The U.S. is approaching “back to normal.” Millions are vaccinated, the CDC nixed its mask guidelines, and states everywhere are eagerly lifting restrictions in time for summer.
The second year of the coronavirus pandemic is underway and it continues to expose the limitations of the capitalist system. Demand for the vaccine is far outstripping what private pharmaceutical companies are able to supply.
As the UK approaches its first 30 million Covid-19 vaccinations, which represents over 50% of the adult population now protected, the question of the ownership of the pharmaceutical industry comes into question.
Stepping back to assess the damage of the first year of the coronavirus pandemic is sobering. As of March 2021, there have been 123 million confirmed cases and a staggering 2.7 million deaths worldwide. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Chicago city or Manchester being wiped out in the space of a year. If there was any doubt about the ferocity of Covid-19 as a disease, these figures, which are undoubtedly an underestimation and in any case only a snapshot in a rapidly escalating total, speak to its real, unabating threat.
At the time of writing, the third Covid surge is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, North and South. There are significant differences between the health systems, and they are not alone globally as others have faltered. Under capitalism, health is a commodity. Worldwide, we see public health care systems suffering from lack of funding and increasing marketisation, with deadly consequences for working-class people.
Boris Johnson’s announcement that schools will close until February half term is yet another U-turn from this shambolic Tory government – one which has been forced by the huge pressure from below by education workers.
This crisis was not inevitable. Stormont has had months to strengthen our health service in preparation for a resurgence of Covid. Instead, they were focused on reopening the economy as fast as possible in the interests of big business, which is a key reason for the current spike