A rejuvenated era and civilisation would flourish where the old one existed. Hopefully, this would be one with greater splendor

The time when the Coronavirus pandemic assailed the world and brought it to its knees will be remembered because of many unique indicators. It was first and foremost a great equaliser as the virus did not discriminate between the privileged and underprivileged. It was also a time for testing boundaries and a vocabulary, which was quite specific to the experiences of the COVID times. It developed as the war with the virus drew on.

The Corona times have had some buzzwords like “social distancing”, “stay home, stay safe,” “mask up” and the community has lapped it up. Among them a major favourite is “immunity.” This word has found close cousins in the form of several edibles such as the Indian gooseberry, bell pepper, lemon, almonds, turmeric, ginger et al. The meaning of immunity as understood in the context of biological systems is a system endowed with the capacity to recognise and tolerate whatever belongs to the self and to recognise and reject what is foreign. It can be derived from antibodies from one’s own body, in which case it is active immunity. It can also be categorised as natural immunity. Whether active or natural, it is in a class apart from passive immunity or indeed for that matter artificial immunity. Passive immunity is derived from antibodies from another body. Mother’s milk is a good example of this. It can also be artificial, say typically antibodies which come from a base like anti-venom.

Enter the world of vaccines. The lure of antibodies or vaccines in the context of the Covid era has been so large that individuals who have never written a serious research paper have become expert authors on it. They are well-paired with eminent names which help draw buyers and what is sold is boosting the printing business.

This is very much like agencies, who have converted unemployed information technology salesmen overnight to set up outlets promoting communication platforms. One myth which needs to be nailed is that the Covid era promoted only unemployment. The truth is, only those who remain committed to sinking business lines were met with unemployment. It will be good to remember that ever since organised business became a reality forever, there are business lines which sank without a trace and business lines which popped up like Pacific atolls. That way there is nothing unique about these times.

That may itself be the subject matter of a future dissertation fancifully nurtured in a newly-celebrated centre of learning, perhaps somewhere on an Asia-Pacific island or a Himalayan State then well-celebrated for its salubrious climate. Did we not ourselves create the alluring Centre of Advanced Studies in the hills of Shimla perched on the top of a small piece of land where once a building called the Rashtrapati Nivas carried a magical charm? Thus it is that like each era, the Covid one is generating its own lexicon and mythologies. Since the era is a continuing one, people may have expected more additions. In spite of predicted, aspired immunity through vaccines, the era of “mature” Covid vaccines is yet to dawn with re-assured credibility. Some knowledgeable reader will no doubt point out that vaccines have already been launched a few days ago in an island State north-west of Europe. May they be blessed!

The truth of the vaccines (without getting into the fanciful and the not so fanciful names they carry) is that nobody is sure with total definitiveness, how long the effect of a given vaccine or a group of vaccines will last. They are still not 100 per cent sure of the kind of booster dose it would require. The list of uncertainties is, understandably, large. Enumerating them may not be necessarily a contribution to the mental peace of people who would wish to see deliverance round the corner. There is nothing wrong with hope and it is nice to recognise that “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Be that as it may, the attraction of the vaccines is undoubtedly in the immunity which it is expected to usher. A person who may be interested in the science of language may wonder if there couldn’t have been another word to better represent the ideas communicated by the word “immunity.” It evokes an imagery of putting up one’s guard. It helps to protect. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The word “rejuvenation,” however, evokes an imagery of something coming alive again from a low-energy level of existence. Thus it is that rejuvenation has a focussed meaning. It is also a very positive concept. Perhaps gradually the thinking community will talk of the era of Covid as one which had the potential of rejuvenation. The Corona era would be seen as having a duality. One aspect where life itself was under serious disruption. The other aspect would be of the potential of “rejuvenation.” It could and probably would rejuvenate itself. A rejuvenated era and civilisation would flourish where the old one existed. Hopefully, this would be one with greater splendour. Perhaps it is a world round the corner. Of this, vaccines are the precursors!