Socialist Worker

Tories’ virus failures cost lives for profit

Issue No. 2731

The Tories handling of the pandemic has caused chaos

The Tories handling of the pandemic has caused chaos (Pic: Flickr/ Number 10)


It’s been a year since what is believed to have been the first coronavirus infection in Wuhan, China, on 17 November 2019. Now there are finally real hopes for a vaccine.

But all evidence shows that the Tories can’t be trusted to contain the virus. Instead, their disastrous policies sent Covid-19 deaths soaring—because they put profit ahead of people’s lives.

They began by denying the scale of the threat.

By 24 January, with the first coronavirus case confirmed outside China, health secretary Matt Hancock said the threat to Britain was “low”. By 31 January the first cases were confirmed in Britain.

On 10 February the Tories admitted that coronavirus posed a “serious and imminent threat to public health”.

But they delayed bringing in restrictions that could cut transmission. Schools and workplaces stayed open. And huge public events went ahead.

The first people died from Covid-19 in Britain on 5 March.

Pandemic

Five days later the Cheltenham Festival took place—bringing together 150,000 people. The next day, the WHO declared the virus a pandemic.

Yet it took the Tories until 20 March to close schools and until 23 March to declare a lockdown.

The government has refused to properly fund the health service. It repeatedly failed to provide Personal Protective Equipment to NHS and care home staff.

In April it admitted that none of the 17.5 million tests it had bought worked. And it continued to downplay the pandemic.

So Johnson said Britain was “past the peak” of the disease on 30 April. But by May Britain had the highest death toll in Europe.

On 1 June, the Tories allowed some primary school children to return to schools. They claimed their end to some lockdown measures on 4 July was to protect jobs. In reality they wanted pubs, restaurants, shops and other outlets open so that bosses could make money.

Tories cannot be trusted with Covid-19 vaccines
Tories cannot be trusted with Covid-19 vaccines
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Throughout August the Tories bribed us to visit busy restaurants and pubs with their “Eat out to help out” scheme. The test and trace system, run by private firm Serco, has been a disaster.

Since then, they have pushed workers and students back to schools, colleges and universities.

The resulting rise in infections was predicted. But the Tories ignored the warnings because following the science would hurt profits.

If schools closed, many parents would find it hard to work. If universities didn’t reopen, hundreds of millions of pounds would be lost in unpaid rents.

The vaccines are being produced by private pharmaceutical firms—leaving us at the mercy of the market. In the hands of the Tories and private firms, they won’t be equally available for everyone.

The virus has exposed capitalism as a sick system that puts the wealth of a few above the health of the vast majority.


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