The appearance of a novel coronavirus in late 2019 radically changed the community of researchers working on coronaviruses since the 2002 SARS epidemic. In 2020, coronavirus-related publications grew by 20 times over the previous two years, with 130,000 more researchers publishing on related topics. The United States, the United Kingdom and China led dozens of nations working on coronavirus prior to the pandemic, but leadership consolidated among these three nations in 2020, which collectively accounted for 50% of all papers, garnering well more than 60% of citations. China took an early lead on COVID-19, but dropped rapidly in production and participation through the year. Europe showed an opposite pattern, beginning slowly but growing in contributions during the year. The rate of internationally collaborative publications dropped overall; single-authored publications grew. For all nations, including China, the number of publications about COVID track closely with the outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Lower-income nations participate very little in COVID-19 research in 2020. Topic maps of internationally collaborative work show the rise of patient care and public health clusters—two topics that were largely absent from coronavirus research in the two years prior to 2020.