COVID-19 Timeline

A Timeline of COVID-19 Efforts

Fred Hutch's virology expertise and research on HIV and other viruses has grown in recent decades. When COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., our virologists, as well as many of our cancer and basic science researchers, jumped into the response.

Playing a pivotal role

On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization gave names to the virus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Fred Hutch scientists had already been tracking the novel coronavirus and working to understand, predict and prepare for what might be ahead. Three weeks later, Hutch leadership activated a mandatory remote work policy as the Seattle area became one of the first U.S. regions impacted by the outbreak.

The scientific response was in full swing at that point, with projects and programs launched almost daily to address the crisis and develop a way to end it. Over the last year, the scale of research has been broad, drawing on top experts as well as early career scientists who applied existing efforts to produce a remarkable volume of papers, preprints and insights about the virus and disease. 

This timeline highlights some of the key efforts by Hutch researchers in the COVID-19 response — not just the science, but also the work to share those insights to help people navigate the pandemic.

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December 2021

Omicron surges.

Screenshot of a Fred Hutch article

December 1, 2021-

What Hutch coronavirus experts are saying about omicron

Drs. Trevor Bedford, Jesse Bloom, Larry Corey, Joshua Schiffer and other Fred Hutch experts talk to media outlets across the country on the emergence, spread, immune escape and impact of the new omicron variant, which is surging across the globe. They recommend that everyone get vaccinated or boosted if eligible and use masks and distancing to protect each other and save hospital capacity.

Hutch News


Screenshot of a Scientific America article

December 1, 2021

The COVID cancer effect

Kathy Briant and Dr. Rachel Issaka discussed how the pandemic has reduced cancer screenings.

Scientific American


November 2021

Boosters are authorized for all U.S. adults and older teens as omicron emerges.

Screenshot of a Washington Post article

NOVEMBER 21, 2021

Treatments will change the pandemic, but they can’t end it alone

Dr. Larry Corey reflected on how COVID-19 will change our response to respiratory illnesses.

Washington Post 

Screenshot of an Atlantic article

NOVEMBER 18, 2021

The pandemic’s next turn hinges on three unknowns

Dr. Elizabeth Halloran commented on COVID-19 immunity in the U.S.

The Atlantic


October 2021

Researchers make progress on treatment for COVID-19.

Screenshot of a NPR article

OCTOBER 20, 2021

What to know about your risk of a serious or fatal breakthrough COVID infection

Dr. Rachel Bender Ignacio provided perspective on breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections.


Screenshot of a New York Times article

OCTOBER 12, 2021

What the future may hold for the coronavirus and us

Dr. Jesse Bloom explained how SARS-CoV-2 has changed.

New York Times

Screenshot of a KIRO-TV article

OCTOBER 1, 2021

Merck COVID drug studied at Fred Hutch

Dr. Rachel Bender Ignacio characterized clinical trial results for molnupiravir.



September 2021

COVID-19 became the deadliest respiratory pandemic in American history, surpassing the toll of the 1918 flu epidemic.

Screenshot of a Kaiser Health News article

SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

A daily pill to treat COVID could be just months away, scientists say

Dr. Elizabeth Duke spoke about the promise of an oral antiviral to treat and even prevent COVID-19.

Kaiser Health News

Screenshot of a USA Today article

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Long-haul COVID-19 can last months. But here’s why experts are optimistic about recovery.

Joel D. Meyers Endowed Chair holder Dr. Julie McElrath and collaborators from the Allen Institute discussed research in immune response and understanding long-haul COVID-19.    

USA Today

Screenshot of a Science article


United States boosts tracking of coronavirus strains as Mu variant draws scrutiny

Dr. Trevor Bedford commented on the volume of COVID-19 virus genomes now available in the U.S.    



August 2021

The delta variant dominates.

Screenshot of a NRP article

AUGUST 23, 2021

New evidence points to antibodies as a reliable indicator of vaccine protection

Researchers report that higher levels of neutralizing antibodies are associated with higher levels of vaccine efficacy, suggesting that giving people a booster vaccine, which has been shown to raise antibody levels, would go a long way toward protecting them against the coronavirus, including some of the newer and more dangerous variants.


Screenshot of a New Yorker article

AUGUST 11, 2021

How will the coronavirus evolve?

Researchers like Dr. Tyler Starr study how the coronavirus might evolve in the future, and what that might mean for immunity and for our ability to control the virus.

