A Farewell to 2020 and a Look Ahead at Life Sciences in 2021

What a year 2020 has been. The COVID-19 pandemic has been spewing death and economic destruction, and as scientists predicted, is now resurrecting itself in a second wave―just as it seemed there was light at the end of the tunnel. Now, we have news from the United Kingdom and elsewhere that the virus is mutating in a way that makes it more contagious.

Yet, for the life sciences field, 2020 was a year of breathtaking achievement and innovation (e.g., ventilators, changes in standards of medical care, PPE, medical professionals figuring out new ways to care for patients and their families, etc.).

This year, I found it very sad to see the specter of families and critically ill patients who weren’t able to be together in their final moments. Could the imposed isolation have been handled better? I lack the expertise to know, but the nurses, aides, and doctors using Zoom or FaceTime to help families in their terrible time of need is one of my emotional mileposts for the year.

Of course, the incredibly rapid development of vaccines―two already approved for use in the United States―is one of the great achievements in science and medicine of all time. From figuring out the logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of people worldwide and the development of processes from raw material to injection to post-injection monitoring, the entire process has been amazing. It is too soon to see how it will all work out, but what has been done to date is remarkable.

The end of 2020 will be rightly celebrated, but there is no dramatic change just because the calendar will say 2021. On January 1, the world will be basically the same as on December 31, but hopefully, at the end of 2021, COVID-19 will be largely behind us.

In 2020, the material published on this site was largely COVID-19 related. As we move into 2021, we will continue to cover it, but we will be moving back to the life sciences world and issues more generally. For example, we will be following the issues swirling about the water contaminant NDMA, a possible carcinogen. There will be COVID-19-related liability issues to be sure, but less so if a national immunity law passes. Efforts to do so were not included in the most recent stimulus package, which has yet to be passed. And, as litigation begins to move again, there will be the traditional life sciences legal issues to cover.

So, on behalf of our team―Anita Hotchkiss, Chip Miller, Sean Stadelman, Lisa Robinson, and Steve Vahidi―we wish you and your families a blessed holiday season, and a happy new year. We fervently hope that by the end of 2021, we are only talking about the legal aspects of the pandemic, and that the human toll has largely ended.

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