THE FIRST 100 DAYS

How the COVID-19 outbreak grew from a few cases in China to a global pandemic in less than three months

BY MANUEL CANALES &

IRENE BERMAN-VAPORIS

published october 13, 2020

HOW IT BEGAN

Leaked reports cite what health officials describe as cases of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Not even three weeks later, similar cases are confirmed in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. Soon cases proliferate around the globe: Within 58 days, cases are confirmed on every continent except Antarctica.

cases per day

86k

0

43k

jan. 2020

DEC. 31, 2019*

Wuhan has 27 pneumonia cases of unknown cause.

JAN. 30, 2020

The World Health Organization declares a global health emergency.

feb.

Asia

FEB. 13

A spike in China includes previously suspected cases.

mar.

MAR. 11

The WHO classifies COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Europe

Australia and Oceania

North America

86k

april

APR. 3

More than a million total cases are confirmed worldwide.

South America

Africa

THE WORLD’S RESPONSE

There were more than 1.4 million confirmed cases in the first 100 days, and confirmed cases are only a portion of the true number of cases. Many countries issued health and containment policies to curb the spread of COVID-19. Ninety-two percent of countries had implemented significant lockdown measures by April 8.

Significant measures

100%

of

coun-

tries

Few measures

No measures

0

DAY 1

DAY 100

DEC. 31, 2019

April 8, 2020

HOW COUNTRIES RESPONDED

COVID-19 hit countries at different times, and not all governments took swift action in the 100 days following their first case. From no restrictions to stringent lockdowns, no approach was guaranteed to suppress the contagion.

NO CLEAR METHOD FOR SUCCESS

This index assesses the intensity of a government’s response across 11 containment and health measures, including school and work closures, stay-at-home orders, and travel restrictions. Policies that were proactive—rather than reactive—

often were more successful.

Government response

None

Significant

Strict

Number of days before a country implemented significant measures

Daily deaths (seven-day average)

State policies failed to get the virus under control in the United States

3,000

The U.S. was slow to act following its first confirmed case. Individual states set a broad range of policies in the absence of a unified national approach. By March 22, the U.S. had the greatest number of daily cases in the world; daily deaths continued to soar in April.

Population (2019)

329,064,917

First case reported

Jan. 21

DAY 1

DAY 100

59 days

Sweden resisted a full lockdown

3,000

Unlike most countries, Sweden didn’t close schools or businesses. The country’s lax policies never reached a “significant” threshold. The result: Sweden saw more deaths than neighboring countries under lockdown.

Population (2019)

10,230,185

107

Feb. 1

DAY 1

DAY 100

Never reached significant

response threshold

Swift, strict measures weren’t effective in Peru

3,000

Peru was quick to impose a restrictive lockdown, which included closing its borders and implementing a nationwide curfew. Yet COVID-19 deaths continued to climb. Banks became early hot spots for infection, as unemployed people had to stand in long lines to collect relief.

Population (2019)

32,510,462

171

Mar. 7

DAY 1

DAY 100

9 days

An early epicenter, Italy reined in the spread of COVID-19

3,000

In March the crisis overwhelmed hospitals in northern Italy. Though initial efforts to isolate zones of the country were unsuccessful, severe national restrictions on movement helped Italy gradually flatten its curve.

Population (2019)

60,359,546

822

Jan. 31

DAY 1

DAY 100

24 days

3,000

A public health campaign succeeded in Thailand

Thailand was the first country outside of China to confirm a COVID-19 case, and community cooperation played a crucial role. To promote public health, over one million village health volunteers went door-to-door, helping to keep deaths low.

Population (2019)

69,625,581

4

Jan. 13

DAY 1

DAY 100

74 days

As the outbreak ballooned around the world, countries scrambled to implement new policies to contain COVID-19. There were many different paths to success—and failure—as countries navigated

the uncharted pandemic.

* In March, the South China Morning

Post reported that China’s first case

may have been on November 17, 2019.

