A rational hope for 2021

Very quickly, we had answers to key questions about COVID-19


A rational hope for 2021

On New Year’ Eve I was looking for a rational reason for hope in 2021. With respect, I did not find it in I. Rice’s cartoon referencing the “low bar” set by 2020. I did however find it in an article entitled “The Great Project” published by the Guardian Weekly (18/12/20), in which Ian Sample, the newspaper’s science editor, writes, “Unprecedented global collaboration by scientists sharing data and funding has created working vaccines and may have changed the way the science of medical research works for ever.” That’s promising, I thought, so if you will allow, I’ll summarize his case.

On Jan. 5, 2020, a Chinese professor sequenced the code of the Wuhan outbreak. On Jan. 12, he shared it with an Australian colleague and despite an embargo on doing so, they published the information.

Two days later, the U.S. National Institutes of Health partnered with Moderna to design a vaccine. Oxford University and the German firm of BioNTech were also quick off the mark. The World Health Organization swung into action and scientists who had been working on earlier coronaviruses hit the ground running.

Very quickly, we had answers to key questions about COVID-19, such as how it spread, what its symptoms are, who was most infectious and its replication rate. In June, claims for hydroxychloroquine as a cure were refuted but a cheap and widely available steroid, dexamethasone, was found to significantly reduce the number of deaths amongst hospitalized patients. Late in the year, three highly effective vaccines came on the market, one so cheap as to address the question of cost to impoverished nations.

Yes, there have been gaffes and stumbles along the way, mainly in defining and implementing public policy, not to mention scepticism from unexpected quarters, such as the White House. But the achievements of medical science in relation to the coronavirus have been amazing and unprecedented. As one researcher has said, “In the last 11 months, probably 10 year’s work has been done”, and another that, “A lot of what has happened (in 2020) are things that people would have said are not possible… It will be hard for scepticism to carry the day in the future.”

These, I submit, are grounds for a rational hope in the New Year.

Gregg Shoop



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: It’s the highway’s fault!

One component of Vision Zero (our current road safety strategy) is highway design.

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

At least 9 interveners will seek to join a rancher’s request for a judicial review of Alberta’s decision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read