The COVID pandemic is by no means over. Despite plunging case numbers in the U.S. as of this writing, many countries in the world are still experiencing peak infection rates. And it is impossible to foresee how the SARSCoV- 2 saga will unfold in the coming months or years. Since 2020 in this country (and others), hard truths about our deficient health-care system, rampant societal inequality and flawed policy-making engine, to name a few, have crystallized—painfully in some cases.

At the same time, vaccine technology, spurred by the successful deployment of mRNA shots, has catapulted progress on treatments for a slew of other infectious diseases from malaria to cancer (as writer Mike May detailed last year). And medicines for COVID itself are under such intense research and development, that several powerful remedies are currently available, with more in the pipeline (see “These Are the Latest COVID Treatments”). Such advancements are only part of a new arsenal of strategies for confronting a future challenged by COVID and any other virus that might arise (see “Preparing for the Next Plague”). It’s too flip to call this progress a silver lining in the midst of so much toil and grief. But it is a significant win.