By March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, three months had passed since the first illnesses were reported. SARS-CoV-2 had already infected more than 118,000 people in 114 countries and killed 4,291 people.
The impact of COVID-19 was calamitous and far-reaching.
COVID-19 spread rapidly during the first 100 days of the pandemic, infecting more than 7.6 million people and causing nearly 480,000 deaths. The pandemic overwhelmed healthcare systems in many countries, straining doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers and causing widespread shortages of essential medical supplies.
The pandemic devastated the world economy, shutting down businesses and causing catastrophic job loss. This triggered a global recession and lasting economic uncertainty. The U.S. government alone spent nearly $7 trillion attempting to offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 forced the closure of schools and universities in many countries, disrupting the education of millions of students. Equally troubling, the disruption caused potential developmental delays, especially for young children. The pandemic highlighted existing inequalities, with disadvantaged students and those from marginalized communities disproportionately affected.