Coronavirus and global health care

This 27 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Mike Pence Attempts To Fix Trump’s Coronavirus Gaffes

What is Trump doing about the threat of the coronavirus in the United States? John Iadarola, Emma Vigeland, and Jayar Jackson, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

TRUMP TAPS PENCE TO LEAD CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE President Donald Trump tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead the country’s response to the coronavirus and told Americans that the risk of infection remained low, despite warnings from public health officials that it is only a matter of time before the disease spreads in the U.S. “We’re very, very ready for this, for anything, whether it’s going to be a breakout of larger proportions or whether it’s not,” Trump said. [HuffPost]

‘SCIENCE DENIER’ IN CHARGE OF OUTBREAK Critics are pointing out that Pence, tapped by Trump to lead the U.S. coronavirus response, once called global warming a “myth”, downplayed the health risks of smoking, and as governor of Indiana, led his state into an HIV crisis by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood and initially opposing needle exchange programs. In addition, Pence has no medical experience. [HuffPost]

Mike Pence’s Defining Moment As Governor? Enabling An HIV Outbreak: here.

By Alex Lantier in France:

The coronavirus pandemic and the need for global socialized medicine

27 February 2020

The coronavirus outbreak that began last December in Wuhan, China, has escalated into a global pandemic, requiring a coordinated international response to avert catastrophe. A planned, rational deployment of worldwide medical and industrial resources is essential to keep the disease from potentially claiming millions of lives.

The danger of an outbreak of infectious, untreatable and potentially fatal viral outbreaks causing pneumonia has been known for decades. Two different coronaviruses caused regional outbreaks, SARS in 2002–2004 mainly in China, and MERS in 2012–2014 mainly in Saudi Arabia. However, while SARS claimed 774 lives after infecting 8,000 people, and MERS killed 886 after infecting 2519 over two years, the highly contagious Wuhan coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is spreading worldwide, infecting 81,296 and killing 2,770 in barely two months.

Major outbreaks are surging not only in East Asia, but in Europe and the Middle East, with 383 cases in Italy and at least 139 in Iran. China has managed to significantly slow the disease’s spread, limiting the number of cases to 78,073, with draconian measures to place hundreds of millions of people under lockdown and shut down much of its economy. However, it is apparent we are only in the initial stages of a global epidemic.

Initially, officials in the United States and internationally tried to downplay the new virus. Even yesterday, President Donald Trump—speaking for the broad sections of the financial aristocracy who look no further than their stock portfolios—took to Twitter to ignorantly berate the media for trying “to make the Caronavirus [sic] look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”

On Wednesday night, Trump gave a rambling news conference in which he alternatively downplayed the severity of the disease, shamelessly praised himself and his government for their response, and denounced his political opponents.

Such ignorant and irresponsible comments notwithstanding, this coronavirus is a highly dangerous and deadly disease. Fully eight percent (2,770) of the 33,129 detected cases no longer under treatment have ended in death. Of the 48,167 detected cases still battling the disease, 8,867 (18 percent) are in serious or critical condition—kept alive by intensive care and access to artificial ventilation and oxygenation requiring attention from multiple dedicated medical staff for each patient.

Moreover, World Health Organization (WHO) advisor and University of Florida professor Ira Longini told Bloomberg News epidemiological models show that without aggressive measures to contain the virus, up to “one third of the world” could catch the disease. This could overwhelm hospitals worldwide—even in the advanced capitalist countries—with millions of desperately ill, highly contagious patients.

This danger is all the greater as the disease spreads to Middle Eastern and African countries whose hospitals lack high technology, or have been devastated by decades of imperialist occupations, civil wars, or—in the case of Iran—vindictive US and European sanctions.

An internationally-coordinated response is essential to prevent the pandemic from devastating humanity. It is critical that the world’s health system be able to isolate patients, limit the speed of the disease’s spread, and devote the necessary resources to provide intensive care for those patients who develop pneumonia from the infection. The production and use of necessary treatments and medical equipment cannot be subordinated to the diktat of the financial markets and the profit motive, or to imperialist war policies.

