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

Covid-19 out of the Spotlight, yet the Crisis Continues

Aug 1, 2022

Covid-19 is getting less attention these days from government officials and the media. Yet virtually everyone knows someone who’s gotten sick. While some levels of government have re-instituted mask mandates, others are saying they will ignore them.

Some of this is the result of people pushing back against government lockdowns and mandates, which the Republicans have seized upon to politicize the question and blame Democrats for the bad consequences of earlier policies. Yet no one attempts to get at how we got to this point, what is the root cause of the problem or what it would really have taken to prevent it from getting to this point or to truly solve it.

Instead, the politicians and the media promote the view that Covid-19 is now at the stage where it’s endemic rather than a pandemic. It’s something we supposedly simply need to live with. They want us to see it as something like the flu.

Except it’s not like the flu. The currently most common variant, the omicron BA.5 variant, is way more contagious than the flu. While deaths have remained relatively low compared with previous times, cases are on the rise and hospitalizations are rising with them. This would seem to indicate that rather than the current variant simply being less serious, improved treatments are preventing deaths, but even those who are vaccinated can experience symptoms serious enough to require hospitalization.

In fact, a new study from Portugal appears to confirm exactly that. It found that BA.5 cases were twice as likely to result from reinfections than among BA.2 cases. Booster vaccination only reduced the risk of hospitalization by 77% among those with BA.5 compared with 93% for those with BA.2.

And even though there are fewer deaths compared to the number of cases than before, there are enough new cases to produce as many deaths over a year’s time as around three to four yearly flu epidemics.

Yet despite the evidence, the bosses want us to act as if the pandemic is over, because they’re not about to do what would be required to really solve the problem. They’re not about to pay people what they would really need to stay home from work, or to properly ventilate workplaces or schools. They’re not going to provide proper daycare for children when they can’t go to school, so their mothers can go to work. They won’t make it easier and affordable for workers to have groceries delivered to their residences like more affluent people are able to do. They don’t even make sure vaccines are available everywhere in the world, which would be necessary to prevent new variants from arising on a regular basis.

The bosses complain that they can’t find workers and blame Covid-19 for everything from microchip shortages to the high price of gas. It’s a joke, except the consequences are anything but funny! The continuing pandemic is extremely disruptive to people’s lives. Many of those who’ve had the disease continue to experience chronic effects on their health. Even those who haven’t battle childcare problems, the effects of inflation, and even horrific depression.

It’s one among many ongoing crises that are part and parcel results of a system based on profit in the hands of the wealthy capitalist ruling class. If left in their hands, it will no doubt continue, if not worsen, in the period to come.