A socialist reply to ‘leftwing’ antivax disinformation

Antivaxxers of all stripes are a threat to public health

Cliff Conner

Climate and Capitalism | November 29, 2021

Cliff Connor is the author of A People’s History of Science and The Tragedy of American Science. This article was first published in Against the Current.

In the United States, most of the Covid antivax agitation comes from rightwing sources. It is dangerous and reprehensible because it threatens legitimate public health efforts to bring a pandemic under control that has already killed at least 750,000 people in the U.S. and five million worldwide. The rightwing ideologues who carry out this campaign of disinformation are simply unconscionable scoundrels.

Unfortunately, they have “leftwing” ideological allies who devise rationales designed to appeal to progressive-minded people. A blog post entitled “The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service)” provides a prime example.

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Wealthy nations starved the developing world of vaccines. Omicron shows the cost of this greed

Deborah Gleeson

The Conversation | November 30, 2021

We don’t yet know how dangerous the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 will turn out to be. Early evidence suggests it may be more transmissible than other variants, and the World Health Organization has raised concerns about its potential to spark another global surge in infections.

If currently available vaccines continue to protect us from severe disease and death, which seems likely at this stage, vaccinated people in developed countries should be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

But with a yawning gap between vaccination rates in high- and low-income nations, Omicron could present a major problem for the world. It could cause a further wave of preventable disease and premature death in developing countries, and exacerbate poverty in parts of the world that are already struggling with the pandemic.

And unless governments take urgent action to correct these inequities, we risk the emergence of further variants, some of which may evade vaccines.

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‘They Are Not Just Numbers’: Families of Farmers Who Died During Protest Demand Justice

“Had the protest ended soon, my family would have been together today,” says the wife of a farmer who killed himself at the Tikri border.

Sumedha Pal

The Wire | November 26, 2021

'They Are Not Just Numbers': Families of Farmers Who Died During Protest Demand Justice
Representational image: Farmers during a protest against the Central government in front of the FCI office on Sirhind Road in Patiala, April 5, 2021. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: “The government is not listening to us alive. Hopefully, it will hear us out when we are dead.” These were the last words of 42-year-old Jai Bhagwan, a farmer from Haryana. 

Bhagwan, like several others from his village, was a regular at the Tikri border protest site ever since the farmers’ protest began last year against the three contentious farm laws.

“He would volunteer all the time. He would be present at the protest site all the time and urge everybody to join the protest. His last words still ring in my ears all the time,” says Bhagwan’s wife, Renu Rana, who is yet to come to terms with her partner’s death. Bhagwan consumed poison at the protest site and killed himself.

“If it wasn’t for the protest, my family would have been together today,” she adds. 

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India: Police Brutality, FIRs and a Hostile Khattar Govt: What Haryana Farmers Overcame

From supplying food to border protesters to physically lifting barricades on a crucial day, farmers in Haryana ‘kept the protest alive with blood.’

Vivek Gupta

The Wire | November 30, 2021

Police Brutality, FIRs and a Hostile Khattar Govt: What Haryana Farmers Overcame
Police use water cannon to disperse farmers who were protesting against Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar’s Kisan Mahapanchayat rally in Kaimla village, in Karnal, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. Photo: PTI/File

Chandigarh: The protest against the farm laws mainly centred around Punjab. Yet two developments played a vital role behind taking them to Delhi’s doors and onto international spheres.

First, representatives of around 30 Punjab farmers’ unions that later became part of Sanyuta Kisan Morcha that conducted the protests at the national stage decided in a meeting on October 27, 2020, to take their stir beyond Punjab’s borders.

Second, on November 20, 2020, the SKM itself was formed, when the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh and various factions of Bharatiya Kisan Union came together. A meeting in Chandigarh in connection with the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march on November 26 saw farmers resolve to march together.

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Xiomara Castro, and the Rebirth of Honduras

Ilka Oliva Corado

RESUMEN | November 29, 2021

The humiliations suffered by undocumented Central American migrants who try to cross Mexico to reach the United States, seeking to save themselves from the institutional violence of the narco-State, in the case of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, have hurt a lot. The famous northern triangle that is so much charged here and there by politicians in the discourse of transnational corporations that in exchange for a crumb that they throw from the rocking chair where they rock; placid and jampones, they take the entrails of the land that they are drying, because it is not theirs, it is that of the peoples sullied for centuries.

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Russia Starts Developing a Vaccine for the New Omicron Variant

teleSUR | November 29, 2021

Russian scientists analyze the new Sputnik V vaccine, Nov, 2021
Russian scientists analyze the new Sputnik V vaccine, Nov, 2021 | Photo: EFE

Russia’s Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology announced that the “Sputnik V” vaccine against the Omicron variant would be ready for mass production in 45 days.

Russia is currently working on a vaccine against the new variant of Covid-19, which has alarmed governments worldwide.

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China To Supply Africa With 1 Billion COVID-19 Vaccines

teleSUR | November 30, 2021

Women at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 27, 2021.
Women at the Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa, Nov. 27, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/ @NoThebaine

The appearance of Omicron has once again evidenced inequalities. While 67 percent of the EU population has received all doses, only 7.1 percent of Africans has received more than one dose so far.

To help the African Union (AU) achieve its goal of vaccinating 60 percent of the African population by 2022, President Xi on Monday announced that China would provide another one billion doses of vaccines to Africa, including 600 million doses as donation and 400 million doses to be provided through such means as joint production by Chinese companies and relevant African countries.

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The hunt for coronavirus variants: how the new one was found and what we know so far

Ultimately, everything known about B.1.1.529 so far highlights that universal vaccination is still our best bet against severe COVID-19

Prof. Wolfgang Preiser, Cathrine Scheepers, Jinal Bhiman, Marietjie Venter, Tulio de Oliveira

Down To Earth | November 26, 2021

Since early in the COVID pandemic, the Network for Genomics Surveillance in South Africa has been monitoring changes in SARS-CoV-2. This was a valuable tool to understand better how the virus spread. In late 2020, the network detected a new virus lineage, 501Y.V2, which later became known as the beta variant. Now a new SARS-CoV-2 variant has been identified, known as B.1.1.529. To help us understand more, The Conversation Africa’s Ozayr Patel asked scientists to share what they know.

What’s the science behind the search?

Hunting for variants requires a concerted effort. South Africa and the UK were the first big countries to implement nationwide genomic surveillance efforts for SARS-CoV-2 as early as April 2020.

Variant hunting, as exciting as that sounds, is performed through whole genome sequencing of samples that have tested positive for the virus. This process involves checking every sequence obtained for differences compared to what we know is circulating in South Africa and the world. When we see multiple differences, this immediately raises a red flag and we investigate further to confirm what we’ve noticed.

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‘Patience is crucial’: Why we won’t know for weeks how dangerous Omicron is

Lab tests and patterns of spread will show whether the new SARS-CoV-2 variant’s many mutations are a serious threat

Kai Kupferschmidt

Science | November 27, 2021

Passengers with luggage carts waiting in an airport terminal
Passengers wait for an Air France flight to Paris at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on 26 November. Many countries have halted air travel from southern Africa to slow the spread of the Omicron variant.AP PHOTO/JEROME DELAY

At 7:30 a.m. on 24 November, Kristian Andersen, an infectious disease researcher at Scripps Research, received a message on Slack: “This variant is completely insane.” Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh was reacting to a new SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence found in three samples collected in Botswana on 11 November and one picked up a week later in a traveler from South Africa to Hong Kong.

Andersen looked at the data and then replied: “Holy shit—that is quite something. The length of that branch …” A few minutes later he added: “Just had a look at the list of mutations—so nuts.”

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