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Issue #1917      June 1, 2020


Researchers in China are making great strides towards developing a vaccine for COVID-19. An article published on 22 May in The Lancet revealed that a vaccine trialled in Wuhan “is tolerable and immunogenic at 28 days post-vaccination.”

Adverse effects from the vaccine are minimal, with around half of the trial participants reporting mild to moderate pain around the injection site in the days following the vaccination. Some patients also reported fatigue and headaches, while others presented with a mild fever. Further testing and refinement are required before the vaccine is declared viable.

The development of a COVID-19 vaccine by China is absolutely critical in the fight against the global pandemic. Chinese authorities have stated that any vaccine developed in China will be made freely available throughout the world.

On the other hand, the US has shown that it will seek to profit from any vaccine developed within its borders. In March, German newspaper Die Welt reported that the Trump regime had offered “large sums of money” to German company CureVac to move its research wing to the US. The purpose of this attempt was to ensure that the vaccine would be made available exclusively to the US.

If China is successful in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, we can expect to see several reactions from the western chauvinist media.

There will be claims that China rushed the vaccine for the sake of PR and that China’s only motivation for developing the vaccine was to gain support for their ideology. (Even if we allow for this to be true, is this worse than the blatant profiteering of the US?) On the other side of the same coin will be those who claim that China ought to be developing the vaccine, since they “caused” the outbreak in the first place.

There will be concerns raised over human rights violations throughout the testing process. Pearl-clutching columnists will weep over the poor Chinese citizens who were no doubt forced into vaccine trials and who suffered horribly at the hands of heartless Chinese doctors. They will speculate about the long-term medical effects of the vaccine, while conveniently forgetting the well-documented history of western pharmaceutical companies deliberately testing toxic drugs on poor and indigenous people around the world, often without their consent.

And, at the far edge of the spectrum, there will be panic over what China is “putting in” the vaccine. Theories will abound over the implantation of RFID tracking chips or the injection of mind control drugs. This sounds like pure nonsense until one remembers the recent protests against the erection of 5G towers on the basis that, among other things, the towers allegedly spread coronavirus. Such is the state of contemporary political discourse.

Regardless of these reactions, the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in China is an objective good that will mean the difference between saving hundreds of thousands of lives or lining the pockets of pharmaceutical executives. Just as the pandemic has exposed the failure of capitalism to provide basic human needs, our trajectory out of the crisis will be significantly impacted by the development of a vaccine either as a public service or for profit.

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