Covid-19 vaccine in 2021: A blessing or a threat to mankind?

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Covid-19 vaccine in 2021

The year of hope. Yes, they are calling 2021 the year of hope. “They”, ie, our hyper-consumerist urban middle-class and elites. It’s not an Indian phenomenon per se. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, globally the middle-class, the driving force behind the market economy, remained inside their homes during the lockdown and harped on whatever essentials they needed. Many of them lost their jobs, but most of them kept the hope that 2021 will change their lives as there will be a vaccine for Covid-19 pandemic and they can return to their lives normally. They mean, they can party again. 

Vaccine and 2021 are synonymous in the present scenario. It’s for the first time the world has been waiting anxiously for a vaccine. So far deadliest diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, AIDS, etc, have ravaged the world. Heart attack kills millions globally. Hypertension and diabetes are some of the deadliest diseases that spare none at present. Yet, no discussion had ever taken place over developing a system that will prevent these diseases by immunising the human body against them. Tuberculosis affected 2.69 million in India in 2018 and 449,700 died due to it. Despite it being a highly contagious one, there have been no attempts to develop an effective treatment for tuberculosis because it strikes mostly the poor.

Covid-19, outside China, has been largely a middle-class disease. It has mostly affected the urban middle-class and elites in countries like India. Despite having 10 million cumulative cases, a country like India has only 1.45% death ratio from Covid-19. However, even this number doesn’t mean that the victims died purely of the Novel Coronavirus. Rather, most deaths took place due to comorbidities from which the victims suffered. It’s alleged that the Covid-19 virus has the power to affect the vital organs if they have any pre-conditions. 

Due to their socially-divorced, sedentary lifestyle and their utmost cocooning within the fold of immense comfort, the urban middle-class and the elites, who are divorced from the soil and nature, except for the artificial “nature” they have created within their walled neighbourhoods, have become prone to all sort of lifestyle and virus-triggered diseases. It’s a reason most middle-class and elite society members are either suffering due to lifestyle diseases since a young age or are susceptible to them despite their utmost strict “physical fitness” regime. 

While the poor, despite suffering hardships and hunger, in a country like India, survived the wrath of the Covid-19, the rich and the middle-class, who have been consuming “healthy food” following what’s advertised by capitalism as “good” on a global scale and marketed by their influencers, have suffered the most due to the Covid-19 infection. While the virus itself is insignificant and can’t kill a healthy body, the presence of one or many lifestyle diseases aggravates the chance of death. Thus, the poor, especially the tribal masses, the Dalits, the backward classes, the poor minority communities like Muslims, etc, have remained relatively safe, even when they suffered due to the community transmission of the virus.

The Covid-19—a version of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome but with less fatality vis-à-vis the normal 3%—has been marketed as a severe health threat by the international monopoly-finance capital for several reasons. The fear around Covid-19, which killed fewer people vis-à-vis other communicable and infectious diseases, especially tuberculosis, has been hyped with a cunning motive, ignoring which we won’t be able to diagnose the bigger problem or effectively fight against it. 

Since the 2008 US Subprime Crisis, the grotesque wounds of the global monopoly-finance capitalist system under the Wall Street-controlled “globalised world” model became prominently visible. The US-controlled world economy started sulking in an abysmal crisis and despite launching wars in Libya, Syria, etc, and upping the ante against Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, etc, and building a nexus to contain China’s rise as a superpower, the imminent crisis of capitalism couldn’t be prevented from aggravating. This was also the case in India. The very country that has become the haven for imperialist loot and plunder.

The World Bank’s GDP calculation of India based on the 2010 US dollar, shows that the growth was high from the financial year (FY) 2003-04 to 2006-07. If we refer to Figure A, we will see how the crisis in the US affected India’s GDP growth despite the country remaining a favourite destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) players and foreign institutional investors (FIIs).

Figure A

While the GDP grew at 8.06% in the FY 2006-07, it declined to 7.66% in the FY 2007-08 and, in the FY 2008-09 it ended up at 3.08% only. Though there was a quick recovery in the FY 2010-11, when the GDP grew at 8.50%—third highest after the FYs 1988-89 and 1999-00 when the economy grew at 9.63% and 8.85% respectively—but only 5.24% in the FY 2011-12. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed a majority government, the big capital expected speedy reforms and it acted as a spur, causing the GDP to grow.