The New Yorker

Screenshot of a Washington Post article

AUGUST 8, 2021

‘Goldilocks virus’: Delta vanquishes all variant rivals as scientists race to understand its tricks

The coronavirus pandemic in America has become a delta pandemic. By the end of July 2021, the delta variant accounts for 93.4% of new infections. Dr. Trevor Bedford says that the virus can’t keep evolving to become more transmissible forever. Eventually, it will hit a ceiling, “but it’s not exactly clear what that is.”

Washington Post

JULY 2021

As cases surge, the vaccinated are protected from severe disease.


June 2021

Restrictions lift across the U.S. and the vaccination rate slows, but research continues.

Screenshot of a NYT article

JUNE 23, 2021

Scientist finds early virus sequences that had been mysteriously deleted

By rooting through files stored on Google Cloud, Dr. Jesse Bloom says he recovered 13 early coronavirus sequences that had disappeared from a database in summer 2020 — intriguing new information for discerning when and how the virus may have spilled over from a bat or another animal into humans.

New York Times

Screenshot of Reuters article

JUNE 20, 2021

Study testing Moderna vaccine in transmission prevention to include young adults

U.S. scientists expand a government-funded study that aims to directly answer the question of whether Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine curbs the spread of SARS-CoV-2. "If our study demonstrates that a COVID-19 vaccine works to prevent infection and transmission of the virus, many more people may decide to get vaccinated, which has huge public health implications," said Dr. Larry Corey.



May 2021

A fourth wave of the pandemic hit but was limited by vaccines.

Screenshot of Seattle Times Article

MAY 13, 2021

Lab accident or jump from animals? Hutch virus expert calls for a new probe of COVID-19 origins

In a letter published in the journal Science, Dr. Jesse Bloom and 17 other scientists say so many unanswered questions remain that it’s impossible to rule out either of the leading theories for the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19: that the virus spilled over naturally from animals, or that it was released in a lab accident in Wuhan, China.

Seattle Times

Screenshot of AEM Welcome Screen

MAY 4, 2021

Meet the Seattle doctor who Dr. Fauci trusted to help develop COVID-19 vaccines

In an interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci sits down with his friend and colleague Dr. Larry Corey of Fred Hutch.

KING 5 News


April 2021

Vaccination opens to everyone in the U.S. on April 19.

Screenshot of a NPR Article

APRIL 28, 2021

New Blood Tests Should Show How Long A COVID-19 Vaccine Will Protect You

Dr. Peter Gilbert discussed studies of what immune responses protect against COVID-19.


Screenshot of a NPR Article

APRIL 22, 2021

Scientists work on boosters to deal with the possibility that current COVID-19 vaccines may eventually wear off — or the virus will mutate in ways that will evade the vaccine's protections. Dr. Peter Gilbert discusses how to test vaccine protection.  



March 2021

Researchers — and the media — look at how SARS-CoV-2 variants may impact the pandemic.

Screenshot of New York Times Article

MARCH 26, 2021

Unlocking the COVID code  

Rapid advances in the viral genomics field are crucial in advancing understanding of the disease and informing the response. Dr. Trevor Bedford outlines these changes and how much they increased over the year of the pandemic. 

New York Times


February 2021

The vaccination effort in the U.S. stumbles even as new variants of the virus raise concerns.

Screenshot of New York Times Article

FEBRUARY 17, 2021

C.D.C. Announces $200 Million to Track Virus Variants

Trevor Bedford says there have been gains in recent months but more data - and analysis is needed.

New York Times

Screenshot of a medRxiv article

FEBRUARY 8, 2021

Initial insights from research led by Drs. Leo Stamatatos, Andy McGuire and Julie McElrath examines the issue of effects of a single dose of a COVID vaccine on people who were previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.


Screenshot of a Wall Street Journal Article
Screenshot of a medRxiv graph

FEBRUARY 3, 2021

Amid fears of new, more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Josh Schiffer's team develop a mathematical model to inform efforts to prevent a possible fourth wave.



January 2021

Vaccination efforts ramp up to the most vulnerable populations even as the numbers of infected surge to new highs following the holiday season.

The New York Times screenshot

JANUARY 22,2020

NCCN shares new guidance for COVID-19 vaccines in cancer patients (PDF)

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

JANUARY 22, 2020

Dr. Steve Pergam also shared this tweet regarding the new NCCN guidelines. 


Image of Twitter Icon

JANUARY 21, 2021

Dr. Pergam acknowledges in a tweet the 1 year anniversary of the 1st COVID-19 patient diagnosed in the US and takes a moment of silence to honor.


Image of Twitter Icon

JANUARY 14, 2021

Dr. Trevor Bedford shares a Twitter thread regarding the SARS-CoV-2 variants. 


