There was much anticipation and hope for 2021. Sadly 2021, while not as bad as 2020, has ended on a sombre note. It reminds me of the joke: If we make it past 2020, I’ll be dreading 2022 because 2022 is 2020 too. With Omicron on the rise, let’s hope it doesn’t come true.
2021, the year that promised us freedom with vaccines, ended with the Coronavirus spewing more variations. It is still mutating, surviving, and trying to beat our vaccines.
Guess, it’s living up to its name — Corona, meaning Crown, named after its Royal headgear like structure. And like a ruthless King or Queen, the Coronavirus continues to rule us, dictating how we go about our lives and livelihoods.
COVID will continue to dominate our conversations and vocabulary. In pre-COVID times “Flattening the Curve” meant reducing belly fat, and “Super Spreader” was the nosey aunty who spread rumours and gossip. Today their usage is more commonly related to COVID.
This year when someone asks, “Will you Vax?” don’t look at your arms and legs in embarrassment; they’re probably just asking if you are vaccinated. Similarly, if someone says, “I’m vaxed”, it doesn’t mean they went to the beauty parlour either.
In fact, ‘Vax’ was voted as the word of 2021 by the company that publishes the Oxford English Dictionary. Rightly so, “Vax” is everywhere, from dating App (Vax-4-Vax) to bureaucracy (Vax Pass).
Since COVID, we’ve had an overload of terms that have rendered some of us dyslexic. Like, remember when “Hydroxy-chloro-quine” was touted as the miracle cure, and people in an ecstatic state started pronouncing it as “Hydroxy-cloromint”? They had replaced a molecule name with a mouth freshener — Chlormint!
As the virus progressed, so also our vocabulary. Words like Pandemic, Lockdown, Self-Quarantine, Social Distance, Asymptomatic and Comorbidity became common parlance.
Then we got into abbreviations like PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), RT-PCR Test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) and even WFH (Work From Home).
As people broke COVID guidelines, we got “Covidiot” (someone ignoring COVID guidelines). Soon we had “Maskhole” (This word is used on a person who does not wear a mask, it rhymes with a posterior orifice) and “Covideo Party” (online parties via Zoom or Skype).
Soon the corporates gave us “Blursday” (an unspecified day because of lockdown’s disorientating effect on time) and “Zoombombing” (hijacking a Zoom video call).
As lockdown continued, there was “COVIDivorce” (marriages broken during a pandemic), “Zumping” (dumping someone over zoom call) and “Colonials” (sounds like Millennials, these are children born during the pandemic).
Then as news of vaccines began pouring in, posh people started dropping words like “Efficacy” and “Profilactic.” Soon people started getting creative and gave us a portmanteau for the pandemic — “Coronageddon” (Corona + Armageddon).
As the roll-out of vaccines began, we started talking about types of vaccines. Every other gathering had one ‘VP’ – Vax Pandit. A know-it-all about vaccines who also wants others to know that he knows-it-all. I was held hostage by one such VP who explained to me all about Inactivated vaccine, Live-attenuated vaccine, Viral vector vaccine and Subunit vaccine.
Finally, just as he was about to start talking about mRNA vaccine, an older man in the circle chimed in, “oh! we all have internet, talk about something cheerful, I say”. Unperturbed, the VP moved to another topic — which vaccine is better? VPs will be a regular feature at most events this year.
Thankfully there won’t be any “vaccine snobbery” this year. Last year as the vaccinations began, there was a slight undercurrent of “vaccine snobbery” going around. It was like the aftermath of a booze party when one would ask the other, what did you drink? If you said whiskey or wine, they’d ask if you have a hangover and move on. But if you say I had “arrack”, then the questions start — did you have a nasty hangover? Is it safe? And are you okay?
Similarly, if you said you had Covishield or Covaxin, they’d ask if you had any side-effects, and the conversation moved on. But if you answered Sputnik, you were done for. They looked at you like you were suicidal and would soon be sporting horns and a tail.
Then, of course, if you said you had Pfizer, you’re like the guy who had consumed the expensive Jonny Walker Blue label whiskey. Yes, there was “vaccine snobbery” in the air along with COVID, but then, like alcohol, when all vaccines more or less had similar effect, it calmed the snobs down.
This year along with vaccines, we will hear conversations about “variations” as mutations continue. We will listen to words like Variant Being Monitored (VBM), Variant of Interest (VoI), Variant of Concern (VoC) and Variant of High Consequence (VoHC).
We have already heard of numerous mutations like Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Epsilon, Eta, Iota, Kappa, Mu and Zeta, categorised under “variables being monitored”. At the same time, Delta and Omicron, which are active and spreading, come under variants of interest, concern and consequence.
As the days go by, we will hear a lot about boosters — Do we get a booster shot? How many days after the second dose do we get it? Can we mix and match vaccines? How often will we need boosters? Etc.
So, as we step into the New Year, we do so with worries — Will school shut again? Will we still have to pay school fees? Will kids get vaccines? Will the economy take a hit? Will my hand continue to consume more alcohol than my mouth? Will my spouse start working from home…again, etc?
But let’s remember we are better off today than 2020 and 2021. So, let’s be grateful, mindful, cheerful and careful as we step into the New Year-2022.
Dear Readers, I wish you all a healthy and joyous year ahead. Thank you for reading what I write and I hope I have done my job of entertaining, informing and evoking a moment of introspection or a smile in you with my banter. And let us all pray that the virus is not as fickle as our Government.
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