A VACCINE war broke out between the European Union and the UK last week over the supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus.
The EU had a deal with AstraZeneca which was for 300 million doses, with an option for 100 million more. The first 100 million doses were expected by March. But the EU said they now expect to get only about a quarter of that, a shortfall of about 75 million jabs. AstraZeneca says it has production problems at its plants in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The EU said that the two main plants for the production of the vaccine are in the UK and it is the UK that should make up the shortfall in the vaccines.
The UK government has responded that there is no way that they will give up the vaccines, and that it is a question of ‘Britain first’. If Europeans contract the virus in the meantime and die ‘so be it’ as far as the UK ruling class is concerned. Such is the ‘law of the jungle’ under capitalism.
As a result Spain has halted first vaccinations, to focus on second doses. France is also delaying vaccination appointments due to shortages of the vaccine. Sweden was set to receive one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February but is now expected to get just 400,000 doses.
EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said provocatively: ‘The EU Commission has pushed to co-ordinate the vaccines contracts on behalf of the 27 precisely to avoid a vaccines war between EU countries, but maybe the UK wants to start a vaccine war?’
However, the vaccine war between the UK and the EU is just one expression of what has now been termed ‘vaccine nationalism’ and vaccine imperialism!
While Europe and the US have snapped up the majority of the vaccines in deals worth billions of pounds and dollars with the big pharmaceutical companies, developing nations, with hundreds of millions of citizens, have been left with next to no vaccines whatsoever.
This is the madness of capitalist production where something as necessary as a life-saving vaccine is restricted and supplied to the highest bidder, leaving the impoverished hundreds of millions to die.
The fact is that the virus is not contained by national boundaries. It is international, and the longer developing nations are denied the vaccine, the more variants develop, and they will come back to bite the imperialist states.
Hoarding by the imperialist ruling classes means that 40 million doses have been administered in 49 higher-income countries, compared to just 25 doses given in just one of the lowest-income countries, according to Dr Tedros, the head of the World Health Organization. ‘Not 25 million, not 25,000, just 25,’ he states. So far, none of the main, Western vaccines has yet been administered in Africa.
This is why there is only one way out of this crisis. The working class of the world must unite with the oppressed nations to prevent vaccine wars by carrying out the world socialist revolution.
This must smash the bankrupt capitalist system and clear the way for a worldwide planned economy that will unite the working people of the world in a socialist system, whose prority will not be profits for a few billionaires but creating the conditions for conquering disease and poverty worldwide.
This world socialist revolution began in Russia in 1917, was continued by the Chinese revolution of 1949 and has proved the tremendous advantages of a planned socialised production, and indicated what will be possible in a communist world whose motto will be ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’.
Russia has produced the Sputnik V vaccine, a vaccine which produces close to 100% efficacy against severe cases of coronavirus. It will supply countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, UAE, Egypt, Algeria, Belarus, Serbia and India.
China has the massive advantage of having a nationalised and planned economy where the health of the people comes first. Through an immediate lockdown, and door-to-door test and trace they defeated the virus.
Workers of the world must now complete what was begun in 1917 in Russia. Sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International must be built in every country to sweep capitalism into the dustbin of history with the victory of the world socialist revolution. This is the only answer to the developing vaccine wars!