2020: The pictures that defined a torrid year

Here are the pictures that summed up 2020. Credit: PA/AP

Future historians may well look back on 2020 as a dark time for humanity.

The Covid-19 pandemic has left virtually no part of the world untouched and will infect 2021, despite incredible scientific efforts to develop vaccines.

But for millions around the world, even the spread of a deadly disease was not the worst thing to happen this year.

Conflicts broke out in Ethiopia and between Armenia and Azerbaijan, while the Syrian civil war continued to devastate a nation, as did the Yemen crisis.

There were also uprisings against oppression in Belarus and Nigeria and, of course, a global movement demanding equality for black people after the killing of yet another African-American.

It meant that moments of compassion and togetherness were even more precious in 2020.

Marcus Rashford and Captain Sir Tom Moore inspired millions, while a 90-year-old woman became the first to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the UK, followed by a man called William Shakespeare.

Here, we've tried to document the lows and few highs from a torrid year with images that defined 2020.


2020 began for millions the same way 2019 ended - with an invasion of locusts.

The desert locust crisis that swept large parts of east Africa put food supplies for millions at great risk.

There are fears a another wave yet to come could be even worse or at least match the scale seen here in Kenya, which saw its first locust invasion in 70 years in January.

Swarms of desert locusts flying into the air from crops in Katitika village in Kenya's Kitui county in January. Credit: AP

2020 was the year justice finally caught up with Hollywood giant Harvey Weinstein, who was jailed for 23 years in March after he was found guilty of rape in the third degree in February.Here he was in January, leaving court with the help of a zimmer frame.

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein leaving court in New York on January 10. Credit: AP

Thousands of homes were destroyed as wildfires, which began in 2019, burned through Australia through the early weeks of 2020.

The devastation left 113 animal species in need of "urgent intervention" after months of fires left their habitats destroyed.

The wildfires that spread across Australia devastated wildlife and killed residents. Credit: AP

The year's first month ended on a tragic note with the death of Basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, who were both among nine killed in a helicopter crash.

The Los Angeles Lakers - the team Bryant played for during his entire career - would go on to win the NBA championship for the first time since Bryant himself led the franchise to victory in 2010.

They dedicated the win to Bryant.

Thousands of fans around the world mourned Kobe Bryant's death. Credit: AP


Children were particularly devastated by the ongoing civil war in Syria, with more than 6,000 taken from Idlib to refugee camps every day in the early parts of the year.

The suffering was unrelenting as forces of President Bashar Assad and his Russian allies focused on Idlib, inflicting suffering and death on thousands.

An average of two children were killed per day at one stage, according to the UN, one of whom was found here in Idlib after an air strike.

An emergency crew recovers the body of a boy killed in a government airstrike in the city of Idlib, Syria, in February. Credit: AP

Storm Ciara caused widespread flooding in the UK, resulting in this picture of a Tesco in Carlisle.

Storm Ciara caused widespread flooding. Credit: PA

From one force of nature to another - Tyson Fury roared to victory over champion Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight title.

He dominated the match from start to finish, 14 months after a controversial draw between the fighters.

Tyson Fury produced a stunning performance in February. Credit: PA

Popular TV presenter Caroline Flack was found dead in her flat in east London in the middle of February.

Credit: PA Images


This month would be remembered for the beginning of the end of normal life for the year but there was also a huge shift in royal life.

Harry and Meghan officially left the royal family - in a move dubbed 'Megxit' - to pursue a new life in California.

This was one of the last photos taken of the Sussexes on royal duty.

Harry and Meghan left the royal family in March. Credit: PA

Then came the lockdown.

On March 23, Boris Johnson announced the country would head into a lockdown the next day as it became clear to the government just how serious the Covid-19 outbreak was becoming.

This was what Westminster, usually packed with people and traffic, looked like on the morning of March 24 - the first day of lockdown.

Westminster on the first day of UK's lockdown. Credit: PA


Appreciation for health workers, nurses and doctors grew in 2020 and this picture sums up why it was so deserved.

Many worked to the point of exhaustion to save lives, despite the obvious personal risk, as this picture shows.

A health worker tends to her colleague, who fainted due to exhaustion at a Covid-19 testing camp in New Delhi, India. Credit: AP

Boris Johnson was taken to hospital after his coronavirus symptoms persisted into April.

He was moved into intensive care later in the month but was back speaking in front of 10 Downing Street before May.

Boris Johnson here speaking publicly for the first time since coming out of hospital. Credit: PA

April saw one of the highlights of the year as 99-year-old Captain Sir Tom Moore (now 100) raised tens of millions of pounds for the NHS with sponsored walks.

