Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1134/32521
What's needed to stop more Covid outbreaks?
Full pay, nationalisation and more
Jon Dale, Unite Nottinghamshire health secretary (personal capacity)
Meeting friends in a pub... a family restaurant meal... going to the match - is life about to return to normal? Covid-19 infection rates have fallen to their lowest since last summer.
But as restrictions on meeting indoors are lifted, a dark cloud is growing. Will the new Covid-19 variant, first identified in India, have a similar devastating effect to the so-called 'Kent' variant last autumn?
Without full pay and other support for everyone needing to isolate, another wave of infection is probable as many workers with insecure jobs have no choice but to remain at work.
Even if less severe, it will be the government's responsibility should this occur, again putting business interests before public health. Good quarantine facilities for travellers from India should have been provided on 2 April.
The requirement was delayed three weeks, and some travellers used public transport to get to their quarantine, possibly infecting others. Boris Johnson had a trade trip to India planned for 23 April, cancelling at the last minute under pressure.
Horrifying scenes at Indian hospitals shows the race to vaccinate the world's population is a long way from success. 3% of Indians have been vaccinated. Poor countries, with even fewer vaccinated, are at risk of similar overwhelming outbreaks.
Vaccination should not be dependent on profit-making pharmaceutical corporations. Before the pandemic there should have been a global network of factories ready to produce vaccines for the world's population.
Corporations weren't interested without profits. But Covid-19 suddenly made vaccines big business.
Astra-Zeneca is supposedly selling at cost price 'while the pandemic lasts'. Its chief executive, Pascale Soriot, has had a pay rise this year. Last year's £15.4million was clearly not enough!
In 2018, he said he found it annoying to be the lowest-paid CEO in the industry. He's moved up the league, but still lags behind Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky's £21million. Johnson & Johnson is currently trying to offload short shelf-life unfrozen vaccines to Latin America.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Bancel, Moderna chief executive, is now 'worth' almost $5 billion after its shares soared 500% over the past year. Adar Poonawalla, Serum Institute of India chief executive, rents a London flat for £50,000 a week.
Just how many vaccines could be provided to the world's poorest from their wealth alone? Only nationalisation of the global industry under democratic workers' control would allow its vast resources to be planned to meet urgent need.
In The Socialist 19 May 2021:
What we think