Damian Grant writing in Stuff confirms his skepticism with bad logic. His claim of the “inevitable failure of these methods” of elimination of Covid currently in place in Aotearoa/NZ is not established. Failure is not even ‘Inevitable’ under free market capitalism where public health never existed or has been destroyed allowing new viruses to explode. The history of public health shows that our ability to eliminate diseases successfully, despite the profit motive, gives us confidence that humanity can survive pandemics long enough to abolish the ultimate cause that threatens our species survival.
Public health was built by socialist resistance to laissez faire capitalism. The first legislation against terrible working conditions in Britain, such as those of women and children, came in the 19th century along with reforms to improve the social conditions causing disease to spread. Unions and mass movements were the driving forces overcoming the narrow individual interests of employers in parliament. The result was that health and safety regulations became incorporated into labour law.
In the 20th century prevention and containment of pandemics by quarantine was revolutionized by vaccines. Notably Cholera and Influenza arising out of WW1. Medical science allowed public heath to eliminate many diseases, such as smallpox, measles, polio, but the return of naked capitalism as neoliberal austerity in the 1980s, has allowed some of them to return as the ‘diseases of the poor’.
Since the onset of the long structural crisis of capitalism began in the 1970s the rip, shit and bust methods of exploitation of nature have not only supercharged climate change, but forced zoonotic jumps of viruses into humans. Aids, Ebola and Sars 1 are the most recent examples. Each posed a major threat of a pandemic and effective vaccines took some time to develop.
The mRNA vaccines against Sars-Covd-2 developed in record time and are a immunological breakthrough. They have already proven safe and effective when measured against real world results. They do not provide complete immunity from infection or reinfection but do dramatically reduce its severity, measured as hospitalization and death rates.
How effective are COVID-19 vaccines in the real-world?
The fact that Sars 2 has mutated to Delta+ virulent enough to ‘breakthrough’ the best mRNA vaccines to cause infection is the measure of how far capitalism has destroyed the conditions for our existence. It is not a measure of defeat but of what we must do to reverse this process.
We have to win against the logic of this capitalocene ‘un-natural’ selection. Abandoning elimination and opting for a build up of natural immunity under today’s conditions is insanity. It is not ‘humans’ that have the hubris to “control” nature. Rather capitalism can only exist by destroying nature. So the notion of reaching an ‘equilibrium’ with Sars 2 is under global capitalism in terminal crisis is a fantasy.
One doesn’t need to imagine a scenario where Sars 2 is allowed to run rampant. It is happening across large parts of the world. If attempts at elimination are rejected, further mutations will develop ahead of any natural immunity in humans causing a global holocaust. The masses must build a socialist movement for a workers’ government and develop the science and technology to defeat the worst diseases that capitalism can throw at us, while we mobilise to get rid of capitalism itself.
Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist blogger