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

Shortage of Monkeypox Tests and Vaccines—All Too Familiar

Aug 15, 2022

As of mid-August, over 30,000 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed across the world. The United States accounts for nearly a third of these cases—far more than any other country.

Given the way the U.S. has dealt with the COVID pandemic, how could one possibly be surprised?

Testing for monkeypox, which is essential for understanding the scope and nature of the virus in order to properly address it, has been severely limited. Similar to COVID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) waited until monkeypox cases started to rise in the U.S. before even beginning to increase available testing. This is despite knowing full well that there was already an outbreak in other countries and that diseases know no borders. As one Harvard epidemiologist put it, “by not ramping up testing immediately, we’ve missed a really critical window of opportunity to bring the outbreak under control or at least to warn people.”

Also similar to the COVID crisis is the severe shortage of monkeypox vaccines. One significant difference is that scientists didn’t have to scramble to develop a vaccine for monkeypox, since one has already existed years before the recent outbreak. In fact, the U.S. at one point had over 20 million doses of the vaccine stored in this country, which they paid biotech company Bavarian Nordic to develop.

Yet by mid-May this year, nearly all of those vaccines were left to expire! Why? Because U.S. officials made no investment toward replenishing those vaccines. Money instead was handed out to Bavarian Nordic to create a newer vaccine, which after over a decade still hasn’t been fully developed.

The vaccine shortage is so bad that the U.S. government keeps lowering the dosage available to each person, thereby reducing the vaccine’s efficacy

The U.S. ruling class is already attempting to cover up its own criminal negligence by emphasizing the fact that monkeypox is currently being contracted almost exclusively by gay and bisexual men. It’s an attempt to give the rest of the population a false sense of protection from the virus, while stirring up anti-gay sentiments, similar to what happened during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The reality is that without swift preventative action, monkeypox can very well spread more broadly to the general population, like many other diseases.

We’ve already learned from the COVID pandemic the importance of prompt and thorough testing for rapidly spreading viruses, as well as vaccinating the population as quickly as possible in order prevent an outbreak. The material means and logistical decisions surrounding these social problems aren’t in the hands of those scientists and health workers who do the work necessary to make this a reality, however. Otherwise, the countless number of lives affected by the recent health crises could have been avoided.

Instead, the U.S. healthcare system is ruled over and organized by corporations and their government lackeys on the basis of maximizing their profits. The only way we can fundamentally protect our well-being is by putting us, the working class, in charge of running this society, for the collective interests of all.