When I was a kid, the Greek alphabet fascinated me, and I did my best to learn it. I had no idea why, except that I have always loved foreign languages and diverse pathways of communication. Yes, later, from my first DNA test, I learned that I am 33 percent Greek — more Greek than any other ethnic group. Who knew that the Greek alphabet would come back to haunt not just me — but the entire planet in the form of naming variants of COVID-19?
What bitter irony!
We are probably all familiar with the Biblical reference to the “Alpha and Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. This reference applies to Christ. Jesus, the true revolutionary, if he walked with us today, would be vaccinated and wearing a mask.
Now, we find ourselves whittling away at the Greek alphabet, naming variants of COVID-19. Delta, the variant of concern that has taken over the planet is near the beginning of the alphabet. Lambda emerged in Peru, and Epsilon in California. No one talks about those two much, but they have also traversed the planet with vicious abandon.
Omicron, the latest variant of concern, approaches the end of the Greek alphabet. As of this writing, we don’t know how rabid or relatively tame this variant looms. The mavens of government and medicine proclaim we should know more in two weeks. In the meantime, why worry, right?
That is so very wrong.
Omicron is now everywhere on Earth. Those of us who are public policy geeks, know something very simple, a bit of a cliché but just as much as a truism: You hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. The worst, in fact, is the Doomsday Virus, a variant of COVID explored in Newsweek several months ago. I commend the article to everyone here and provide the link: https://www.newsweek.com/2021/08/13/doomsday-covid-variant-worse-delta-lambda-may-coming-scientists-say-1615874.html
Also, the virus is not just pandemic; it is also endemic, meaning that it is not going away —ever. That’s right. COVID-19 will be with us forever.
In Hazleton, and Luzerne County, I speak to too many people who are neither vaccinated, nor choose to wear masks. If Omicron turns out to be worse than Delta, we indeed face a brutal, imminent future. There is nothing I can write here that will make the unvaccinated and the macho unmasked wise up.
Some European countries are already shutting down their economies, bracing for the Omicron surge; as for the U.S., I think that even when the endemic Doomsday variant emerges, we will let it rip: rip out our hearts, our guts, and what remains of our national mind, which looks so much like Swiss Cheese.
What we are dealing with is not something like the Spanish Flu of 1918 — it is much more akin to the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Of course, that was bacterial, not viral. But it also stemmed from mass stupidity, something I will explore in my next writing.
The question remains, we are approaching the end of the Greek alphabet, and coming to Omega. Then what?
Dr. Maria Jacketti, PhD