2020 is finally coming to an end, and thanks to a plethora of horrible events, the conclusion of this year is something to look forward to. Everything from COVID-19 and contested presidential elections to massive wildfires and the breakout of wars across the globe has made 2020 a year most would like to forget.
That said, the year wasn’t a complete and total mess. While COVID dominated the news, good things continued to happen. This list highlights the ten best parts of an otherwise horrible year and are presented in no particular order.
10 Multiple COVID-19 Vaccines Were Developed
COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill as countries closed businesses and enforced stay-at-home orders. The virus impacted every aspect of the economy. By December, it killed more than 1.5 million of the 67+ million people infected with the virus.
Thanks to the focus of money, time, and attention to the problem, several pharmaceutical companies managed to create a vaccine. While it won’t go into widespread distribution in 2020, it will make its way around the world in 2021.
As of December, two primary vaccines were developed by Phizer/BioNTech and Moderna, though AstraZeneca, Janssen, and Novavax continue their Phase 3 clinical trials. The vaccine developed by Phizer/BioNTech was found to be 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, while Moderna’s vaccine is 94.1% effective.
On December 8th, Margaret Keenan, a 91-year-old British woman, was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, making her the first person in the world to receive it following approval. She is only the first of billions of people who will take the injection, but it’s a massive win in the war against the virus.
9 A Possible Control For Malaria Was Discovered
Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases on the planet, and nearly half the world’s population lives in areas at risk of transmission. In 2016, malaria caused around 216 million clinical episodes, leading to the deaths of 445,000 people.
It’s often the number one killer in the places it runs rampant, and the World Health Organization estimated that 90% of deaths in 2016 resulted from malaria infections in the WHO Africa Region.
Measures to control mosquito populations have run the gamut of scientific advancement. Ongoing efforts to genetically alter mosquitos are underway, and other measures include the use of pesticides and other means to stop the pests from transmitting malaria to humans.
A new discovery in May could finally offer up a means of taking the fight to malaria directly. A team of Kenyan and British scientists discovered Microsporidia MB, a parasitic microbe that blocks mosquitos from carrying malaria.
The discovery of Microsporidia MB may pave the way in controlling the spread of malaria, making it a significant discovery. Research is underway in developing the discovery into a viable means of controlling the spread of the disease.
8 The #MeToo Movement Scored A Huge Victory
The #MeToo movement began in 2006 on MySpace, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the movement achieved a truly significant victory. That’s when widespread accusations of sexual-abuse that exposed Harvey Weinstein finally came to fruition with a conviction in February. Weinstein’s legal troubles pushed women from all over the entertainment industry to speak out.
Alyssa Milano posted on Twitter, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” The attention she brought to the situation brought the #MeToo movement to the forefront of sexual assault and sexual harassment in and out of the entertainment industry.
It took a few years, but the #MeToo movement achieved a huge success in 2020 when Weinstein was finally convicted for numerous crimes. On March 11th, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison, which is something his victims believed would never happen.
Weinstein’s conviction resulted from a charge of rape that occurred in a New York City hotel in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006. While the full range of charges and the massive list of victims didn’t result in additional convictions, his imprisonment achieved a victory over a powerful man whose assaults went unchallenged for decades.
7 Africa Was Declared Free Of Wild Polio
Most people in the west don’t give polio a second thought, thanks to its eradication in many western nations by 1979. Unfortunately, the virus continued in various parts of the world where vaccination became difficult.
In countries like Nigeria, hundreds of people contracted the virus, with 2006 spiking to 1,100 cases, so worldwide eradication was and is ongoing. While wild polio remains a problem in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it has finally been eradicated in Africa, which is a monumental achievement following decades of work.
The polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1952, and by ’61, the oral polio vaccine came to market. Vaccination efforts were widespread in developed countries, but several less-developed nations in Asia and Africa remained affected by the poliovirus.
Immunization campaigns were launched by the likes of Nelson Mandela, who helped mobilize the “Kick Polio Out of Africa” campaign in 1996. In that year alone, 75,000 children across the continent were paralyzed by the virus, but it’s finally been defeated. 2020 marks the end of the wild poliovirus, which will no longer infect the children of Africa.
6 Sudan Finally Achieved Peace
The Republic of Sudan has been embroiled in conflict for decades, resulting from linguistic, cultural, and religious differences as well as divisions in political power. The Sudan Civil War erupted in 1983 and wasn’t settled until 2005, but the conflict didn’t truly end.
Sudan was ruled by a dictatorial government led by Omar al-Bashir between 1989 and 2019 when he was ousted via a successful coup d’état.
Throughout al-Bashir’s rule, Sudan was embroiled in human rights abuses and was a sponsor of global terrorism. Sudan’s role in the War in the Darfur region resulted in between 300,000 and 400,000 casualties. The government operated under Sharia law, but that changed, making it possible to achieve peace.
After the ouster of al-Bashir, Sudan formed a new secular government. By August, several major groups signed a preliminary peace deal. Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement-North came to the table for the first time alongside two factions from the western region of Darfur and one from the south.
