Most people would have thought that the pandemic was enough to signal that, unless we hadn’t noticed, we were living in a new world. New threats, new needs, new constraints – that had, in some cases, been quietly operating for years – were revealed with appalling starkness. One could argue that 2020 marks the end of the long beginning of the 21st century.
But, immediately, there emerged alongside the spectacle of loss, the hope of renewal. What would it take to build back better?
And just as the question was being formulated, the murder of George Floyd, the re-ignition of the Black Lives Matter movement and the sweep of the protest across the world reminded us that other lethal infections needed to be vanquished, other injustices addressed, other inequalities tackled – and that fight might also take a viral form.