Sever Plocker
Sever Plocker
Photo: Shem Olam
Israeli children wear masks in the classroom at a school in Rehovot

The year humanity triumphed over the virus

Opinion: Dire predictions earlier this year forecast 70 million dead and billions infected with COVID-19 as economies the world over were expected to fail and fake news to drown out science, but at the end of the year a different, optimistic reality has emerged

Sever Plocker |
Published: 12.27.20 , 23:56
We are nearing the end of the most challenging year humanity has had to contend with since the end of World War II, with a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 1.7 million people and has made millions more ill, sometimes desperately so.
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  • The outgoing year wiped out swathes of the global economy and consigned millions to join the ranks of the unemployed.
    פרסום סגר שלישי תלמידים עם מסכות בבית ספר ברחובותפרסום סגר שלישי תלמידים עם מסכות בבית ספר ברחובות
    Israeli children wear masks in the classroom at a school in Rehovot
    (Photo: Reuters)
    As children sat glued to computer screens, coronavirus kept family members, friends and co-workers apart.
    The pandemic also suspended cultural life, increased domestic violence, pushed medical and mental health workers and institutions to their limits, destroyed the tourism industry and forced governments into major fiscal deficits.
    But it was not all entirely bad during 2020.
    On February, health experts predicted that 70 million people would die from COVID-19 before the year's end, with billions more expected to become sick. The entire scientific community was certain a vaccine would not be available before 2022.
    Economic predictions were also dire. The crisis of the 1930, we were told, would seem like a walk in the park compared to the economic devastation expected in the wake of the pandemic, a devastation that would last at least until the end of the decade.
    קניות אחרונות בקניון עיר ימים בנתניה לפני הסגר השלישיקניות אחרונות בקניון עיר ימים בנתניה לפני הסגר השלישי
    Shoppers in a mall in Netanya last week
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    Governments and central banks seemed reluctant to extend credit to those businesses that fell victim to the crisis, with little consideration for the fiscal situation.
    But these prophecies of doom did not come to fruition and looking back at 2020 can only lead to one conclusion: Humanity stepped up and showed the coronavirus what we are made of.
    With such danger looming over our heads, humans showed we can adapt from one day to the next. Lifestyles can change, pleasures can be delayed and even things that used to be seen as a vital need can be suspended for a while.
    Most importantly, it could all come about quickly, while maintaining social unity and with little cost to democracy.
    As 2020 comes to a close, liberal democracy has survived and extremism is on the defensive.
     Police enforcing a mask mandate in Jerusalem earlier this year  Police enforcing a mask mandate in Jerusalem earlier this year
    Police enforcing a mask mandate in Jerusalem earlier this year
    (Photo: AFP)
    In Israel, dire predictions were also proven wrong. Just 0.035 percent of the population has died from complications of COVID-19, and most were of patients over the age of 85.
    Despite the government's failure to pass a budget, financial aid programs were extended during the year, and the national income dropped by just 2.5-3.5 percent. The foreign currency surplus kept growing and the deficit remained manageable while the shekel maintained its strength and Israel managed to stave off inflation.
    International experts view Israel's handling of the pandemic - from a medical and economic standpoint - as a success. And with the vaccines already flowing through some people's veins, the end of the crisis is within our grasp.
    חיסון קורונה בישראלחיסון קורונה בישראל
    A woman gives the thumbs up as she receives the coronavirus vaccine in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Shalev Shalom)
    In the face of all the disinformation and the fake news, science, truth, moral responsibility and the rule of law have prevailed.
    This past year could have been far, far worse by any measure. And that alone is surely cause for optimism.
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