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LETTERS—India’s vaccine rollout driven by power politics, not need

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Issue 2743
India is one of the largest producers of coronavirus vaccines
India is one of the largest producers of coronavirus vaccines (Pic: India is one of the largest producers of coronavirus vaccines)

The Serum Institute of India is the world’s largest producer of vaccines, with the ability to produce 1.5 billion doses per year.

It has agreed to produce 1.1 billion Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccines. Most of these vaccines have been allocated towards low and middle income countries, including India itself.

Finance company Deloitte has suggested that India could produce up to 3.5 billion vaccines in 2021, only second to the US.

With a focus on producing the simpler to store Astrazeneca vaccine, this will make it easier to vaccinate in places that lack the higher end medical facilities.

India has already started to send free vaccines to its neighbours and other countries around the world.

But there are concerns that not enough vaccines will be distributed to the many Indians who need them. This is because India has exported more than they have administered to their own population.

India is known as the “pharmacy of the world” and the move to export Indian produced vaccines can be a way to exert influence on bordering nations.

Covid-19 vaccine—who will be to blame if the poor are again left to die?
Covid-19 vaccine—who will be to blame if the poor are again left to die?
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This is a move against the growing Chinese influence in the region mainly because of the increased tension between the two countries.

Using people’s health as a pawn for international influence is dangerous—particularly in the middle of the pandemic.

It highlights how those at the top have little care for the people at the bottom. They would rather play politics with people’s health.

The Indian state has plenty of other issues at hand with the militant farmers’ movement, which has been well documented in Socialist Worker.

Regarding the vaccine and the importance of getting it to as many people as possible, India will have an important role to play.

We will get a thorough understanding on how well they do in the coming months.

But the people in need in India must not be forgotten.

Harjeevan Gill

West London

Biden fails on minimum wage in US

Activists are right to be angry at US president Joe Biden for going against his promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 (£10.75).

But this is not unusual behaviour for a Democrat, particularly one like Biden.

From his election as senator for Delaware in 1973, Biden has backed corporations, slashed social security and supported US wars.

He doesn’t support Medicare for all as he thinks it’s “too costly”.

The only reason he made the promise to raise the minimum wage was because workers started the “Fight for $15” campaign.

This led to some impressive action, including strikes in fast food workplaces.

It’s always been ordinary people that have forced change.

We’ve seen brilliant examples of this with the gains made by the Black Lives Matter movement, or the teachers fighting an unsafe return to schools.

Biden says he wants things to go back to normal. But he means normal for those at the top of society who want to keep profiting from our low wages.

For conditions to really improve, activists involved in the fight for $15 must turn their anger into further action.

It’s time to ramp up the pressure by fighting for bigger and more organised strikes that will hit the bosses where it hurts.

Jasmine Fischer


Protests in Catalonia after free speech attack

Spanish anti-fascist rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested last Tuesday after barricading himself in the University of Lleida in Catalonia, where he gathered with supporters.

He has been sentenced to nine months in prison for lyrics and tweets addressing crimes by the Spanish monarchy and police.

Protests erupted across Catalonia and cities in Spain. Demonstrators were fighting against another attack on freedom of speech.

The Spanish government has allowed “the gag law” pushed by the Spanish constitutional court to remain in place. It is therefore complicit.

This is no surprise—Spain is a racist state. “Freedom of speech” is granted in exchange for loyalty to the regime.

Pablo Hasel was imprisoned for speaking up against police abuse and the corrupt monarchy, both protected by an authoritarian justice system.

¡Llibertat Pablo Hasel!

Laura Verdasco


Don’t trust Sturgeon’s virus plans

The Scottish government’s approach to the Covid-19 crisis has been to always appear slightly better than the default British position.

However the Scottish government has allowed themselves to be driven by right wing voices who put business profitability before greater public health concerns.

While claiming “we’re following the science”, first minister Nicola Sturgeon is looking to reopen schools on Monday 22 February.

She is already setting dates for further relaxations in less than a month’s time.

Scotland rushed to reopen schools in January. Staff were crammed in to look after key worker and vulnerable children—many more than in the first wave of infections.

School workers have been frustrated, if not terrified, by the needless risks they’ve been asked to take.

And other workers have been forced to take risks or lose their jobs.

A blind eye seems to have been turned to lockdown rules in many private sector workplaces.

All hope seems pinned on the success of the vaccination programmes.

Failure to implement a strategy to eradicate coronavirus is now putting us at the mercy of the battle between vaccine scientists and virus evolution.

Arthur Nicoll


The real extremists

A 100,000+ death toll, hungry children, arguing over whether the poorest families should keep the extra £20 Universal Credit per week, the amount of racism in this country. These are the things that are extreme, not the anti-racist left.

Gin Putland


Solidarity with British Gas

Comrades, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters must stand shoulder to shoulder.

We can and will win. Solidarity forever, stop the British Gas fire.

Johnny Shanks


Fight leaders here as well

When we are out of the Covid-19 catastrophe I’m sure we’ll organise something similar to the Russian opposition to show our disdain for our current leadership.

I can’t bloody wait. A beer and a demonstration sound good to me.

Chris Turner


Fight for NHS or we’ll lose it

Say goodbye to our NHS, I’m afraid to say. You’ll miss it.

If you voted Tory you’ll have to live with your actions and it will be future generations that will suffer.

Rob Jack


Take Covid-19 seriously

We could be living a far more normal reality if Boris Johnson took Covid-19 seriously. A proper lockdown and a correctly implemented track and trace—not Serco’s—should have been introduced.

Jack Lime


Welcome every refugee

Racism in Britain is shocking. Refugees trapped in Napier and Penally barracks are being treated like animals by Priti Patel and the Tories.

Anne Juliff


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