the best of us

10 exceptional people who made a difference during Covid-19

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2020 has given us plenty of bad news to lament, from job losses to losses of life.

10 pivotal figures have pushed for positive change during this profound crisis. These people represent the best of us and remind us humanity can carry on even when it feels impossible.

1. Dr. Anthony Fauci

Physician, immunologist, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Alex Wong / Staff

From the start, Dr. Anthony Fauci has offered clear, fact-based guidance. Having advised six Presidents over 36 years on various health crises like the HIV/AIDS epidemic and Ebola outbreak, Fauci became the leading voice guiding the nation during a tumultuous, panic-inducing pandemic.

2. Covid-19 long-haulers

Survivors of Covid-19 dealing with mysterious symptoms for months post-infection.

Martha Griffin

Dewey Saunders

An estimated 10 percent of all novel coronavirus patients are predicted to be, or become, long-haulers. Misunderstood by the medical system, long-haulers are sharing the support they themselves are missing and advocating for more research, treatment options, and better care.

3. Frontline hospital workers

Including Derek Farley, an osteopathic physician treating Covid-19 patients.

Derek Farley

In March, as Covid-19 ripped through communities, health care workers told Inverse they felt "hung out to dry." This feeling has echoed throughout the pandemic as health care workers deal with PPE shortages, overwhelmed intensive care units, and long hours. They've carried their communities.

4. Dolly Parton

Musician, entertainer, and philanthropist

Shirlaine Forrest / Contributor

In April, less than a month after Covid-19 was officially declared a pandemic, Dolly Parton donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University. With her help, researchers developed the Moderna vaccine, a Covid-19 vaccine with astonishing efficacy.

5. Vaccine "guinea pigs"

Covid-19 vaccine trial participants

Joe Raedle / Staff

As of November, half a million Americans have signed up to participate in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, not knowing whether they would get vaccinated or receive a placebo shot. These individuals enabled companies like Pfizer and Moderna to develop effective vaccines in under a year, breaking the previous fastest vaccine development: four years.

6. Vet "detectives"

Experts who identify and track zoonotic diseases.

Hannington Katumba

Across the globe, animal disease detectives track and contain zoonotic diseases like Covid-19. Stretched thin with minimal funding, they roam jungles, farms, and animal markets and run crucial interference between humans and potentially deadly outbreaks.

7. Moderators of Reddit's R/CORONAVIRUS

Filterers of misinformation and advocates for truth

Reddit's R/CORONAVIRUS, one of the world's most popular online forums on the topic, began as a "dorky pet project" in December. It's since morphed into a hub of science-backed information with 2.3 million members and counting. It's moderators — students, virologists, nurses, and scientists— filter out misinformation with the goal of helping people stay safe and informed.

8. Leaders of pro-mask social media movements

Policy shifters and online organizers

F.J. Jimenez

Today, masks are common. But months ago, as controversy over masks' effectiveness boiled, pro-mask advocates around the world created social media campaigns encouraging people to mask up. With these grassroots and social media tactics, regular people shifted policy and helped curb the spread of Covid-19.

9. Convalescent plasma donors

Covid-19 survivors giving back


As the pandemic wrenched control from Covid-19 survivors, they took it back by donating convalescent plasma after beating the virus. While the science behind this therapy isn't ironclad, these donations have been used to effectively treat some Covid-19 patients.

10. The Covid tracking project

The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer organization launched from The Atlantic, works to collect and publish data to help people better understand the Covid-19 outbreak in the United States. The group has partnered with the Center for Antiracist Research to also collect, publish, and analyze racial pandemic data.

Read more stories about Covid-19 here.

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