The Guardian • Issue #1972

Ideology before health

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the failures of capitalism and its neoliberal policies. The privatisation of health systems, social security, education, airlines, banks and most of the publicly-owned assets meant governments were not able to properly deal with a health crisis triggered by COVID-19.

Close to five million lives worldwide, particularly in developing countries but also in several developed economies like the United States and European countries, have been lost.

The response from capitalist states has been to save the economy at the expense of workers’ health and safety.

Recent experiences in Australia of tight border restrictions in WA and hard lockdowns in Victoria and South Australia have proven effective in stopping the Delta variant of the virus.

NSW delayed and then implemented a soft approach to the emergency costing lives, with the situation still critical and being recognised as a national emergency. Workers whose livelyhoods were directly affected by this wrong approach have been dealt an extra punishment. Any concessions from government to offset this have been led by the union movement.

The Australian government’s lack of foresight and planning has meant we were unprepared for the delta variant, something which should have been anticipated amidst warnings from experts. Ideology before health has been the pattern of the Morrison government policy on vaccination. The Coalition government didn’t act quickly enough in 2020 to secure contracts for vaccine supplies. It is now clear that the approach was based on ideology before health as the choices were made to rely heavily on the cheaper AstraZeneca vaccine. Other options were explored but the Australian people have no accessibility to vaccines available in the international market like the Sputnik V, Sinovax and others that that have proven to be effective with widespread use in a number of countries.

There has now been a realisation from the government that workers are essential to keep the economy moving. However, despite this realisation, the lack of rigour from the Australian government sees workers required to work without a proper vaccination program to take care of our front-line workers, let alone other workers.

Drive-ins and a simple no-booking system should immediately be implemented. Feedback suggests online pre-booking systems discourages many people from choosing to inoculate.

Irresponsible media publicity against AstraZeneca killed that as an option as many people fear blood clotting despite its rarity. So, we are left with a shortage of Pfizer that cannot be manufactured in Australia. Developing countries as well as Australia are blocked from producing Pfizer. A finger can be pointed at the Coalition government – it is a consequence impacting Australia from the ideological decision not to support the lifting of patents that many countries have called for. This saw Australia in the minority amongst around 100 other countries that supported global cooperation in the form of patent waivers on COVID-19 vaccines. There has been little solidarity among developed and developing countries and people. Capitalism shows once again it is a system based on individualism, selfishness and money-making.

Chief Health officers can surely see this and should not be held at ransom by ideological decisions made by governments.

All of this can be contrasted against what is happening in socialist countries such as China, where the pandemic is being successfully controlled and the vaccination process is advancing very well. Despite the aggressive US blockade, Cuba has developed and produced several candidate vaccines with its Abdala and Soberana vaccines now in use with more than twenty per cent of its 11mil people vaccinated on a three shot scheme. Vietnam is managing well and getting on track with discipline by its people. The DPRK has also reported a good outcome in controlling the virus entering their borders. These countries face economic and other sanctions, but their people’s centred policies are proving successful.

The Communist Party of Australia demands a proper vaccination rollout for those willing to have it and COVID-19 income support for all those trapped in lengthy lockdowns. No one should be left behind.

The CPA demands can be found in the CPA statement above.

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