It’s exactly one year since the first Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in Britain. Twelve months later, having achieved the world-beating record of 106,564 deaths, the government sent Health Secretary Hancock to announce measures to halt the spread of a new “South African” mutant virus.
No doubt the new mutations of the “Kent-British” variant, which has already escaped into the rest of the world and is killing record numbers of people in Portugal, will, along with its South African cousin, provide yet another excuse for increasingly high British infection rates.
Anything but putting curbs on the “freedoms” of British manufacture and construction industries to make money. Anything but curbing the already Brexit-slowed supply-chains and cutting into profits, which always, always, come before working peoples’ lives! Even the quarantine for air travellers is unimplemented so far!
So there are (of course!) no added strong measures to be put in place. Just door-to-door testing. Never mind that the post codes where the mutant was found include several around London, and other large cities, where many workers live and from where many of these same workers commute, every day, to non-essential “production” jobs!
Yes, they are doing work which is so very vital to the health of capitalists’ profits, but so dangerous to their own health and to the health of their families, friends and “communities”!
Upper-class contempt and ignorance
Why are car production, parts production, logistics, engineering, construction etc., let alone transport, like intercity trains, still running? Are the politicians, their “clever” SAGE advisors and all those endlessly chattering media people totally ignorant - and oblivious of workers’ existence?
Yes, these talking heads are so stuck in their comfortable upper and middle class lives, that they have no clue whatsoever about the life of the working class. Their “knowledge” is limited to health “key” workers (who also keep them alive) and who they dutifully “praise”.
What did we hear from one MP? She said “employees should have a conversation with their employers” about whether they ought to go to work! Really? Yet where is the pay protection for all workers if they do have that “conversation”? No, workers must work, or lose part of their pay, i.e., take the responsibility of protecting others from the virus on their own individual shoulders.
So it’s pretty sickening to hear on TV how the government and “business” have done such a “fantastic job” by “winning” the “vaccine race”! Dr Death Johnson’s poll ratings even went up!
When the great vaccine roll-out is a gamble - done with the same cavalier attitude (but with a fraction more “scientific” advice), which had already lost this government the testing “race”. Remember the £18m which was spent last March, when Hancock bought Covid antibody tests that didn’t work? That £18m went down the drain.
It is still not certain that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be as effective as its backers hope (hope being the operative word): the trials are ongoing. Or, if postponing the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine by 12 weeks is OK or not. But let us make no mistake: the EU only got their “vaccine order” in later, because it was more cautious and because, sure, it was more complicated - but cheaper - for a collective contract. There are also more liabilities built in - against pharmaceutical companies...
The postcode lottery is back
However, the real problem is not who outwits whom. The capitalist, profit-motived, basis on which pharmaceutical companies have built their production facilities means that vaccine manufacture is designed for markets, not need. So here we are today, with not enough vaccines to go around. And what happens? Of course, the rich countries get their vaccines before the poor.
On a micro-level that’s exactly what is happening here in Britain! The government claims record vaccinations have been done. But many elderly in the most “at risk” categories are still waiting. The NHS in its collapsed state may be doing better than a private contractor, like Serco. But guess what? Already vaccination has turned into a postcode lottery! The same old one which was discrediting the underfunded and fragmented, denationalised, health system before the pandemic.
Nobody in government tells the truth, because they are protecting the interests of shareholders and their own close friends and associates. Workers can only judge what they see. And what we see is a system that is rotten, with rotten people leading it. It needs to be overturned and replaced with a new system based on the principle of production for need - in a world where we have wiped out national borders. As Covid has shown, they are no of use to us.