Image of Twitter Icon

JANUARY 13, 2021

Drs. Steve Pergam and Josh Schiffer joined Reuters in a Twitter chat to discuss vaccines. 



December 2020

The first vaccines receive approval after being developed and trialed at a historic pace, thanks to the Hutch-led CoVPN.

Dr. Larry Corey receives the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination, December 24, 2020 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Corey was asked by Dr. Anthony Fauci several months ago to coordinate the national vaccine trials effort.
Dr. Larry Corey receives the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination, December 24, 2020 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Corey was asked by Dr. Anthony Fauci several months ago to coordinate the national vaccine trials effort. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service
Image of Twitter Icon

DECEMBER 24, 2020

Dr. Larry Corey receives the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination, December 24, 2020 at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Corey was asked by Dr. Anthony Fauci several months ago to coordinate the national vaccine trials effort.


Image of Twitter Icon

DECEMBER 22, 2020

Dr. Trevor Bedford shares a twitter thread on his thoughts about antigenic drift of Covid-19 over the holidays. 


Image of Twitter Icon

DECEMBER 21,2020

Fred Hutch shares the first selfie photos of  team members getting their vaccines. 


Two people unpacking COVID-19 vaccines

DECEMBER 16, 2020

Vaccines stop COVID-19 symptoms, but do they stop transmission?

As the initial vaccines rollout, Hutch researchers turn their focus to understanding whether these new shots not only protect individuals from disease, but also prevent them from transmitting the coronavirus to others.

Hutch News

medRxiv screenshot
COVID-19 Illustration

DECEMBER 10, 2020

Advances in blood disorders research continue despite COVID-19

Expanding use of CAR T-cell therapies, gene editing lead to insights at virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology

Hutch News

Image of Twitter Icon

DECEMBER 2, 2020

Dr. Stephanie Lee leads the first-ever virtual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, as their president. The meeting highlights COVID-19 efforts, including a conversation between Dr. Anthony Fauci and Lee. She shares a tweet of how her virtual ASH setup looked like. 

STAT Screenshot


Two mRNA vaccines show efficacy


And both receive Emergency Use Authorizations by the FDA:
Press Release, December 11, 2020
Press Release, December 18, 2020


November 2020

Researchers urge caution against gatherings as the holiday season approaches, but initial vaccine efficacy results are extremely positive.

Scientist working in a lab
Image of Twitter Icon

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

Fred Hutch partners with Alaska Airlines for Rising to the Challenges of a Pandemic: A conversation with Experts in a tweet here. 


Image of Twitter Icon

NOVEMBER 1, 2020

Trevor Bedford shared a twitter thread about the viral genomes of two SARS-CoV-2 infections that were connected to the White House Covid-19 outbreak. 



October 2020

With the number cases waning, researchers — and patients — begin to reflect on the potential impact of the pandemic on their work and their lives.

Fred Hutch opens COVID-19 Clinical Research Center Newly renovated facility is among the first stand-alone centers specifically designed to test novel interventions such as monoclonal antibodies and antivirals to treat and prevent COVID-19
Fred Hutch opens COVID-19 Clinical Research Center Newly renovated facility is among the first stand-alone centers specifically designed to test novel interventions such as monoclonal antibodies and antivirals to treat and prevent COVID-19 Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service
Structural biologist Dr. Marie Pancera led research generating 3D images showing how an antibody blocks the coronavirus spike.

OCTOBER 27, 2020

Stamatatos/McGuire/Pancera have continued to illuminate the immune response against the coronavirus, even using X-ray crystallography to map the nanoscale structure of the antibody blocking the coronavirus spike.

Hutch News

The Washington Post Screenshot

OCTOBER 22,2020

First CoVPN trial reaches full enrollment

Washington Post

Image of Twitter Icon

OCTOBER 19, 2020

Trevor Bedford tweets his thoughts about how case counts through time correlate across different states. 


Image of Twitter Icon

OCTOBER 5, 2020

Patrick Quinn of KOMO tweeted behind the scenes photos from the new COVID-19 Clinical Research Center. 


Participant room in the COVID-19 Clinical Research Center
Participant room in the COVID-19 Clinical Research Center Robert Hood, Fred Hutch News Service

OCTOBER 5, 2020

Fred Hutch opens COVID-19 Clinical Research Center

Newly renovated facility is among the first stand-alone centers specifically designed to test novel interventions such as monoclonal antibodies and antivirals to treat and prevent COVID-19

Hutch News

September 2020

Vaccine trials are in full swing as researchers made a concerted effort to recruit participants from traditionally underserved communities.

