Every December, as the nights draw in, I reflect – like many of us – on the year that has gone by. But, reflecting on 2020? That’s certainly a daunting task…
When 2020 began, I don’t think anyone could say they saw the year turning out like this. A global COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented uncertainty including lockdowns, school closures, international economic downturns, closed borders, global interest in – and scrutiny of – rapid diagnostic testing, and a COVID-19 vaccine approved (with other vaccine candidates nearing the hurdle of regulatory approval as well). AMR research this year looked very different as a result. Many researchers from across LSHTM’s AMR community are trained in infectious diseases; their epidemiology, their control, behaviour change, and more. Consequently, they were drafted onto all aspects of the COVID-19 response in the UK and abroad. It hasn’t been easy – everyone has had to persevere through through isolation, uncertainty, and, at times, fear. I could go on. As you will all know, it is not difficult to find bad things about 2020.
But there have been some bright moments too, and many of those have come in the form of AMR Centre events or projects. Gwen Knight, the new deputy director of the AMR Centre, led an interdisciplinary COVID-19 and AMR review paper, which is my top pick of the papers to watch out for in 2021. Marco Haenssgen gave a thought-provoking and original talk on whether AMR is caused by hardship – one of the best talks I’ve been to this year; you can watch it online if you missed it. In June, we commented on the launch of a new subscription model for antibiotic research and development and of course in the last year we launched our inaugural publication prize, a cash prize for one staff member and one student at the school who published the best paper on AMR that year (keep an eye out for the call for submissions for the 2021 publication prize, which will open early next year). Also, it was an honour to be able to present my own research at the AMR Centre seminar in early November, and to join the AMR Centre management team for our Twitter takeover during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week in the same month.
We’re taking a break now, until the New Year, but I wish you and yours a restful festive season – you’ve earned it! The AMR Centre will be here to welcome you back in 2021.
There cannot be any complacency as to the need for global action.
With your help, we can plug critical gaps in the understanding of COVID-19. This will support global response efforts and help to save lives around the world.