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

The Population of Poor Countries Delivered to the Virus

Jun 21, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a program called Covax to immunize one billion people in poor countries by the end of 2021. But so far, less than 40 million people have been.

The leaders of the great powers have made big statements about the necessary global fight against the virus, but they are leaving these countries to be ravaged by the epidemic. Covax lacks everything, first of all money. Billions of dollars have been pledged by rich countries, oil emirates, companies or private foundations. These donations were highly publicized but were only promises.

At the end of May, the WHO announced that it needed two billion dollars before June 2 to be able to secure its vaccine supply contracts from laboratories such as Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Funding needs are such that UNICEF launched an appeal to the general public, explaining that 3 euros can buy a dose of vaccine at cost.

In reality, the cost price relates only to doses intended for the poorest countries. For those intended for so-called developing countries, Covax is only entitled to a reduction, the laboratories still preserving a profit margin.

To this were added the consequences of the explosion of the epidemic in India. This country is the world’s largest vaccine producer, and it was supposed to deliver half of its production to Covax. But since March, all production has remained in India. So since then, all vaccination plans in other poor countries have been suspended. However, the turn taken by the epidemic is as catastrophic in those places as in India, especially in South Asia and in certain countries of Latin America.

Faced with the emergency, the director general of the WHO has just asked the rich countries to deliver to Covax the doses they had promised. The United States, the country that has bought the most doses in the world, more than the country’s population, has so far delivered none, and has just announced that it will donate 80 million by the end June. The WHO has also asked laboratories that Covax recover 50% of the doses produced which have already been paid for.

In these countries where health systems are almost non-existent, where the number of recovery beds is extremely low—when there are any at all, the vaccine is the only solution to prevent deaths. But even caregivers cannot be vaccinated. And there is other collateral damage. The lack of investment by large pharmaceutical companies has created a shortage of so-called routine vaccines, such as those against measles or polio. Eighty million children under the age of one have not received their vaccinations. And already there are measles outbreaks in Pakistan, Congo and Yemen.

The WHO begs the leaders of the great powers and pharmaceutical companies, reminding them that borders do not stop the virus, but to no avail. In fact, hundreds of thousands more deaths are already predicted. Not only because of a virus and its mutations, but also because of the greed of the shareholders of the pharmaceutical trusts, the carelessness of the leaders of the rich countries—and the underdevelopment, the result of decades of imperialist domination.