Hands holding a tray of COVID vaccine
New ads encourage minorities to roll up their sleeves and participate in coronavirus vaccine trials CoVPN launched its ad campaign. Getty Images stock photo
Screenshot of a zoom call

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

Public health’s pandemic pivot

With disease modeling, virtual events and a renewed focus on antiracism, Fred Hutch population scientists adapt their work to COVID-19

Hutch News

A women getting a vaccing
A person getting a vaccine


Why volunteer for a vaccine trial? Duty, love and a willingness to experiment, participants say

Fred Hutch staff running operations and community engagement for the COVID-19 Prevention Network encouraged people to consider joining a Phase 3 vaccine trial.

Usa Today

August 2020

Hutch researchers dig into how mutations of the spike protein on the coronavirus might change its behavior.

COVID-19 Illustration

AUGUST 13, 2020

What happens if the coronavirus’s spikes mutate?

Study explores how changes in the virus’s ‘lock picks’ could help or hinder its ability to sneak into our cells.

Hutch News

Earth illustration

July 2020

The CoVPN is launched to speed vaccine trials as the virus begins to spread more widely in younger populations.

Photograph of a cancer patient lying in a bed wearing a mask.

JULY 24, 2020

The latest on how COVID-19 affects cancer patients

Hutch researchers share new data on mortality rates and racial disparities in treatment; launch statewide COVID-19 and cancer data repository

Hutch News

Eastlake building located at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Campus

JULY 8, 2020

Fred Hutch named the coordinating center for vaccine clinical trials of the COVID-19 Prevention Network

New clinical trials network will evaluate vaccines and antibodies to prevent COVID-19

Hutch News

June 2020

Researchers focused on improving testing and potential treatments for the disease as vaccines were still believed to be a long way off.

COVID-19 Illustration
Dr. Jesse Bloom and team led an effort to understand how a part of the spike protein on the coronavirus called the receptor-binding domain, or RBD, binds to a molecule called ACE2 on human cells to let the virus slip inside. Getty Images stock photo
Dr. Jesse Bloom

JUNE 29, 2020

Jesse Bloom and team led an effort to understand how a part of the spike protein on the coronavirus called the receptor-binding domain, or RBD, binds to a molecule called ACE2 on human cells to let the virus slip inside. - First published in June on bioRxiv, updated and published in Cell in Aug.

Hutch News

Seattle Times Screenshot

JUNE 10, 2020

Seattle’s coronavirus surveillance program resumes after being shut down by the FDA

The greater Seattle area Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), a partnership between Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, Seattle Children’s, the Institute for Disease Modeling, Public Health—Seattle & King County and Gates Ventures to track coronavirus cases in the region, was cleared to resume enrolling local volunteers.

The Seattle Times

A Mary Lopez protests unsafe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic at a fruit packing facility in Eastern Washington.

JUNE 4, 2020

COVID-19 and cancer expose society’s health care gaps

Fred Hutch researchers work to disrupt health disparities and misinformation as coronavirus ravages the medically underserved

Hutch News

May 2020

The reality that the pandemic wouldn't end quickly led to policy changes and summer cancellations while researchers stretched the limits of disease modeling.

Picture of a cancer patient wearing a mask getting chemotherapy

MAY 28, 2020

What happens when cancer patients get COVID-19?

CCC-19 Covid & Cancer Consortium publishes first large observational study of 1K patients.

Hutch News

Reuters Screenshot

MAY 22, 2020

Exclusive: US plans massive coronavirus vaccine testing effort to meet year-end deadline

Larry Corey, and Drs. Francis Collins and Tony Fauci outlined their strategy to run multiple, large-scale clinical trials to test potential COVID vaccines for safety and efficacy.


PBS Screenshot

MAY 20, 2020

What computer-based models can tell us about coronavirus — and what they can’t

Dr. Elizabeth Halloran explained how we can use COVID-19 models to our advantage, and her recent modeling work and some of the caveats of model predictions.


A man standing with his bike

MAY 19, 2020

Fred Hutch Obliteride changes gears, shifts to individual events for 2020

Obliteride goes global to accelerate cancer and COVID-19 research

Hutch News

The Scientist Screenshot

MAY 13, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic some scientists bring the bench home

Steven Heinkoff explained his at home CUT&Tag protocol and how he was able to bring his lab work home.

The Scientist

Dr. Larry Corey
Watch Bob Cowan (top right), Fred Hutch’s director of Facilities Engineering, discuss how his team has helped transform the Fred Hutch campus to safely bring more scientists back into the labs. On the top left is Fred Hutch News Service writer Jake Siegel.