The former British Army Officer was knighted by the Queen in July.

Captain Sir Tom Moore was one of the highlights of 2020. Credit: PA


One of the more grim images to surface from the pandemic surfaced in May.

This woman died on the street in Ecuador and she wasn't the only one.

A worker in Quito, Ecuador, sprays disinfectant over the body of a woman who died on the street on May 14. Credit: AP

Rescue workers and local residents search for survivors in the wreckage of a plane that crashed with nearly 100 people onboard in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan on May 22.

The wreckage of the crash. Credit: AP

The footage showing a white police officer kneel on black man George Floyd, who died as a result, shocked the world.

Transcripts from the body-cam footage of the arrest confirm unarmed Mr Floyd said "you're going to kill me, man" as police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

His death, for which four police officers have been charged, sparked protests around the world as Black Lives Matter campaigned for true racial equality.

Video footage has circulated widely online of George Floyd telling officers he can't breathe. Credit: Eyewitness

Property was damaged during some of the subsequent protests in the US, in the wake of the killing of Mr Floyd.

Here, an Arby's fast food restaurant was torched.

People demonstrate outside a burning Arby's fast food restaurant on May 29 in Minneapolis during a protest over the death of George Floyd. Credit: AP

In Minneapolis at the end of May, some were ordered to lie face down on the ground during a protest.

Motorists are ordered to the ground from their vehicle by police on May 31 during a protest in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd. Credit: AP


An emotional embrace was caught on camera as a protester and police officer - both black - shook hands in the midst of demonstrations.

A protester and a police officer shake hands in the middle of a standoff during a rally in New York on June 2, Credit: AP

This picture of an elderly couple kissing and hugging through a screen would not be the only poignant image to come out of Barcelona in the pandemic.

This was as close as they could get to each other in a nursing home.

Agustina Canamero, 81, and Pascual Perez, 84, hug and kiss through a plastic screen at a nursing home in Barcelona on June 22. Credit: AP

Donald Trump's June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was billed to be a sell-out event, with crowds overflowing outside the arena.

A million had expressed interest in tickets, Republican claimed, but in the end large sections of the audience were empty and the rally was a flop.

A grim-faced Trump was pictured ambling across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after stepping off the helicopter that brought hum back from the failed rally.

The year wouldn't get much better for the president.

President Donald Trump returning from a campaign rally in Tulsa on June 21. Credit: AP

Liverpool FC ended a 30-year wait for the league title in style, finally lifting the elusive Premier League trophy after a dominant campaign was paused by Covid-19.

Because of coronavirus restrictions, the squad celebrated in an empty stadium, but that didn't stop fans from setting off fireworks and celebrated a momentous occasion for the city.

It was a historic moment at Anfield despite the absence of fans. Credit: PA

Marcus Rashford's campaign for an extension to the free school meal voucher scheme through the summer holidays was widely praised.

The Manchester United and England forward became a figurehead for the movement against child hunger, even forcing a government u-turn on the matter.

Marcus Rashford has been widely praised for his efforts to fight child hunger and poverty. Credit: PA


Donald Trump delivered a divisive speech at Mount Rushmore, warning over the rise of 'far left fascism' and taking aim at Black Lives Matter on July 3 - the day before what is supposed to be a unifying date in the US calendar.

Later reports suggested Trump had asked about the possibility of adding his face to landmark, which he has denied.

President Donald Trump smiles during a visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3. Credit: AP

Later in July, England World Cup winner Jack Charlton died aged 85.

The former Leeds United player had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.

World Cup winner Jack Charlton died in July. Credit: PA

It may feel like masks and face coverings have been with us for a long time, but they only became mandatory in shops on July 24.

The so-called 'new normal' was now complete.

Boris Johnson wearing a face mask as he boards an ambulance. Credit: PA

But before masks became so widespread, 'Super Saturday' was welcomed by punters up and down the country as a taste of normal life finally returned after months of lockdown.

On Saturday, July 4, pubs and bars reopened under strict measures.

A woman poses with a street cleaner in Soho. Credit: PA


Around 200 were killed and thousands more injured during the huge explosion in a port in Lebanon's capital city, Beirut.

One of those to lose their life was Alexandra Naggear, who was just 3.

ITV News spoke to her father, who called it a "murder of incompetence."

Alexandra Naggear was just 3.

Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, denied the August 9 election was rigged despite widespread claims to the contrary.

Millions have since taken to the streets in protest in the country, despite reports of a brutal crackdown, and one of the enduring moments was captured at the end of the month in Minsk.

Two women were pictured kissing during a protest - in a country where LGBT+ rights have regularly been oppressed.

