Infection rates are once again soaring across Europe, with the delta variant driving a new wave that is threatening to claim half a million lives in a few months. How has this happened? What can we do?
Europe is in the first moments of a new wave of Covid
Germany. Evolution of confirmed Covid cases.
Across Europe as a whole, the expectation is for another hospital disaster and the massacre of half a million people between now and February. After a continued rise in infections, Ireland has severely strained hospitals because of the new wave of Covid and is accelerating the distribution of "vaccine booster doses" among the population. Austria is already confining the unvaccinated. The Netherlands are under partial lockdowns. In Italy, they expect 30,000 infected a day by the end of the year and the government has called for a "Saving Christmas" effort...
In Germany, incidence is already above 300, the highest since the pandemic began. ICUs, which have been very strained for weeks, threaten collapse in such major cities as Munich. Other industrial centers, such as Saxony, expect a significantly higher death toll than last winter. And the federal government is rearranging everything to empty offices and encourage telecommuting. The Leopoldina Institute, which has been the government's adviser until now had for weeks been denouncing the government inaction and calling for concrete measures.
In Spain, the priority lies elsewhere. With incidence rates rising to 82, the government has preferred to modify the "Covid traffic light" by raising the incidence criteria. The important thing, once again, seems to be to avoid alarm and costs to capital and the state of hospitality businesses and preventive medicine (third doses), not deaths.
And while these are the large European countries with relatively successful vaccination campaigns, in the East the situation is downright catastrophic. Especially in Romania and Bulgaria, the countries in which anti-vaccine denialism has managed to achieve a majority.
How could it happen?
A physician protests demanding more than a temporary patent waiver
Vaccination campaigns and lockdowns are the primary way to deal with the pandemic.
Lockdowns and restrictions on social contact have been insufficient from the outset and followed by hasty deconfinements that revealed the real priorities: saving the profitability of capital rather than saving lives.
In Europe, on the other hand, vaccination has been undermined by its non-compulsory character and the crazed drift of a petty bourgeoisie which, in a significant portion, has embraced denialism -often in a violent way- without meeting any real resistance from the state and showed all the filth its ideological tradition actually held.
But, as we have been pointing out from the beginning, the main point is that a pandemic means a global crisis, and the bourgeoisie is incapable of organizing any universal answers to universal problems.
The bourgeois classes from the bureaucracy ruling in Cuba to the Spanish petty bourgeoisie via corporate leaders and politicians around the world, have national interests, that is, they aim to keep national capital functioning at all costs. At the expense of other capitals -imperialism- but above all, at our expense. They all did the same thing. And none seriously even attempted to approach it as a global problem and seek minimally effective global responses. The battles for and at the WHO proved that in spades.
On the contrary, the bourgeoisie has turned the origin of the disease into an excuse for an excuse for imperialist propaganda war and the supposed "incentive" of the intellectual property of vaccines into the driver of a global shortage.
Pfizer restricted access to the Biontech vaccine to semi-colonial countries, Moderna refused to share process know-how and thus to produce outside its own factories. The WHO is even warning of a syringe shortage for all types of vaccinations due to the hoarding of the most capitalized countries (USA, EU, China...).
Will the pandemic ever end
London: "Please believe these days will pass". A message typical of a dictatorship that always pursues our passivity.
The persistence of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants are not only the result of the incompatibility between (capital) growth and (human) development, they are an expression of the growing antagonism between the maintenance of the system and human life itself. Indeed, the same antagonism that we see in the "politics of post-covid recovery", the trends towards massive imperialist war or climate change.
Only a universally extended class and 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 it to be otherwise is to trust that it will exhaust itself by destroying thousands of lives over years or even decades. It is the equivalent of fighting wars patiently waiting for them to end on their own.
No patience will do.