MANUEL CANALES, IRENE BERMAN-

VAPORIS, TAYLOR MAGGIACOMO,

AND TED SICKLEY, NGM STAFF

SOURCES: THOMAS HALE, LAURA HALLAS, AND TOBY PHILLIPS, OXFORD COVID-19 GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TRACKER, BLAVATNIK SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT; EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL

THE FIRST 100 DAYS

How the coronavirus outbreak grew from a few cases in China to a global pandemic in less than three months

BY MANUEL CANALES &

IRENE BERMAN-VAPORIS

published october 13, 2020

HOW IT BEGAN

Leaked reports cite what health officials describe as cases of viral pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Not even three weeks later, similar cases are confirmed in Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. Soon cases proliferate around the globe: Within 58 days, cases are confirmed on every continent except Antarctica.

cases per day

86,000

Africa

South America

Australia and Oceania

FEB. 13

A spike in China includes previously suspected cases.

North America

43,000

JAN. 30, 2020

The World Health Organization declares a global health emergency.

DEC. 31, 2019*

Wuhan has 27 pneumonia cases of unknown cause.

MAR. 11

The WHO classifies COVID-19 as a pandemic.

APR. 3

More than a million total cases are confirmed worldwide.

Europe

Asia

0

january 2020

februAry

march

day 1

DAY 100

dECEMBER 31, 2019

APRIL 8, 2020

THE WORLD’S RESPONSE

There were more than 1.4 million confirmed cases in the first 100 days, and confirmed cases are only a portion of the true number of cases. Many countries issued health and containment policies to curb the spread of COVID-19. Ninety-two percent of countries had implemented significant lockdown measures by April 8.

100%

of

countries

No measures

Few measures

Significant measures

0

january 2020

februAry

march

DAY 100

day 1

APRIL 8, 2020

dECEMBER 31, 2019

HOW COUNTRIES RESPONDED

COVID-19 hit countries at different times, and not all governments took swift action in the 100 days following their first case. From no restrictions to stringent lockdowns, no approach was guaranteed to suppress the contagion.

NO CLEAR METHOD FOR SUCCESS

This index assesses the intensity of a government’s response across 11 containment and health measures, including school and work closures, stay-at-home orders, and travel restrictions. Policies that were proactive—rather than reactive—

often were more successful.

Government response

Significant

Strict

None

Number of days before a country implemented significant measures

Daily deaths (seven-day average)

State policies failed to get the virus under control in the United States

3,000

2,725

The U.S. was slow to act following its first confirmed case. Individual states set a broad range of policies in the absence of a unified national approach. By March 22, the U.S. had the greatest number of daily cases in the world; daily deaths continued to soar in April.

Population (2019)

329,064,917

First case reported

Jan. 21

DAY 1

DAY 100

59 days

Sweden resisted a full lockdown

3,000

Unlike most countries, Sweden didn’t close schools or businesses. The country’s lax policies never reached a “significant” threshold. The result: Sweden saw more deaths than neighboring countries

under lockdown.

Population (2019)

10,230,185

1,500

107

Feb. 1

DAY 1

DAY 100

Never reached significant

response threshold

Swift, strict measures weren’t effective in Peru

3,000

Peru was quick to impose a restrictive lockdown, which included closing its borders and implementing a nationwide curfew. Yet COVID-19 deaths continued to climb. Banks became early hot spots for infection, as unemployed people had to stand in long lines to collect relief.

1,500

Population (2019)

32,510,462

171

Mar. 7

DAY 1

DAY 100

9 days

An early epicenter, Italy reined in the spread of COVID-19

3,000

In March the crisis overwhelmed hospitals in northern Italy. Though initial efforts to isolate zones of the country were unsuccessful, severe national restrictions on movement helped Italy gradually flatten its curve.

Population (2019)

1,500

60,359,546

822

Jan. 31

DAY 1

DAY 100

24 days

A public health campaign succeeded in Thailand

3,000

Thailand was the first country outside of China to confirm a COVID-19 case, and community cooperation played a crucial role. To promote public health, over one million village health volunteers went door-to-door, helping to keep deaths low.

Population (2019)

1,500

69,625,581

4

Jan. 13

DAY 1

DAY 100

74 days

As the outbreak ballooned around the world, countries scrambled to implement new policies to contain COVID-19. There were many different paths to success—and failure—as countries navigated the uncharted pandemic.

* In March, the South China Morning Post reported that China’s first case may have been on November 17, 2019.

MANUEL CANALES, IRENE BERMAN-VAPORIS,

TAYLOR MAGGIACOMO, AND TED SICKLEY, NGM STAFF

SOURCES: THOMAS HALE, LAURA HALLAS, AND TOBY PHILLIPS, OXFORD COVID-19 GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TRACKER, BLAVATNIK SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT; EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL