There is much anticipation and hope for 2023. Sadly 2022, while not as bad as 2020 or 2021, has ended on a sombre note. No, not because we’ve been told “No DJ music” by the city administration but because there is news of a new COVID variant.
We were promised freedom with vaccines, but Coronavirus is spewing more variants. 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. These past two COVID years have changed our lives, including our 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.
In pre-COVID times when someone asked us, “Will you Vax?”, especially ladies would not take kindly to that question as they looked at their arms and legs in embarrassment. But these days we know they’re asking if you are vaccinated.
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 apps (Vax-4-Vax) to bureaucracy (Vax Pass).
Since COVID, we’ve had an overload of terms that have rendered some of us dyslexic. We fear those words might come back.
Remember when “Hydroxy-chloro-quine” was touted as the miracle cure, and people in an ecstatic state started pronouncing it as “Hydroxy-cloromint”, the mouth freshener? Words like Pandemic, Lockdown, Self-Quarantine, Social Distance, Asymptomatic and Comorbidity have become 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” (unspecified day because of the lockdown’s disorientating effect on time) and “Zoom-bombing” (hijacking a Zoom video call).
As the lockdown continued, there was “COVIDivorce” (marriages broken during a pandemic), “Zumping” (dumping someone over a 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 discussing the 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.
We all have been held hostage by such VPs who explain all about Inactivated vaccines, Live-attenuated vaccines, Viral vector vaccines and Subunit vaccines. Now they’ve started explaining about Nasal vaccines.
Thankfully, there won’t be any “vaccine snobbery” this year. Earlier, as the vaccinations began, there was a slight undercurrent of “vaccine snobbery” going around. It was like the aftermath of a boozy New Year party when one would ask the other, what did you drink? If you said Chivas Regal Whiskey, they move on. But if you say I had “arrack”, 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. Now they will claim their fears were correct because there is a COVID surge in China which means Sputnik was ineffective. To put it in COVID vocabulary, its “efficacy” was poor.
Of course, if you said you had the Pfizer vaccine, you’re like the guy who had consumed the expensive Jonny Walker Blue Label whiskey.
Like in 2022, in 2023 also, we will hear conversations about “variants” 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, Omicron is active and spreading and is under variants of interest, concern and consequence.
So far, in India, it has not had any significant effect.
As the days go by, we will hear a lot about 3rd round of boosters — Do we get it, and 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 caution and worries — Will school shut again? Will we still have to pay school fees? Will the economy take a hit? Will my spouse start working from home again and if by next year my hands would have consumed more alcohol than my mouth?
But let’s remember we are better off today than we were in 2020, 2021 and 2022. So, let’s be optimistic, grateful, mindful, cheerful and careful as we step into the New Year – 2023.
Also, as we head into election year, let’s pray we don’t get a COVID government — a hung verdict that will lead to more ‘MLA variants’ than Omicron sending our State into an administrative ventilator.
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.
e-mail: [email protected]
Vikram always talks clothed with delusion.
When China has raging Covid-19 variant pandemic spreading, India being th neighbour, I am puzzled about Vikram’s optimism.
Vikram should be asking not about vaccines supply, but oxygen supply. Has India enough oxygen this time? Will Modi hide in his cave, there is sign that he is not coming out so frequently these days and instead come out unlike in 2021? The Indian news media is not reporting what is heard about India-the Chinese grabbing of Indian territories recently, and the raising numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Very interesting facts very well explained by a foreigner