Looking Back At One Year Of The Global & Deadly COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday, March 11th 2021, 10:05 am
By: CBS News

It's been a year since the COVID-19 outbreak was officially declared a worldwide pandemic. The virus, first identified in Wuhan, China, swept across the world killing more than 2.6 million people.

When China welcomed 2020 with elaborate celebrations, a deadly virus was spreading behind the scenes. Critics said Chinese authorities worked harder to suppress information about COVID-19 than to contain it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains it issued early warnings, but countries didn't listen.

"Yes, maybe we need to shout louder, but maybe some people need hearing aids," WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said at the time.

It took months for the WHO to declare a pandemic, and by then it was already too late.

The virus hit Italy early and hard, triggering the first nationwide lockdown outside of China. Italian hospitals were overwhelmed as morgues overflowed. About 40% of the residents in the village of Nembro died from the coronavirus within a month.

A year later, nursing homes are allowing visits again, but with precautions in place like plastic dividers.

Some countries learned from Italy's tragedy and locked down quickly. Australia and New Zealand largely averted disaster and have returned to some semblance of normalcy.

Other nations waited and paid the price. In the UK, more than 125,000 people are dead while the country endures its third lockdown.

"I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost and, of course, as Prime Minister, I take full responsibility for everything that the government has done," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Sweden rolled the dice without any restrictions hoping for herd immunity, only later to admit it was a mistake.

Salvation from the virus eventually came in little bottles.

The UK and Israel now lead the world in vaccinations, but much of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America struggle with shortages of shots.

Health officials warn that until everyone is vaccinated, the dangers of the pandemic can't be cured.

Investigators from the World Health Organization spent nearly a month in China but still haven't pinpointed the origins of the virus.

Several countries, including the U.S. and Australia, accuse Beijing of shrouding the outbreak in secrecy.