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.

19 April 2021

• Despite the roll-out of 910 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, weekly cases have reached their highest level since the pandemic began, reaching a global total of 5.2 million. Source

• The EU  announced that it is purchasing an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, as per an agreement made in February; this raises the bloc’s total to 600 million doses. The company is also accelerating vaccine delivery by 25 percent, shipping doses that were originally scheduled to arrive in Q4 of 2021; it aims to deliver the additional doses by the end of the year. Source

• The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that Pfizer backed down from its insistence that South Africa’s government provide its sovereign assets to guarantee an indemnity against future legal cases from people with vaccine-related adverse events – even if it was caused by Pfizer’s negligence, fraud or malice – a requirement that Pfizer has  imposed on  Albania, the Dominican Republic and Peru.  South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize described Pfizer’s demand as “too risky…” and that “…as  a government we found ourselves in a precarious position of having to choose between saving our citizens’ lives and risking putting the country’s assets into private companies’ hands.” Pfizer eventually dropped the demand, but its tactics delayed discussions and delivery of vaccines.  Source

• South Africa’s Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, says that the country’s vaccine supply agreements with Pfizer and J & J  (for $10 per dose) are non-refundable. Source

• India reports 261,500 new daily coronavirus cases and 1,501 deaths as the country faces shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines. Source

• A trial at the University of Oxford, which has obtained ethics approval, will look at immune responses and duration of protection among healthy people ages 18-30 who recovered from COVID-19 at least three months ago and are re-exposed to different doses of coronavirus. Participants who become re-infected will be treated with a monoclonal antibody; all will be compensated (£5,000, which includes at least 17 days of quarantine and 12 months of follow-up). Source

• After an ongoing FDA investigation revealed that the Emergent Biosciences plant in Baltimore was unable  to prevent ingredient mix-ups or contamination, and  that its electronic data could be  manipulated or deleted, the agency stepped in to  halt production at the facility. Source

• The United States began to offer coronavirus vaccines to the detainees at Guantánamo Bay; the vaccine has already been offered to staff members. Source

• Greece has suspended rollout of  the J &J coronavirus vaccine, pending results from and EMA review. It has already received 33,600 of 1.3 million doses. Source

• On 23 April, New York City’s Museum of Natural History will begin administering coronavirus vaccines under a life-sized model of a blue whale. Source

18 April 2021

• Huons Global, a South Korean pharmaceutical company, will lead a consortium (including  Prestige BioPharma, Humedix, and Boran Pharma) that will manufacture over 100 million doses of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine each month, starting in August 2021. GL Rapha, another  South Korean manufacturer, has agreed to produce 150 million doses per month. Source

• Israel, which has vaccinated 56 percent of its population, has lifted the mandate for outdoor masking – although masks are still required indoors. Source

• In Turkey, new daily cases of coronavirus exceeded 62,000, driven by the B.1.1.7 variant as well as the B.1.354 and P.1 variants. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed new restrictions last week for the two first weeks of Ramadan to stem the virus. Source

• Despite being one of the poorest Asian countries, Bhutan has already inoculated more than 60 percent of the population, using donated vaccines from India’s  Serum Institute. The country’s Minister of Health, Dasho Dechen Wangmo, said that “leadership and guidance” from the country’s king, public solidarity, lack of vaccine hesitancy, and a primary health care system  “enabled us to take the services even to the most remote parts of the country.” Source

• In Zimbabwe, outbreaks of the B.1.351 variant have led to the release of at least 320 prisoners – not including those convicted of murder, human trafficking, sexual offenses and treason –from the Chikurubi prison, which is notorious for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. Zimbabwe’s leasders have been accoused of using coronavirus restrictions to crackdown on dissent among members of the opposition, many of whom have been arrested. A damning report from the US State Department  accused Zimbabwe’s security forces of random killing and torturing of civilians and noted that political prisoners and detainees face harsh,  life-threatening conditions inside the country’s prisons. Human rights advocates commended the release, and called for Zimbabwe’s government to immediately expand the initiative. Source

