In the UK the public are not being informed of the statistical evidence nor the modeling of them being used by the Conservative government to justify it’s decision to end compulsory pandemic measures here. The ill-thought out and erratic measures so far taken in an attempt to mitigate the continuing spread of the Covid 19 pandemic, have allowed the spread of the virus to continue. The latest figures for the UK infections and deaths are 5, 000,000 cases with over 128,000 deaths with vast majority of these (4.3 million and 113,000) occurring in England. The lame and misleading rhetorical question of Boris Johnson; “If not now – when?”, completely misses the point.
The possible ending of pandemic restrictions is openly admitted by the government to be necessary in order to restart the (their) ‘economy’ and they are prepared to risk another 100, 000 people dying in order to do so. This is to be expected for ‘their’ version of an economy relies upon exploiting working people in farms, factories, offices and shops to mass produce and then mass consume the very commodities and services whose supply lines are routinely uncovering viruses and destroying the health of people and the planet in multifarious ways. To try to convince people that ‘personal responsibility’ is a sensible strategy, they have concluded that the link between hospitalisations and deaths has been broken by their so-called ‘successful’ (sic) vaccination programme.
However, as the title of this article implies, this coincidence between a reduction in deaths and vaccines during this pandemic does not by itself prove that vaccination has caused the difference between these outcomes. Nor does it prove that vaccination will end the current or any future pandemic. No matter how much the elite and the vaccine profiteers hope for vaccination to save the capitalist system, their hope and narrowly focused propaganda will not determine what really happens. The factors which reduce deaths from virus spread are well known. 1. Reduced contact between people. 2. Improved citizen individual health and cleanliness. 3. Those who have contracted the virus at least once and survived (natural immunity). 4. Scientifically developed and confirmed barriers and medicines and remedies.
The first three of these prophylactic barriers to contagion are obvious and do not require a technologically advanced mode of production based upon profit to be successfully implemented. They just need a humanist approach to production based upon need. Thus the various lock downs, social distancing and masks reduced aerosol contact between people; those with low virus exposure and strong immune systems, or anti-bodies have also cut the link. These have all worked to reduce the hospital numbers and deaths. To elevate vaccines as the causal link is a political ploy. Those who were previously weakened and not sufficiently protected are among the 120, 000 who have died because from the outset in 2020, the elite placed the capitalist mode of production above the needs of protecting the vulnerable. The numbers could have been far less! The current focus and reliance upon vaccination by the political elite is merely a continuation of that same narrow minded elite defence of what is left of the capitalist system.
However, it is clear from the failed global distribution of vaccines, that vaccination is not going to prevent the virus from spreading globally nor will vaccines save the capitalist system. Even in the advanced capitalist countries which have hoarded more than enough vaccines for every citizen, the vaccination programme has failed to convince everybody to have repeated jabs. Nor have the pro-capitalist elite in the UK and elsewhere enabled everybody to isolate themselves even if they wanted to. The situation in other countries is even worse. This vaccination, profit-based techno-fix safety net, is full of excessively large holes and meanwhile the virus is continuing to mutate. Also full of holes is the complicated, confused and contradictory guidelines now suggested for opening up the entertainment, sport, arts, leisure and holiday industries.
A significant proportion of the economic activity of advanced capitalist countries is based upon businesses which require the maximum possible number of paying customers on a regular basis in order to pay overheads and make a profit. However, for many businesses, these maximum seating capacities will not be filled in the short, medium or even long term. In the short term, after this current deregulation, large numbers of people – vaccinated or not – will avoid crowded venues and those with bureaucratic entry requirements. Such safety minded or anti bureaucratic ‘boycotts’ will result in more business closures and redundancies with the consequential unemployment effecting the medium term viability of many businesses. In the longer term, the activities of many businesses, will also need to be curtailed because their methods are too polluting, too destructive or too dangerous to people and their environments.
The green capitalist fantasies of a future world of electric cars, lorries, trains and planes, will not save the system. This dream of stimulating further decades of continued overproduction by eco-transport methods will soon be shattered by the fact that they and their production will be no less (indirectly) polluting than petrochemical based transport. Moreover, given the productivity of modern production, those vehicles which are produced will come from one or two advanced countries. Instead, in reality, the accelerating collapse of the capitalist mode of production which will be experienced over the next year or two and beyond, will be an even greater shock to people than the Pandemic itself. The current euphoria of many people at hopes of release from lock downs and regulations and a return to pre-covid sport, leisure and holiday entitlements, will be short lived.
Humanity will eventually be forced to wake up and confront the fact that going back to a previous capitalist ‘normal’, or going on to a future capitalism based upon high-tech conspicuous consumption, will not be possible. The difficult and demanding necessity of transforming the present hierarchical and unsustainable mode of production based on profit to one based upon sustainable egalitarian human need we will require a different understanding and a different way of relating to other human and non-human beings, than the ones which currently dominate our species. So instead of Johnson’s misleading pandemic rhetoric, I suggest the following; ‘if we don’t start thinking differently now; then when?’
Roy Ratcliffe (June 2021)
For further analysis and critique of the Covid 19 Pandemic response as it unfolded during 2019/2020, a document can be downloaded by clicking on he link below.