Global coronavirus cases have escalated over the past seven weeks and deaths have risen for the past three weeks. More than 136 million people have been infected, and almost three million have died.
Covid-19 remains a deadly threat that hits the poorest hardest.
Most of the 670 million vaccine doses distributed worldwide went to people in richer countries. Shortages mean some countries can’t even begin vaccination campaigns.
The impact is horrific. World Health Organisation (WHO) director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Intensive care units in many countries are overflowing and people are dying—and it’s totally avoidable.”
Brazil is recording 4,000 deaths a day. Average daily infections in India have passed 130,000.
Yet much of the media in Britain behaves as though the worst has passed. Newspapers hail the vaccine rollout and demand the Tories lift restrictions faster.
A further easing of lockdown restrictions in England on Monday saw shops, pubs and restaurants reopen, along with personal care services and leisure centres.
The Daily Mail newspaper celebrated with the headline, “‘This must have been what VE Day was like!’: Revellers across England enjoy a taste of freedom as they pack outdoor pubs.”
The same paper will soon condemn people for “packing pubs”. It is already blaming “revellers” who “flocked to parks” over the Easter bank holiday for a rise in cases.
Britain recorded 3,568 new cases on Monday—the highest figure since 1 April. The figures show that vaccination programmes aren’t enough to contain the virus.
Some use this to paint the threat as coming from outside. They argue that we should vaccinate Britain and then impose harsher border controls. This ignores the fact that the “UK variant” has fuelled a rise in cases across Europe.
Others are more far-sighted.
Former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown wants countries to contribute to a fund to support global vaccinations. He said this is not “charity” but “self-interest”.
That’s because as the virus spreads, there’s more chance of new, vaccine-resistant variants.
But Brown’s words are a callous reminder of how, under capitalism, some people matter more than others. We need to begin with the potential deaths of millions of the poorest people.
Everyone should have access to vaccines—but we need more than that too. Margaret Harris from the WHO said, “People think vaccination will stop transmission. That is not the case.”
To contain Covid-19, governments must pour money into health programmes, and functioning test and trace schemes. But as long as they put profit before people, that won’t happen.
Capitalism fails the vast majority of people. We need to get rid of it.