Forgetting 2020

Fireworks are displayed to celebrate the New Year in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo: Xinhua)

At last, here we are in 2021!



Or rather: thank goodness, we’re no longer in 2020.



Each year that goes by gets entered into the collective memory as being the one during which one or the other memorable, happy or tragic event took place. From one country to the next, one culture to the other, these events vary, the joys and sorrows of some not necessarily being those of others.     



But 2020 will be one of the years that, wherever one was in the world, will be summed up the same way: the year of the COVID-19 pandemic.  



In a flash, the coronavirus—officially reported for the first time in China in late 2019—would contaminate the planet, killing in 2020 nearly 2 million people and wreaking havoc on the global economy.



While health and economic damage has varied from one country to the next, none or nearly none will have been spared by the coronavirus.



Lockdown, end of lockdown, lockdown again, curfew, state of emergency, closure of border crossings, scheduled air service cancelled, quarantines, protective measures: Each country attempted to combine these different measures based on its own situation in order to protect the health of its population while doing its best to preserve its economy.



It quickly became clear that only having one or more vaccines would make it possible to get out of this hellish cycle.



And at last, vaccines happened at the end of the year.



Sceptics are concerned about the speed at which they were put on the market since it usually takes a minimum of three years, the time it takes for a vaccine go through all the validation steps of the required clinical studies.   



The laboratories that released these vaccines are explaining that this short development period is due on one hand to the enormous resources involved on a global scale for their development and, on the other hand, because they did not work in uncharted territory since this virus belongs to the very well documented coronavirus family.  



In any case, vaccination campaigns are being launched one after the other without, at this point, a major incident susceptible of frightening populations. 



Will they have the hoped-for efficacy? Will they be able to quickly rid us of this planetary nightmare? It is too early to tell, too early to rejoice.     



Still, 2021 starts with hope.



This is not much but it is a great deal, considering the hardship endured last year.


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