It’s been one year since the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Strict preventative measures were introduced in many nations across the world, and usage of previously-uncommon emojis jumped exponentially as people took to Twitter to grapple with what was going on.
Vaccines, by way of the 💉 Syringe emoji, are the new topic in town, though hardly in the numbers seen when the world went into global lockdown in March of 2020.
Above: Use of Coronavirus-related emojis on Twitter between September 2019 and February 2021.
Both saw dramatic jumps in usage as shown in the chart above, and were amongst the top 10 emojis used within tweets referenced either "coronavirus", "COVID", "COVID19" or "COVID-19".
Above: Top emojis used in discussions related to COVID-19 on Twitter in March 2020.
Other emojis in these tweets were either highly popular emojis (e.g. 😂 Face with Tears of Joy, 🤣 Rolling on the Floor Laughing, and 😭 Loudly Crying Face) or other emojis indicative of worry or alarm (🔴 Red Circle, 🚨 Police Car Light, ⚠️ Warning and 😱 Face Screaming in Fear).
Today we see that the popularity of 😷 Face with Medical Mask and 🦠 Microbe was short-lived, and after their peak in March 2020 dropped dramatically in usage and then have continued to experience a slow decline in usage.
It's not that the pandemic is over, but discussion may have broadened beyond the basics.
Above: Google Trends chart of searches for the term "pandemic" since September 2019.
💉 Syringe has seen an increase in usage since December of 2020.
As the widely recongnized path out of this pandemic, it's possible we'll see use of this emoji continue to rise as vaccination programs expand around the globe.
The pandemic isn't over, but for the first time, we're ready to talk more about the vaccine than the virus, if our emoji use is anything to go by.