12 months ago the UK’s official Covid-19 death toll stood at 364. Today the pandemic has claimed 126,172 lives in this country alone. Globally that figure stands at more than 2.7 million.
Anniversaries are always a chance to reflect, to look back and think what we did well, what we did badly and what we would change if we were given that time again. What’s undeniable is that it’s been a year of extreme contrasts where we’ve seen the best and worst of actions and behaviour.
Neighbours have shopped for vulnerable friends and relatives while others stockpiled leaving supermarket shelves empty. We stood on our doorsteps applauding NHS workers then watched as our politicians rewarded them with a pay rise that will barely cover a drink in the pub…..when they finally re-open. At the same time others were filling their boots selling billions of pounds worth of PPE, much of which wasn’t even fit for purpose. And how many of those contracts were awarded with no competitive tendering process? Or to companies with connections to the Conservative party?
We’ve seen scientists work 24/7 across the world to develop vaccines then watched individual governments bicker and fight over supplies. We’ve seen millions of people roll up their sleeves and welcome vaccination while others refuse a jab after being poisoned by conspiracy theories and lies.
We’ve seen profits soar at Amazon, Apple and Zoom while hundreds of thousands of employees in the UK, many of then aged 18 to 24 have lost their jobs. Jeff Bezos by the way currently earns around £150,000 a minute.
We saluted Captain Sir Tom Moore’s phenomenal fundraising efforts while the government paid management consultants £400 million…..more than ten times the amount raised by Sir Tom…..to work on a test and trace system that many have derided as an abject failure. We’ve seen countless millions sacrifice birthdays, weddings and even attending the funerals of loved ones. Meanwhile a thoughtless minority ignore all the rules then plead ignorance when caught.
While some lucky children have the laptop and computer resources to successfully homeschool, others have found themselves falling further and further behind with their studies.
While most of us have spent much of the past year in lockdown, holidays cancelled and even a day trip to the coast banned, the rich and famous have exploited loopholes to lounge on a beach in Dubai. Will the £5,000 fine for trips abroad that’s due to be introduced next week influence the influencers?
We’ve seen generosity and we’ve seen greed. Kindness and selfishness. Thought and thoughtlessness.
Let’s hope that we have all learnt something from the past year and are better people for it. We owe it to all those who didn’t make it.