I first wrote about new words and phrases generated by the Covid pandemic in July last year. Hard to believe it was that long ago! Time for an update.
Of the new usages I noted back then, some have faded from the lexicon. We don’t hear much any more about iso-things, the things you do in enforced isolation. It was such a big deal that iso became the Australian National Dictionary Word of the Year for 2020.
This year, my money’s on delta. Incidentally, I hear Delta Goodrem has jokily nicknamed herself ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Delta’. Nice one!
(By the way, what happened to the Beta and Gamma variants? Did they turn out to be fizzers?)
Sometimes the WOTY is a phrase. Vaccine hesitancy is a likely choice, even if it is a misnomer. It should be called vaccine refusal or vaccine hostility, as at least one expert has named it. Hesitant is what you are when the water’s cold and you take your time immersing yourself, toes first. But you do intend to take that swim. By contrast, plenty of people are downright hostile to the idea of vaccination, sometimes for good reason, sometimes not. Some have no intention of ever getting vaccinated. They are vaccine refusers.
If too many of them go to anti-vax protests or the footy, they could become superspreaders, another candidate for the WOTY shortlist.
Back to phrases. A friend of mine in Melbourne, living through her fifth lockdown, had a birthday the other day. I asked how she planned to celebrate. She was, she said, expecting a visit from a bubble buddy. Of course! That’s the friend who lives within the permitted radius of your home and who you can at least go for a walk with.
My friend claims to have made that one up on the spot, but she’d better be quick to stake her claim because as I write, the bubble buddy has just become an official thing in Sydney.
Here’s how the singles bubble in NSW works, according to Time Out magazine:
People living alone may nominate one person and one person only to form a social bubble with them.
If the single person is located in any of the eight hotspot LGAs…..the person they nominate must also live within the same LGA.
The nominated individual (who can live with other people) can visit their single friend in their home, but their single friend may not visit them unless they also live alone…
A single person cannot change the nominated person they form a social bubble with – so choose wisely. It’s recommended that they be a close friend or family member.
I don’t know about you but this looks like a social and domestic minefield to me, not to mention an emotional can of worms. Who would you choose? And who would choose you? What if the person you wanted chose or was chosen by someone else? Seems to me the only people it will work for are established couples living apart in the same hotspot. Otherwise it’s all going to end in tears, you mark my words.
Social distancing is still with us, and herd immunity is hanging in there, but it’s been months since I heard of flattening the curve. Patient zero seems to have been replaced by index person as the first case in an outbreak. We still have hand-sanitiser, duly available beside the QR barcode signs at the entrances to – everywhere! But hand-sanny is playing second fiddle to check-in since we learnt that the virus is more likely to spread by aerosol inhalation. Check-in is of course essential for contact-tracing, and both are also on my shortlist for WOPOTY (Word OR PHRASE of the year).
They should have a category of Acronym of the Year – AOTY. Last year we welcomed PPE and WFH and most people can rattle off what the letters stand for without hesitation. (See below if you’re from Mars.) But do you know about PCR? It’s the most common type of Covid test – the one they do with a nasal or throat swab. I had to look it up but ten points if you knew what the letters stand for without googling: Polymerase Chain Reaction.
Five points for knowing ATAGI: the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. These are the folks who give us the good oil on vaccines. And if you find yourself sometimes confused and frustrated about how and when to get hold of the vaccine of your choice, just reflect that this time last year we didn’t even know whether there would ever be a vaccine. We certainly hadn’t heard of AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novovax or Sinovax.
TTS is a scary new one: Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenic Syndrome. It’s the blood clot thing affecting a tiny minority of people who get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Lastly, remember Karen from Brighton, who complained on social media about having to walk the same leafy streets of her affluent Melbourne suburb? She became the poster-girl for entitled whingers and briefly moved to Queensland to escape her notoriety, but she’s back in Melbourne now with a semi-apologetic song to boost the spirits of her fellow prisoners of Danistan (who’ve now been paroled). A successful re-branding? You be the judge. Check it out on Instagram.
*Personal Protective Equipment, Working From Home