As 2020 draws to a close the recent welcome news of vaccines being rolled out as the much-anticipated weapon against the COVID-19 pandemic is being challenged for headline billing with a series of related issues.
The discovery in the UK of a new strain of the virus, with several cases now being reported in continental Europe, is now commanding the attention of the political and health authorities and the public.
Already rattled by a second wave of the current strain of the virus, the British government and governments in Europe are rushing to put measures in place to prevent an explosive spread of this mutation.
The variant of the virus is likely to be a key feature of the lexicon of the pandemic - and our lives - in 2021 as much as coronavirus/COVID-19 came to dominate 2020.
Said to be 70 per cent more infectious than the current strain of the virus, it is not yet known how this variant will respond to the current vaccines now being rapidly rolled out in a massive global inoculation programme.
The good news is that early indications are that variant might not be as lethal as the current strain of the COVID-19 virus.
In Cayman, as it is elsewhere, COVID-19 has been a permanent fixture in the news, political and conversation agenda.
And will be for some time to come as the jurisdiction gets ready to embark on its own large scale national inoculation programme.
Shipments of the vaccine from the British government are expected to start arriving here next month.
There has also been a noticeable uptick in the number of persons testing positive in the ongoing screening and quarantining regime since the borders were gradually opened in October for non-commercial flights.
The strict isolation protocols have been broken in several instances with one case attracting huge international media attention after an American teenager was jailed for four months for breaching the regulations and circulating among the public.
The current penalty is CI$10,000 and two years in prison.
In what has become a high-profile being reported by major news outlets around the world, the sentence is being appealed for a second time after a previous conviction resulted in a 40-hour community service penalty and a fine of CI$2,600 for her and her co-accused.
(Lawyers for the convicted American teenager Skylar Mack and Caymanian Vanjae Ramjeet were hoping to have their appeal heard before the end of 2020).
Not only in Cayman but globally, COVID-19 and its offshoot variant will continue to make the news in 2021.
Christmas as we once knew it, is - at least for this year - a thing of the past.
With 2020 coming to a close, a second wave of the now sweeping across many countries, plus a new strain taking hold in the UK but showing up in several other countries, it is hoped that 2021 will bring better headlines.
In the interim, the Cayman Islands government - and governments globally - continue the intricate balance of ‘lives over livelihoods/health over wealth’ amidst the plethora of side issues this pandemic continues to throw out.
It’s not an easy task especially for small countries such as Cayman which are heavily reliant on both a global supply chain, especially the United States, for its consumer and industry imports and to maintain the sectors which form the pillar of its economy.
These are challenging times and it requires the full attention of the politicians (current and aspiring) and the pubic to the same degree that the pandemic is a priority issue for the medical professionals and ancillary staff.
We are living through a moment of history.
We can only hope that history is on our side, especially for the New Year.