The coronavirus pandemic has infected hundreds of thousands and taken the lives of thousands. Most scientific and medical experts warn that the situation is bound to get far worse, with millions likely to lose their lives globally. This crisis has demonstrated both the utter ineptitude of the capitalist system to handle a health crisis of this proportion, and the heroic efforts of health workers, scientists, teachers, firefighters and many others, often volunteers, who risk their own lives, working long hours to contain and fight the virus.
The collapse on the world’s stock exchanges on 9 March was the largest since the beginning of the global capitalist crisis in 2008. The fall on the US stock market at opening time was so severe that it led to a technical trade stoppage after just five minutes.
There are shortages in many countries of basic medical provisions such as gowns, gloves and proper facial masks. New publicly owned entities need to be established under democratic control to fast-track production of such supplies and life-saving equipment such as ventilators. The disastrous market-driven cuts in hospital funding need to be reversed, by mass struggle led by trade unions and workers’ political organisations. The labour movement and the left internationally must rise to this challenge — the coronavirus shows us that the world is not safe in the hands of capitalism and its politicians.
It hasn’t taken long into 2020 for the climate crisis to once again grab our attention, with two storms in two weeks devastating areas of the UK with intense flooding. As extreme weather conditions become more and more common, it is vital that we escalate the struggle to tackle climate change immediately.