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The COVID-19 pandemic might have hindered achievement of some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; see Nature583, 331–332; 2020), but it has revealed the greater importance of those related to health and safety. I agree that achieving all SDGs while considering them equally important might be unrealistic (R. Naidoo and B. Fisher Nature583, 198–201; 2020). An aggregated approach would allow for trade-offs between and prioritization of different goals.