From a Roman wall or military shield, ‘protection’ now means a defensive barrier such as sun cream – or the Covid-19 vaccine

This year, if we are lucky, will be all about “protection”, specifically the amount of it we can expect to acquire against various strains of Covid-19 from various vaccines. Will it amount to a kind of universal shielding of people who are then allowed to go about their normal business?

The word comes from the Latin protegere, meaning “to cover in front”, like a defensive wall or military shield, and has since been adopted to describe other barriers, such as sun cream or contraceptives, that users hope will be reliable.

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