Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1071/30176

From The Socialist newspaper, 29 January 2020

Coronavirus: capitalism limits response to viral outbreaks

Electron microscope image of an earlier coronavirus variant - Mers in this case, photo NIAID/CC

Electron microscope image of an earlier coronavirus variant - Mers in this case, photo NIAID/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, secretary, Unite union Nottinghamshire Health Branch

For the third time in 20 years a new virus has spread from animals to humans. It began on 29 December in Wuhan, a Chinese city of eleven million, probably crossing to humans at a live animal market.

The exact number of cases is unknown. 830 were identified by 24 January but the real number was estimated at 4,000. 26 had died - about 3%. Seasonal flu virus kills less than 1% of those infected, about 400,000 deaths a year worldwide.

So why the panic? People don't have resistance to the new virus. There is no vaccine or proven treatment. If the virus spreads, so will the number of deaths.

When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) broke out in 2003, the Chinese government kept it secret for months. Many more cases spread as a result.

There was a short delay at local level this time. In early January, city officials went ahead with a communal meal for 40,000 and gave out 200,000 free tickets to tourist sites.

Central government's reaction has been much more vigorous, however. As well as releasing early information to scientists and international authorities, the state imposed a travel ban to and from eleven cities with a population of 32 million. It closed tourist destinations like Shanghai's Disneyland, sections of the Great Wall, and Beijing's Forbidden Palace.

State v market

40 military doctors have been drafted into Wuhan. A new 1,000-bed hospital is planned to be completed in just ten days! Dozens of diggers and trucks were filmed working on the site and shown on TV - a contrast with snail's pace construction of new NHS hospitals by private building companies under the Tories.

President Xi Jinping wants to appear to be doing everything possible to bring the situation under control. The regime is under pressure with economic growth slowing - as well as strikes and protests, especially in Hong Kong. Speedy action is aimed at reassuring workers at home and corporate investors abroad.

Sars cost the global economy $40-50 billion between 2002 and 2004. Tourism and air travel will be hit this time, but capitalists' confidence could be more generally damaged. It is already low - with the slowing global economy, continuing Australian fires and other climate-related factors, Middle East instability and mass movements opposing capitalist governments on every continent.

It's not bad news for all, however. Surgical mask manufacturers are enjoying demand 500 times their usual output. During the 2009 bird flu outbreak, 3M sold an extra $100 million of masks.

Pharmaceutical companies making anti-viral drugs and vaccines also hope for a bonanza. Moderna shares rose 11% on 22 January after the firm announced it was developing a vaccine. As US health agencies are funding the work, some, if not all, of the cost will be covered by public funds - but Moderna will keep any profits.

After the 2003 Sars outbreak, researchers developed a vaccine that made it to safety tests. But it never progressed further, "mainly due to shifting research priorities as the outbreak came to an end," said Dr Anthony Fauci from the US National Institutes of Health.

New viruses will always occur, some crossing to humans and causing new infectious diseases. Crowding, proximity to live animals and birds, and climate change will also help these spread.

We urgently need permanent, well-funded research institutes and production facilities to develop new diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments. Profit-driven corporations won't invest in such risky projects that may not be needed for years and don't have guaranteed financial rewards.

Nationalisation of pharmaceutical and large biotech companies, with compensation only for real need, is the only way to guarantee this research and production. International socialist planning and co-operation are also vital.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 29 January 2020:


What we think

No 'blank cheque' for Labour leadership candidates


News

End health and wealth divide - fight for our NHS

Unite union nominates Long-Bailey and Burgon

Coronavirus: capitalism limits response to viral outbreaks

HS2 debacle: nationalise rail and construction!

Johnson's Huawei internet deal underlines world trade tensions

Them & Us


Workplace news

University and College Union: Pensions, pay and conditions dispute reach a crucial stage

PCS union elections: Nominate candidates fighting austerity and for union democracy

Interview with a forestry worker

Westex carpet strike


Brexit and the economy

Brexit and British capitalism - why Johnson's juggernaut is set to jackknife


Stop the cuts

Fight the closure of Royal Glamorgan A&E

Save Hampden Nursery in Camden

We need socialists in London's City Hall

Unite regional committee votes to support anti-cuts Enfield councillor

Cuts to women's services cost lives


Campaigns

Socialist sellers: Opposing the Tories & fighting cuts

London protest against Modi's racist law


International news

Libya: Civil war and chaos follow interventions by world and regional powers

Trump's trashing of the environment - Dump the capitalist profit system!

CWI round-up


Readers' opinion

TV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

The Socialist Inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 29 January 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Health:

triangleBAME Covid deaths due to capitalist inequality, confirms government

triangleWe need union action, not platitudes!

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Mental health and socialism

triangleNHS workers

triangleEven more delay in stopping school transmission?

Capitalism:

triangleNigeria protests shake regime

triangleBolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory

triangleWorld capitalism's terrified strategists abandon austerity - for now

triangleAre cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

Government:

triangle"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleFood and a capitalist Brexit: No trust in Tory Deals!

Economy:

triangleSafety overridden in drive to bolster the economy

triangleWorkers and young people need planning for jobs, not handouts for bosses

Global:

triangleA new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

29/10/20

Labour Party

Corbyn suspended:

Workers' movement needs a fighting political voice

28/10/20

NHS

We need union action, not platitudes!

28/10/20

BAME

BAME Covid deaths due to capitalist inequality, confirms government

28/10/20

Tories

Tories' school meals outrage

28/10/20

Brexit

Food and a capitalist Brexit: No trust in Tory Deals!

28/10/20

Tories

Don't let Tories starve our kids

28/10/20

Tory

Tory 'Starve a Kid to Save a Quid' scheme

28/10/20

Covid

Boots launches 120, 12-minute Covid test

28/10/20

Market

Under the microscope

28/10/20

Grenfell Tower

Grenfell watch: landlord's 800,000 saving

28/10/20

London

Mayor and government compete to attack London transport: fight for no cuts!

14/10/20

Capitalist

Are cooperatives the answer to a failing capitalist system?

14/10/20

Schools

Even more delay in stopping school transmission?

14/10/20

Coronavirus

Locked down, hard up - Fight back!

14/10/20

Labour

Unite votes to cut affiliation fee to Labour

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999