Panelists say wealthy nations stockpile life-saving vaccines while poor countries and poor people within these countries are ignored.
Western countries criticize China, despite China’s success in containing the virus and providing vaccines to the world.
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Activists from immigrant rights, community, peace and social justice movements are increasingly critical of the giant corporate pharmaceutical companies in Western countries for launching vaccine imperialism and racism against communities of color and poor countries across the globe.
On January 26, 2021, Popular Resistance hosted a challenging international webinar: “The Vaccine Wars and the Weaponization of Disease in the age of COVID Pandemic” to expose the glaring inequality.
The panelists were co-authors of the recent book jointly published by the China-U.S. Solidarity Network (CUSN) and the International Action Center (IAC): “Capitalism on a Ventilator – the Impact of COVID-19 in China and the U.S.” They focused on the catastrophe in the U.S., currently suffering the world’s highest rate of infections and deaths. The panelists included Lee Siu Hin, Margaret Flowers, Sara Flounders, Margaret Kimberley, Vijay Prashad and Max Blumenthal.
The book and the panel discussion focused on the need for a scientific approach and global cooperation. This was sharply contrasted to the U.S. lack of preparation as the virus hit and the continuing confused distribution of vaccines.
In opening the panel, Sara Flounders, a co-editor of the book, said: “The ill-planned roll out of high tech, for-profit, patented vaccines in the U.S., a country without any functioning public health infrastructure, is chaotic and disorganized. It leaves especially people of color, who have the highest rate of COVID infections, the least protected. The impact on long-term health is not yet fully known or tested.”
Flounders explained the escalating drum beat of attacks on China. “U.S. capitalism is deeply threatened by a developing country using socialist planning that is able to contain a global pandemic, share information and life-saving resources, and is now surging ahead in production.”
Lee Siu Hin, the other co-editor of the book and director of the CUSN, explained that very few Western-made vaccines have been delivered to the global South. The terms “vaccine imperialism” and “distribution racism” is based on rich countries buying up most Western-made vaccines—far more than they need, while leaving very few for developing countries. He summarized the data from Duke University Global Health Innovation Center. As of January 19, 2021, high-income countries have ordered nearly 4.2 billion doses, while lower-middle and low-income countries’ orders count for less than 700 million doses.
- The European Union, with 450 million people, has ordered 1.85 billion doses.
- The United States, with 331 million people, has ordered 1.21 billion doses.
- The African Union, with 1.32 billion people, has only been able to order 270 million doses.
- Iraq, with 40 million people, has only 1.5 million doses.
“The Western countries are running a vaccine market monopoly scheme,” Lee Siu Hin argued. “They control the market and control the price; just like a future trading market, in the future they can sell their ‘excess’ vaccines to the poor countries for political ransom or higher price.”
Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance and panel co-host is a medical doctor and pediatrician. She explained the five vaccines developed in China and the difference from U.S. vaccines. “If we want to get this virus under control, we all need vaccines. There are dangerous, long-term, serious consequences to health even after recovery.” One third of the population of Los Angeles is now infected.
Dr. Flowers explained the potential for global cooperation, COVAX and the World Health Organization. “However, U.S. sanctions have made it more difficult for countries to obtain desperately needed supplies.”
View the January 26th webinar:
The book “Capitalism on a Ventilator”: bit.ly/CapVentBook
China-U.S. Solidarity Network (CUSN)/e-Medical Alliance
A network of academia and community activists in both countries committed to grassroots dialogue. Under CUSN, e-Medical Alliance, with nearly 500 medical and professional subscribers, is building a China-U.S. medical dialogue.
International Action Center – IACenter.org
A network for information, activism & resistance to U.S. militarism, war & corporate greed, linking with struggles against racism & oppression within the United States.
Popular Resistance – PopularResistance.org/
A resource and information clearinghouse providing a daily stream of resistance news from the United States and around the world.
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