I’ve come to realize that the emphasis on vaccines to the exclusion of other public health measures is a neoliberal solution to the pandemic.
It is not hard to understand why the magic bullet of vaccines–to the exclusion of all else–has been so fervently grasped during the pandemic. Exclusive reliance on vaccines has been a great way for our corrupt, incompetent governments to show they know what they are doing. The vaccines have been an ideal way for corrupt medical-industrial corporations–including the biggest offender, Pfizer–to launder their images and make us feel all warm and fuzzy after so many earlier scandals, like Oxycontin and Vioxx. And, of course, the vaccines have been comforting to us, the public, promising to bring “Zero-Covid” (false), to provide long-term immunity (false), and to end transmission (false).
The Biden administration has maintained a pattern of declining to use its power and influence to promote public health measures beyond vaccination. They built their whole pandemic response around the fact that to be vaccine maximalists they would have to be public health minimalists. The entire pandemic response hinged on vaccination as a silver bullet. Meanwhile, they framed vaccination as a way to opt out of the pandemic while encouraging the vaccinated majority to scapegoat an unvaccinated minority, allowing our corrupt leaders to shift the blame away from themselves for their other failed public health policies and our corrupt “health” corporations to shift attention away from their profiteering. Divide and rule par excellence.
The Biden administration’s pandemic response would focus on vaccination and medical treatment while largely rejecting other public health measures – so-called “non-pharmaceutical intervention” policies ranging from masks, to contact tracing to mass testing to temporary closures of non-essential businesses. For the vaccinated and boosted, Biden’s message was: Keep Calm and Carry On, all will likely be fine. And for Wall Street, the speech was meant to provide a crucial piece of reassurance: There would be no federal support for public health measures that restrict commerce. Enacting a right to paid sick leave, especially in the midst of a pandemic, should be a no-brainer, if our feral elite saw the needs of constituents as paramount. Alas, it’s donor priorities that define the political agenda. So employers now insist on sick workers returning to the workplace, under threat of termination, no matter how sick – not to mention contagious – each may be.
Of course, that’s not how they see it.
Who ya gonna believe me or your lying eyes?
I’ve also come to realize that we will have to pry neoliberal market solutions from the cold-dead-hands of the modern Democratic Party.
Actions like rapid antigen testing, contact tracings, paid isolation, providing at home care and support to the isolated, installing improved ventilation in schools and public spaces are all community or society responses while vaccines are individual ones. Instead our “public health” officialdom spent the time banning early treatment of Covid and suppressing information about cheap and effective drugs — in the service of preserving the emergency use authorization and the concomitant liability shield for big-Pharma vaccines.
A perfect example of this neoliberal bent has been the way in which, rather than the US government mailing at home Covid tests to all Americans, the Biden plan has been for people to have to buy the tests then turn around and have to get reimbursement from their insurance companies. It’s the perfect blend of market based transactions and complications. What could go wrong? Meanwhile, people in jobs without insurance are the ones who need available tests the most!
What’s super crazy is that at this point everyone knows it’s an airborne virus that can infect anyone. Rich or poor. However, it appears that maintaining the power relationship between capital and labor is sacrosanct with public health a distant second. Just like in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash, saving the banks took precedence over saving American homeowners. Going further, the dominant ideology in America seems to be that the private market can and will meet human needs, and that any expansion to public health care provision is an attack on business.
Our policy of saving the economy vs saving American citizens can be seen most clearly with this statistic. Last year in the US over 400,000 people died of COVID, while two people in China died of COVID. It says everything about our priorities. And the best part–our feral elite have seen the wealth explode during Covid even as hundreds of thousands have died. China’s leaders, “totalitarian tyrants”, as our corporate media never tires of reminding us, apparently cared enough about their population to stop Covid, even at economic cost. Our leaders, seeing that Covid was a huge profit opportunity (billionaire wealth has about doubled) decided that mass death and disabling was a cost they were happy for their “free” subjects to pay.
Our leaders kill and hurt us for money and power. That’s been their M.O. since Reagan and Thatcher took power.
Thatcher, articulated the justification: “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
In other words, it’s all on you the individual.
This was revealingly reflected in recent federal public health messaging, where personal responsibility and the individual choice to get vaccinated became the central themes. “Your health is in your hands,” CDC chief Rachel Walensky told the public.
Update: The hits keep coming
“In a mid-December interview, Vice President Kamala Harris attempted to defend the administration’s belated actions by claiming the White House “didn’t see Delta coming” and “didn’t see Omicron coming.”
But former federal vaccine scientist Rick Bright disputed Harris’ narrative, writing on Twitter that he personally warned the Biden transition team in December 2020 that ‘variants were coming and we needed plans and action immediately.’
‘They all knew,’ he added.”