COVID essentially drove my family quackers. Let me explain. 

Looking through the holiday cards we received this season, it was clear the main theme was the pandemic bringing families closer and renewing appreciations for the little things in life. In my home, while some of that has been true, all five of us yearn for a more balanced 2021. 

From a family perspective, our kids need the social interaction and consistent extracurricular activities we took for granted before COVID. For me, as travel plummeted, in-person conferences were promptly replaced by Zoom meetings. The new norm appears to be holding these calls during hours preferably reserved for family and/or personal time—evenings and weekends. Part of me looks forward to some work-related travel with more balanced separation between work and family time. Plus, without time in transit, I now realize that it used to provide a protected space for focused work on manuscripts and protocols. 

From a patient perspective, balance away from an environment of isolation and anxiety is needed. While we as physicians have become accustomed to a masked-culture in close quarters during clinic, many of our patients still spend most of their time alone and in fear, commonly not openly discussing it, separated from family and friends. 

The only practical means of achieving balance across this spectrum appears to be widespread vaccination. I got my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in early January. I encourage you to get your shots as soon as possible. With five vaccine programs projected to have commercial products by midyear and remarkably safe and effective data to date from both the Pfizer and Moderna versions, widespread medically induced immunity this year seems achievable.  

Bringing it back to retina, multiple pharmaceutical companies have accepted the hypothesis that an out-of-balance complement cascade is a key driver of progression, with over a dozen therapeutics in human clinical trials. On page 30 Drs. Oleg Alekseev, Eleonora M. Lad and
Nathan Steinle explore this pathway in detail. 2021 promises to be a momentous year for GA, with a possible announcement of data from the highly anticipated ongoing Apellis Phase III program. 

A second theme of the holiday cards was adopting a new pet. Most were dogs. On a whim last spring, we brought home two Duclair ducks. While not as cuddly or playful as your typical Goldendoodle or King Charles cavalier, the ducks have been quite entertaining and recently started producing delicious eggs. 

While Zooming, social distancing with masks, dogs and ducks are all fine, I greatly look forward to more balance in 2021, although I may continue to quack occasionally. RS