It may be hard to imagine any good news coming out of 2021 for many people.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of millions globally, with the highly contagious variants fueling case counts and infection rates.
We may have also heard about many other tragic things that happened around the world and it’s not a surprise if we are overwhelmed and worried by them.
But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when we are only bombarded by negative, frustrating, and tragic news in our feeds.
While it is true that many awful things happened over the year,
2021 was not all case numbers, death tolls, lockdowns, disasters, tragedies, and hardships.
Despite the gloom, there were also some shining moments.
Many good things and progress happened in the midst of all of these.
As we are looking forward to a better 2022,
Let’s take a moment to rewind to the 21 good things that happened all over the world in 2021.
1) More Than 8.8 Billion Covid-19 Vaccinations Were Administered Globally
It’s the largest mass vaccination campaign in history!
In December 2020, the first non-trial Covid-19 vaccine in the world was administered to a 90-year-old woman.
In just a year, almost 9 billion Covid jabs have been administered around the world with 48.3% of the total population of the world being fully vaccinated—and the number is increasing every second.
Vaccines have helped reduce case numbers and keep the surge of infection in check in the places where they’ve been administered most widely.
The speed, intensity, and efficiency of the life-saving vaccine rollout is a phenomenon that’s powerful to witness, with 75 percent of the world’s population expected to have received their first vaccination in three months.
2) WHO approves First-ever Malaria Vaccine
This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved the distribution of the world’s first-ever malaria vaccine.
It was also the first vaccine against any parasitic disease.
This was a big breakthrough in malaria eradication.
Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease spread by mosquitoes.
Especially, it remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in underdeveloped countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Annually, more than 260000 African children under the age of five die from malaria disease.
“This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health, and malaria control,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Using this vaccine on top of existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year.” He added.
The success of the vaccine is the effort of three 30 years of profitless research and development by GSK, the foresight of generous funders, and close collaboration within African communities at a cost of more than US$750 million.
The research and development were funded mainly by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
3) China eliminated malaria
With the good news of the first-ever malaria vaccine, here comes another breakthrough in malaria eradication.
China announced that it has officially eliminated malaria after a decades-long fight against the infectious disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.
As part of their efficient and targeted campaign, public health officials in China researched treatment options, reduced mosquito breeding grounds, and distributed anti-malarial resources — such as insecticide-treated nets — to people across the country.
The country joined among the three others in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Region that have been awarded a malaria-free certification.
This award of malaria-free certification is a major milestone both for the world history in malaria eradication program and for Chinese public health history.
Malaria is one of the top three infectious diseases in terms of disease burden and impacts on the world population.
But we are witnessing huge improvements in malaria eradication globally.
4) Countries made bold collective commitments to combat climate change together
Countries have made bold collective commitments to reduce methane emissions, halt and reverse deforestation, bring the financial sector in line with Net Zero by 2050, phase out the combustion engine, accelerate coal phase-out, and end international fossil fuel funding, to name a few. It all happened on Glasgow Climate Pact, at COP26
Glasgow is a platform to launch innovative sectoral partnerships and new funding to support them, to reshape every sector of the economy on the scale needed to achieve a Net Zero future.
Read more at United Nations
5) Uber Drivers Were Granted Workers Rights in the UK
In February, a landmark decision by the UK supreme court affirmed Uber drivers’ worker rights.
The declaration that Uber drivers are workers and not self-employed opened the doors for minimum wage and holiday pay.
“This ruling will fundamentally reorder the gig economy and bring an end to rife exploitation of workers using algorithmic and contract trickery,” said James Farrar, general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers union.
6) 77 countries in the world have now announced full or partial bans on plastic bags
When we go to purchase our groceries, we use plastic bags because they are convenient.
In fact, in our modern lives, it has become part of us.
But, the convenience of these plastics comes at a very big cost to the environment and negatively affects human health and also the life of other living beings around us.
5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. More than half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away.
Globally, more governments are taking action against single-use plastic pollution by banning them and promoting sustainable alternatives.
7) Botswana achieved a key milestone in the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission
The first HIV patient in Botswana was diagnosed in 1985.
After that Botswana citizens began to face one of the most severe HIV epidemics in the world.
At the end of 2003, around 370,000 children and adults were infected by HIV. 64% of them were females.
Years ago, Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. About 37% of the adults were infected by the virus.
But now, Botswana’s Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program has become one of its best successful HIV treatment programs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) awarded a silver tier for the country’s best performance.
This award was given to those countries where HIV cases are lower than 500 out of 10,000 live births and Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT) rates are below 5%.
According to the latest reports, Botswana succeeded in the extermination of the HIV epidemic and became the first high burden country that got certification for achieving this significant milestone.
