On This Day

January 2021 in History

Events in History

  • Jan 1 Cuba's "day zero" unifies its two currencies by withdrawing the Cuban convertible peso (CUC), alongside steep increases in prices and salaries, effectively devaluing the remaining Cuban Peso for the first time since 1959 [1]
  • Jan 1 African Continental Free Trade Area, signed by 54 countries comes into effect, largely symbolically with full implementation expected to take years [1]

Historic Event

Jan 2 US President Donald Trump says to Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger "I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” in recording released by the Washington Post

  • Jan 4 1st Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines given to the general public with 82 year old Brian Pinker in the UK first to be jabbed [1]
  • Jan 4 South Korea, already the country with world's lowest birth rate, records more deaths than births for the first time [1]

COVID-19 Pandemic

Jan 4 Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces new national lockdown for England following Scotland, as COVID-19 variant spreads rapidly with hospitalizations now higher than the first wave

  • Jan 5 Six Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, sign an agreement to ease the blockage with Qatar, in place since 2017
  • Jan 5 Daily new cases of COVID-19 top 60,000 in the UK as data reveals one in fifty in England had COVID-19 within the last week
  • Jan 5 In Georgia Senate run-off elections Raphael Warnock (D) defeats Kelly Loeffler (R) and Jon Ossoff (D) defeats David Perdue (R) to give Democrats control of the US Senate
  • Jan 6 More than 50 pro-democracy activists rounded up and arrested in Hong Kong
  • Jan 6 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says country's five-year economic plan has failed at opening of a rare meeting of the Workers' Party
  • Jan 6 Supporters of President Donald Trump storm US Capitol in Washington during congressional certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's win, resulting in five deaths and prompting evacuation of lawmakers and vice-president Mike Pence

Historic Event

Jan 7 US Congress completes the ceremonial certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory late in the night after an earlier unprecedented breach of the Capitol by Trump supporters

  • Jan 7 Arizona is now the COVID-19 “hotspot of the world" according to local health officials with an average of 118.3 new cases per 100,000 people

Historic Event

Jan 7 Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla, becomes the world's richest man, worth $186 billion, overtaking Amazon founder Jeff Bezos

  • Jan 7 WHO warns Europe needs to do more to "flatten the steep vertical line" of COVID-19 cases and control the spread of the new variant, with 230 million already living under lockdown

Historic Event

Jan 7 Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg blocks President Donald Trump from Facebook and Instagram till January 20, following suspension of his other social media accounts the previous day

COVID-19 Pandemic

Jan 8 Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declares a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas after COVID-19 cases surge to their highest level

  • Jan 8 Twitter bans US President Donald Trump permanently "due to the risk of further incitement of violence"
  • Jan 8 Storm Filomena hits Spain with 50cm (20 inches) of snow falling on Madrid, resulting in four deaths and leaving thousands stranded

Historic Event

Jan 8 US Speaker Nancy Pelosi demands President Donald Trump's resignation or he will face impeachment, while also calling for vice-president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him

  • Jan 9 Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 crashes in the Java Sea just after take off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 62 on board
  • Jan 9 China places two cities, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai, under lockdown after over 130 cases of COVID-19 reported
  • Jan 10 America records more than 3,000 deaths a day for the first time reaching 3,249, passing 375,000 deaths in total a day later
  • Jan 11 Ireland becomes the country with the world's highest COVID-19 infection rate after a dramatic surge results in seven-day rolling average of 1,394 cases per million
  • Jan 11 US House Democrats introduce one article of impeachment against President Donald Trump for "incitement of insurrection" for encouraging his supporters to riot at the Capitol
  • Jan 11 The king of Malaysia, Al-Sultan Abdullah declares a state of emergency over COVID-19 till 1 August, suspending parliament and giving the government new powers
  • Jan 12 India's Supreme Court puts on hold three controversial new farm laws that ignited weeks of protests by farmers in Delhi
  • Jan 13 President Donald Trump is impeached by the US House of Representatives voting 232-197, for “incitement of insurrection”, first time in history a US President is impeached twice
  • Jan 13 Deadliest air raid by Israel on Syria since 2018, when 10 soldiers and 47 allied fighters killed in attacks on military positions [1]
  • Jan 13 Irish PM Minister Micheal Martin issues apology for treatment of unmarried mothers and babies in church-run institutions 1920-1990s after report 9,000 children had died [1]
  • Jan 13 World's oldest known cave painting of an animal - a pig, 45,000 years old, discovered in Leang Tedongnge cave, island of Sulawesi, Indonesia [1]
  • Jan 14 Uganda elections re-elect President Museveni (in power since 1986), with main opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine disputing the result

