Here’s a rundown of some bright spots in 2020 and what we could look forward to this year
Death. Suffering, Economic devastation. Political turmoil. The pandemic triggered a torrent of daily negative news. But through the worst health crisis in almost a century, there were also moments that brought relief and joy, or at least cautious optimism.
Off like a shot. Drugs that protect against Covid-19 were developed, tested and rolled out in less than a year – a speed unmatched in the history of vac- cine science.
Scientists at Pfizer and partner BioNTech SE, Moderna, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, as well as China’s Sinopharm Group went into overdrive to create vaccines for billions of people.
Moreover, Pfizer and Moderna’s success in using the genetic material mRNA to transform the body’s cells into vaccine factories offers hope for developing other life-saving treatments in the future, including for cancer and heart disease.
The great WFH experiment. While it was not all smooth sailing – with childcare challenges, longer working hours, unequal access to technology or fast internet, and psychological stress – hundreds of millions of people managed to power through and work remotely for almost a year, keeping banks, schools, government agencies, businesses and even doctors’ offices running.
The radical shift is also forcing a global rethink of what work could look like when the pandemic subsides.
Trillions in stimulus. Unlike the response to the 2008 global nancial crisis, governments and central banks unleashed support for workers and economies like never before: more than $20 trillion in support and counting.
In some countries like France and the UK, that has helped reduce jobless rates as well as keep the housing market and businesses afloat.
Optimists also look to China’s steady economic recovery as a guide on where the rest of the world is headed in the months ahead.
Nature (briefly) healed. The crash in tourism and manufacturing came at an economic cost, but also brought a much- needed pause for the environment.
Air pollution dramatically fell, as much as 65 per cent, in a number of cities — if only for a few months.
Turtles and whales returned to Thailand’s now-quiet beaches, prompting the government to consider closing down nature reserves for several months a year.
At the height of lockdowns in April, animals emerged in the streets of Spain, Chile and the UAE, suggesting ecosystems can quickly rebound when human presence is minimal.
Supercharged clean power. Covid-19 accelerated trends transforming how we power our world as shutdowns grounded flights, idled cars and kept people indoors.
Crude demand plunged, and shutdowns curbed power demand, prompting some grid operators to switch to less expensive renewable energy such as wind and solar.
Going green. The world’s top-polluting nation, China, vowed to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2060, prompting similar pledges from Japan and South Korea.
Dozens of cities, states and countries have set targets to phase out new sales of fossil- fuel cars. Major US banks have promised to stop nancing oil-exploration projects in the Arctic Circle.
Tech united us. Imagine a life in lock- down without technology to keep us connected virtually.
Generations brushed up on their home-cooking skills, and showed them o on platforms like Instagram and YouTube.
Internet users embarked on virtual safaris or converged on a tropical island in the multiplayer game “Animal Crossing.”
While humans were indoors, drones and autonomous robots were also deployed to deliver urgent medical supplies and groceries.
A year of discoveries. It’s not just vaccines that caused excitement in the scientific world this year.
Researchers found an antibiotic that can treat both acne in humans and chlamydia in koalas, evidence of rainforests in prehistoric Antarctica, a 2,500-year-old Egyptian tomb containing mummies and treasures, a way to use algorithms to potentially solve how diseases invade cells, and even signs of life in the acid-laced clouds of planet Venus.
Photo credit: Collected
News source: BLOOMBERG