Vaccinate the world against a mutant virus

A recent Yahoo News / YouGov poll found worries about the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States are at an all-time low level since he started. Only half of Americans are either “very worried” (15%) or “a little worried” (35%) about the virus, while the other half are “not very worried” (30%) or “not very worried” (30%). all worried ”(20%). But news from around the world makes it clear that this pandemic is far from over, and a story from Vietnam highlights the nature of the danger.

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Vietnam is a COVID success history, with one of the lowest infection and death rates in the world. Vietnam’s excellent community-based public health system has prevented the coronavirus from spreading beyond isolated cases and localized epidemics, without nationwide lockdown. With a population of 98 million, Vietnam has recorded just 8,983 confirmed cases and 53 deaths. However, more than half of the cases and deaths in Vietnam have occurred in the past two months, and three-quarters of the new cases have been infected with a new “hybrid” variant that combines the two mutations detected separately in the Alpha. (United Kingdom) and Delta Variants (India).

Vietnam is a canary in the pandemic coal mine. How this new variant has spread so quickly in a country that has conquered all previous forms of the virus suggests this one is much more contagious.

COVID-19 variants

This variant is surely set to spread to other countries as well, where it will be more difficult to detect among thousands of daily cases, and will therefore be widespread by the time public health officials and governments respond to it. There may also be other new, highly infectious variants that are spreading undetected among the millions of cases in Latin America and other parts of the world.

A new study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that the Alpha, Beta (South Africa) and Delta variants are all more resistant to existing vaccines than the original COVID-19 virus, and the Delta variant is still spreading in countries with aggressive immunization programs, especially the United Kingdom.

The Delta variant represents a two-month high in new cases in Britain and a new wave infections in Portugal, just as developed countries ease restrictions ahead of the summer holiday season, almost certainly opening the door for the next wave. The UK, which has a slightly higher vaccination rate than the US, had planned for further easing of restrictions on June 21, but that is now in question.

China, Vietnam, New Zealand and other countries overcame the pandemic in its early stages by prioritizing public health over commercial interests. Instead, the United States and Western Europe have tried to strike a balance between public health and their neoliberal economic systems, creating a monster that has now killed millions of people. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 6 to 8 million people have died, roughly twice as many as counted in official figures.

Vaccinate the world

Now, the WHO recommends that rich countries with good dose supplies report immunize healthy young people and prioritize sending vaccines to the poorest countries where the virus is rampant. President Joe Biden has announced that the United States is releasing 25 million doses from its stockpile, most of which will be distributed through COVAX, the WHO’s global vaccine sharing program, with another 55 million to follow by the next end of June. But that’s a tiny fraction of what’s needed.

Biden also agreed to waive patent rights to vaccines under the TRIPS rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), officially known as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. But this has so far been held up at the WTO by Canada and right-wing governments in the UK, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan and Colombia. People took the streets in many countries to insist that a TRIPS Council meeting on June 8 and 9 must agree to give up patent monopolies.

Given that all of the countries blocking the TRIPS waiver are allies of the United States, this will be a critical test of the international leadership and diplomacy promised by the Biden administration. So far, Biden’s team has taken precedence over the dangerous saber-rattling against China and Russia, dragging its feet on the nuclear deal with Iran and the arms smuggling fueling war crimes to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Ending international vaccine apartheid is not just a matter of altruism or even justice. The question is whether we will end this pandemic before vaccine-resistant, super-spreading, and more deadly variants fuel new, even more toxic waves. The only way for humanity to win this fight is to act collectively in our common interest.

The public citizen has research what it would take to vaccinate the world and concluded that it would cost only $ 25 billion – 3% of the annual United States budget for arms and warfare – to set up manufacturing plants and centers distribution throughout the world and vaccinate all mankind in one year. Forty-two progressives in Congress signed a letter addressed to President Biden to urge him to finance such a plan.

If the world can agree to make and distribute a popular vaccine, it could be the silver lining of this dark cloud. The ability to act globally and collectively in the public interest is precisely what we need to solve so many of the most serious problems facing humanity. For example, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warns that we are in the middle of a triple crisis climate change, mass extinction and pollution. Our neoliberal political and economic system has not simply failed to address these issues. He actively works undermine efforts to do so, giving the people, businesses and countries that profit from the destruction of the natural world the freedom to do so without coercion.


That’s the very meaning of laissez-faire – letting the rich and powerful do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences for the rest of us or even for life on Earth. As economist John Maynard Keynes said in the 1930s, laissez-faire capitalism is the absurd idea that the worst people, for the worst reasons, will do what’s best for all of us. Neoliberalism is the reimposition of the 19e-the laissez-faire capitalism of the century, with all its injustices, its inequalities and its oppression, on the peoples of the 21stst century, by prioritizing markets, profits and wealth for the common well-being of humanity and the natural world on which our lives depend.

Berkeley and Princeton political theorist Sheldon Wolin called the American political system, which facilitates this neoliberal economic order, “reverse totalitarianism.” Like classical totalitarianism, it increasingly concentrates more wealth and power in the hands of a small ruling class, but instead of abolishing parliaments, elections and the superficial traps of representative government as classical totalitarianism did , it simply co-opts them as tools of plutocracy, which has proven to be a more marketable and sustainable strategy.

But now that neoliberalism has wreaked havoc for a generation, popular movements are rising up across the world to demand systemic change and build new political and economic systems that can actually solve the huge problems that neoliberalism has produced.

In response to the 2019 uprising in Chile, its leaders were forced to accept an election for a Assembly, to draft a constitution to replace the one written under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, one of the vanguards of neoliberalism. That election has now taken place and President Sebastian Pinera’s ruling party and other mainstream parties have won less than a third of the seats. Instead, the constitution will instead be drafted by a super-majority of citizens committed to radical reform and social, economic and political justice.

In Iraq, which was also swept away by a popular uprising in 2019, a new government sitting in 2020 launched an investigation to recover $ 150 billion in Iraqi oil revenues. Fly and smuggled out of the country by corrupt officials of previous governments. In 2003, the former exiles flew to Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion “with empty pockets to fill,” as a Baghdad taxi driver told a Western journalist at the time. As US forces and US-trained Iraqi death squads destroyed their country, they retreated to the Green Zone of Baghdad and controlled and plundered Iraq’s oil revenues for the next 17 years. Now maybe Iraq can recover the stolen money its people desperately need and start using their oil wealth to rebuild this. bursts country.

In Bolivia, also in 2019, a project supported by the United States stroke overthrew its popular indigenous president, Evo Morales. But the Bolivian people rose up in a general strike to demand new elections and Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) party was restored to power. Now Luis Arce, the Minister of Economy under Morales, is the President of Bolivia.

All over the world, we are witnessing what can happen when people rise up and act collectively for the common good. This is how we will solve the serious problems we face, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate crisis to the terminal danger of nuclear war. The survival of mankind in the 22sd century and all of our hopes for a bright future depend on building new political and economic systems that will “simply and truly do what is best for all of us”.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.

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