17 April 2021

• The global death toll from coronavirus surpasses three million. Source

• South Africa is ending its pause on the J &J coronavirus vaccine, under certain conditions, including intensified screening and monitoring of people at high risk for blood clots. Source

• In Australia, the death of a 48-year old woman with underlying conditions who developed blood clots after receiving the J &J coronavirus vaccine is considered likely to be linked with it, although health authorities described the case as “complicated.” It was the country’s third case of blood clots – and first fatality – among vaccine recipients; Professor John Skerritt of the Therapeutic Goods Administration said that prevalence of complications linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia is roughly one in 300,000, similar to that seen in the U.K. Source

• India’s B.1.617 variant, which has two key mutations (E484Q and L452R) that may make it more contagious and better able to escape immune responses – is thought to be the driver of record-breaking new coronavirus cases- is overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums and has already spread to Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. Although India has sequenced less than one percent of COVID-19 positive samples, prevalence of the variant increased from nearly no cases in January to up to 52 percent in mid-April – and in some areas, it is over 60 percent. Source

• Officials in the  Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine are seeking to purchase the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the EU. In Ukraine, where only 433,00 of its 42 million people have been vaccinated, has purchased 32 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca and Sinovac, but it has received less than a million of them.  The country rejected the Sputnik V vaccine – which has increased tensions with Russia. Source

16 April 2021

• Eli Lilly asked the US FDA to revoke the EUA it received for, because the monoclonal antibody is not effective against coronavirus variants; the authorization was revoked with hours. The company plans to focus on combining bamlanivimab and etesevimab.

Distribution of bamlanivimab alone was stopped in late March; earlier this month, the US ended its purchase agreement for bamlanivimab alone and canceled the remaining order of 350,856 doses, which will cost Lilly about $440 million (based on the price of $1250 per dose). Source

• Moderna says a shortfall in its European supply chain will lead to smaller deliveries to the U.K., Canada and other countries  during the current quarter. Source

• The Wall Street Journal reports that J & J asked AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna to investigate potential clotting risks and speak with a single voice about vaccine safety. AstraZeneca expressed interest in joining forces, but Pfizer and Moderna refused to join an “informal alliance,” saying that their vaccines seemed to be safe and that they did not wish to duplicate the efforts of regulators, but a source at one of the companies said they did not want their vaccine’s safety to be “tarnished by association.” Source

15 April 2021

• Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla says that it is likely that people will need a coronavirus “booster” shot “somewhere between six and 12 months” after the second one – and for every year thereafter. Source

• Jose Romero, head of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, says the pause on J & J’s coronavirus vaccine may last for several weeks. Source

• The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal publishes a prospective study of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection among 3,076 mostly male Marines, ages 18-20, who were followed for six weeks after a two-week quarantine. Among the 169 Marines who were seropositive, ten percent tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, versus 48 percent of seronegative Marines. Antibodies from a past coronavirus infection reduced the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection by 82 percent. Source

• Researchers at the University of Oxford reported that the risk of rare blood clotting, called cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) among people with COVID-19 is around 100 times greater than normal. In their study of more than 500,000 people who had COVID-19, CVT occurred in 39 of a million people; among over 480,000 people who got an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine, CVT occurred in four of a million people, and among people who had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine (which was co-developed by Oxford researchers), CVT occurred in five in a million people – making the risk of CVT from the AstraZeneca vaccine about ten times greater versus the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines – and the risk of CVT from COVID-19 is eight times greater than from the AstraZeneca vaccine. The researchers suggested that their results be interpreted with the caution that data  will continue to accrue. Source

• India reports more than 200,700 daily cases of coronavirus – its highest-ever total. Source

