THIS time last year, the World Health Organisation and other official bodies were still coming to terms with the strange new virus emanating from China.
On January 12, 2020, China shared the genetic sequence - at least 18 variants have since been detected - of COVID-19.
The next day, the WHO confirmed a first COVID case outside of China.
It was in Thailand.
And on January 14, a WHO official "noted" - that's the wording on an official WHO coronavirus timeline - that there "may have been limited human-to-human transmission ... mainly through family members" in the known cases, which then numbered 41.
That initial trickle of information turned into a torrent of concern over the following days and weeks, but the viral hen had already flown the coop.
Arguments will continue over the attribution of some multiple-cause deaths to COVID-19, but the Johns Hopkins University data base recorded another global high - of 17,321 fatalities on Tuesday this week - while confirmed cases are still increasing by 700,000 or so a day.
Positive-test numbers have passed 92 million and are on track to hit 100 million in about 10 days' time.
The recorded death toll stood yesterday at 1.97 million, destined to pass 2 million at the weekend.
The time it will take to inoculate enough of the world's population to force a slowdown of the virus means we were never going to see an obvious impact this early on, but serious questions are already being asked about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, the Australian government's first choice for population protection.
It's "efficacy" (how well it works, in other words) was initially described as 70 per cent (within a range of 62 per cent to 90 per cent).
However AstraZeneca confirmed that the higher efficacy came from about 10 per cent of trial participants who received an initial half dose - followed by the intended full dose - during the two-jab trial.
If nothing else, this opens a tiny window onto the complicated world of clinical trials, and shows why governments, including Australia, have hedged their bets by signing overlapping supply agreements for different vaccines.
Community transmission has again been squeezed to a trickle in this country, but no quarantine system - bar one that locks both patients and staff together in physical isolation - will prove 100 per cent secure.
There is progress, but the normality many hoped for in 2021 remains a long way away.