Coronavirus 2020
©Wikipedia Commons

2020: a Retrospective

2020: a Retrospective

The Unprecedented Year

Dec 29, 2020

The year 2020 will be one that we won’t easily forget. It started with a new player in the field that we greatly and globally underestimated: COVID-19. A cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei province, placed this vibrant city on the map. The first outbreak news came on January 5, but no one could then predict what would unfold. It started with 44 patients and grew into a global pandemic of more than 79.5 million cases (and growing), surpassing 1.7 million deaths.

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Electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 marked in yellow
Electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 marked in yellow | © Wikipedia Commons

PANDEMIC

On January 12, the WHO reports the first death in China contributed to the patient’s underlying medical conditions. The very same day, China shares this new virus’s genetic sequence with the world. Before mid-January, new patients surface in Thailand, and by the end of the month, known cases surpass seven thousand.

By March, the WHO identifies the outbreak as a pandemic, and Europe becomes its epicenter. The number of confirmed cases surpasses 100 000 globally as WHO warns against an increasing appearance of falsified medical products that claim to prevent, detect, treat, or cure COVID-19.

By June 16, the UK’s initial clinical trial results show the lifesaving potential of dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, for patients critically ill with COVID-19. It is not until September 2 that the WHO publishes guidelines on corticosteroids’ role in treating the virus.

By November 6, a new variant strain is identified in Denmark, which seems to have moderately decreased sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies.

Where we will go from here remains to be seen, with more than 50 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in trials and the UK becoming the first nation to vaccinate the most vulnerable citizens and experience another new strain that just appeared on the scene.

2020: The unprecedented year | Black Lives Matter
© Mike Von

BLM MOVEMENT

Although founded in 2013 in response to Trayvon Martin’s murderer’s acquittal, the BLM movement has grown particularly strong this year, with demonstration breaking out despite the current pandemic.

In 2020, BLM drafted legislation unveiled on July 7, in the aftermath of excessive killings of African Americans during the uprising that swept the country. The so-called BREATHE Act had received its name from the phrase “I can’t breathe” repeated by George Floyd, one of the many victims before he died at the hands of police. The movement brings to light a long-lasting inequality and racism that has a lengthy history in the country.

The extensive 2008 survey by the World Public Opinion poll demonstrated that, on average, 91% of people from 22 countries responded that people of different races and ethnicities should be treated equally, with 69% emphasizing that it was imperative. The wave of support worldwide for the BLM movement demonstrates that global public opinion is on the side of equality.

2020: The unprecedented year | COVID-19
© Nechirwan Kavian
2020: The unprecedented year | Black Lives Matter
© Mike Von

DECENTRALIZATION 

While older businesses still target control, data collection, and privacy exposure, there is a fresh breeze in the air giving way to effective leadership through a decentralized system. Although blockchain has been around for a while now, new players in the field give up their Sudo key that administrators use to delegate authority and execute commands across their applications. Thus, the public gains the avenue to effect changes in the system, yielding a truly decentralized order with a broad range of possible applications, including, most noticeably, voting, governance, and finance.

Just imagine the potential in finance. In the London Review of Books in 2016, John Lanchester, in his contribution ‘When Bitcoin Grows up‘ (Vol. 38, No. 8, April 2016) writes:

…there are at least seven billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world (four and a half billion people have access to a flush toilet). So more than twice as many people have a mobile phone as have access to a bank account. If your phone can give you access to the things you would need from a bank, well, you’ve just disinvented the need for banks, and fundamentally changed the operation of the money system, across whole swathes of the developing and emerging world.

The possibilities and potential are limitless and will unfold gradually in the upcoming decade as block-chain technologies evolve. Let us hope it will help us fight poverty. With decentralized block chain-based alternatives and the correct approach, we can have secure, resilient, and fast transfers while cutting fees in half.

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