How does the health balance sheet look after one year of the pandemic? Well, 119m people (or just 2% of the world’s population) have been reported as infected, although if we include those who had no symptoms and those who did not report being ill, the figure is probably more like 15-20%. There have been 2.6m reported as having died of the disease. So that’s a case fatality ratio (CFR) of 2.2% globally. In some countries the CFR is way higher – Mexico’s CFR is close to 9%; Italy, the UK and South Africa CFRs are close to 3%. The variation is down to the age of those infected, the general health of the population and the resources and efficacy of the health systems in each country.
With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, ‘vaccine nationalism’ is only slightly more rife than the calls against it. The focus on ‘vaccine nationalism’ by critical thinkers and activists misses some key lessons of the pandemic elaborated in my October 2020 article, “Access to medical supplies and devices – the lesser known story of COVID-19 and medical monopoly.” This piece summarises my October 2020 piece and links it to new developments, most importantly, the need to organize for a ZERO-COVID approach to ending the pandemic.
A team of leading Finnish researchers had a patent-free COVID-19 vaccine ready last May, which could have allowed countries all over the world to inoculate their populations without paying top dollar. Yet rather than help the initiative, Finland’s government sided with Big Pharma — showing how a patent-based funding model puts profit over public health.
In the six decades of Cuban medical collaboration abroad, its health personnel have assisted 1,988 billion people in the world, almost a third of mankind, said Dr. Jorge Delgado Bustillo, director of the Central Unit for Medical Cooperation (UCCM).
The world has been preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has also affected policymakers everywhere. There is much more recognition today of the terrible effects of underfunding public health over decades and how this affects the resilience of economies and societies. Yet this official preoccupation with addressing the spread of infectious disease appears to have had an unanticipated negative effect: less policy attention to concerns of food security and hunger. Poor nutrition is a major underlying factor affecting overall health conditions as well as resistance to disease, yet politicians and global leaders seem to have taken their eyes off that particular ball.
If you’ve found yourself impulsively shopping online during quarantine, you’re not alone. And there’s no shame in it. But this is our corona-capitalist dystopia: purchasing things we may or may not need while desperately needed public services are left to rot.
Cargill runs Canada’s biggest meatpacking facility and obliged its workers to come in despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the company is facing a criminal investigation — the first of its kind — after the sadly predictable deaths of workers and their family members.
“I got out of the Marines and within a few years, 15 of my buddies had killed themselves,” one veteran rifleman who served two tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2011 said to me recently. “One minute they belonged and the next, they were out, and they couldn’t fit in. They had nowhere to work, no one who related to them. And they had these PTSD symptoms that made them react in ways other Americans didn’t.”
Over a century later, and over two decades after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis exposed the systemic financial fragility creating conditions for the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the reluctance to learn from the East continues, ignoring Prophet Muhammad’s advice to ‘seek knowledge, even unto China’.
The US Congress’ $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill was packaged with $1.4 trillion in omnibus spending that includes tens of billions for war, weapons, and regime change abroad, from anti-Russia and anti-China initiatives to $3.3 billion for Israel’s military.
Leigh Phillips | The jaw-dropping speed of COVID-19 vaccine development is a glorious marvel of science, cooperation, and economic planning — a glimpse of how much more an egalitarian world could produce and achieve. But the lifeboat ethics of vaccine rollout is a horrifying display of the inefficiency and cruelty of capitalism.
"Aggressive contact-tracing, targeted testing and strict quarantining had helped Vietnam halt an earlier contagion, but it is now racing to control infections in the central city and beyond after a new outbreak ended a run of more than three months without domestic transmission."
"At this cemetery the team must respect those rites. With relatives allowed to watch from a distance, a student from a local seminary leads prayers around each Muslim grave. Two Christians were recently buried here as well."
"Male chefs, taxi drivers, chauffeurs and bus and coach drivers and also had higher death rates, contrasting with men classed as having professional occupations - which typically require a university education - whose mortality rates involving COVID-19 was 5.6."
India has ordered all public and private sector employees use a government-backed contact tracing app and maintain social distancing in offices as it begins easing some of its lockdown measures in districts less affected by the coronavirus.