Modern science provides medicine with tools of enormous power against the disease. The contrast with previous global pandemics, like the 1918 flu epidemic, could not be starker. Only two months into the pandemic, we have vast knowledge of the virus: its internal genetic RNA code, the form of its outer shell, and what cells and receptors it targets in the human body. Multiple teams internationally including in the United States, China and Europe are racing to produce vaccines, hoping to clinically test them by as early as next year.

Clinical trials in China also show that pre-existing drugs like chloroquine, used to treat malaria, or fapilavir, used to treat the flu, may also block the coronavirus and accelerate recovery.

At the same time, however, the pandemic is exposing the destructive irrationality of capitalism: it has wasted resources and wealth created by the international working class over decades, leaving humanity unprepared for the coronavirus.

The risk of coronaviruses causing highly contagious, untreatable and potentially fatal pneumonia has been known for nearly 20 years. After the SARS and MERS epidemics, 2017 research by the EcoHealth Alliance showed that Asian bats harbored hundreds of strains of coronaviruses that could potentially infect humans. Nevertheless, with the production of vaccines, viral drug and protective gear subordinated to the profit interests of major private investors, nothing was prepared for the risk of a major pandemic.

While massive resources were needed to invest in medical and industrial infrastructure, trillions of dollars were instead wasted on the 2008–2009 bank bailouts for the super-rich in America and Europe, as well as on US-NATO wars like the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. While hospitals were shut down in cities across America, the European Union imposed austerity that slashed health care wages and staffing levels to the bone.

Such policies not only have prevented the rational use of available technology to prepare for a global pandemic, but now cut across measures urgently needed to treat the pandemic.

Iran, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East, provides perhaps the starkest illustration of this. Hundreds of Iranians have fallen ill and the disease is spreading rapidly, under conditions where US and European sanctions imposed first in 2012 and then again after the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear treaty in 2018 have slashed Iran’s access to critical medicine.

Last year, an Iranian doctor told America’s ABC News that “Out of every 20 people, we have to tell at least ten that we have run out of medications they need.” There are shortages of drugs for many critical conditions, including several like asthma, diabetes and cancer that often lead to complications and death in coronavirus patients. This was in part because the US Treasury vindictively prosecuted international firms exporting medical supplies to Iran.

Last year, the Atlantic Council think-tank noted that in Iran in “2012–2013, the price of medicine increased by 50–75 percent. Coupled with an economic downturn and an increase in unemployment, medicine became less affordable to Iranian patients. According to field research conducted in Iran during 2013, asthma, cancer, and multiple sclerosis patients struggled with either shortages of medicine or skyrocketing prices. This research further found that many cancer patients had stopped treatment because of an increase in the prices of medicine.”

Today, Iran is plunging into a coronavirus epidemic that is rapidly spreading not only to the Persian Gulf States, but to neighboring countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, whose health infrastructure has been devastated by decades of US-NATO sanctions, bombings and military occupations.

With the lives of millions hanging in the balance, decisions in the critical battle against the coronavirus cannot be left up to the imperialist powers and the financial aristocracy. Sanctions against Iran must be lifted, hundreds of billions of dollars spent globally to fight the pandemic threat, and humanity’s scientific and industrial resources fully mobilized under the democratic control of working people.

WORLDWIDE VIRUS FEARS The number of new coronavirus infections inside China — the source of the outbreak — has for the first time been overtaken by fresh cases elsewhere, with Italy and Iran emerging as epicenters of the rapidly spreading illness. Asia reported hundreds of new cases, Brazil confirmed Latin America’s first infection and the new disease — COVID-19 — was also detected for the first time in Pakistan, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Romania and Algeria. [HuffPost]

SAUDI ARABIA banned foreigners from entering the kingdom to visit Islam’s holiest sites amid the coronavirus outbreak yesterday, ahead of Ramadan and the annual hajj pilgrimage. The ban, which will stop pilgrims from entering Mecca and Medina, is unprecedented in modern history: here.