MAY 8, 2020

How Fred Hutch is using science to get back to doing science

Fred Hutch implements dial-based approach guided by research and science-based strategies for adjusting the on-campus density. 

Hutch News

April 2020

New programs launched to monitor front-line workers and help researchers better understand how the disease spread.

A photomicrograph using artificial coloring of coronaviruses, so named because of the distinctive spikes on their surfaces, which look like crowns.
A photomicrograph using artificial coloring of coronaviruses, so named because of the distinctive spikes on their surfaces, which look like crowns. Photo courtesy of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
COVID-19 Illustration

APRIL 17, 2020

Fred Hutch starts CovidWatch volunteer study

Hutch News Release

Seattle Times Screenshot

APRIL 15, 2020

Another sign the curve is bending: positive coronavirus tests at UW peaked March 28

Larry Corey and researchers at UW released an analysis showing that the proportion of positive coronavirus diagnostic tests began waning after March 28, evidence that social distancing was bending the curve locally.

The Seattle Times 

Dr. Andrew McGuire

APRIL 2, 2020

Hutch team hunts for coronavirus antibodies

Drs. Leo Stamatatos, Andrew McGuire and Marie Pancera focused on which of the tiny, Y-shaped immune proteins in our blood called antibodies are most effective at fighting SARS-CoV-2. 

Hutch News

March 2020

The Seattle area became an epicenter for the U.S. outbreak. A mandatory remote work policy forced researchers figured out how to continue their efforts from home.

Photo of Fred Hutch President Dr. Thomas Lynch, right, hosts a video town hall meeting with COO Steve Stadum, left and Dr Steve Pergam about the Fred Hutch response to the Covid-19 outbreak on March 3, 2020, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.
Fred Hutch President Dr. Thomas Lynch, right, hosts a video town hall meeting with COO Steve Stadum, left and Dr Steve Pergam about the Fred Hutch response to the Covid-19 outbreak on March 3, 2020, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Robert Hood, Fred Hutch News Service
The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium screenshot of website

MARCH 31, 2020

The COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium launches

A new crowdsourced registry of cancer patients with COVID19 – with Gary Lyman as a founding member – international registry to track and study covid in cancer patients.

Geekwire Screenshot

MARCH 23, 2020

Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network launches with boost from Bill Gates, Amazon and volunteers

Seattle Flu Study partner organizations, including Fred Hutch, officially launched the greater Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network, a regional surveillance system to do at-home testing of volunteers for SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Jay Inslee Screenshot

MARCH 23, 2020

Stay Home Stay Healthy order announced

Washington Governor Jay Inslee

New York Times Screenshot

MARCH 21, 2020

How the virus got out

Trevor Bedford and Dr. Elizabeth Halloran provided expertise for this interactive COVID-19 map, which overlays travel and migration data with epidemiological data.

The New York Times

Seattle Times Screenshot

MARCH 14, 2020

The etiquette of social distancing in the time of coronavirus, from the ‘Miss Manners’ of germs

Dr. Steve Pergam, an infectious disease expert, provided commentary on social distancing in light of COVID-19. 

Seattle Times

Photograph of a women with cancer being prepared for a chemotherapy infusion.

MARCH 6, 2010

Coronavirus: what cancer patients need to know

Advice for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers on who’s most at risk for COVID-19 and what you can do to stay healthy

Hutch News

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Campus

MARCH 4, 2020

Fred Hutch goes remote

Hutch News Release

New York Times Screenshot

MARCH 1, 2020

Coronavirus may have spread in the U.S. for weeks, gene sequencing suggests

Dr. Trevor Bedford and Seattle Flu Study researchers sounded the alarm that they had detected community spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S.

Article is based on a tweet string by Trevor Bedford.

The New York Times

February 2020

The novel coronavirus is given a name, SARS-CoV-2, as scientists raced to track and predict what would happen with the new disease, COVID-19.

Trevor Bedford speaks at the AAAS conference
Illustration of a COVID-19 virus

January 2020

Researchers and disease modelers tracked the novel coronavirus spreading quickly in Asia and raised alarms that it would likely become a significant global health issue.

The Lancet Screenshot
Science Magazine Screenshot

JANUARY 22, 2020

Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins

Dr. Trevor Bedford cautioned that the novel coronavirus could spread through human-to-human transmission, likely after an introduction to humans from an animal host, through his analysis of viral genomes.

Science Magazine

LATE 2019
The virus later known as SARS-CoV-2 makes the jump from animals to humans.