Just over a year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
On March 11, 2020, the WHO’s director-general noted “the alarming spread and severity” of COVID-19. “We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, back in 2020.
Now, a year later, vaccines to prevent the virus have been developed and are being distributed to people in countries around the world.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marked the one-year anniversary by declaring March 11 a National Day of Observance of COVID-19. In a speech in the House of Commons, he talked about remembering the people who have died from the virus and all of us who have made sacrifices because of the pandemic.
Even apart, or perhaps because we were apart, our communities became stronger and stronger. Businesses stepped up to produce PPE (personal protection equipment) … students and teachers learned how to do school online. Kids did the dishes while they were doing their homework. Young people across the country stepped up to help their neighbours; to serve their communities.Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
In a speech, US President Joe Biden said that everyone has lost something because of the pandemic, “but in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain–appreciation, respect, gratitude; finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do.”
In the UK (United Kingdom), March 23 has been declared a National Day of Reflection, to mark the anniversary of their first COVID-19 lockdown. There will be a minute of silence at noon and people are encouraged to turn on their lights that night in remembrance.
Approximately 7.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are being given around the world every day.-CNN
Around the world, as other leaders mark the first anniversary of the pandemic, vaccines are also being given to prevent people from catching the virus in the future.
More than 354 million vaccine doses have been given to people around the world so far, according to Bloomberg.com; the New York Times puts that number at around 345.2. Billions of dollars have been invested in research, according to news organization CNN.
“In December 2020, the first dose of a fully tested vaccine … was administered in the United Kingdom.”
THINK AND DISCUSS
- Before you look it up, what does the word “pandemic” mean to you? Now, look up its definition. Was it exactly as you thought, or are there some differences between the actual definition and your understanding of the word?
2. Leaders around the world talked about the sacrifices everyone has made during the last year. How has your life changed because of the pandemic? What things do you look forward to doing once pandemic restrictions are lifted? What are you grateful for? What do you miss?
3. In a speech in the House of Commons, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked about the sacrifices people have made during the pandemic. Read this excerpt from his speech and note any words or phrases that stand out to you. How does it make you feel? Why? Do you notice any literary devices Trudeau (or his speech writer) has used?
“Even apart, or perhaps because we were apart, our communities became stronger and stronger. Businesses stepped up to produce PPE (personal protection equipment) … students and teachers learned how to do school online. Kids did the dishes while they were doing their homework. Young people across the country stepped up to help their neighbours; to serve their communities.
“Essential workers made sure the shelves were still stocked with food. People cheered from balconies in solidarity with healthcare workers, the heroes of this pandemic. Brave women and men in the Armed Forces answered the call of duty for Indigenous communities and for the greatest generation, now in long-term care homes. They were there for our parents and grandparents. And through that service we saw clearly that for every senior in Canada, we must do better.
“Compassion and community. Sacrifice and solidarity. This is where we find meaning in the depths of grief. This is our light through a dark time. Every Canadian we lost to this virus will be remembered. Every shift done by a front-line nurse. Every mask made by a Canadian worker. Will not be forgotten. We are stronger together. Today, tomorrow and always. Merci.” –Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, March 11, 2021 (We’ve posted a link to this part of his speech via Global News, under LINKS, below.)
4. Below (in LINKS) is a link to US President Joe Biden’s speech marking the anniversary. How does his speech differ from that of PM Trudeau’s? How are they similar?
5. Other countries around the world are also marking the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. How?
Listen to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declaring the National Day of Observance of COVID-19 via Global News: https://globalnews.ca/video/7690655/trudeau-honours-covid-19-victims-on-one-year-anniversary-of-pandemic-declaration
ABC News story on US President Joe Biden’s speech marking the anniversary of the pandemic (scroll to 1:58): https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/transcript-joe-biden-delivers-remarks-year-anniversary-pandemic/story?id=76403134
BBC News article about the UK’s National Day of Reflection: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56379232
WHO’s Coronavirus information page: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
WHO Director-General’s remarks at media briefing on COVID-19 on March 11, 2020: https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19—11-march-2020
This CNN interactive world map marks the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses given around the world: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2021/health/global-covid-vaccinations/