On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially announced that COVID-19 could be classified as a pandemic.
"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.
Thirteen months later, there have been more than 141 million cases of COVID-19 around the world, with more than 3 million people dying from the disease and millions more suffering from its long-term effects. And while falling case numbers and the acceleration of the vaccine rollout have sparked optimism in some parts of the world, health experts have repeatedly warned that the virus remains an imminent threat for the time being, especially with more infectious variants taking hold across the globe.
According to the World Health Organization, the seven-day average of daily new cases climbed to 754,718 on Monday, the highest it's been at any point during the pandemic. The situation is particularly dramatic in India at the moment, where the number of daily new cases skyrocketed from 70,000 to more than 270,000 since the beginning of April. The latest trend in global infections shows that we're still at the very beginning of the worldwide vaccination rollout, and that it will require an international effort to bring the pandemic under control across the globe.