This last year has involved hundreds of thousands of scientific discoveries and movements, from the biomedical sciences to exploration of Mars. We take a look at just a few of the most memorable headlines in science this year here:
COVID-19 vaccination and variant identification
Earlier this year, several pharmaceutical companies made headlines for developing an mRNA vaccine to battle COVID-19, and it was followed by an intense vaccine rollout across the globe. mRNA vaccines, at the time, were cutting-edge science and not readily used before — making the discovery and mass rollout even more impressive. Research is also currently being conducted to develop an antiviral pill to prevent COVID-19, among other studies looking at antibodies and various forms of transmission.
With the pandemic in full swing, research has revolved around COVID-19 for the last year and a half. One of the main concerns was identifying where the virus originated. The World Health Organization had a team of scientists traveling to China several times to attempt to discover the virus’ closest relatives in bats, how it jumped to humans and how to prevent further viruses like this one from arising.
Additionally, various variants have arisen across the globe — from delta to omicron. South African scientists were able to use virus tracking technologies to identify a spike in cases in Pretoria, and quickly sequenced the genome to identify variations in the virus. This quickly led to the discovery of the omicron variant, and for travel restrictions and public health measures to be taken rapidly around the world.
The science behind virus identification has likely prevented countless infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and is something that will remain a priority going into 2022.
Climate change developments
This year, the United Nations met for COP26, a climate change conference that brought together almost every country on earth to discuss how to tackle climate change following the Paris Agreement.
There was an agreement to attempt to phase down coal power, new rules on trading carbon credits and a request for yearly reports from each nations’ commitments to reduce emissions.