Buzzwords Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic
25 November 2021
Since the onset of the global Coronavirus pandemic, many words have become a part of our daily discourse. While most of them were new to us at first, we gradually developed a greater understanding and familiarity with them over time.
Here is a list of 7 such terms along with their meaning:
Talking about Covid-19, the first term undoubtedly has to be “pandemic”. The World Health Organization declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on 11th March 2020. Merriam Webster dictionary defines a pandemic as “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population”. A pandemic is a form of an epidemic that has affected a significant swath of territory and a wider range of occupants.
Developing antibodies post-infection, developing antibodies post-vaccination; became common sentences. But what does antibody mean? According to NCI’s dictionary of cancer terms, an antibody is “a protein made by plasma cells (a type of white blood cell) in response to an antigen (a foreign substance that causes the body to make a specific immune response)”. Some antibodies destroy antigens by binding to them directly. Others make it easier for white blood cells to destroy the antigen.
Another term that has co-existed with antibodies is “immunity”. Different perspectives may provide a different view of immunity, but there is one correct interpretation. An organism's immunity is its ability to resist an infection or toxin, whether by using specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells. A person becomes immune to a disease when they have antibodies to that disease in their system.
Increased complications of the Covid-19 infection among “comorbid” patients has been a well-discussed topic since the outbreak. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “comorbidity means the presence of more than one disease or condition is present in the same person at the same time”. The presence of comorbid conditions results in less favorable health outcomes, more challenging clinical management, and increased health care expenses. People with underlying uncontrolled medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, lung, liver, and kidney disease, cancer patients on chemotherapy, transplant recipients; and patients taking steroids chronically are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.
One of the key ways to protect oneself from getting or spreading infection is the proper use of face masks. When masks became popular, another prefix that was seen added to it was N-95. Here the N stands for “non-oil”, and it signifies that one can use the mask in the workplace if there are no oil-based particulates present. 95 implies the 95% efficiency of the mask meaning that it is capable of removing 95% of the 0.3(minimum) micron particles. Some N-95 masks are designed with exhalation valves making it easier to breathe.
6. PULSE OXIMETER
Along with masks and sanitizers, another thing that has become a part of every household is a “pulse oximeter”. With the terror of Covid-19 infection all around, pulse oximeters came in handy to keep a regular check on one’s pulse rate and oxygen saturation of the blood. Typically, a pulse oximeter is worn on the fingertip. Infrared light is sent into the capillaries in the finger, followed by a measurement of how much light is reflected by the gases. This test might be less accurate but is heavily relied upon because of its fast readings. Pulse oximeter readings can be lower than usual when exposed to dark nail polish or cold extremities.
7. CONTAINMENT ZONE
This term has long been prevalent in many news channels and print media, as the covid cases kept increasing. Several measures have been taken by the Center and state governments to stop the spread of Covid-19. As part of these steps, areas have been labeled as red, orange, green, or containment zones, depending on the amount of virus spread in that area. These are certain demarcated areas where the restrictions on movement and interaction are the most severe. The containment zones are usually provided with a surveillance team for an intensive house to house surveillance. The Delhi government has marked nearly 3,000 containment zones since November 2020, this being the highest ever across India.
With these seven and many more terms added to our daily vocabulary, the pandemic has been stressful and continues to be so. Readers are advised to keep themselves updated with correct news and take proper measures to protect themselves. The fight is not over yet!