Wide screen devices may view this page better by clicking here

25 November 2020

Facebook   Twitter

Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Covid, vaccines and the NHS

Stop the Tories putting profit before health

  (Click to enlarge)

Millions will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at the news of several Covid-19 vaccines successfully passing through their development stages. But the vaccines' efficacy, and any subsequent mass inoculation, still present enormous hurdles to overcome, especially if the distribution is dependent on a dysfunctional Johnson government and a hotchpotch of privately run supply chains.

Concerns over infrastructure and supply capacity are enormously magnified when inadequate health services in poorer countries are considered. But if supplies of the vaccine are equally distributed worldwide, then the pandemic could be brought under control.

With many thousands of health worker vacancies currently in the NHS, rolling out mass inoculation programmes, while maintaining a functioning health service, could prove to be a nightmare.

Belatedly, the government has launched an inadequate NHS recruitment drive for 'nursing and allied staff', and renewed its efforts to bring former health workers out of retirement. However, staffing levels would be less of a problem if the government accepted health workers' demands for higher pay and better working conditions.

The NHS's fragility is due to this government's - and its Tory and Labour predecessors - chronic underfunding and fragmentation through privatisations.

Big pharma

So far, the main beneficiaries of these prototype vaccines are the giant pharmaceutical companies - 'big pharma' - which only took up the challenge of developing a safe and effective vaccine when governments around the world greased their palms with billions of dollars of public money.

In some instances, their entire development programme was publicly funded, but any profits will be privately owned. As we quoted from US campaign group Patients for Affordable Drugs, in last week's Socialist, "We're socialising all the risk and privatising all the profit."

Moreover, most of the stock valuations of big pharma have soared into the stratosphere, guaranteeing huge dividends for large shareholders. Even AstraZeneca, whose share price initially dipped because it says it will sell its vaccine at cost, expects to reap longer-term profits.

But for health authorities to get on top of this pandemic requires more than an effective vaccine. We should not forget that the virus only became an epidemic in Britain because the Tory government had ignored any contingency planning, lacked adequate stocks of PPE and test-and-trace infrastructure, and had insufficient bed capacity and numbers of health workers within the NHS. Instead, it initially considered letting thousands of elderly people die as part of its reported Dominic Cummings-inspired 'herd immunity' strategy.


When the political fall-out from this disaster - which has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths - dawned upon Johnson et al, the government hastily threw huge sums of public cash at greedy private companies with little or no experience in providing health services. It ignored the collective experience and skills of NHS workers and, instead, handed out top jobs to their chums to run "game changing", "world beating", privately operated test-and-trace systems, and to get adequate PPE supplies. Heaven help us with their vaccine roll-out!

The vast majority of the population has paid too high a price for Johnson's unmitigated public health failures. There has to be a public reckoning with this government over its mishandling of the pandemic. And the working class must also hold to account the weak, and until recently, largely uncritical Starmer-led 'Labour alternative'.

A mass Covid vaccine programme lasting into the future can only be sustained through a fully funded, publicly owned and democratically run health service. We need to step up the fight for such an NHS through the trade unions and in our communities. And, ultimately, we must link this provision to a workers' government that acts in our interests and not those of private profit.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 25 November 2020:

Socialism 2020

Socialism 2020: Growing search for ideas to change the world

Pay freeze

Covid crisis: "We won't pay the price"

Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels: A revolutionary who played a pivotal role in the development of socialism

Workplace news

Little Ilford school strike stands firm - council must use reserves!

Heathrow workers to strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

Covid, vaccines and the NHS

Stop the Tories putting profit before health


TUSC sets out core policies for May 2021 local elections

Readers' opinion

Mangrove: When the black community made a stand against state racism

CripTales: A painful reflection of a system that pits us against each other

The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 25 November 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleNottingham NHS pay protest

triangleCovid, capitalism and mental health

triangleHands off our NHS

triangleSt Mungo's workers walkout

triangleDevonport tugboat crews strike against rota changes


triangleCladding: Tories refuse to protect leaseholders again

triangleProtesting works - Unite to defend the right to protest

triangleLiverpool hustings - only TUSC has a strategy to take on the Tories

triangleCovid inquiry? Workers must decide


triangleNo trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game

trianglePimlico Academy protests: "Run by racists for profit"

triangleLondon bus drivers continue walkout


triangleFor a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

triangleWhy you should vote for TUSC


triangleDefend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks


triangleThe Socialist Inbox


triangleSt Mungo's strikers fight on

Article dated 25 November 2020

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party


Pay in Fighting Fund

Pay in paper and book sales


Bulk book orders

New member submission


triangle6 May Local, Wales and mayoral elections

triangle10 May Oxfordshire & Aylesbury Socialist Party: Election results - what it means for our class

triangle11 May Bristol North Socialist Party: Reform or revolution?


The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party

What we think

Union elections

International news

Mental health


Workplace news

Local government

Campaigns news

Readers' opinion

Subscribespacer|spacerebook / Kindlespacer|spacerPDF versionspacer|spacerText / Printspacer|spacer1132 onlinespacer|spacerBack issuesspacer|spacer Audio files

TUSC 2021 election video. Vote TUSC on 6 May!

More videos ...

What We Stand For
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Platform setting: =

Desktop version