In the FY 2014-15, while the GDP grew at 7.41%, a 1.02 percentage point growth from 6.39% of the FY 2013-14. The positivity stayed for two consecutive FYs, 2015-16 and 2016-17, especially until the second quarter (Q2) of the latter. In the FY 2015-16, the GDP grew at 8% and in the FY 2016-17, it reached 8.66% but the disastrous economic decision of demonetisation struck the economy hard, which, along with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the Modi regime in the Q2 of the FY 2017-18 began aggravating an unforeseen economic crisis.

By the FY 2019-20, the GDP growth fell to 4.18% and now, thanks to the lockdown and related shocks, it’s expected that the Indian economy will contract by 9.61%. Now the steady decline in the GDP growth, which never reached the 2010 stage or exceeded it, was caused by internal and external factors but for everything, the US-based global finance and monopoly capital has been responsible. 

It’s the big banks and institutions that forced the Modi regime to toe the line of the USAID and run the demonetisation drive to weaken India’s medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs). The GST rollout drove out small businesses that couldn’t afford the complex taxation regime, unlike the corporate houses that could. These decisions helped to destroy the MSMEs and unorganised sector of the Indian economy, fuelling unemployment, which caused a massive slump in consumption and thereby affected demand, resulting in a severe economic recession.

In sectors like automobile, a massive crisis reigned from the FY 2017-18 until the Q4 of the FY 2019-20. The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) also saw a steady decline. According to the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO’s) periodic labour force survey (PLFS), unemployment reached a 45-year-high in 2017-18. This PLFS by the NSSO irked the Modi regime and by 2019, a diktat was placed to stop all government institutions from publishing data or information that can cause ignominy. 

While unemployment remained high throughout 2019, but rather than addressing the demand-side problem, caused by the lack of expendable income in the hands of the people, the government kept fixing the supply side. It gave massive tax breaks to corporate houses, allowing them to stockpile more wealth than ever while turning the working class into semi-paupers. The wealth gap increased manifold. This wasn’t purely an Indian problem. Globally, the monopoly-finance capitalist system has been suffering since the 2009 US Subprime Crisis.

The lack of a “bubble” that can help finance capital to steadily multiply its profit kept most of the capital either locked up in the vaults or were invested in selected stocks. The Bitcoin bubble attracted a large number of speculative investors, as it went on towards becoming a “bubble”, but it didn’t remain one for long. At the same time, lack of demand globally, caused by the US Subprime Crisis’s global roll-over, the Greek Debt Crisis, the crisis in Spain, in Latin America, the Brexit crisis, etc, along with a severe setback to the US imperialism-led coalition in the Syrian War, caused a devastating crisis for the global monopoly-finance capital system.

When the first cases of the Covid-19 were found in Wuhan of China, it didn’t make much of a news. In January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) took cognisance of the cases and in February the eerie alarm began ringing. But the US, the UK, Brazil and India remained nonchalant about the alarming “pandemic” warning of the WHO. It was only considered by them later. Without pondering much, the lockdown, which China used effectively to control the pandemic in January 2020, was considered as a solution to the virus. Globally, the lockdown was replicated and economies came to a standstill. The virus has been magnified in connivance with the WHO—which acted as an imperialist pawn—to create a fear psychosis and turn the middle-class and the elites of the world, who have been the principal victims of the virus outside China, to become extremely paranoid and accept any solution that the governments offer, uncritically.

It was on Monday, March 11th 2020, when the Covid-19 had acquired global fame and the fear was growing among the middle-class and the elites, that the pharma major Pfizer declared that its parent company has found some “anti-viral compounds” that can inhibit Coronavirus. Pfizer’s Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten met US President Donald Trump at the White House on the same day along with other pharma honchos and then, on Tuesday, March 12th 2020, the share prices of Pfizer in India soared by 13.09% due to the news. It wasn’t a promise of a cure or a vaccine, but an assurance that by the end of 2020, the company will come out with something! The reaction of the market confirmed what the big monopoly-finance capital planned. 

