Science and hope in times of COVID-19
This article was first published by Lilly Spain on January 13, 2021. You can read the Spanish version here .
2021 is a year of hope. COVID-19 continues to generate great suffering around the world: countless people have been affected by deaths of family members or plunged into poverty as a result of devastated economies; and many others marked by lockdowns or social isolation.
Despite all of this, 2020 taught us lessons that allow us to look at 2021 with hope.
First of all, we see renewed trust in science. I would like to believe that 2020 marked a turning point and that in 2021, science and fact-based arguments will take precedence over sensationalism. Countries that turned their backs on science were hit harder by the pandemic, a lesson that will hopefully be remembered as we deal with other global challenges, like climate change.
Another lesson is related to the type of society we build. For the most, countries that value social cohesion over individualism responded more effectively to the pandemic. Countries like Japan—which place great importance on humility, harmony and consideration for fellow citizens—favored and respected measures that reduced collective risk.
Third, lockdowns have forced us to enhance and accelerate the adoption of technology. Done right, new technology can affect the way we live for the better, by reducing unnecessary travel, improving labor flexibility and, ultimately, enhancing equity. This access to new technologies must also promote the democratization of medical knowledge. And I'm not just talking about Spain. Until now, scientific knowledge-holders converged at major international congresses, but it was costly to attend these meetings. The switch to virtual meetings will improve the training of healthcare professionals in all corners of the globe, resulting in improved health everywhere.
And finally, I want to believe that 2020 was the year in which society woke up and became more aware of the essentials of life. More than before, we now appreciate the value of hugging, the freedom to walk and travel, the importance of health.
With greater awareness of what is important, we expect to see science prized to the extent that it deserves. 2021 brings with it expectations—rooted in appreciation of the many scientists, chemists, doctors and professionals in the pharmaceutical industry that have delivered hope—that science is championed and promoted.
Closer to home, we also hope to see R&D supported in budgets, through both public and private investment; and that pharmaceutical investment is appreciated for the value it brings to society rather than its cost. If we had had a drug capable of coping with COVID-19 in 2020, we would have avoided the suffering, the disruption of so many lives and dreams, and the impact on the economy. All this pain is due to the lack, exclusively, of a medicine, which is only appreciated when you don't have one.
Last year reminded us of the privilege of working in a sector that is changing the course of the pandemic. May 2021 be the year in which science triumphs.
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