There’s no masking what a crazy year 2020 has been.
Respected news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has released its pick of best photos of the year — with the coronavirus pandemic an inescapable presence over almost everything.
In a year that by Thursday had seen almost 1.5 million people killed worldwide by a contagion that was mostly unheard of when the Times Square ball dropped at New Year, images of the pain of working on the frontlines take a heartbreaking center stage.
Many feature the now all-too-familiar site of people in full protective bodysuits, including fully-covered relatives of a victim in India and an exhausted doctor in Italy being comforted in a hospital ward.
Bodybags are wheeled through the streets of New York, including a victim on a stretcher being pushed through an otherwise routine-looking scene in Harlem.
Other images, however, show a lighter side of the contagion — including a Palestinian mother entertaining her children with makeshift masks made of cabbage, and an Indian cop in a wacky helmet looking like an alien lifeforce with tentacles sticking out.
Even other major news events showed the life-changing grip of the pandemic, such as everyone wearing masks as they surround an open-mouthed President-elect Joe Biden after his acceptance speech earlier this month.
Even the most eye-catching nature shot is virus-related — with a raccoon walking happily across Central Park in April thanks to it being mostly deserted during lockdown.
Other major news events covered during the turbulent year included the Black Lives Matter protests, ongoing wildfires, a devastating explosion in Beirut and the deaths of stars like hoops legend Kobe Bryant.
Another image shows Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walking away from their royal duties during their final round of UK appearances before Megxit.
Here is a selection of some of AFP’s best images:
A kangaroo jumps in a field amid smoke from a bushfire in Snowy Valley on the outskirts of Cooma, Australia, on January 4.Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido climbs a railing in an attempt to reach the National Assembly building in Caracas on January 5.Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images
Vehicles covered in ash by the eruption of the Taal volcano near Agoncillo, Philippines, on January 20.Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images
A helicopter flies over a Kobe Bryant mural in downtown Los Angeles on January 26.Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
A woman wears a plastic water bottle on her face as a preventative measure against COVID-19 in Hong Kong on January 31.Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images
A cat looks down at a Ukrainian soldier resting in a trench on the front line with Russia backed separatists near Krasnogorivka village, Donetsk region on February 28.Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images
A Syrian woman sits in a tent with her son as others wait for food distribution on March 3 in front of the Pazarkule border crossing to Greece in Edirne, Turkey.Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive to attend the Endeavour Fund Awards at Mansion House in London on March 5.Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
A nurse wearing protective gear comforts another as they change shifts on March 13 at the Cremona hospital southeast of Milan, Italy.Paolo Miranda/AFP via Getty Images
A South African policeman points his pump rifle to disperse a crowd of shoppers in Yeoville, Johannesburg, on March 28 while trying to enforce social distancing outside a market.Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images
Police inspector Rajesh Babu wears a coronavirus-themed helmet as he speaks to a family on a motorbike at a checkpoint during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown in Chennai, India, on March 28.Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images
An inhabitant of the residence Maison Blanche, composed of 226 mostly unsanitary dwellings, collects food offered by neighbors from his balcony using a rope made with blankets on March 31 in Marseille, France.AFP via Getty Images
Coffins containing the bodies of COVID-19 victims are seen at the Collserola funeral parlor in Montcada i Reixac near Barcelona, Spain, on April 3.Pau Barrena/AFP via Getty Images
A temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients located at the Ifema convention and exhibition center in Madrid on April 3.Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images
Bodies are moved to a refrigeration truck serving as a temporary morgue at Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn on April 6.Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images
An aerial view shows movie goers sitting in their cars parked at a drive-in cinema in Marl, western Germany, on April 6.Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images
A medical staff member exits a room protected by a transparent tarpaulin after taking care of a patient infected with COVID-19 at the intensive care unit of the Franco-Britannique hospital in Levallois-Perret, northern Paris, on April 9.Lucas Barioulet/AFP via Getty Images
A raccoon walks in an almost deserted Central Park in Manhattan on April 16.Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
A Palestinian mother entertains her children with makeshift masks made of cabbage as she cooks in Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip on April 16.Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images
