COVID-19 came from nature. The pandemic came from capitalism.
For centuries, people have known how to eradicate infectious disease: stop person-to-person transmission.
In just five weeks, we could completely eradicate COVID-19 using the green zone exit strategy. This strategy involves suppressing the outbreak in defined areas or zones. Each zone must test everyone, provide safe spaces for the sick to isolate, provision healthy people to isolate at home, make essential work safe, and restrict travel in and out of the zone.
Once cases have dropped to zero, the zone can be declared “green.” Normal activity can resume inside this zone, with vigilance to test and track possible recurrences.
Green zones must prevent infected persons from entering the zone and making it no longer green. As more areas revert to green status, travel between these zones can resume. Once all zones turn green, the virus can be declared eradicated and all restrictions removed.
Nations that applied the green zone strategy got the best outcomes, with COVID cases dropping dramatically. However, we live in a global society. A virus that gains a foothold anywhere will eventually spread. Regions that had eradicated the virus are now battling new outbreaks introduced by travelers. That is why we must aim for zero cases everywhere.
COVID-19 does not come in “waves.” It is more like a forest fire. When the fire gets too hot, authorities turn on the water hoses. As the fire recedes, they turn off the hoses, and the fire flares up again. No one fights real fires this way. Firefighters know that stopping a fire requires every spark to be extinguished. The only acceptable number of cases must be zero.
Eradicating COVID-19 was never the aim of the United States, Canada, the UK, Brazil, Germany, and other nations whose declared goal is reducing cases to a level that the system can manage. They call this “flattening the curve.”
A flatten-the-curve strategy allows the virus to continue spreading. As each new “wave” proves the failure of this strategy, authorities pray for “herd immunity.” This “survival-of-the-fittest” stance amounts to a eugenic culling of “the unfit.”
Vaccines alone cannot end this pandemic
The private (profitable) control of vaccines results in hoarding by wealthier nations and wealthier people inside nations, while poor nations and poor people go without. To date, Haiti has not received a single dose of vaccine.
As a virus spreads, natural selection favors variants that are more infectious, even re-infecting those previously exposed and recovered. Currently, five such variants have been identified in the US, the UK, South Africa, and Brazil. At some point, variants will emerge that are resistant to current vaccines, just as strains of vaccine-resistant influenza virus appear every season.
There is only one way to prevent vaccine-resistant variants: implement the green zone strategy globally and invest $25 billion to vaccinate everyone on the planet.
This is easier said than done. One year ago, I explained why We cannot expect capitalists to manage a pandemic. The international cooperation that enabled scientists to produce a vaccine in record time is a rare exception.
A capitalist system based on competition cannot coordinate a global response to any crisis. Even within nations, we see conflicting policies among states, provinces, regions, and cities.
The most powerful sections of the capitalist class have resigned themselves to global warming and given up on containing COVID-19. They are abandoning us to needless mass death and disease for the foreseeable future.
We could eradicate COVID-19 in just five weeks, but we cannot do this under capitalist rule.