Pfizer’s share price soaring showed the pharma world and the global monopoly-finance capital that vaccine can be a new bubble. The vaccine plan was drafted by the international monopoly-finance capital and globally, it was accepted as a solution without any serious scientific challenge to the loosely-organised theory, developed without prolonged trial and error phase to weed out threats before being used to immunise the people from the flu, which can’t kill on its own. 

Despite objections raised by many scientists and medical practitioners, who are fighting against the global pharma majors’ attempt to fill-up the lack of “innovative drugs” patent with the introduction of Covid-19 vaccines, the cacophony created by the monopoly-finance capital and amplified by their servile lackeys like the Modi regime in India or the US Democrats, the illogical vaccine story gained traction. The paranoid, consumerist middle-class and elites, after losing the opportunity to go out for months, began frantically demanding a vaccine for the virus, without questioning its necessity when in a country like India, with a dilapidated public healthcare system, the death rate due to Covid-19 has only 1.45%, that too due to comorbidity mostly.

No questions have been raised by the mainstream press over why there has been a system-generated paranoia on Covid-19, when the deadliest diseases that kill more than the flu, remain undiscussed. In countries like India, where the inhumane lockdown, which was called a cure for Covid-19, is now blamed for the economic crisis resulting in an estimated 9.6% contraction in the economy for the FY 2020-21, no comparative studies are undertaken to check how many people would die daily due to the same conditions, which are blamed as “comorbidity” due to Covid-19. No analysis has been done based on the cause of death by segregating the number of death caused by the Coronavirus alone, sans comorbidity. Also, no studies are done to analyse the conditions that led to the death of patients suffering from comorbidity–whether they could’ve survived without the complications created by Coronavirus or they’d have succumbed. 

Such studies wouldn’t have just provided a deeper insight into the issue of the Covid-19 “pandemic” but it would’ve helped to allay the fear of the flu, which doesn’t have a lethal power on its own. The virus, which can be killed by crushing its fatty outer layer by rubbing alcohol or using soap, can be prevented by following a set of hygiene practices like washing the hands at regular intervals, preventing touching eyes and mouth and by wearing a mask in public places to prevent one’s sneezing or coughing to spread the virus immediately to someone close. Also, it needs treatment.

Rather than developing medicines for the disease, which would cure the patient, why the emphasis is laid on the vaccine? Is it because the cost of the vaccine, which will be borne by the governments of different countries and also by individuals, will give a golden opportunity to the big corporate houses that have stakes in the pharma industry, to fill their coffers with immense profits? Is the “need” for the vaccine created through a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign to ensure the public exchequers are emptied to pay big pharma companies for some vaccines that aren’t tested over a long period for their efficacy and reactions? Can the people of the world be made guinea pigs for the sake of profiteering by big pharma giants?

There are questions related to the Covid-19 vaccine and the activities of the governments around the world, especially the Modi regime in India, evoke doubts. Recently, Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) Dr VG Somani said the “vaccines are 110% safe” while quelling apprehensions about them during a press conference. In the scientific parlance, nothing is beyond 99.9% safe. The extra assurance by the DGCI, who should be extra sceptical about the drugs rolled out, also evokes doubts about the vaccines, which will be given to 300m Indians in the first phase of vaccination.

Spending Rs 100 billion, the Modi regime plans to vaccinate 10 million healthcare workers, 20 million “frontline workers” and 270 million Indians above 50 years of age, especially those with comorbidities like kidney, liver ailments, diabetes, etc. To do this segregation, the Modi regime can use the Aadhaar data, which threatens people's right to privacy.  

The Covid-19 vaccine’s threat is a real one and bigger than the virus itself. It shows how global monopoly-finance capital can use a “health threat” to jeopardise people’s health. It shows the power of fear marketing by the successors of Edward Bernays. What the world needs is a robust and universal public healthcare system, a lot of effective generic drugs and a lot of healthcare professionals prepared through rigorous public-funded education to man the healthcare facilities and deal with exigencies, including pandemics. The governments must focus on this. It’s time we should seriously and critically think and act against this vaccine threat.

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