REMEMBER 2016? That was the year the world lost some greats – George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Leonard Cohen, Mrs Brady, R2D2, Gene Wilder, Elie Wiesel, Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Jon English – it was teen hero carnage. We couldn’t wait to see the calendar click over.

Well, we’ve got some perspective now, don’t we?

If the “Black Summer” bushfires – 18.6 million hectares burned, 5900 buildings destroyed, 34 people killed, and almost 3 billion animals killed or displaced – weren’t enough to make 2020 a landmark year, then COVID-19 has certainly put it on the never-again-thanks map.

At the time of writing, the best COVID-19 data collection portal on the planet – the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University – has global cases at 63 770 421; global deaths at 1 478 923. In Australia, we have had 27 921 cases and 908 deaths.

Has Australia “got off lightly”? In absolute numbers, of course we have, especially when you consider the lethal chaos raging even now in the US, India, Brazil and large swathes of Europe.

But the families of those 908 lost souls, and those who have survived their bouts of COVID-19, don’t feel lucky. Neither do those who have lost jobs, businesses, friends, holidays, opportunities and health.

Here at InSight+ we have brought you a lot of COVID-19 content, and one thing has become blatantly clear to me as the year has progressed. There is so much that is positive to be learned going forward about how our health system has been improved and can continue to be improved – whether that’s the mainstreaming of telehealth, the boosting of intensive care unit (ICU) capacity, the heroic way our pathology laboratories have ramped up their operations to process tests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; bolstering of mental heath responses in what was an already overstretched sector even before the pandemic; public health messaging, including getting those messages to culturally and linguistically diverse populations in a timely, effective manner; and of course, how we manage infections and staffing in aged care facilities.

These have been hard lessons to learn and there is yet work to be done to make sure those lessons remain learned and bear fruit in the future.

To all of you working on the frontlines of health – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, academics – whether that’s in GP clinics, hospitals, ICUs, aged care facilities, research labs, in front of the media, or behind a desk corralling the troops – thank you. You have risked your lives, and you have saved others. This may not be over, but you have made sure we are in one of the safest places on the planet to ride it out.

This is the penultimate edition of InSight+ for 2020. Our last is on 14 December, and our first of 2021 will be 25 January.

I have many people to thank, not the least of which are the medical editors of the MJA – Dr Zoe Silverstone, Dr Tania Janusic, Dr Aajuli Shukla, Dr Wendy Morgan and Dr Francis Geronimo – structural editor Laura Teruel, and IT guru Jackson Ho, all of whom give InSight+ their full attention each week despite being buried under COVID-19 content and their usual MJA load.

Thank you too to my journalist, Nicole MacKee who has covered everything from asthma to zeitgeist with her usual professionalism and aplomb, and to Caitlin Wright, who filled in when Nicole dared to have a couple of weeks off.

To our regular contributors – Jane McCredie, Will Cairns, and Aniello Iannuzzi – thank you for not waiting to be asked!

We’ve seen a 40% growth in pageviews this year, with one issue to go. That’s down to you, our readers, and I thank you for your continued support and interest.

I look forward to 2021, in the hopes that it can only be better than 2020! On behalf of all of us at InSight+, we hope you have a happy and safe summer. See you on 25 January!

3 thoughts on “2020: the year that makes 2016 look good

  1. A/Professor Vicki Kotsirilos AM says:

    Thanks Cate for the interesting, thought provoking and inspiring articles! Have a great rest and look forward to more for 2021!
    With kindness, Vicki

  2. Mike Daube (and canine co-author Dr Olivia Doll) says:

    Well done. Always a good read with important, interesting and entertaining content. All credit to you and your colleagues.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And thank you, Cate, for your editorial skills and amazing podcasts.
    Wonder what 2021 will bring? I’m sure we’ll be in good hands with you and InSight.

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