2022 & O-MY-CRON: What’s lying ahead for us?

Amit Sharma

Happy New Year, 2022 but with a caution during first fortnight of the Year. “O-mi-Cron” is the new buzz word replacing “O-my-God”. Isn’t it? Try speaking it before going ahead, I am sure you will strike much similarity in both of these words, provided you slowly and patiently speak them out as I did. Yes, the way life has become unpredictable and the way Pandemic (Novel Corona Virus) is appearing in different versions/variants, Omicron being latest one in the series, it seems that every time, we are nearing its end and about to win this long-drawn ongoing biological warfare, a new genre of attackers appears on the trot, which, in turn, breaks the backbone of long-fighting Corona warriors, planners, executors. The beginning of 2022 has also seen similar kind of scenario across the globe and the ‘so-called’ third wave of Corona has finally engulfed our nation like many other parts of the world, thick and fast, without giving much time to the public for taking enough measures to cope with it. So, the obvious question which reckons our minds is that what lies ahead in 2022 for us if the year has just begun at such a challenging note? The answer to it is very simple and a straight one : an year comprises of about 52 weeks and even if first couple of weeks have shown us a rough weather, the next half-century of weeks lying ahead in 2022 can also be a mixed bag and it can sprinkle more surprises with unpredictable events to unfold ahead. Everyday, a substantial addition is happening in the count of Corona related cases especially its Omicron variant, all across the nation and so is the addition in the level of curbs and restrictions in all states and UTs of the nation and this trend may continue for sometime more before this latest Omicron variant of Corona touches its peak and starts receding at the same pace at which it has been progressing and peaking at this moment. Let’s also try to understand another interesting fact. Whenever an individual becomes Covid Positive, what does it actually mean? Is it always fatalistic and disastrous or something good is also lies in it. The answer is that the present variant, Omicron, is not expected to be that deadly a viral infection and it is arguably a mild infection only with chances of recovery in much less time viz-a-viz the older fatalistic variants of Covid. Also, the good thing is that it raises the immunity or endurance levels in individuals during post-Corona phase who get infected with Corona which simply means that it shall make us much more stronger in terms of immunity even without injection of jabs or vaccinations and intake of desi drinks like kahras, preventive medications, etc. This, in turn, also spells out that during post-Corona recovery phase, the physiology of individuals becomes much robust and can fight diseases and infections like Corona and others in a much better and long lasting manner. So, let’s come back to our 2022 topic and rebegin predicting what’s lying ahead? I don’t want to become Bejan Daruwala like ace astrologer reading stars and predicting future for people but simply want to share my mindset and talk about expected line of things which can happen ahead. In India, the year begins with celebration of Republic Day, followed by the biggest event slated this year which is Assembly Elections to be held in five states, especially Uttar Pradesh which is being termed as a mid-term test for the Government in Centre. Now, the important thing to be understood here that whenever Elections are held, as we all know, highest level of challenge lies, so far as Covid containment measures are concerned. This could be seen very much visible in the beginning of 2021 when Assembly Elections were held in various states, especially West Bengal, wherein apart from ensuring free and fair elections, the administration is seen grappling with the challenge of minimising human interface and ensuring Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) consistently in citizens which is almost impossible during such peak time of Elections. Here, we should not forget that handling Assembly Elections in humongous states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab is as good as handling Mini General Elections of the nation, that too, during the peak of Corona times. Also parallel to handling Assembly Elections in multiple states, one critical task at hands of the Government is to ensure both doses of jabs (vaccines) to maximum possible citizens in coming times and once we reach near achieving these targets, the next big thing would be opening precautionary (booster) jab to all citizens after healthcare / frontline workers and 60+ population with comorbidities. Also, let’s not forget that the Government would like to extend jab to children less than 15 years old like this exercise has already begun in many nations of the world. Once it happens, only then, we can expect public belonging to all agegroups to begin leading lives in a normal manner and earn livelihood with past routines in a postvaccinated world. Here, an important factoid is that the western world especially European nations have now begun accepting Covid as a ‘new norm’ just like other viral infections and started believing that life or work should neither suffer or come to a halt due to spread of Covid infection. I believe, we in India, are still far away from such thought process but nonetheless, CAB including social distancing, mass usage of masks and frequent hand wash / usage of sanitizers should continue so as to ensure that the spread of virus is minimal in the nation. Here, in 2022, we can see that an important lesson which this deadly pandemic has taught at the highest level during this ongoing long fight spanning over more than a century (100) of weeks is that, life should not stop or come to a halt age, come what may, as otherwise also, in developing nations like ours or the under-developed world including third world countries, people will surely die of hunger and starvation, if not with Covid virus infection, due to long spells of complete lockdowns if economy comes to a standstill. These were the major take-aways from first and second waves of Covid and now, novel mechanisms and innovative methodologies are being invented and applied to cope-up with the menace of Corona virus. Also, the Governments all across the globe have been adapting fast and adopting measures at local levels to fight out Corona which is a major turn around and it shall surely help towards survival of humankind in a better way during ongoing and future variants of Corona War. Finally, it is also expected that 2022 can see new variants of Covid sprinkling out but we are expected to have grown-up by now to fight all kind of challenges posed by any of its future variants. Undoubtedly, pandemic-like situations like the present one hit only once or sometimes, not even once in the lifetimes of individuals but those who tend to show a bold face towards them and handle them with precautions like most of us have done with it, emerge as victorious in the toughest biological attack like this over humankind. Just try to recall, it seems only a thing of yesterday when we heard about deadly Novel Corona Virus attack in December 2019 and now, we are in January 2022 after winning different rounds of this Pandemic attack, by taking all precautions, maintaining CAB and becoming messengers of its victory over all its variants. With these words, I close while requesting and expecting that all of us shall continue this fight with same spirit, resilience and resolve wishing a healthy, defining and memorable 2022 ahead, completely forgetting O-mi-cron or O-mi-God in this context, which is the need of the hour ! {The writer is a senior JKAS officer of J&K UT Government and can be reached at amit1kas @gmail.com