building upon similar findings among bats living in an irrigation pipe in Thailand. The bats had a virus that was 91.5 percent identical to SARS-CoV-2, and evidence of past infection with a form of the virus that is even more closely related to it. Source
• Thailand begins its national vaccine campaign with 200,000 doses of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine. Source
• The United Arab Emirates, home to the world’s third-largest vaccine rollout (56 per 1,000 people), has seen coronavirus cases decrease by one-fifth – a smaller decrease than in the UK (over 80 percent) and Israel (50 percent), both of which instituted lockdowns. Source