Christmas, NY Day And The Mutant Coronavirus: Just Pray!


A few vaccines had arrived and vaccination started in several countries including the US and in Europe with many others including India booking millions of doses; however, an incredible feat of humankind notwithstanding the cheer was short-lived as a mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 had started rampaging through United Kingdom, parts of other European countries and South Africa, and to some extent Australia. It is common knowledge that any virus surely undergoes mutation over time, putting up many variants or strains to challenge the human wisdom and efforts. In fact, about 17 strains of the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 have already been detected in the process of fighting it, and this particular variant noticed in UK was also detected in September this year. But the problem is that, this particular mutant has started spreading at spectacular speed almost choking the health facilities of UK in particular. The UK government had declared that this virus is about 70% more contagious than the novel Coronavirus and that it was out of control. To soothe tense nerves and prevent global panic the World Health Organization (WHO) had later clarified that the said strain was not out of control.

 

The world, getting used to measures for fighting the pandemic for nearly a year, responded immediately. The UK authorities clamed down a four-tier lockdown and rolled back its celebration plans for Christmas and New Year Day. Other countries started following suit by imposing travel ban to and from the United Kingdom and sealing borders. India has also banned international flights from London from zero hours of 23rd December apart from stringent testing protocol for passengers from UK in the last few days, and more than 40 countries of the world have done similarly.  Therefore, at the moment the world is getting geared up to fight the pandemic all over again.

 

Now there are two basic questions. Is the new strain deadlier than the original virus? Would the vaccines be able to effectively prevent the new strain? Experts across the globe have said that it’s early days to arrive at or confirm any indication, and more data have to be analyzed in the coming weeks. A few optimistic ones are confident that the vaccines are capable of negotiating with the new strain or for that matter, any other strains. In fact, Pfizer declared that it was going to make a modified vaccine to take care of the mutant. Some experts have also questioned the justification of taking stringent measures immediately as the world is yet to recover from the pandemic damage in terms of economies and the dilemma of ‘lives vs livelihoods’ issues; however, most of them agree that to be on full alert against any possible spread of infections is always welcome.

 

In this unprecedented year of 2020 humankind in totality has suffered a lot: adapting to a new normal way of behavior; tremendous losses of jobs and sources of income; giving up all usual merriment of unions or social/cultural gatherings and festivals; discarding international or even domestic travels irrespective of whether for pleasure or business, and quite a few other deprivations. Almost all of the festivals this year have been washed out, and the emergence of the new strain has sealed the fate of Christmas and New Year celebrations too. Maharashtra, the worst affected state in India, has imposed night curfew from 22nd December to 5th of January 2021 which was followed by another major state, Karnataka, and is likely to be adopted by many others. Therefore, the spontaneous celebrations of Xmas and New Year, for that matter any festival of any origin, in the largest multi-ethnic populous democracy will be a subdued home-centric one, to end the year of stress and turmoil.

 

One should not feel depressed or sad about this. This is the right thing to do at this hour. One must prepare for a real good year of 2021 so that all sacrificed festivities could be renewed vigorously. And prayer is the answer for that. No outward or demonstrative celebrations please. Besides, there is no ban on expressions of joy or saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy New Year’ to near and dear ones. Best course is to celebrate at home and to just pray for a normal new year. And, one must remember that wearing masks and following hand-hygiene are always the best practices, COVID or no COVID; it is not at all a bondage for any human being, these practices actually protect us from all infections, pollution and other disorders.

 





Tell your Santa Claus to pray too, for all of humankind. Merry Christmas! 

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