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LETTERS—How medical monopolies wreck the lives of millions

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Issue 2753
The consequences of vaccine nationalism will endanger us all.
The consequences of vaccine nationalism will endanger us all. (Pic: Marco Verch Professional Photographer)

The vaccine rollout is a cause for celebration for many, but it also shines a spotlight on Western domination over the Global South.

Imperialist countries are focusing on returning to “normal”, promising to vaccinate even young, healthy people within the next few months.

Meanwhile, frontline workers and vulnerable people in the Global South are left without.

This is despite calls for pharmaceutical companies to suspend their patents on the vaccine.

Big pharma wants to cash in on India’s coronavirus catastrophe
Big pharma wants to cash in on India’s coronavirus catastrophe
  Read More

Just this week billionaire Bill Gates said vaccine formulas should not be shared with the developing world. Why? Well, because huge corporations value profit far more than the lives of people in the Global South.

They must release the patents and share the formulas.

There is a perception that AstraZeneca are the “good guys” because the firm has pledged to sell the vaccine at cost price.

But I have two concerns.

Firstly this promise only lasts until it decides the pandemic is over, which could be any date from the end of July. And secondly, it isn’t true. Uganda has paid three times the cost price for AstraZeneca vaccines already.

On 11 May AstraZeneca is holding its annual general meeting in Cambridge. There are protests planned outside their offices there, and simultaneously outside their offices in Macclesfield. The protests are not only about this current vaccine inequality. Big pharma has a long history of preventing access to vital healthcare in the Global South.

Should we be worried about the AstraZeneca vaccine?
Should we be worried about the AstraZeneca vaccine?
  Read More

We know that capitalism and colonialism are extractive endeavours. But through medical monopolies and restrictive patents, they also debilitate millions across the world.

For socialists our fight needs to be international.

Workers everywhere need access to healthcare prioritising people, not profit.

Details of the protest can be found through Global Justice Now.

Heidi HendersEast London

Overseas operations bill is rotten

There have been some significant changes to the government’s rotten overseas operations bill.

It’s still a rotten bill that blocks prosecutions against soldiers that are accused of committing offences on overseas military operations more than five years ago.

But the time limitations will not now apply to torture and genocide.

This war criminals’ charter also won’t apply to British soldiers accused of committing atrocities during the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland.

Former Army captain Johnny Mercer believes there is a witch hunt against British veterans of the conflict.

Yet despite the many atrocities carried out by the British state during the Troubles, there are just six British veterans of Northern Ireland facing prosecution.

Only one paratrooper, Soldier F has been charged for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre of 14 unarmed civilians in Derry in 1972. And it’s doubtful we’ll ever see any charges for the politicians or generals that sent troops or gave the orders.

Shamefully Labour seems to agree with Mercer.

Shadow defence minister John Healey quote-tweeted Mercer saying, “Boris Johnson has ‘abandoned’ the military veterans he promised to support and protect.” Starmer seems keen to prove that he’ll put the interests of the British state before justice.

Patrick CarmodyOxford

IT outsourcing behind the Post Office scandal

Disgracefully post office staff have had to fight for years to get their names cleared for crimes they never committed.

Unfortunately for some, justice comes too late as they have sadly died.

Wronged post workers’ convictions overturned
Wronged post workers’ convictions overturned
  Read More

The blame lies with multinational companies who provided faulty IT systems for the Post Office.

I worked for the Post Office on those systems.

Before the system was implemented all the IT was done in-house and the quality of code knocked out was first class. When the IT department was outsourced, some 1,800 staff were transferred to a multinational company.

The knowledge was lost.

Privatisation only brought a skills race to the bottom while these global IT giants sucked public money away for their shareholders.

The initial deal was worth £1.5 billion, but much more public money was wasted.

Paul PackhamScottish Highlands

Oppose ‘heartbeat’ ban on abortions

US pro-choice campaigner
US pro-choice campaigner (Pic: Lorie Shaull/Flickr)

This week Idaho became the second US state to implement a “heartbeat ban” on abortions.

Under the new law, practitioners will have to check patients for a foetal heartbeat before performing an abortion.

Foetal heartbeats can occur as early as six weeks after conception before many people even know they’re pregnant.

The campaign for access to abortions has been hard-fought in the US.

Why the right want to control women’s bodies
Why the right want to control women’s bodies
  Read More

New laws such as this show us that no matter what gains we make under capitalism, the ruling class can always take them away.

We all have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies and the ruling class should have no say in this. Let’s be honest—none of these senators actually care about the lives of children.

If they did, they wouldn’t lock thousands of children in cages on the border.

They wouldn’t let children be murdered in school shootings.

They wouldn’t cut funding for families or let children die of treatable diseases because they lack health insurance.

The argument against abortion has never been about defending the sanctity of life, it’s all about controlling women’s bodies.

Frankie KeaneBarnsley

Safety fears engulf the IPL as cases soar

India is recording over 300,000 daily cases of Covid-19. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and beds.

Hospitals in India near collapse as new wave hits and cases rise
Hospitals in India near collapse as new wave hits and cases rise
  Read More

Yet the Indian Premier League (IPL) will continue.

The cricket tournament uses several venues, requiring players to travel around the country.

India is a cricket loving nation but there are great concerns that the resources used to facilitate the tournament would be better used elsewhere.

Some players have left their teams over safety concerns.

In prime minister Narendra Modi’s eyes, the £4.3 billion value of the IPL outweighs the need to act on the pandemic.

Harjeevan GillWest London

Postmasters are victims of unjust courts

My mum was a sub‑postmaster for over 25 years. I’m glad these people have finally been cleared (Socialist Worker, 28 April).

I can’t understand a legal system that took so long to recognise that this simply didn’t add up, without questioning the integrity of the Horizon software.

It is truly a scandal that injustices like this still happen in the British flawed justice system.

Arthur NicollDundee

Starmer turns a blind eye

Corruption and sleaze are hard-wired into the Tories, but it’s even worse when Labour’s leader Keir Starmer lets them get away with it.

It’s as if political irrelevance and a life in opposition are hard‑wired into Starmer’s vision of Labour.

PaulOn Twitter

Solidarity for bus strikers

Solidarity with London United and Go North West bus drivers.

Don’t stop, you’re an inspiration to all of us.

JohnOn Twitter

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