I have been thinking for a while about the word of the year 2021.
The word of the year 2021 I believe is vaccine.
How many times have you heard it said? Sometimes, an old and very well known word is renewed, launched again and then it takes over. I definitely think that the word of the year 2021 is vaccine.
This word is about 220 years old. For a word, it is a child. It was born in England thanks to a British doctor, Edward Jenner, one of the heroes we don’t remember very often. He asked himself the good question: “why the female peasants did not get smallpox, that is a deadly disease?”.
In 1794 he found out the good answer – cows gave them a less deadly disease, cowpox, that protected them from the human one.
He discovered this because he decided to carry out some experiments. He infected an 8-year-old boy, his gardener’s son, with cowpox pus. Later he inoculated the child with the smallpox and the child did not get the disease, because the cowpox pus had immunized him.
Thanks to this first experiment, during the XX century many vaccines were discovered. Just to mention the main ones: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis, flu. We have integrated them into our lives at their two ends, childhood and old age. For many years we have stopped vaccinating against smallpox.
Then Covid has broke out.
When the pandemic started to spread around the world (it seems to me ages ago, but it was only in 2020) the vaccine race took off right away. It was the only hope of returning to a “normal” life, of shaking off the weight of the countries that forced their citizens to give up so many freedoms in the name of their health.
It was also a unique business. Countries missed an opportunity – equally unique – to create the solution the world needed, and left it to corporations. And they began to sell the vaccines massively. Does it sound familiar to you too?
The process was extraordinary. In a short time, and all over the world, researchers discovered the vaccine that should have helped us to go back to the so-called “normality”. We waited for it, we looked for it, and since the first shots, some of us have started questioning it so much that it seemed to me they wanted to go back to the seventeenth century.
They work it out by saying that they distrust their own country’s government, or they mistrust science, or both. So suspicions of barbarism abound in the most educated and in the so called developed countries. In Europe you find anti-vaccine people (we call them “no vax”) mainly in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Italy.
There they are outraged, demonstrate on the streets, and are imperturbable to ignore that, now, the majority of hospitalized people and those killed by Covid are other fools who did not want to be vaccinated.
It is a problem that raises others: that of individual freedom, without going any further. Countries discuss what to do, actually what they have the right to do with the reluctant ones. If the reasons for the common good authorizes them to force “no-vax”people to get vaccinated. Since they do not decide, and they are stuck in the debate, Covid survives.
It is mainly because of “no vax” people and the inability of most of the governments to decide that Covid is still circulating. But not only.
The vaccine has also become a measure of injustice. Countries where it is left over, countries where it is lacking. At the end of 2021, only 7.2% of Africans have received both doses. A person immunized out of 13 gives as a result that the virus is still there and survives in spite of all the efforts.
The vaccine has become the best demonstration of something obvious that so many prefer not to see. That there is no partial salvation, that no one will be safe if we all (all over the world) are saved, and that not vaccinating the poorest causes new strains to develop that attack the richest and make their efforts, and their vaccines as well, useless.
Inequality is also found there. In rich countries the problem is those who do not want the vaccine. In poor countries those who do not have it, but would like to. Actually, it would be a luxury for them to say no to a jab.
At this rate, very soon we are going to finish the Greek alphabet at the price of many lives.
Then, what will be the word of 2022? Silliness? Inequality? Inability?
Would you agree with me that the word of 2021 is vaccine? And what do you think the word of the year may be in 2022?
I wish you all a very happy and successful 2022. Take care and stay healthy!