COVID-19 stamps? Yes, they’re a thing

COVID-19 stamps? Yes, they’re a thing

Most people understandably want the COVID-19 pandemic to just go away, but a number of countries are using an old-school method of making sure the sacrifices and heroism we all have experienced are not forgotten.

More than 20 countries have issued postage stamps ranging from honoring health care providers to encouraging people to keep washing their hands and follow other steps to fight the virus.

Iran issued the first COVID-19 stamp in March 2020 and other countries soon followed. The U.S. is not yet among the 21 countries that through December had issued 68 commemorative stamps.

There is a long history of countries using stamps to raise awareness of important topics and major events. In 1904, a Danish postal clerk had the idea of raising money for tuberculosis research by adding a surcharge to a Christmas stamp. Stamps related to AIDS research and treatment appeared after the discovery of HIV.

In the U.S. and many other countries, email has supplanted so-called snail mail as the chief way of communicating with others. But in global regions still reliant on land mail, stamps serve as a way for governments to send messages. Monaco’s stamp, for example, shows King Albert II holding a globe with words urging patience, trust and courage. A French Polynesian stamp shows two women in matching floral print masks separated by six coconuts, signifying social distancing

The worldwide survey of stamps, published in JAMA Network, found all of the images reflect sentiments of global togetherness and the hope of overcoming this unprecedented challenge. The stamps are a colorful and inspiring way of reminding us that, working together, we can lick the pandemic.

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