It is the short o in the Greek alphabet, the 15th letter. It’s also the name of the latest new variant of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease Covid19. It’s official classification is B.1.1.529, and it emerged in South Africa last Wednesday (it’s now Saturday) so we’ve had three days of being frightened by grim and disappointing news:
* it’s apparently more transmissible
* people who’ve been double vaccinated can catch it again
* it can evade some (or most?) of the power of the current vaccination jabs
It’s not yet known whether it’s more deadly.
It’s as clear as day now that the coronavirus is not something humanity is going defeat and eliminate, but something we’re going to have to live with (and die with). I believe it won’t be long before a variant will arrive that will be more deadly and, like The Plague in the middle ages, people will die in their millions. It’s a terrifying thought. But how can it not happen? I hope I’m wrong.
It’s been almost two years since the virus first emerged in Whuhan in China in December 2019. Have we lived with this virus for two years already? It seems impossible that that much time has gone by. Two years of Covid. It’s true though, because I am 52 years old and the virus emerged during my 50th year, the year I wrote ’50: Diary of a Middle-Aged Woman.’ I just have to think of how many years I am beyond my 50th birthday to know how long the virus has been in existence.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today announced that face masks are mandatory again on public transport and in shops. Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a pack of ten FFP3 face masks and a box of 100 disposable gloves. If I feel that this new variation is dangerous and killing more people I’m taking the kids out of school and locking us down in our own isolation bubble until a new vaccine emerges; and I’ll be extremely careful about touching things and breathing near other people if I go outside, for example to the supermarket. As you may know from reading the diary, I tend to make my own judgements about things, and although I’m guided by the Government and other entities I make my final decision based on my personal assessment and research of the available science and news.
In 2020 I took the children out of school two weeks before the Government ordered the very first lockdown and closed the schools. I saw the chaos in Italy and felt we were in real danger and that the Government was being slow to react. At the time there was the theory of ‘herd immunity.’ I talk about this at the time in the book. But the kids’ school was even worse! They were still planning all trips and activities right up until 20th March. When I told them I was removing the twins from school due to fear of the virus they didn’t support me and I was told they would inform the council (which would fine me for unauthorised absence). How small-minded and unintelligent they were back then (you can read all about this in the diary).
So I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll make up my own mind. I’m quite a good future forecaster.
As it stands now, on Saturday 27th November 2021, I’m keeping my ear to the ground and reading the news every day. I’m poised to act if there is any indication that the virus is more deadly and transmissible. Although I’m doubly vaccinated and had the booster four weeks ago, my children are unvaccinated. I need to be careful.