• Merck is discontinuing development of  MK-7110, a first-in-class recombinant fusion protein targeting the innate immune system, which it spent $425 million on, citing production delays and unforseen regulatory requirements. The company plans to focus on developing molnupiravir, an oral antiviral, instead, although an interim analysis of the phase II/III trial  has led the company to halt the study in people hospitalized with COVID-19 and proceed with the phase III trial in outpatients. Source

• COVAX is seeking $2 billion to buy coronavirus vaccines for low-and middle-income countries before high-income countries purchase them – and those countries were also asked to donate their surplus vaccines. A fundraiser co-hosted by GAVI and the US raised over $380 in pledges, most of it from Sweden. Source

• France exceeds 100,000 deaths from COVID-19. Source

• Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, enters a two-week lockdown as the country’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, warns that it is “..on the verge of an awful tragedy.” Source

• Local authorities in in London and Smethwick tested hundreds of people for COVID-19 after finding dozens of cases of the B.1.351 variant. Source

• Iran orders 60 million doses of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, with the first batch expected to arrive in June. The country is home to more than 80 million people; it has administered less than 500,000 vaccine doses to date. Source

14 April 2021

• Moderna issues a press release with results from preclinical trials of its variant-specific boosters, mRNA-1273.351 and mRNA-1273.211,saying that the data “on our variant-specific vaccine candidates give us confidence that we can proactively address emerging variants.” Source

• The EMA announces that it is undertaking a review of data on vaccination and coronavirus epidemiology to enable authorities to put the risks of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine in the context of benefits from ongoing vaccination campaigns, and for determining whether recommendations for a second dose of the vaccine need to be updated. Source

• South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize noted that  the “unreasonable demands” from coronavirus vaccine manufacturers are causing delayed deliveries.  J & J asked for “greater assurance of support from the state,” said Mkhize, who said he was “…taken aback by this as there are clauses in the agreement that express this support.” Additionally, Pfizer demanded personal signatures from the country’s health and finance ministers to give more weight to indemnify it against any claims made in South Africa. According to the National Treasury, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni did not accede to Pfizer’s demand, the National Treasury. Source

• President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announces that the EU will receive an additional 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Source

• The CDC  Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decided it needed more time to review data on the J & J coronavirus vaccine, including a seventh case, and would not vote on a recommendation until meeting again in seven to ten days. Source

• Denmark announces that it will no longer use the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after suspending it on 11 March. Source

• Uruguay reports the world’s highest rate of coronavirus- over 1,000 cases per million inhabitants – during the past week. Source

• Thailand’s Operations Chief of the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration says that the surge in coronavirus cases may lead to post-holiday lockdowns in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chiang Mai, and parts of the country’s eastern seaboard. Source

13 April 2021

• The US FDA and CDC issue a joint press release, recommending that the US pause its administration of the J & J coronavirus vaccine “out of an abundance of caution” until a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and an FDA investigation have been completed. It noted six cases of rare and severe blood clotting among over 6.8 million recipients of the J & J coronavirus vaccine; all cases occurred among women, ages 18 to 48, within 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The agencies advise that vaccine recipients who have a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination should contact their health care provider.  Source

• Britain begins to end one of the world’s longest lockdowns as gyms, salons, retailers and outdoor cafes and pubs opened for the first time in months; nearly all restrictions will be lifted by 21 June if all goes according to plan. Source

• New York City health officials announce that the B.1.1.7 variant accounts for over 30 percent of coronavirus infections across the city, and that the B.1.526 variant – first identified in New York City- now makes up 45 percent of cases that have been sequenced – and has been detected in all five boroughs. Source

• In India, home to the world’s second highest rate of coronavirus, hospitals are overflowing and exports of remdesivir have been suspended, while millions of people gather in the city of Haridwar for a month-long religious festival, Kumbh Mela. Health officials fear that these celebrations will  increase the spread of coronavirus across the country and among millions of religious pilgrims. Source

