While the origin of the novel coronavirus that has been dominating our lives for the past two years is still unclear, latest research suggests that a Wuhan market worker was the first known case of Covid-19. She fell ill on December 11, 2019, three months before the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
"The WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction," the organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom said at the time. "We have therefore made the assessment that Covid-19 can be characterized as a pandemic."
Back then, the WHO reported 118,000 cases across 114 countries, urging policy makers to take aggressive action in order to change the course of the pandemic. "This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that will touch every sector," Tedros Adhanom warned back then, in a statement that sounds ominous from today's perspective.
Almost two years after the first outbreak at the infamous Wuhan market, there have been more than 266 million cases of Covid-19 around the world, with more than 5.25 million people dying from the disease and millions more suffering from its long-term effects. And while the rapid development and approval of several vaccines sparked optimism at the end of 2020, one year later the world is battling yet another wave of infections with Europe at the center this time.
According to the World Health Organization, the seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 579,087 on December 6, which is roughly in line with the worst days of 2020. Despite its high vaccine uptake, the situation is particularly bleak in Europe at the moment with the region accounting for roughly two thirds of global new cases over the past week. The latest trend in global infections shows that the pandemic is still far from over, and the emergence of the Omicron variant has once again demonstrated that a truly global effort is need to bring the virus under control.