Covid mutations and the inability of the system to respond to a pandemic

20 January, 2021 · News> Global situation

Cover of Der Spiegel. Covid variants increasingly concern European press.

First came the mutation discovered in Great Britain. Then, another one was discovered in South Africa and an additional one in the Brazilian Amazon. Immediately, scientists became concerned that the new variants would lower the immune response and that existing vaccines would fail to protect against them. An eventuality that seems to be nearly confirmed in the case of the South African mutation.

The new mutations are more contagious -up to 56% more- and are becoming hegemonic, rapidly displacing the previous strains. In South Africa, the new variant already accounts for 90% of infections. Epidemiologists recommend thinking and acting as if it were a new pandemic, since the containment methods used so far and the vaccination itself can soon be jeopardized. And they say something especially important:

Many virologists do not believe it is a coincidence that these types of mutations have emerged in parts of the world that largely failed to deal with the first wave of the virus, areas such as South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Manaus in Brazil, places with poor medical care and considerable poverty.

Can We Stop a Super Coronavirus?, Spiegel

The need for a universal response…

In other words: the new variants, which are about to spoil the few supports of what is already a dramatic situation, are the direct result of the inability to provide a universal answer to a universal problem. The world of the ruling class with its more or less coordinated national instruments, more or less overwhelmed and more or less insufficient health systems, cannot respond to a pandemic of these dimensions.

The main lesson that the development of the epidemic will leave for us workers is that the threats we face as a class are global: the virus, like the crisis, knows no borders, and what happens in each place will affect the rest. There are simply no national solutions. We cannot even expect “coordination”; the interests of each national capital prevent the ruling classes from providing truly global solutions. They will always have incentives to “wait a little longer”, to urge us to “go on with normal life” first and then to “individual responsibility”… as long as they do not lose their competitive situation.

Saving lives, not investments, Emancipation communiqué, 14/3/2020

…the reality of a ruling class whose objectives have become incompatible with the needs of the species

The governments’ answer is, once again, to shut their eyes tightly: in Spain Simón declared, against all evidence, that the potential victims were a very controlled risk group and the minister assured that they will keep studying the issue. One could not expect much more. They are the same ones who, as long as the bars did not go bankrupt and ended up causing a problem of non-payment to the banks, kept an obviously insufficient level of restrictions giving way to a new massacre in November.

Meanwhile, Brussels em>strongly recommends not to close the borders between EU countries. The same logic now with consequences on a continental scale: trade first, lives later. Everything is aggravated and distorted by an imperialist competition between states that has not weakened for a minute. It is very possible that even the development of the vaccine has been deformed by the competing interests of different national capitals.

As much as epidemiologists recommend thinking and acting as if it were a new pandemic, the ruling clas is not going to change course. They believe that if anything went wrong in March it was not because they delayed the lockdown and did not bring the measures to their logical conclusion, condemning us to a hellish cycle of peaks and waves of endless slaughter. No, they believe that the mistake was their failure to implement the new normality from the very beginning. A normality that is nothing more than sustaining accumulation no matter what and as long the previous level of dividends is not recovered. As in war, the goals of the system, which are those of the states and their governments, have been shown to be openly contradictory to the most basic human need: life.

Only the universal class can provide a universal answer

The new Covid variants are the product of that same contradiction on a global scale. The bourgeois classes, from the reigning bureaucracy in Cuba to the Spanish petty bourgeoisie, as well as corporate leaders and politicians throughout the world, have national interests, that is, they aim to keep national capital functioning at all costs. At the expense of other capitals -that which we call imperialism- but above all, at our expense. They all did the same. And none seriously tried to even approach the pandemic as a global problem and seek minimally effective global responses. The battles for and at the WHO clearly demonstrated this.

Only a universally extended class whose interests are not particular but universal, generic, indistinguishable from those of the species as a whole, can respond to a pandemic of global dimensions. To expect things to happen otherwise is to expect the pandemic to exhaust itself by destroying thousands of lives over years or even decades. It is the equivalent of fighting wars while patiently waiting for them to end on their own. No amount of patience will do. It is time to apply worldwide what we have already learned at immense cost, to stand up to the primacy of investments over lives, and to impose the closure of all non-essential activity.

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