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2021 In Review: Another Turbulent and Innovative Year for Public Health

Lindsay Smith Rogers

2021 felt like even more of a rollercoaster ride than 2020. In the public health world, one thing was constant: upheaval. We endured some enormous losses, but made some major gains and are closing out the year with so much left to do.

In the final issue of Expert Insights for 2021, we took stock of what we covered in another year marked by a pandemic, racial reckoning, political upheaval, and climate disasters as well as major health care breakthroughs, innovation, and true moments of humanity and even humor. 

Subscribe and get the Expert Insights newsletter twice a week to stay informed. In 2022, we’ll continue to share COVID-19 pandemic takeaways from public health experts as well as insights on other urgent public health issues.

Some major moments this year:

Some big COVID knowledge gains to acknowledge this year:

We celebrated EI’s one-year anniversary in March with the requisite group photo/Zoom screen shot. We put a lot of hard workand some wild ideas—into public health messaging. We explored pandemic life in terms of dating, returning to in-person learning, travel, and holidays. We rethought the concept of herd immunity in the context of sluggish global vaccine rollouts and emerging variants of concern like omicronwhich is more transmissible than delta, and wrecking the curve’s downward trajectory with an unforeseen spike in new infections. 

In 2022, all of us will continue to adapt to COVID in new ways, but the nation will ideally focus its response toward strategies to protect high-risk individuals from severe disease and death. 

Lindsay Smith Rogers, MA, is the producer of the Public Health On Call podcast and the associate director of content strategy for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.