One year later: their greed which killed us

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24 March 2021

Johnson told a group of Tory MPs this week that "the reason we have the vaccine success is because of capitalism, because of greed". Realizing that the cat had jumped out of the bag, he quickly told them "strike that from your memories"!

    Heaven forbid that he should be accused of questioning "British innovation" or the "proud partnership" between Oxford University and the Swedish company AstraZeneca, established by luring greedy pharmaceutical AZ with large sums of public money to help create a "British" vaccine. Yes, which will provide lots of money for greedy shareholders, once this phase of the pandemic is over...

    Anyway, this "quip", which slipped out of Johnson's mouth, wasn't criticism of capitalist greed. Throughout the pandemic, he’s considered that greed for profits was the very best motivation for private companies "to get things done".

    Never mind that the contracting to the profit sector of PPE procurement and the crucial life-saving, test, trace and isolate system, has proven to be a fatal mistake. Deloitte, Serco, Sitel, after 12 months of "trying" still haven't delivered. Or was that 12 months of trying to find ways to eat up £37bn of public money? By the way, so much for Johnson "regretting mistakes", let alone learning from them.

    This policy was catastrophic and it was criminal. It is counted in the 147,179 who died as a result of catching Covid (ONS figures for 12 March) over the short 12 months since lock-down was declared, too late, by Boris Johnson: among the highest tolls per head of population in the world. Yes, because of Johnson's refusal to curtail the greed of private capitalists and close down the economy in order to "save" an under-resourced, failing NHS, and really, actually, to "save lives"!

    "Do you regret anything you did, Prime Minister?", asked the embedded journalists. Regret? No, he blamed his failure on the fact that Covid was caused by a "new" virus. Except that novel virus pandemics are nothing new: there was Ebola, Sars, 'flu..

    Raab blamed it on"lack of data". Another lie! There was plenty of data - but to use it, ministers would have had to listen to the Chinese and follow their example. It's incredible that these arrogant bigots refused to do that... to save our lives. Or is it? 

    Hancock said on TV this week that this was "the hardest year in a generation". The festival of hypocritical tears from the politicians for "every single life lost" is a shameless and sickening spectacle and should go down in posterity as the most cynical political debacle "in a generation".

Vaccine champion? Or dog in the manger?

While more than 10 million vaccine doses have been exported from the EU to Britain, none has gone the other way. After the EU said it might restrict export of vaccines last week, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab seized the moral high-ground, expressing his "surprise", and saying it’d be "wrong to curtail or interfere with lawfully-contracted supply".

    Never mind that Britain has hoarded 400m vaccine doses - enough to vaccinate the adult population four times over! Johnson added that "we" in Britain "don't believe in blockades". But it seems he doesn't believe in sharing either. Because there is no suggestion of that: the hoard of vaccines will remain in British fridges until the whole population has been vaccinated... yes, and no matter that, as Johnson admits, the 3rd Covid wave, (due to the British variant) is beginning to engulf Europe and will inevitably “wash back onto British shores”...

    They all sanctimoniously mouth that nobody will be safe until everyone is safe. But Britain, unlike even the vaccine-poor EU didn't come forward with vaccines for poor countries. Ex-colonies, like war-torn Yemen, haven’t received one dose of vaccine, not even for medical staff. Neither has Sierra Leone.

    It turns out that the WHO’s Covax scheme, meant to supply vaccines "equitably" to poor countries, may placate public opinion, but has no actual backing. The truth is that while scientists collaborate, capitalists don't. They compete. And will fight to the death for the biggest share of the market. Or to the death of several million elderly and poor people on this planet from Covid. Petty, moneyed, self-interest comes first.

    In times of war, governments requisitioned industry to work for the war effort under state control. In today’s "war" against SARS-CoV-2, this isn't done. Yet the only way to get around the chaos in vaccine supply would be to requisition the whole vaccine industry, centralise and co-ordinate its manufacture and distribution and put lives before profits. This solution may sound far-fetched - but it's the only one. And since it will first require the overthrow of greed, the working class will have to get ready to apply it. Nobody else can, nor will.