Cemetery workers wearing protective gear bury an unclaimed COVID-19 victim in Tijuana, Mexico.Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images
Alisha Narvaez, the manager at International Funeral & Cremation Services, transports a body on April 24 in Harlem.Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images
A Fulani man works with his son to rebuild their hut in a camp for displaced people in Bamako, Mali, on April 29.Michele Cattani/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters try to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber during a rally against COVID-19 restrictions in Lansing, Michigan, on April 30.Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images
Abbot Vincent Marville stands in the central aisle of the Basilica of Neuchatel in Switzerland, which placed portraits of 400 parishioners unable to attend mass because of COVID-19, on May 3.Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
This picture taken on May 4 during Ramadan shows members of a displaced Syrian family from the town of Ariha breaking their fast together.Aaref Watad/AFP via Getty Images
Relatives wearing protective gear tie up the dead body of a victim who died from the COVID-19 before the burial at a graveyard in New Delhi on May 10.Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images
Students attend class in a forest near Upie, France, on May 10.Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images
A protester stands in front of a burning building set on fire during a demonstration in Minneapolis on May 29 after the death of George Floyd.Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
Moenchengladbach players celebrate in front of cardboard cutouts of fans after a Bundesliga soccer match on May 31.Martin Meissner/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
A protesters takes a moment while speaking to the crowd as they march through Hollywood during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd on June 2.Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images
An aerial view shows people gathering to pay tribute at a makeshift memorial in honor of George Floyd in Minneapolis on June 3.Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images
A man kneels with his baby at a protest in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Dakar on June 9.John Wessels/AFP via Getty Images
Elisabete Nagata hugs her 76-year-old sister-in-law Luiza Nagata through a transparent plastic curtain at a nursing home in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 13.Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images
An aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on June 21.Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images
The Uceli Quartet performs for an audience made up of plants during a concert created by Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia at the Liceu Grand Theatre in Barcelona on June 22.Lluis Gene/AFP via Getty Images
This long-exposure picture taken early on June 27 shows a man smoking past buildings destroyed by prior bombardment in the town of Ariha in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province.Omar Har Kadour/AFP via Getty Images
.Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1.Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images
An injured man lies at the back of a car before being rushed away from the scene of a massive explosion at the port of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, on August 4.Marwan Tahtah/AFP via Getty Images
A woman sits amid the rubble in her damaged house in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 6.AFP via Getty Images
A member of the Kayapo tribe walks along the middle of the BR163 highway during a protest outside Novo Progresso in Para state, Brazil, on August 17.Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images
Family members clean the preserved corpses of relatives during a ritual called “Manene” in Panggala, Indonesia, on August 28.Hariandi Hafiz/AFP via Getty Images
Iraqi Shiite Muslims mourn during the reenactment of the Battle of Karbala in the town of Suq al-Shuyoukh on August 30.Hussein Faleh/AFP via Getty Images
Cars drive along the Golden Gate Bridge under an orange smoke filled sky at midday in San Francisco on September 9.Harold Postic/AFP via Getty Images
A girl greets members of a United Nations peacekeeper force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on September 14.Alexis Huguet/AFP via Getty Images
President Trump is seen at the end of a campaign rally at Toledo Express Airport in Swanton, Ohio, on September 21.Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Arthur Sahakyan, 63, prays inside the damaged Ghazanchetsots Cathedral on October 13 in Shusha, Nagorno-Karabakh. It was hit by a bomb during fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images
A health worker stands inside a non-contact chamber before taking swab samples to test for COVID-19 at Sunway Medical Center in Subang Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 22.Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images
A Trump supporter, left, clashes with a demonstrator at Black Lives Matter Plaza, across from the White House, on November 3.Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff react as confetti falls after being declared winners of the election in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7.Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
A father and daughter, both fans of Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona, mourn as they pay homage after his death in Buenos Aires on November 25.Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images