COVID-19 Pandemic

Jan 14 Pope Francis, 84, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

  • Jan 14 Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder charged and pleads not guilty to two counts of willful neglect of duty over the Flint water scandal that killed 12 people
  • Jan 14 Brazilian governor of Amazonas state Wilson Lima says their COVID-19 surge is now as bad as April 2020, with hospitals running out of oxygen and patients ventilated manually
  • Jan 14 US Secret Service takes control of Joe Biden's inauguration as 20,000 troops authorized to guard Washington D.C., more than those stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia
  • Jan 15 Global death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic passes 2 million (true total likely much higher)

Historic Event

Jan 15 Dutch government led by PM Mark Rutte resigns after falsely accusing thousands of families of welfare fraud

  • Jan 15 6.2-magnitude earthquake on Indonesia's island of Sulawesi kills at least 42 with hundreds injured
  • Jan 16 India begin the vaccination of its 1.3 billion people for COVID-19

Election of Interest

Jan 16 Armin Laschet is elected leader of Germany's Christian Democrats (CDU), to replace long-serving leader Angela Merkel

  • Jan 16 10 Nepali climbers become the first to reach the summit of K2 in winter on the China-Pakistan border
  • Jan 17 Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is arrested immediately on his return to Russia after recovering from nerve-agent poisoning [1]
  • Jan 18 Brazil begins vaccinations for COVID-19 with the world's second-highest death toll at 209,000

Historic Event

Jan 19 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says China is committing genocide in its repression of Uighurs and other Muslim people

  • Jan 19 The US death toll from COVID-19 passes 400,000
  • Jan 20 Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President, the first female, black or south Asian Vice President. Amanda Gorman recites "The Hill We Climb".
  • Jan 20 US President Joe Biden signs 15 executive orders on his first day in office to re-join the WHO, the Paris Climate Agreement, revoking the Keystone XL Pipeline and mandating masks on federal properties

Historic Event

Jan 21 Avril Haines is sworn in as the first female US Director of National Intelligence by VP Kamala Harris

  • Jan 22 Lloyd Austin confirmed as defense secretary by the US Senate, and the first black head of the Pentagon

Appointment of Interest

Jan 25 Janet Yellen is confirmed as the first female treasury secretary by the US Senate

  • Jan 26 Antony Blinken confirmed by US Senate as Secretary of State
  • Jan 28 Share trading app Robinhood, favored by Reddit, suspends trading of Gamestop amid huge surge in share price of the previously short listed stock by Wall Street

Historic Event

Jan 28 Bernie Sanders mittens worn to the inauguration raise $1.8 million for Vermont charities after images go viral

  • Jan 28 Mexico's COVID-19 death toll becomes the world's third highest, overtaking India's at 155,145 [1]
  • Jan 29 Johnson & Johnson's Janssen single-dose vaccine shown to be 66% effective in trials, with complete protection against hospitalization and death [1]
  • Jan 29 Novavax vaccine shows 89% efficacy in UK trials, including against UK variant [1]
  • Jan 29 "Proposal to Prevent the Feminisation of Male Adolescents" published by China's Education Ministry asks schools to use sports to cultivate masculinity [1]

Historic Event

Jan 31 Widespread protests in Russia against detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the government with 5,000 people arrested


Deaths in History

  • Jan 4 Albert Roux, French chef and restaurateur (Le Gavroche, 1st Michelin three-starred restaurant in Britain), dies at 85 [1]
  • Jan 6 Satya Paul, Indian fashion designer and entrepreneur who invented the modern sari, dies of a stroke at 79 [1]
  • Jan 9 Isaak Markovich Khalatnikov, Russian physicist, dies at 101
  • Jan 10 David Barclay, British hotel magnate (The Ritz) and multi-billionaire, dies at 86

Sheldon Adelson

Jan 11 Sheldon Adelson, American business magnate (CEO of Las Vegas Sands casino company) and major political donor to the GOP and Israel, dies at 87 [1]

  • Jan 11 William Edgar Thornton, American medical doctor, USAF officer, and astronaut (STS-8, STS-51B), dies at 91
  • Jan 13 Siegfried Fischbacher, German American entertainer and magician (Siegfried and Roy), dies at 81 [1]
  • Jan 25 Barry Heywood, British director of the British Antarctic Survey, dies at 83