Coronavirus

covid 19 map Image PixabayThe COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has plunged the capitalist system into a deep crisis. The stock markets are plummeting, a recession seems inevitable, and the ineptitude of the ruling class’ political leaders is being ruthlessly exposed everywhere.

Rather than a concerted, global response to the outbreak, protectionist tendencies in the world market have been accelerated, as governments rush to throw up borders to horde medical supplies and scramble for exclusive rights to vaccines.

The bosses and bourgeois governments have attempted to force the working class to shoulder the burden of this emergency, banning mass gatherings at the same time as sending people to work without adequate safety measures. This has been met with a backlash, with a wave of strikes in badly affected countries like Italy forcing the bosses to backtrack. This is despite the woeful response of the leaders of the workers’ mass organisations, who have mostly fallen in line with their governments rather than fight back.

While this pandemic was the catalyst, it was not the cause of the current social, political and economic crisis. This was already prepared in the last period of capitalist crisis and austerity, which savagely cut health services, brought increasingly degenerate leadership to the fore, and caused huge resentment to accumulate in the fabric of society. COVID-19 was accidental, but the calamity it has provoked was inevitable.

This virus marks the beginning of a new, tumultuous period in world history, one in which the consciousness of the masses will rapidly advance as the totally rotten state of the capitalist system and its leaders are laid bare.

 

Concerns are rising about the impact that the catastrophic situation in India could have on the COVID–19 pandemic on the African continent. Africa’s vaccine supply relies heavily on India’s Serum Institute, the source of the AstraZeneca vaccines distributed by the global COVAX project which is supposed to provide vaccines to poor countries. India’s export ban on vaccines has severely impacted the predictability of the rollout of vaccination programs and will continue to do so for the coming weeks and perhaps even months.

COVID-19 is ravaging India with a brutal second wave, which Modi is using as a pretext to cut across on-going farmer and worker struggles, despite failing to undertake effective measures to protect people from the virus. The battle against Modi’s reactionary anti-farmer and worker laws must be combined with a struggle for a people’s lockdown: providing adequate support and resources to millions of households crushed by poverty, disease and death. Worker and farmer solidarity is the only answer to Modi’s rotten regime! For a joint struggle to win a decent existence! Build for an indefinite general strike!

The ruling class in Bangladesh announced a nationwide lockdown following 10 days of Independence Day celebrations, in which they cosied up to the reactionary Modi regime of India. Meanwhile, workers are facing death and infection on a massive scale, and the health sector is in a parlous state. Anger beneath the surface is building towards an eruption.

Capitalist governments the world over are making the most of the COVID-19 pandemic to criminalise protest and to clamp down on dissent while the real criminals of this pandemic – the bosses – get away with murder. It is vital that the workers' organisations fight back to defend these basic democratic rights.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year, it continues to expose and intensify the contradictions of world capitalism. The madness of vaccine nationalism clearly demonstrates that a system based on private property, and the division of the world into antagonistic nation-states, is not equipped to deal with a viral threat that has no respect for borders, profit margins, or narrow nationalist interests.

Today marks the one-year anniversary since Britain first entered into lockdown. One year on, and tens-of-thousands of lives have been lost because of the Tories’ crimes. To gain justice, workers must organise to kick out this rotten government.

A number of countries in Europe halted the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine over the past two weeks, due to an unproven association with blood clots. Following a review by the European Medical Agency, they have now resumed, but this politically driven decision has seriously dented public confidence in the vaccine, which was already low.

Brazil is beating records for the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19, and at the time of writing, the country has exceeded 260,000 casualties. Added to this is the collapse of the country’s health system, with the occupation of beds exceeding 80 percent of capacity in 16 states and the Federal District, with nine states exceeding 90 percent capacity. Read the original in Portuguese, originally published 4 March.

About a year has passed since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Over two million people have died directly from the virus itself thus far. Many more have died from ancillary causes. While the vaccines now in circulation offer a ray of hope for the masses, who are trapped in a cycle of isolation and precarity, the crisis is far from over. Not least because protectionism and “vaccine nationalism” are preventing billions of people from actually accessing these lifesaving resources. When will it all end?

The latest twist in the vaccine deployment saga has exposed the contradictions within the European Union and the limits of the capitalist market to deal with a crisis. In the last few days, we have witnessed the beginning of a clash both between the EU and the UK, and within the EU in something that reminds us of the debt crisis of 2011 and 2012.

“This autumn, too many people have neglected to follow advice and recommendations." This was the explanation for the deadly wave of coronavirus sweeping over Sweden given in late November by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in an address to the nation. While shifting blame to the general public, he was conveniently silent about the government's responsibility for decades of cuts to healthcare, understaffing in the elderly care sector, and lacklustre testing capacity. Now the government has been forced to introduce several measures that they for a long time argued against. But it is all too, little too late.

With the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for use in the UK; and products by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and others already being administered around the world, one would think we are approaching the end of this pandemic. However, pharmaceutical profiteers and political representatives of the ruling class are bungling the rollout in some of the worst-affected countries. In their haste to return to ‘normal’ and get the economy moving again, they are ignoring the science, cutting corners and

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Johnson and the Tories have attempted to blame a new variant of the virus for the catastrophe that is unfolding. But it is their recklessness that has landed us in this situation. We need a bold socialist response to the pandemic.