8) Degraded Ecosystems are Recovering
Only 3% of the world’s land area remains protected from destructive human activities.
This means the rest 97% has been degraded.
Restoring and recovering these ecosystems is a lifelong endeavor and there is no better time to begin than now.
Currently, communities, organizations, and governments are engaged in restoring degraded landscapes around the world.
The Atlantic Forest in Brazil is in the process of regenerating 1.5 million hectares of land.
The Bonn Challenge has secured commitments to restore more than 230 million hectares of land; 1t.org strives to conserve, restore and plant 1 trillion trees by 2030; and the Alliance of Water Keepers to protect and restore water systems around the world.
9) The progress we have made in the development of Covid vaccines is remarkable.
The world has never made and distributed a vaccine for disease faster than it did for COVID-19.
The fact that we had one—let alone multiple!—vaccines during the first year of the pandemic is miraculous.
This success is a result of the pure hard work of many people and a lot of luck.
The big breakthrough happened in the form of the development of mRNA vaccines.
The pandemic showed the possibilities of mRNA vaccines to the world.
Proving that mRNA works as a vaccine platform has been a massive gamechanger, not just for this pandemic, but for the next one too, and not just for covid but for other diseases too.
Now that mRNA is well-established, we’ll be able to develop safe and effective vaccines super-fast in the future.
10) Animals that faced extinction are bouncing back.
In recent decades, wildlife populations have declined amid habitat loss, climate change, pollution, poaching, and interactions with invasive species.
In the United States alone, 22 animal species have gone extinct in the past year.
But there are some positive trends happening around the world.
Nepal is on track to double its wild tiger population by 2022, gorilla populations are recovering in sub-Saharan Africa, and jaguars are returning to forested areas in Colombia.
The Iberian lynx has recovered from near extinction, an endangered monkey population in Vietnam has quadrupled since 2000, and the endangered monkey has returned to the Ganges.
Wolves have returned to life across Europe, a jaguar corridor is being developed across the Amazon, and an endangered mountain antelope has returned to the ravaged border of Turkey and Syria.
Meanwhile, China is creating a national park to house giant pandas, which were eventually removed from the endangered species list, and seven baby Tasmanian devils born in the semi-wild condition for the first time in 3,000 years.
Also, a restored island in the United States has become a rich breeding ground for various endangered bird species, while the relocation of invasive predators from an island in French Polynesian island has allowed endangered bird species to recover.
11) NASA’s Perseverance rover makes oxygen on Mars
A device called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) — on the Perseverance rover successfully converted a small part of the atmosphere of Mars, which is mostly of carbon dioxide, into oxygen.
It created about 10 minutes’ worth of breathable oxygen.
It is also enough oxygen to make tiny amounts of rocket fuel.
Even though the technology is still in its early stages, it could assist future human missions to the Red Planet to become a reality.
12) A new HIV vaccine has shown a 97% response rate in Phase I clinical trials.
Even though the number of people getting AIDS declined massively throughout the years, it still exists and threatens the life of many.
According to World Health Organization, 680 000 people died from HIV and AIDS-related causes in 2020, and over 150,000 people got infected. And currently, there is no cure for it.
But 2021 has restored the world’s hope in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
This year, a team of researchers released a report from clinical trials in the development of an HIV vaccine that showed a 97% response rate.
While the vaccine is still in Phase I and has a long way to go before it can be widely distributed, its high-efficiency rate is a big testimony of progress and innovation in the health field.
Hopefully, we will be able to eradicate HIV/AIDS from the face of Earth pretty soon.
13) Governments, corporations, and philanthropists pledged $40 billion of investments in gender equality initiatives at the Generation Equality Forum.
After many months of campaigning and conferences by renowned world leaders and women’s rights activists, the GEF concluded in Paris in June, resulting in $40 billion of investments.
Aiming to help make gender equality a reality by 2030.
“Together we have mobilized across different sectors of society, from south to north, to become a formidable force, ready to open a new chapter in gender equality,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women.
The funds will be utilized to strengthen several initiatives that promote gender equality, such as investing in women-owned businesses, supporting intersectional policy changes, ending unpaid care work, and expanding girls’ access to education, etc.
14) More and more regions of the world are tackling period poverty.
Most women menstruate each month for about two to seven days, but 2.3 billion people live without basic sanitation services globally. This is the reality of period poverty, which disproportionately affects women and girls.
Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and, or, waste management.
Thankfully, 2021 has seen more and more nations join the call to end period poverty globally.
Following France and Scotland, New Zealand implemented its initiative to provide free menstrual products to students in schools across the country.
Read more at the Guadian
Other governments also came up and introduced initiatives to tackle hygiene and sanitation issues, too.
