The reports that would have been the biggest in the world if Covid-19 had never emerged
What if it had just fizzled out? What if leading Chinese scientist Zhong Nanshan had gone on state television on 20 January and delivered news that the unusual virus detected in Wuhan was not spreading between people, instead of what he really said that night: that human-to-human transmission was certain? The infection might have been traced to animal carcasses piled in a seafood market’s lanes, and after they were destroyed – and experts issued their usual warnings that a more serious outbreak was inevitable – the coronavirus story might have ended.
What would we be talking about instead? What stories would have defined 2020 so far? Even before the worst pandemic in a century, tectonic shifts were already under way. The news felt exhausting. But the world is still turning, despite the movements of half of humanity being restricted in some way. Even apart from Covid-19, it has been a year of significant developments.
Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault in a landmark trial.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’s phone was hacked after he received a WhatsApp message sent by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, according to digital forensics experts.
A man described as “Britain’s most prolific rapist” was convicted in January. The court heard that Reynhard Sinaga may have assaulted at least 159 men over several years by luring them to his house and drugging them.
Warring leaders in the world’s newest country, South Sudan, signed a fragile peace deal in February.
The UK formally left the European Union on 31 January.