Happy First Bloody Birthday, COVID-19

IMAGE Unsplash/United Nations

After more than eight months of mind-numbing lockdown, it feels as though COVID-19 has been around forever, when it’s only been around for one year—exactly on this day, as a matter of fact. December 1 marks COVID-19’s first year plaguing the planet. Here's a refresher on the roots of this global pandemic.

According to Chinese researchers, patient zero experienced his first symptoms on December 1 in 2019. But this man had not been the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, the Wuhan wet market notorious for sparking the pandemic. The man was in his 70s, and lived far from the market. But for some bizarre reason scientists still have not figured out, he is the first confirmed case of COVID-19, long before the name “COVID-19” was coined.

Dr. Wu Wenjuan of Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital, one of the authors of the study published in the Lancet medical journal, said that the patient suffered from Alzheimer’s and “lived four or five buses from the seafood market, and because he was sick, he basically didn’t go out.”

As we deal with the fallout of the virus one year on, the origins of COVID-19 are still a mystery. Some scientists mark the first day of the virus on December 1, while others claim it most likely existed long before that but remained undetected.

The Chinese government says the first confirmed case took place on December 8, just one week after Dr. Wenjuan’s supposed patient zero. But it wasn’t until December 31, 2019, that China informed the World Health Organization about the outbreak, proving that 2020 was cursed before it even began.

Photo by UNSPLASH.

It only took a few weeks for COVID-19 to spread to other countries, including the Philippines, which reported its first case from a Chinese tourist on January 30, 2020. She fully recovered and became officially known as Patient 1 in the Philippines, where there have now been more than 430,000 patients. Her partner was not as fortunate. He died on February 1, 2020, in the Philippines—the first COVID-19 death outside of China.

We all know by now how the story goes: COVID-19 was likely born from bats in the wilds of China, where it then spread like wildfire after it infected the first human. Human activity encroaching on animal habitats is largely suspected to have triggered the virus. Within the span of 365 days, COVID-19 has infected over 63 million people, killed 1.4 million people, and placed most of the world under lockdown. It’s caused unmeasurable grief, insurmountable losses, and widespread physical and mental isolation.

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Vaccines are already underway, and we can only hope that the post-COVID world finally begins in 2021. Because we are so ready to leave COVID behind in 2020.

Happy bloody birthday, COVID. May you not stick around to see your second.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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