With the Covid-19 pandemic far from being in the rear-view mirror, people around the world continue to try and learn more about Covid-19 related terms.

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for two consecutive years has been Covid-19 related terminologies. This year, both Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary have similar words as their 2021 Words of the Year. While Merriam-Webster’s word is ‘Vaccination’ that of Oxford English Dictionary is ‘Vax’.

Vaccination has been the ray of hope since the SARS-CoV-2 virus put most of the world under lockdown. As the virus ravaged the world’s population, scientists worked tirelessly to find ways to end the pandemic. Research continues on vaccines and probable cures as there are now multiple vaccines that have started to reduce the risk posed by the virus.

Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large, spoke to Associated Press about their Word of the Year. He pointed out that, “It really represents two different stories. One is the science story, which is this remarkable speed with which the vaccines were developed. But there are also debates regarding policy, politics and political affiliation. It’s one word that carries these two huge stories.”

The announcement of Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year follows that if Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford English Dictionary’s editorial team chooses the word based on certain parameters as their word of the year. However, the word of the year for Merriam-Webster, which they have been announcing since 2008, depends on the lookup data.

In 2020 the lookup rate for the term vaccine had seen a 601% increase. The surge in the lookup rate was directly related to pharmaceuticals contending to release an effective Covid-19 vaccine into the market. Countries cut deals with these companies to get the vaccines to their citizens faster.

December saw the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine administered in the United Kingdom. Later the same month United States’ first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in New York.

With the debate over the efficacy of the vaccines and governments urging citizens to get vaccinated, the lookup rate of the term nearly doubled since 2020. In comparison to 2019, the lookup rate of vaccines went up by 1,048%. Sokolowski confirmed that the word had very high lookup data every day of this year.

Last year ‘Pandemic’ had been Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. Sokolowski said, “The pandemic was the gun going off and now we have the aftereffects.”

The word that came close to being the Word of the Year was ‘Insurrection’. Following the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6, the word was widely used by media triggering a high lookup rate.

COVID-19 vaccine
A Kansas woman who took her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on March 23, 2021, reportedly died after she developed an allergic reaction to the shot. This is a representational image. Pixabay.

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