For instance, in the UK, the government discarded the tampon tax or an extra charge that some of the countries place on menstrual products.
15) More countries are stepping up to support rural farmers living in poverty.
The covid pandemic has affected most of the people in the world, but rural farmers in low-income countries have been hit particularly hard.
More countries are now supporting the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a Global Citizen partner that distributes grants to rural farmers in low-income countries since they struggle to access resources and consumers due to covid restrictions.
This intervention is to ensure people have enough food to eat and can get back on their feet economically.
While the Vatican declared its first-ever contribution to the fight against poverty and hunger,
Nations including Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Uganda also promised to increase their contributions to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
16) Sales of zero-emission vehicles surpassed diesel sales in Europe.
In September, according to The European Electric Car Report, electric vehicles outsold diesel vehicles for the first time in Europe.
While analysts predict the particular it may be a blip for now, partly because of persistent global supply chain woes, they say they have seen a fundamental shift toward zero-emission technology.
Globally, the sales of electric vehicles also showed to be surging
in all three top auto markets: China, the US, and including Europe.
Sales increased by 160% in the first half of 2021 from a year earlier, to 2.6 million units, representing 26% of new sales in the global automotive market.
Petrol and diesel are both fossil fuels.
It fulfills our energy needs.
But that comes with a price.
A good alternative to fossil-fueled vehicles is electric vehicles.
And this positive trend of electric vehicles is a good sign.
17) Scientists successfully connect the human brain wirelessly to a computer.
Scientists at Brown University fully connected a human brain to a computer via a transmitter device, which allows people to control a computer using thought alone. It is a breakthrough achievement
This will be life-changing for those with spinal cord injuries and paralyzed.
In the trial studies, participants with paralysis were able to move robotic limbs by simply imagining their movements in their heads.
18) SpaceX launches the first all-civilian crew into space
This is the first journey into orbit without any professional astronauts on board.
A reusable Falcon 9 rocket carrying 4-person crew members including Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old tech entrepreneur, Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geoscientist, Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old aerospace data engineer, and Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old physician assistant, took off from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The four-person crew spend three days in orbit around Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.
This historic mission represents the next leap in the evolution of human spaceflight, and access to the cosmos expands beyond just governments and their space agencies.
19) Canada passed two laws to affirm the rights of Indigenous People
Indigenous people face many issues globally.
They suffer higher rates of poverty, landlessness, discrimination, and violence, etc.
In Canada, these problems still exist but the country took a step toward promoting the equity of Indigenous people on Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 22, by signing two laws that recognize and incorporate Indigenous status and rights into federal legislation.
While the country still has more progress to make to guarantee justice for Indigenous peoples, the two new laws are a step in the right direction.
Officials of the country have also promised to work closely with Indigenous rights groups on moving forward together.
20) Breakthroughs in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease
More people die from Alzheimer’s disease each year than breast and prostate cancers combined, and millions of people develop the disease.
Today, one in nine people aged 65 and over has Alzheimer’s disease. Too many families are forced to watch their loved ones fall apart and disappear. It’s a brutal way to lose someone and there’s currently no way to stop or even slow down the decline.
But in 2021 we saw many breakthroughs happening in the field of Alzheimer’s treatment with new drug discoveries and underlying molecular causes of the disease.
Experts are cautiously hoping to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s that could halt or significantly delay the progression of the disease.
The growing understanding of how the disease disrupts the brain has led to potential treatments for Alzheimer’s that bypass the underlying disease processes.
21) NASA’s launched Mission DART to save Earth from Asteroids
If you ask any ghost of Dinosaurs about what they hate most, they will undoubtedly say that is an “Asteroid“
The threat of potentially hazardous objects like asteroids hitting on earth’s surface is not fun.
It’s too late for the dinosaurs, but today astronomers are conducting ever-increasing searches to identify all of the larger objects which pose an impact danger to Earth and trying to deflect its orbit or destroy them.
DART’s goal is to test the technology for planetary defense by deflecting the orbit and motion of potentially hazardous asteroids.
As you can see, a lot of great things happened in the field of science and technology, the fight against diseases, conservation of the environment, tackling poverty, individual rights, etc.
And a lot of things that we may have failed to report at all.
Despite everything that’s happening, there is hope.
And a plethora of reasons to stay optimistic about the world, we are just not aware of most of them that’s all.
So let’s hope for a better 2022.
- Berlin’s gigantic thermos tower can heat countless homes this winter
- Groundbreaking: Artificial Photosynthesis Lets Plants Grow In Total Darkness And Even In Space
- Eating Oily Fish Like Salmon May Cut Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s by Nearly 50%
- 103-year-old Granny Sets Record For World’s Oldest Parachuter
- A Revolutionary Machine That Can Make Drinking Water From Thin Air