Coronaviruses and Braveheart… a short glossary of repetitive terms

With Boris Johnson invoking the battle cries of wartime and the epidemiologists eager to flatten as many curves as possible, our language appears to have changed almost over night. I am sure I’m not the only person to have certain words marching repeatedly around my head. In an attempt to quieten these down I have  put together my rather befuddled thoughts on my most persistent coronavirus head-worms.

Coronaviruses don’t wear crowns like the Queen (who is hopefully enjoying a few weeks off) but they do have a rather fetching coronet of spikes when you look at them under the microscope or, as most of us do, on the BBC News website.

If social distancing means keeping away from other people then I am already quite good at it. I work alone, exercise alone and often talk to my plants. In fact, with the prospect of the rest of the family joining me to work from home, it won’t be long before I have far more company than I am used to.

COVID-19 is a much friendlier sounding name for a disease than ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2’, which is not only downright scary but also really difficult to remember.

The etymology of pandemic is rather disconcerting. It comes from the Greek pan meaning ‘all’ and demos meaning ‘people’. All is a big number, which makes it easier to see why WHO’s words on the topic were so sobering, and why we should all be doing our best to follow health guidelines.

We haven’t got herd immunity yet but when we do have it, I am hoping we will be a crowd standing, arm in arm on the hillside, shouting down at our defeated enemies (now sing the Braveheart theme tune… Bet you can’t!)

‘Sing the film theme tune’ by the way is a popular game in our family when we feel the need to entertain ourselves. You can play it together or virtually and, if you want to win, I can recommend suggesting Star Wars, Superman (almost the same as Star Wars) or Last of the Mohicans (which is easy but so catchy it throws out all subsequent singing). Don’t even try Braveheart… Nobody can do that one! Stay safe!


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