A big political change also happened in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control. Photo: AFP
A big political change also happened in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control. Photo: AFP

2021 Year in Review: World Hit by Coups, Covid-19 Variants

English afghanistan Myanmar joe biden covid-19 Omicron Kaleidoskop 2021
Wahyu Dwi Anggoro • 31 December 2021 17:59
Jakarta: The year 2021 will go down in history as one of the most challenging years of modern times. From the US Capitol attack, to the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Delta variant-fueled covid-19 wave, it has been a tumultuous year.

US Capitol Attack

On January 6, a mob of supporters of then President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol, the seat of the legislative branch of the federal government.
 
They sought to overturn Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress that would formalize then President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
 
Five people died during the event: one was shot by Capitol Police, another died of a drug overdose, and three died of natural causes.

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According to the New York Times, the attack was a blow to the country's troubled democratic image.
 
"The American idea and American values — democracy, the rule of law, the defense of human rights — have suffered a sustained assault during Mr. Trump’s presidency," the American newspaper stated.


Myanmar Coup

A coup in Myanmar began on February 1 when democratically elected leaders of the country were deposed by the military.
 
President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi were detained, along with ministers, their deputies, and members of Parliament.
 
Myanmar's military, also known as the Tatmadaw, declared the results of the November 2020 general election invalid and proclaimed a state of emergency.
 
General Min Aung Hlaing has ruled the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member country as the chairman of the State Administration Council (SAC) since seizing power in the coup.
 
However, protests have emerged within the country, in opposition to the coup, in numerous forms, including mass demonstrations, labour strikes and armed resistance.
 
Moreover, the remaining pro-democracy figures have also established a government in exile called the National Unity Government (NUG).

Taliban Takeover

A big political change also happened in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the Central Asian country from the democratic government.
 
The 2021 Taliban offensive began in May, coinciding with the withdrawal of the United States's troops in Afghanistan, and those belonging to other international allies.
 
On August 15, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban captured the Afghan capital Kabul without resistance.
 
Since the withdrawal of international forces in August, the fall of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover, the country has been in freefall.
 
The combined shocks of conflict, drought, covid-19 and an economic crisis in Afghanistan have left more than half the population facing a record level of acute hunger.
 
Afghanistan is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with needs surpassing those in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen


Delta Surge

The Delta variant is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, that became the dominant strain in the world in mid-2021.
 
The variant is thought to be partly responsible for India's deadly wave of the covid-19 pandemic beginning in February 2021.
 
It later contributed to a deadly covid-19 wave in other countries across the globe.
 
A few studies suggest the Delta variant is more transmissible and causes more severe illness than other strains.
 
According to a study by Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people with infection caused by Delta had 1,000 times more copies of the virus in the respiratory tracts than those with infection caused by variants first identified in the beginning of the pandemic; and it took on average 4 days for people infected with Delta for the virus to be detectable compared to 6 days with initially identified variants.

Emergence of Omicron

On November 24, a new variant was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa.
 
Few days later, the WHO designated it as a variant of concern and named it Omicron, the fifteenth letter in the Greek alphabet.
 
The variant has an unusually large number of mutations, several of which are novel and a significant number of which affect the spike protein targeted by most covid-19 vaccines at the time of discovering the Omicron variant.
 
This level of variation has led to concerns regarding its transmissibility, immune system evasion, and vaccine resistance, despite initial reports indicating that the variant causes less serious disease than previous strains. 
 
(FJR)
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