COVID Life Science Timeline

  • Published:
    Sep 2, 2022
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Executive Summary

The COVID pandemic spread like wildfire across the globe — transforming life as we know it. From stay-at-home orders to business closures, travel bans, remote work and school, and accelerated vaccine development, COVID-19 had long-term implications for a number of industries. In this snapshot, we’ll explore how the pandemic disrupted the world, and what science companies are doing to adapt.


January 2020: COVID-19 Emerges

An unidentified illness spreads rapidly in Wuhan, China. Unable to contain the virus, the city goes into lockdown, followed by the rest of China. Shortly thereafter, researchers identify the virus as SARS-Cov-2 and China releases genetic data on the virus so researchers can begin R&D for a vaccine.

March 2020: WHO Declares COVID a Pandemic; Moderna Starts Vaccine Trials

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declares COVID a global pandemic.

Governments around the world issue strict mandates and closures. Meanwhile, Moderna’s COVID vaccine enters phase 1 trials, only 42 days after the initial sequencing of the virus,

Spring 2020: Operation Warp Speed Initiated

With mounting pressure and rising death rates, President Trump launches “Operation Warp Speed” to accelerate COVID vaccine development. Stakeholders include the Department CDC, FDA, and NIH. Part of this initiative allows clinical trials to proceed quickly and be seen by the federal government instead of traditional public-private partnerships, in which pharma companies decide on their own protocols.

April 2020: BenevolentAI Identifies Treatment for Severe COVID

BenevolentAI, an AI and machine learning company dedicated to discovering more effective medicines, identifies baricitinib for COVID treatment. Originally designed to help arthritis patients, BenevolentAI’s tech sparks the discovery of anti-inflammatory and anti-viral compounds in baricitinib during a 48-hour accelerated search. It proves to be a breakthrough, reducing mortality in severe cases by 38%.

May 2020: Drug Manufacturing Companies Go Digital

With stay-at-home orders in effect, drug manufacturers reduce onsite staff to “essential” workers only. To adapt, organizations embrace new technology and begin digitizing their processes and systems by embracing AR/VR and video conferencing tech. These technologies help streamline remote collaboration, R&D, and drug manufacturing across sites and countries.

December 2020: U.S. Authorizes Emergency Use for Two COVID Vaccines

The U.S. death toll surpasses 300,000. In response, the FDA issues an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern COVID vaccines.

February 2021: J&J Vaccine Approved for EUA

Single-dose J&J vaccine is approved for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. Meanwhile, the death toll continues to climb — exceeding 500,000 in the U.S.

August 2021: FDA Issues Full Approval for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID Vaccine

After months of deployment under the EUA, the FDA determines the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine meets the rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness, and issues the vaccine full approval.

2021: The COVID Model Disrupts Drug Development

Top tech coupled with government support makes it possible for life science companies to discover and develop a COVID vaccine in a matter of months, as opposed to years. What’s more, it also helps researchers uncover a COVID treatment for severe cases. This model illustrates that with the right tech, and regulatory cooperation, it’s possible to develop life-saving therapies that are safe and effective in a fraction of the time.

2022: Pharma 4.0 Transforms Life Science Companies

COVID has expedited tech adoption among drug developers and manufacturers, helping to usher in a new era: Pharma 4.0. Cutting-edge cloud technology has helped

Now, Pharma 4.0 is transforming the way life science teams work, interact with their environments, share data, and execute processes with an end goal of increasing speed to market. Pharma is becoming increasingly tech savvy, with 16 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies embracing cloud technology to accelerate research and discovery in a post-COVID world.

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