2020 A year that won't be remembered for its good news. A year that came in as a grey cloud into many people's lives. The year that reinstated that time is indeed an abstract concept as most of it was spent in our homes under lockdown. The year of the COVID pandemic for most is one that has to be deleted from memories and forgotten. The billions across the surface of this pandemic stricken world had a billion reasons to believe that 2020 was hands down the worst year we faced in our modern history.
Yet, every grey cloud has its own silver lining. As challenging as 2020 was, it eventually taught us to appreciate a few cliches and apply them into our lives; make most of what you've got, take pleasure in the small joys and look at the positives. The last 12 months also saw big wins for society, culture, environment, human rights and even health. Science and technology also scored a few triumphs through the course of this strenuous year.
People came together
Late 2020 brought about a common phenomenon involving people of all multitudes coming together via social media. When Mumbai city came together for a defeated vegetable vendor; when Delhiites flocked to a small food vendor; Baba Ka Dhaba; when fruit vendor Phool Mia was flooded with donations after his produce was looted. When Italians in lockdown sang together from their balconies; and large firms used their resources to manufacture ventilators, masks and sanitisers. All these are examples when our faith in humanity was restored little by little.
Scotland offers free period products
Speaking about health, Scotland made history in November by becoming the first nation in the world to guarantee free and universal access to period products. Campaigners welcomed the move, claiming Scotland was setting a "bloody great example" for other nations to follow. A charity named 'Bloody Good Period' said that "Scotland's decision is a major win for menstrual equity, recognising the needs of women are equally important"
Breakthroughs for HIV Treatment
New diagnoses of HIV among gay and bisexual men in England dropped to their lowest level in 20 years, according to a Public Health England update in November. There were also major breakthroughs in the development of HIV prevention methods in 2020: Cabotegravir, developed by ViiV, was recognised as a drug that could prevent HIV infection with only six injections per year.
Breakthroughs for Cancer Treatment
Recent discoveries that shed light on how tumours grow are giving doctors new tools to fight cancer. It's just the beginning, and there's a long way to go, but the future of cancer treatment is hopeful. The discoveries bring forward a method of treating cancer known as 'targeted therapies. These new insights help doctors create new cancer treatments. They can prescribe drugs that zero in on certain parts of cells like genes, proteins, or blood vessels that trigger the growth of tumours.
2020 witnessed a boom in the animal population
Kenya reported in August that its elephant population has more than doubled from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,000 today. The number of elephants being killed by poachers is also down significantly from previous years. The number of lions living in Kenya has increased by 25 per cent too. Meanwhile, Uganda reported a gorilla baby boom. Mountain gorillas in the country have been breeding in "unprecedented" numbers, according to conservationists at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. They announced in September that seven infants had been born there to date in 2020 – more than double the number for all of 2019.
Saudi Arabia and Palestine banned child marriage
Saudi Arabia banned child marriage in 2020, making 18 the minimum age to be married. It is seen as positive news in such conservative countries, both of which have deep historical, religious and cultural roots. Palestine also banned child marriage in 2020, while Bangladesh reported progress on child marriage too. The proportion of girls being married there before the age of 18 has dropped from 64 per cent in 2010 to just over 50 per cent today, according to research by UNICEF.
Africa was declared free of polio
The WHO's African region was declared free from wild polio in August following decades of work by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, partners and governments. The Africa Regional Certification Commission, a task group appointed by the WHO, to eradicate the disease, certified the continent free of wild polio in the summer with the last announcement being the virus being eliminated in Nigeria, four years after the last recorded case.
The Coronavirus vaccine became the fastest vaccine to be ever developed
The emergence of Covid-19 has led to loss and heartbreak all over the world, but it also prompted a wave of unprecedented global collaboration.
Finally, 2020 ended with the best piece of news science could possibly have offered us: Vaccines for the disease that ruined the year in the first place. Vaccines typically take five to ten years to be ready, but the covid vaccine became ready for distribution in record-breaking time. As one scientist said: "In the last 11 months, probably 10 years' work has been done."