2020 has been a year none of us could have imagined, but as it comes to an end there is hope 2021 will be better.
Four experts across different industries have given Sky News their predictions for the pandemic next year and discuss what we have learnt from 2020.
A virologist, celebrity chef Tom Aikens, a government psychology adviser and a former Treasury economist give their views:
Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the school of medicine, University of Leeds
What happens next year with the pandemic depends a lot on vaccine supply and distribution, and which vaccines get authorised.
Some of it depends on Brexit – if everything is stuck on the M20 outside Dover that could be an issue.
We have lots of different vaccines coming through the system and having lots of eggs in one basket is very important, but the way they work will determine how we’ll deploy them.
If we can protect all of our vulnerable population then we’ll see fewer deaths.
But, we do need to roll it out to others as we’ve got long COVID to think off and I would argue the vulnerable under 65 should be bumped up the vaccine list.
It’s not the case that simply protecting all the elderly is going to make it go away, there is still the big question of how long immunity lasts and can we prevent transmission?
If this virus can still replicate and be passed on without you being aware of it, that’s a problem as we don’t understand asymptomatic spread yet.
It’s really important to understand asymptomatic spread for all vaccines because that will dictate how you use them.
If your population immunity wanes then you have the risk of ongoing transmission, so I’m hopeful we’ll get enough Pfizer vaccines to protect our vulnerable population in the next few months, that Moderna gets approved and Oxford/Astra Zeneca will prove efficient.
We need at least two thirds of the population vaccinated and in an ideal world we get our annual COVID vaccine and nobody dies.
But that can change, going on holiday could be a risk if other countries aren’t protected and you then spread it unknowingly.
In the UK, I would hope that the vulnerable population will be protected by the end of winter and by the beginning of spring community transmission could dip dramatically.
I’m not saying we’ll be out of this by summer, but it will hopefully mean we can have fewer measures.
Tom Aikens, owner/head chef at Muse in London and restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Great British Menu judge and the youngest chef to gain two Michelin stars
2021 could be far worse for the hospitality industry than 2020 because of the double jeopardy of COVID and Brexit.
We’re calling for a hospitality minister because this year has shown us we need a voice in parliament who truly understands the needs and requirements of hospitality.
The pandemic is far from over. The government wants to give 20 million people the vaccine before they ease restrictions, which could take to Easter.
I said to my team it certainly won’t be January before we open, probably February, then they put London in Tier 4 so it won’t be until March or April.
For a lot of hospitality businesses, the run-up to Christmas is where we make our extra revenue but we couldn’t so I think we’ll see quite a lot more businesses closing their doors, especially with January being renowned as the toughest month anyway.
In hospitality, it’s almost better if we’re in a full lockdown because we get more help from the government – better than being in Tier 3 or 4.
There are going to be a lot more closures, and those that have shut their doors permanently will not come back.
Landlords hold the key in this, they have bills to pay but it is generally them who will have to be really lenient in the coming months.
With me, they’ve been good and the majority of landlords in London have been understanding.
But, the sad news is a lot of restaurants will close and it’s a crying shame – it’s not like I work harder than anyone else, everyone in this industry works hard.
However, I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to be all doom and gloom the whole time, it’s tough to think what six months down the line will look like but in Great Britain, when we’re up against it, we do all pull together.
Restaurants got behind the NHS, chefs were cooking for charity – I think it’s very important that people realise hospitality is hospitable, it’s in our blood, we will help others.
Stephen Reicher, professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews, a COVID-19 adviser to the UK and Scottish governments and a member of independent SAGE
The pandemic has revealed three big things about our society that need to change:
1. Our relationship with nature
Work going back 80 years says if you try to dominate rather than live with nature we’re doomed – this year has made that clearer.
When I was little, you waited for the first strawberry of summer, food was seasonal but now we think we can ignore the seasons.
That’s emblematic of the fact we think things like seasons are inconvenient so we ignore that, dominate that – it comes with a cost.
We are now discovering that cost is enormous as COVID has shown the consequences of ignoring nature.
Those animal markets in China, all different types of species living cheek by jowl with human beings, creating conditions for disease to jump the species barrier.
The danger of viruses isn’t in the virus, it’s our preparedness – you see that with the colonisation of North America, diseases we were adapted to wiped out many indigenous people.
2. Our relationship with each other
This pandemic has shown the importance of human relationships, not only for mental but physical wellbeing.
One of the great tragedies is we spoke about social distancing when we meant physical distancing – it’s so important to have social interactions.
The relationship with group process and health, it shows remarkable importance about being part of a group.
If you feel part of a group, you feel other people are there to support you, which has a great impact on mental and physical health.
The impact of social isolation is greater than smoking 20 cigarettes. For a good society, we need to be connected personally, be part of groups.
This has been a pandemic of inequalities, we were ill-prepared not just with hospital beds, PPE and testing but the big concern is transmission in schools because our school rooms are crowded.
We have about the largest classes in Europe so it’s not surprising.
There’s also been a huge amount of misinformation about people getting infected because they misbehave.
You’re more exposed if you’re deprived, more likely to use public transport, live in crowded housing and have to go to work. We need to address those issues as a society.
Care home workers were working in lots of different places because they had too, poor sick pay in care homes means they couldn’t afford to not go in – we have to address vulnerability in low pay.
Housing needs to be safe, spacious, ventilated, there’s digital inequality as well which was shown when poorer kids could not study from home as they had no laptop.
One of the most apt quotes from the pandemic was from Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer in BC, Canada, who said: “We’re all in the same storm but we’re not all in the same ship.”
We’ve done enough during the pandemic to just about hold things together but it clearly hasn’t been enough.
People in deprived areas are three to four times more likely to be infected, we need to do far far more.
We’ve got to reconstruct in a way that we don’t create another health crisis – if the poor have to pay more they will pay with their health.
If you tax me a bit more, I might get a slightly less good car next time but I won’t starve.
In a pandemic, we have to pull together and have to socialise, in terms of medicine and economy – it’s inequality that matters.
Martin Beck, senior economist at London Economics and a former Treasury economist
If the vaccine is rolled out successfully I think it could be quite a positive year.
In the 2008, 80s and 90s recessions there were problems that took a long time to wash out.
But there’s no fundamental problem with the economy, no imbalances to be dealt with.
Household savings are up because people have been unable to spend and incomes have been supported by furlough.
There is loads of money in bank accounts – it does tend to be in better-off households but you’ve got the fuel to propel the consumer sector.
In past recessions, there was lots of debt, but interest rates have remained low, consumer credit has been negative, people have been paying back credit card debt – the fuel is there to reboot.
There is hope that because of the furlough scheme, jobs will be kept under life support and will bounce back – there will be some areas where they won’t.
History suggests you get these shocks but people will go back. The ingredients are there for a strong recovery if people can get back to normal.
The hospitality business has been hit hard but for those who have lost a restaurant, it’s much easier to start up again than say, a factory, that’s been destroyed.
Looking at the airline business, if people have the money to spend on flights and if airlines can fly then, in theory, they should rebound quickly – holidays have been on hold so people will want to go.
The government is borrowing huge amounts of money, but for virtually nothing.
This money won’t have to be repaid for a long time and although it’s the Conservative Party’s instinct to be responsible, they should just borrow money.
The Bank of England is buying up bonds so they’re essentially propping up that borrowing.
I don’t think taxes will have to go up because the cost is so small, it’s such a small part of GDP that they should tolerate that amount of debt.