• The Guardian publishes a piece by former UK chancellor and Prime Minister Gordon Brown which says “The traditional international crisis response- the G7 passing around the begging bowl- will not yield the funds on the scale needed. The global equivalent of a charity fund raiser is no substitute for countries agreeing on an equitable sharing of the burden,” noting that “the G7 countries are in the best position to agree to transfer vaccine technology to low-income countries. The temporary waiver of patents proposed by the People’s Vaccine Alliance will help Africa create its own manufacturing facilities and end months of vaccine nationalism,” and calling for  financial solutions and “..the global apparatus to deal with this pandemic and other global crises to come.” Source

• India announces that it will approve all coronavirus vaccines that have received emergency use authorization from WHO and regulatory agencies in the EU, Japan, the US and the UK, as well as the Sputnik V vaccine. Russia has already entered agreements with five Indian biosimilar producers to make over 850 million doses of the vaccine, which should be ready later this year. Source

• United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, noting a $5 trillion increase in wealth among the world’s richest people over the last year, calls on countries to institute a wealth tax to “to reduce extreme inequalities… We need a new social contract, based on solidarity and investments in education, decent and green jobs, social protection, and health systems.” Source

• The EU and South Africa announce a pause in administering the J & J coronavirus vaccine. Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, South Africa’s Minister of Health, described the pause as precautionary, and that he expected vaccination to resume in a few days after cases were investigated. Source

• An abstract from the American Academy of Neurology’s Virtual Meeting reports finding neurologic symptoms among half of 46 children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19. The most common symptoms were headaches, encephalopathy, speech disorders, hallucinations, abnormal and uncontrolled movements, peripheral nerve involvement and seizures; these symptoms were more likely to occur in children with severe illness. Source

12 April 2021

• China’s CDC director George Gao backtracks, saying that his comments about the low efficacy of domestically produced coronavirus vaccines were misunderstood, and that he meant to offer suggestions for improving coronavirus vaccines. Source

Lancet Infectious Diseases publishes a study describing the emergence of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, viral load and clinical severity among 341 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 58% of whom had the variant. Although the B.1.1.7 variant was associated with higher viral loads, there was no association between B.1.1.7 and severe disease or death. Source

• Regeneron issues a press release with results from a 1,505-person, placebo-controlled phase III trial (conducted in partnership with NIAID) of casirivimab with imdevimab (REGEN-COV) in household contacts of people with COVID-19. The risk of symptomatic COVID-19 was reduced by 81 percent among people who received 1,200 mg of  administered subcutaneous REGEN-COV. In addition, REGEN-COV speeded up recover among people developed symptomatic COVID-19 ( one week, versus three weeks among people who received placebo).  Source

11 April 2021

• Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that the country is formally considering mixing different coronavirus vaccines to boost their efficacy, although he did not specify which products would be mixed. He also mentioned that vaccines could be optimized by changing the number of doses and the interval between them. Source

• Feng Duojia, president of the China Association of Vaccines, announces that the country will be producing its own mRNA coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2021; a candidate mRNA vaccine co-developed by the Academy of Military Science (AMS), Walvax Biotechnology and Suzhou Abogen Biosciences has completed phase II trials, and plans for overseas phase III trials are underway. Source 

• Thailand’s coronavirus cases reach a record-breaking daily total of 967. Source

• George Gao, head of the  Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, admits that  efficacy of Chinese coronavirus vaccines is “not high” – and said that China is “formally considering” ways – such as boosters and vaccine mixing – to optimize their efficacy. His comments were quickly censored. Source

10 April 2021

• Coronavirus cases in the US exceed 31 million. Source

• A forecast from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation ,which considered vaccinations and the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant, predicts that coronavirus deaths in the US will reach 618,523 by 1 August 2021. Source

• J & J issues a statement saying that it is “aware” of blood clots  “…reported with all Covid-19 vaccines,” and that it is working with regulators. Source

• China approves clinical trials for  Sinopharm’s recombinant vaccine candidate, which includes parts of the coronavirus’s spike protein. Source