The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

A Nightmare for Poor Countries

May 10, 2021

The following is reprinted from Lutte Ouvrière, the journal of the revolutionary group of the same name, active in France.

For a little over a year, we have known that the new coronavirus has been circulating all over the planet, completely insensitive to borders, multiplying at will in unvaccinated populations.

We will therefore only be able to get out of this pandemic at the scale of all of humanity, and the fight cannot be won as long as there are epidemic centers. For more than ten months, we have discovered and developed the vaccines necessary to win the battle, and yet ... Entire countries, large areas of the planet, have no or very few doses—for the one and only reason that they are poor and that vaccines are commodities like any other.

In France alone, by Sunday April 25, 14 million people had received at least a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus—a little more than 20% of the population. A few days earlier, Emmanuel Macron trumpeted the sending to West African countries of ... 100,000 doses of vaccine!

A few months after the start of the pandemic, the richest states, first the United States and then the European states, poured floods of money on the laboratories of the pharmaceutical industry. As of February 2020, Trump offered them 10 billion dollars in order, he said, to fund research. Then the richest states bought in advance, and at a high price, astronomical quantities—4.6 billion doses for a total population that barely exceeds one billion—of vaccines that were still only hopes. Tens of billions of dollars and euros have thus flowed in to the laboratories of the big pharmaceutical industry.

At the same time, the so-called Covax program was set up by the World Health Organization, which had to discuss it with pharmaceutical companies, to negotiate, buy and distribute the doses thus obtained among poor countries. One year later, the noble objective declared by Covax of "guaranteeing fair and equitable access for all countries of the world" is obviously very far from being achieved.

Indeed, while the vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 began in December 2020 and a billion doses have been administered worldwide, Covax has only distributed 40 million doses—only 4% of the total doses injected in the world. In rich countries, on average, one in four people is vaccinated. In poor countries, it is one in five hundred.

The vast majority of the world’s population therefore has no vaccine. Nor does it have a sufficient quantity of screening tests of any kind, neither respirators nor oxygen nor even sanitary equipment worthy of the name. A real nightmare for the poorest populations, created by imperialism.