The year 2020 was defined by the coronavirus pandemic, arguably the worst pandemic the world has seen in 100 years. COVID-19 caused more than 75 million cases and 1.6 million deaths worldwide as of mid-December. The disease has affected almost every aspect of life, from work and school to daily activities such as grocery shopping and even our wardrobes.
Here are some of the ways COVID-19 has changed the world in 2020.
A number of new words and phrases entered the general lexicon in 2020. We were told we must “social distance, “or stay six feet apart, so that we can”flatten the curve, “or slow the spread of the disease in order to reduce the burden on the health care system. People have even become familiar with relatively obscure epidemiological terms like”basic reproduction number“(R0, pronounced R-nothing), or the average number of people who catch the virus from a single infected person. And of course, the name of the disease itself, COVID-19, is a new term, with the World Health Organization officially naming the disease on February 11.
Adding a wardrobe
The must-have fashion element of 2020 was a small piece of fabric to put around your face.
With a shortage of medical masks at the start of the year, sewing enthusiasts began to produce homemade masks for their communities. Then clothing companies and retailers stepped in, adding face masks to their fashion lines. Now in many parts of the world you cannot leave your home without putting on a mask.
At first it was not known whether wearing sheet masks would protect against COVID-19, but over the year numerous studies have shown that the advantages of wearing masks, for both carrier and those around them.
Anxiety and depression
The pandemic had serious consequences for people’s mental health in 2020. A study released in August by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts exploded in the midst of the pandemic.
The study could not determine the reason for the increase in mental health problems, but factors linked to the pandemic, such as social isolation, school and university closures, unemployment and d Other financial worries, as well as the threat of the disease itself, may play a role, say the authors.
Another insidious side effect of the pandemic has been increased alcohol consumption. A study published in October in the journal JAMA network open found that alcohol consumption in the United States increased by 14% during pandemic shutdowns.
Women in particular reported a worrying increase in binge drinking in the spring of 2020, according to the study.
“In addition to a series of negative physical health associations, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to or worsen existing mental health problems,” the authors concluded.
As businesses began to open after the initial lockdowns, people had to adjust to a new standard to reduce the risk of spread the disease from daily activities. Companies have implemented universal mask policies. Meals are spent outside only. Waiting rooms have become a thing of the past. You needed a reservation to go to the gym. And large gatherings and events have been completely banned in many areas.
While there is no way to guarantee a zero risk of catching COVID-19, officials said taking precautions could reduce the risk of spread. However, at the start of the fall, many areas are locked again amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
From the idea that drinking bleach can kill norovirus to a theory that the virus was created in a laboratory as a biological weapon, the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a wave of disinformation. Indeed, a study, published on August 10 in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, found that the pandemic broke out over 2000 rumors, conspiracy theories and reports of discrimination.
Such false information can have serious consequences – researchers in the new study found that rumors related to COVID-19 were linked to thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths.
“Health agencies need to track disinformation associated with … COVID-19 in real time, and engage local communities and government stakeholders to demystify the disinformation,” the authors concluded.
With the order to stay home as much as possible, many people decided to have a four-legged friend while in their forties.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon to pet adoptions, especially dog adoptions. Many shelters, breeders and pet stores have reported increased demands for dogs, with demand far exceeding supply, according to The Washington Post. Some shelters reported double the number of adoptions from the previous year and had to resort to waiting lists to keep up with demand.
This good news is not only for pets that need a home, but also for their humans, as numerous studies show that owning a pet has benefits for mental health, according to NPR.
Children seem largely untouched by the most serious effects of COVID-19, but they can still act as spreaders of the disease. So many schools in the United States and around the world have made decision to close in 2020, and opt for virtual learning instead. Questions about how long to stay closed and how to reopen safely have been the subject of much debate. As fall arrived, with a number of schools still closed, many children seemed to be falling behind in their learning. Statewide polls have found that nearly 9 in 10 parents are worried about their children being late for school due to the pandemic being shut down, according to Educational trust.
Reduction of emissions
Coronavirus lockdowns, which have slowed normal agitation in cities to a virtual standstill, have also appeared significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions around the world. A study published on May 19 in the journal Nature’s climate change found that daily global carbon dioxide emissions fell 17% in early 2020, from 2019 levels. This appears to be one of the biggest drops in recorded history. But this temporary drop is far from sufficient to offset the adverse effects of man-made climate change.
“While this is likely to lead to the greatest reduction in emissions since World War II, it will do little to dent the continued buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Richard Betts, head of research on climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Center in England, said in a press release.
Development of a new vaccine normally takes years, if not decades. But in an unprecedented feat, researchers in the United States and several other countries created a vaccine for the coronavirus – carrying it from the lab to the bedside – in just under 12 months. As of early 2020, COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2, were unknown to science. But once the virus was identified, scientists acted quickly to start developing a vaccine. By mid-March, the first human trials had started and by the end of the summer the vaccines were ready for more advanced trials with thousands of participants. In December, the United States authorized two Vaccines against covid-19, from Pfizer and Moderna, after tests have shown impressive results. Both vaccines used molecules known as mRNA to stimulate an immune response against the coronavirus, marking the first time a mRNA vaccine has been approved for use in people. The vaccines were advertised as a extraordinary scientific progress, and the first doses were given to healthcare workers in the United States in mid-December.
Originally posted on Live Science.