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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

  (Click to enlarge)

Nick Hart, Wolverhampton Socialist Party

It turns out that having a National Health Service comes in useful during a major pandemic.

So far, the coordination of vaccine rollout by the four national NHS bodies in the UK, and its administration by GP surgeries and hospitals, has allowed five million people to receive their first dose. This is a marked improvement to the fiasco caused by outsourcing test-and-trace and the supply of PPE to a hodgepodge of private companies.

However, the vaccine coverage between different localities remains highly uneven. As some parts of the country have already vaccinated a majority of over-80s, doses are being diverted elsewhere at short notice to allow those regions to catch up.

The Tories set a target of opening 2,700 vaccination centres. At the moment the total nationally is just under half that.

This shows the problems created by the merging of sites by NHS trusts and GP practices, and the outright closure of many local facilities by councils over the last decade due to strains on funds. The Financial Times estimates that 330,000 people without access to a car live more than an hour by public transport from their nearest vaccination centre. Half are in the vulnerable category of over-65.

The infrequent, pricey, and often non-existent bus services experienced by those in rural areas are no accident. They are a direct result of the real-term cuts of over 40% to subsidies for buses since 2010, as calculated by the Campaign for Better Transport. Even those living in better-connected urban areas could be facing a race against time to receive their vaccination.

Many in their 60s living in the most deprived areas are equally at risk of becoming severely ill or dying from coronavirus as those in their 80s in wealthier areas. If you're on a lower income, you're more likely to suffer from a pre-existing health condition - whether from breathing in dust or chemicals at work, living in damp and draughty housing or suffering obesity due to a lack of time, money and energy to exercise and eat healthily.

All of these factors make it harder to survive coronavirus after contracting it. Health is a class issue, whether you're living in an inner city or a remote village.

Most ordinary people are hoping the current vaccination programme will be successful in countering Covid-19. But keeping the population healthy now and in the long run means fighting not just for a properly funded and publicly run NHS, but for an improvement of working and living conditions across the board.

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 27 January 2021:


News

Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at 9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools

Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"


What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party


Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


NHS

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic


Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC

TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Campaigns

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!


International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


Review

TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


 

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