Last night we received the sad news of the death of comrade Peter Windeler, a very important and valuable member of the ISL, who was 70 years old and maintained a great revolutionary disposition and vigour.
Peter wrote several materials for the IWL website and, as well as speaking publicly, was preparing to go to the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle meeting in Dijon.
We would like to express our sympathy to our IWL comrades in England and Wales and our condolences to his family.
IWL International Secretariat – 31 January 2022
By Peter Windeler – ISL/Britain (posted posthumously)
COVID has exposed the absolute degeneration of capitalism. While western capitalist drug makers such as Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna make $1,000 each second and Astra Zeneca, who says it is not so greedy, a mere $1 billion in the third quarter of 2021 most of the world still has no vaccine.
According to The World Health Organisation, by January 2022, only 1 in 9 people in low-income countries had received the vaccine while in high-income countries it was 1 in 1. Only now has a patent-free vaccine been developed by Corbevax using donated funds. This free drug is the joint work of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Of course, in Britain, we have seen the conservative political elite lining their pockets by creating companies to supply the government with personal protective equipment. Under the infamous “VIP Lane” the friends of the Tory party received contracts for PPE amounting to £700 million. As well as the money made in selling vaccines and supplying PPE there are the vast sums made by firms in providing testing kits. Companies such as Abbott Laboratories and Roche have seen their share prices sky-rocket on the basis of selling testing kits. Just recently, Innova Medical, a private equity company, won contracts for £3.7 billion from the British government to supply testing kits.
The most shocking aspect of COVID is not even the obscene amounts of money and capitalist corruption but the way lives were sacrificed which could have been saved. With no proper entry controls or timely interventions, time after time, the virus has been allowed to spread unchecked in the UK. At the moment 176,000 people have died. The figures are quite sobering.
The highest death rates were in the North West of England, with Wales having the highest rate among the home nations, although Wales has the highest population over 65. The virus attacked the most vulnerable with 7 out of 10 deaths for the over 75s. Deaths for the 44 and under were only 2% of the overall. Those working closely with others had the highest death rate. Two-thirds of male deaths were those working in leisure, care and other public-facing jobs. Among females, the highest deaths were for women working as machine operators. Right from the beginning of COVID factories and workshops remained open allowing the virus to run riot through workplaces.
As most of us know, the unvaccinated are now most at risk of dying from COVID with a risk of death 28 times those that have had the vaccine. However, the mortality for Black men is twice that for Whites. But some of the figures give room for thought.
There remains scepticism of the vaccines produced by Russia and China. While Russia has been found guilty of promoting anti-vax sentiment the low take-up of its Sputnik V vaccine, only 35%, shows how the Russian regime, allowing its “Troll Factories” to extoll anti-vax propaganda, has backfired as they have attracted high traffic in Russia itself. The latest reports indicate that 45% of Russians are not prepared to be inoculated and information from Argentina indicates that Sputnik V has no effect on the Omicron variant.
Doubts remain over the Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm which some argue explains the vigorous enforcement of lockdowns in China. This in turn is affecting the global economy causing supply problems for worldwide industries. The threat to global capitalism has forced the IMF to urge China to reduce COVID restrictions irrespective of the threat to the health of Chinese workers. The world’s third-largest container port, Ningbo in Zhejiang could close. Japanese and US companies rely particularly on vital electronic components that China supplies such as multi-layered ceramic capacitors that store electricity in products that have electrical circuits – half the world’s output is made in China. The pandemic has seen firms trying to use China to build a source of supplies. Now China is attempting to produce its own mRNA vaccines such as Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer jabs.
The global COVID crisis exposes how the world’s health cannot be left to capitalism, including the corrupt bourgeois bureaucracies governing countries such as China and Russia. One faint glimmer of hope after the appalling mess of COVID is that technology has the ability to defeat the virus with new antiviral drugs such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s Molnurpiravir which will help people in hospitals with compromised immune systems to get better. But the world’s health is much too important to be left to companies whose main purpose is to make profits. That is why all big pharma should be taken under workers control without compensation.
The younger generation has been heavily affected by corona with reports indicating that primary school pupils have fallen far behind in the progress that they would normally be making. On 14th January French teachers organised a national strike against the inadequate measures taken by the French government to protect the education of students. The strike was supported by France’s largest parents association, the FCPE. They say there has been a lack of dialogue between the government and teachers with a resulting high level of infection among staff and pupils. Unions are demanding FFP2 face masks, and carbon dioxide monitors in classrooms to ensure sufficient ventilation.
In the UK the government’s hapless effort to control COVID are well known. The reluctance to take the necessary steps to contain the virus were ignored so that businesses could trade as normal, leading to, as The Observer of 16 January 2022 put it, the “grim” COVID death toll. Slow in imposing restrictions and the hopeless effect on education really exposed the government’s priorities. To make matters worse, the Labour Party failed to bring the Tories to account and were unable to put forward an alternative strategy. The Labour party now is preening itself with the news that a Conservative MP has defected to Labour, who has found “a home from home” with the Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, pledging that Labour is a party for business and celebrating socialists leaving en masse from it.
No doubt if Labour was in power, they would be showering money on private hospitals just like the Tories, who are giving £75 – £90 million a month to 10 private hospitals over the next three months whether or not they treat any patients. The NHS knew the deal did not value the money but was forced to sign it by Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary.
It now appears the NHS is being undermined from within. It has been revealed that many NHS consultants have shares in private hospital groups, in effect helping to privatise the NHS. The NHS today has to be renationalised but this time placed under workers control without compensation.
In the UK, as all COVID restrictions are now lifted, many are afraid that the Omicron variant is not being taken seriously enough. At the time of writing, there are four times the amount of COVID patients in hospitals as there was one month ago. As eight special Nightingale hospitals are being opened to cope with the surge it is expected that there will be more cases over the next few weeks. According to one doctor, the unvaccinated are getting extremely ill and 30 – 40% who end up on a ventilator will suffer a “very poor” outcome, often recovery time is measured in years.
Other countries are suffering the full impact of COVID with Germany, in January, having over 80,000 cases per day and a daily death toll of 400, the accumulated deaths now total 115,000. In the US, with only 62% of the population vaccinated, the figures for hospitalisation and death continue to rise.
But global capitalism has never allowed human tragedy to get in the way of profits. It is estimated that $29 billion was pumped into US digital health start-ups last year. They hope using technology will open up health needs and allow the skimming off of profits without too much cost outlay. Capitalism has had a good COVID. Private hospitals in the UK signed a £10 billion 4-year deal with the government to relieve the waiting lists resulting from COVID. While Rolls Royce has announced it has sold record numbers of luxury cars the grim truth is that it is the poorer countries that are being hit the worse by COVID.
- For the removal of vaccine patents across the world!
- End contracts with private companies and providers!
- Pharmaceuticals under workers control, for global health not for profit!
- Reverse all NHS privatisations and restore health services – under workers control!