Two women kiss under an old Belarusian national flag as opposition supporters gather near the Independence Palace in Minsk on August 30. Credit: AP

A 'Wakanda Forever' tribute sits next to a mural of the actor Chadwick Boseman's character T'Challa from the 2018 film Black Panther.

Mr Boseman died aged 43 in August after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

Tributes poured in all over the world for Chadwick Boseman. Credit: AP


Months after massive fires spread across Australia, California was dealing with its own crisis.

Large parts of the state were lit up, resulting in this Hollywood-style image at the Bidwell Bar Bridge.

Embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge on September 9 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, California. Credit: AP

Francisco Espana had spent weeks in intensive care with Covid-19 in Barcelona and his doctors felt the need to provide him with a small mercy.

He was wheeled out from his ward to overlook the Mediterranean sea in the outdoors from his bed.

A reminder of normal life during a weeks' long battle with death.

Francisco Espana looks at the Mediterranean sea from a promenade next to the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, Spain. Credit: AP

ITV News witnessed a brazen display of militia in Louisville in September. Civilians were armed with guns and rifles and looked like their own little army.

You can watch the full, shocking report here.

In the same month, ITV News uncovered chilling testimonies from Uighurs in China, including forced abortions and sterilisation.

The Chinese government has detained an estimated one million in Xinjiang, holding them in internment camps and prisons where they are subjected to ideological discipline, forced to denounce their religion and language and physically abused.

You can read more here.


The brutal war fought over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan cost at least 5,000 lives.

Many of those deaths were military but dozens of civilians were also killed, including a seven-year-old girl in Azerbaijan, Aysu Isgandarova.

The father of 7-year-old Aysu Isgandarova, who died in shelling by Armenian forces, mourns during her funeral in Garayusifli, Azerbaijan. Credit: AP

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite and ex-girlfriend of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, awaits trial in a high-profile case in the US.

She is charged with facilitating the sexual abuse of underage girls by Epstein.

In October, formerly sealed documents in which Maxwell was asked about her knowledge of Epstein's sex trafficking operations were published in the US for the first time.

Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in court. Credit: PA


Refugees from the Tigray region of Ethiopia arrive to register at the UNHCR centre at Hamdayet, Sudan. Credit: AP

Saudi Arabia's bombardment of Yemen - backed by the US and UK - has devastated the country for years and 2020 saw the emergency come to the fore once again.

Two-thirds of Yemen's population of about 28 million people are hungry, and nearly 1.5 million families currently rely entirely on food aid to survive.

That's according to aid agencies working in Yemen, with another million people expected to fall into crisis levels of hunger before the year's end.

Pictured here is one of the many young children suffering from starvation.

A malnourished girl, Rahmah Watheeq, receives treatment at a feeding center at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Credit: AP

Rudy Giuliani was visibly perspiring as he made baseless claims of voter fraud following the defeat of Donald Trump in the US Election.

What appeared to be hair dye dribbled down his face, with this image shared around the world.

Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington on November 19. Credit: AP

November saw one of the most anticipated US elections in recent memory.

Despite continued, baseless claims of election fraud by Trump's team, Joe Biden was a clear winner and named President Elect.

There were scenes of jubilation across the country.

Joe Biden supporters celebrated his victory in Washington Square Park's fountain. Credit: AP

Lewis Hamilton was crowned champion of the world for a record-equalling seventh time after he won a dramatic Turkish Grand Prix.

The victory meant he emulated Michael Schumacher's all-time record - which he may well surpass in 2021.

Lewis Hamilton made history at the Turkish Grand Prix. Credit: PA


Margaret Keenan became the face of the fightback against Covid-19 as the first person in the UK to be vaccinated against the virus.

On Tuesday, December 8 - and just days after the UK became the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine - the 90-year-old's injection was broadcast around the country.

A man called William Shakespeare joined her as the second person to receive the jab.

The rollout continues at pace, offering a real sense of hope for 2021.

Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine. Credit: PA

But there is still a way to go - and anyone who may have gotten carried away with the news of the vaccine rollout was emphatically reminded of that fact on December 19.

Boris Johnson introduced Tier 4 restrictions - the harshest Covid-19 rules available - as a new, fast-spreading strain of the virus sent cases soaring in the south-east of England.

The announcement led to thousands of people rushing to leave Tier 4 areas in time for Christmas.

And finally, 2020 came to an end with a deal agreed between the UK and the EU, bringing to a close years' worth of Brexit negotiations.

He hailed the trade deal as a great one for Britain but warned "there will be change" in months ahead.

Boris Johnson hailed the agreement on Christmas Eve.