20 thoughts on “Coronavirus and global health care

  1. Dear ,

    How we wish we had better news for you.

    The greatest fear about Trump has always been that this incompetent, lying doofus would face a real international crisis . . . and bungle it. Not that he has not bungled enough already, including his ineffectual handling of North Korea, ripping up a working nuclear stand down in Iran, and leaving the Kurds in the mortal lurch.

    But the coronavirus is as serious an international catastrophe as catastrophes get.

    Trump always sounds like he is trying to BS his way through a school book report about a book he hasn’t even read. But never more so than when he gave a press conference yesterday and tried to tell the American people that the crisis was already over, that the few sick people here were already recovering, and that a vaccine would be making its debut almost immediately. Only to have a person with actual knowledge, Dr. Anthony Fauci, get up right after him and say that none of that was true.

    And Trump’s response? . . . To gag Fauci and forbid him, or anyone else, from making any unauthorized (by his new American Politburo) public statements. Just calling the truth “fake news” will not be sufficient for this one. For this one the truth will not even be allowed to have access to the media, at least in the US, if Trump can help it. By the way, this is exactly what exacerbated the initial spread of the infamous 1918 influenza pandemic, suppression of media reports of mass illnesses among the troops, so that no protections were taken and people were needlessly and negligently exposed.

    In the meantime, we have Rush Limbaugh telling his vast mushroom audience, forever nourished on a strict diet of total BS, that coronavirus was no more serious than a common cold, and that all this was just a conspiracy of Trump haters trying to give him bad publicity.

    Now, here’s the truth.

    The pandemic is here. It is here now. It is happening now. It is spreading so exponentially fast that the numbers of infections worldwide are increasing by an order of magnitude on a daily basis. It may well be the most infectious disease in history. Health workers attending the sick have been themselves infected at alarming rates. And the ignorance and denigration of science typified by both Limbaugh and Trump are doing nothing but accelerating it.

    Trump is the guy who has been driving real scientists out of government service, specific to this crisis by decimating the very departments that should be most mobilized now to deal with a pandemic threat. The people who were face to face with the first Americans quarantined were not even wearing appropriate protective gear. It’s nothing short of criminal, nothing new for Trump himself of course.

    The current best estimates are a 2% mortality rate from infections, and that is presuming the best medical care. That means a death toll worldwide of at least 100 million people, 7 million in America alone, if we are lucky.

    And instead of people who know what they are talking about and will tell us the truth, who has Trump put in charge of the government response? None other than his most faithful swallower and designated spreader of BS, VP Mike Pence. And many believe it is just to try to set him up as the scapegoat. Apparently Pence knew nothing about his new appointment until virtually the moment it happened.

    What’s Pence going to do? Preach the good news of “no pandemic” even as Limbaugh listeners are dropping like flies?

    If you ever thought Trump would be the death of us all, it is happening even as we speak.

    Our best advice is that you order a N99 face mask while you can still find one. N95 is more common, but not as effective. And who knows how long you will still be able to find one of those. And make sure you have at least had a flu shot. May not help much but its the best we’ve got.

    The People’s Email Network, PO Box 35022, L.A., CA 90035


  2. On Thursday, Trump announced that he has appointed Vice-President Mike Pence to co-ordinate the US government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. US President Trump claimed: ‘We’re very, very ready for this,’ adding that Pence has ‘got a certain talent for this’.

    In fact, both before and as the coronavirus threat was developing, Trump was CUTTING funds for the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) by 9%. This month, he proposed slashing it by a further 16%! Trump has already got rid of the US Complex Crises Fund which deals with pandemics. Trump’s ‘readiness’ claim could not be further from the truth.


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