The conflicts that were started by Sudan’s former dictator were brought to an end. After decades of fighting, Sudan finally achieved peace. As a new democracy rose in North Africa, peace became the law of the land.
5 Multiple Successes In Israeli-Arab Peace
While U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been relentlessly attacked by the media, it has achieved significant gains in the realm of Middle-East peace. Trump’s administration worked as the intermediary for two significant treaties that normalized relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The Middle-East conflict has been ongoing for decades, but there hasn’t been a normalization of relations between Israel and a Middle-East nation since Jordan in 1994. Before that, Egypt signed a deal in 1979, but 26 years passed before another country stepped up.
The United Arab Emirates and Israel signed the historic Israel–United Arab Emirates normalization agreement on August 13th, 2020, making it the third Arab nation to formally normalize its relations with Israel. On September 15th, Bahrain did the same, when both countries officially signed their respective agreements brokered by the United States.
Efforts continue to bring more Arab nations to the negotiating table, as most have yet to recognize and normalize relations with Israel. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia are among the dozens of nations that have yet to negotiate a similar agreement.
4 The Falkland Islands Were Declared Landmine-Free
In 1982, the United Kingdom and Argentina engaged in a 10-week-long undeclared war. The conflict resulted from a dispute over two British dependent territories: the Falkland Islands and the South Sandwich Islands. The Falklands War was relatively short, but it was intense, and one of the outcomes was the widespread use of landmines.
Landmines are one of the worst devices employed in warfare due to their wholly indiscriminate and deadly impact on whoever is unlucky enough to trigger one. Minefields from wars fought long ago remain in place for years, and the civilian population often pays the price with the loss of limbs and lives when mines are triggered.
Most countries have since signed treaties limiting or abolishing their use, but many minefields remain. The Falkland Islands became the home of some 30,000 landmines from the war, and it wasn’t until 1998 that a ratified treaty required their removal. Dangerous demining operations were carried out by hand and continued until October 2020.
The government finally declared the Falkland Islands to be mine-free, with the last site, Gypsy Cove, finalizing its last detonation. The beaches of Gypsy Cove had been off-limits since 1982, but they were finally free of the deadly devices, 38 years after they were first placed.
3 Dog Adoptions Soared, Thanks To COVID
It’s difficult to find anything good in the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the virus has impacted everyone’s lives negatively, some good has come of it. Shelter adoptions are on the rise, thanks to the void many people feel from being trapped in their homes for the bulk of the year.
The adoption of dogs has significantly increased throughout the United States, as locked-in folks find that they have the time and energy to bring a pet into their lives. The pandemic has created a nice boom for breeders, but it’s also increased pet adoptions from shelters, saving those animals from being destroyed.
Some shelters have seen a doubling of the number of adoptions they usually get in a single day. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles saw between ten and 13 adoptions a day in late June.
For the first time in a long time, the “inventory” of shelter animals is running out, and people are being placed on waiting lists to get their hands on a puppy or adult dog. Every animal rescued from a kill shelter is a life saved, so it seems that a little good has come from our exile.
2 We Found Ways To Adapt And Overcome
COVID-19 may have come along and completely upended our lives, but people have learned to adapt and overcome for the most part. That’s not to say we’ve defeated the virus, but when people found themselves locked inside their homes for months at a time, we found ways to make it work.
Working from home went from being impossible in most businesses to being the norm, and that’s unlikely to change even after the pandemic ends. Things like drive-in movie theaters returned, and drive-in concerts joined in on the fun to become a thing.
People and companies with the know-how to do so changed their production efforts and began making masks for people all over the world, and many continue to do so on a regular basis. Liquor companies began making hand sanitizer to make up the shortfalls, and people from all over the world did what they could to help one another from afar.
While the pandemic may have been entirely negative, at least we found a way to adapt and overcome some of the virus’ impacts on our lives. It hasn’t been easy, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of people from doing whatever they could to help others.
1 The Second-Largest Ebola Outbreak Ended
Because of COVID-19, it’s easy for most folks to overlook a smaller pandemic, and one ran rampant through half the year. The second-largest Ebola outbreak began in August 2018, and the Democratic Republic of Congo fought against it well into 2020.
Ebola is far deadlier than COVID-19, but it is possible to stop its spread, as it is, fortunately, not an airborne virus. Still, it’s incredibly contagious. Whenever it arises in Africa, it often kills a large number of people before it dies out. The Kivu outbreak that lasted two years infected 3,453 people, killing 2,280 of them.
The World Health Organization and volunteers from various agencies descended upon the DRC to fight the outbreak. By February 2020, the cases dwindled down to zero. Unfortunately, three cases emerged 52 days later, and the fight continued well into June.
On June 25th, the pandemic was declared “over,” bringing a two-year nightmare to an end. The largest Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa between 2014 and 2016. That outbreak resulted in more than 11,000 deaths. Since that outbreak, the development of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine has helped to limit the spread to more vulnerable populations.
The vaccine is 97.5% effective at preventing transmission of Ebola, but distribution efforts have been hampered, making widespread vaccination difficult in the region.