A recap of top 10 anti-virus news events in the daunting year of 2020 as we head into 2021
Published: Dec 31, 2020 02:58 PM

Medical staff celebrate the closure of all 16 makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province on March 10 2020 when COVID-19 was finally brought under control in the city. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

The year of 2020 has been full of distress, unexpected events and struggles. But it is coming to an end. Humanity's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been fought throughout the year. The fateful year of 2020 is bound to be remembered by history. Let me recall the top 10 anti-virus news events of this daunting year.

No.1 On January 20, China's top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan confirmed human-to-human transmission of coronavirus, which shocked the entire Chinese nation. Three days later, Wuhan, the capital city of Central China's Hubei Province which has a population of more than 11 million, announced lockdowns. This raised the curtain on China's nationwide anti-virus fight and sounded the alarm to the whole world about this global public health crisis.

No.2 China formed two battlefields to fight the epidemic - Hubei and the whole country. Tens of thousands of medical staff were sent out to assist Wuhan and Hubei. On February 23, top Chinese leaders held an unprecedented mass meeting. Officials, from top at the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee down to county-level Party officials and military officials of corresponding levels, attended the videophone meeting. The discussion offered guidance to the anti-virus fight, as well as for the resumption of work and production. China's efforts bore achievements. On March 18, zero new COVID-19 infections were reported on the Chinese mainland for the first time. On April 8, Wuhan lifted the lockdown.

No.3 The epidemic broke out in Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy. In fact, Italy and Spain became deeply mired in the pandemic with growing numbers of deaths.

No.4 In mid-March, countries such as the UK and Sweden talked about using the herd immunity strategy. This was strongly opposed by many scientists around the world. Such a wrong view, however, was widely accepted in the West, causing the anti-virus measures in many countries unable to be strictly implemented. The whole of Europe was besieged.

No.5 On March 27, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson became infected with the disease, becoming the first leader of a major country to get infected. On October 2, US President Donald Trump also got infected, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron on December 17. 

No.6 After March, the US gradually became the epicenter of the virus, with its number of infections and deaths breaking records. It saw tens of thousands infected per day to hundreds of thousands, with the daily death toll over thousands. This shocked the world.

No.7 On April 23, Trump said his administration was testing disinfectants at a coronavirus White House briefing, which put the entire world in awe. He later suggested those infected use hydroxychloroquine, which further caused an uproar. The US government's unprofessionalism and inaction during the pandemic gradually raised doubts and criticism.

No.8 As part of the election campaign strategy, US senior officials and Republican senators began to maliciously use racist and aggressive terms such as "Wuhan virus" and "China virus" in March. They kept asking the public to hold China accountable, leading to the politicization of the debate about the origins of the virus. The US also accused the World Health Organization of helping China cover up information and announced to withdraw from it. This seriously jeopardized the global fight against this insidious virus.

No.9 On November 18, Pfizer announced that the vaccine it developed with Germany's BioNTech was 95 percent effective against COVID-19, which injected positive momentum to the market. Many Western countries planned purchases. Meanwhile, the 3-phase clinical trials of the vaccine developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac made major progress. Many countries approved the usage of Chinese vaccines. On December 31, China announced that it had granted conditional market approval to its vaccines.

No. 10 A variant of coronavirus detected in the UK was announced on December 19. The virus was 70 percent more infectious than previous coronavirus strains. The number of infections in the UK skyrocketed, with many European and other countries around the world cutting off flights with the UK. 

Despite the vaccines, the winter of 2020 has been cruel. New infections and death tolls keep rising. From Europe to North America to South Korea, many cities are now facing new lockdown measures. Sporadic cases were also reported in China. The anti-virus fight will continue in 2021 - and we shall work hard to prevail. 

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn