Mike Davis on COVID-19: The monster is finally at the door / Impact on the global poor / Capitalism vs human survival
neoliberal economics is more ideology than science. Its devotees assume a world that exists only in the believer’s minds. Its assumptions blind its followers to the systemic failure of an economy that is destroying Earth’s capacity to support life while forcing most of the world’s people into an increasingly difficult daily struggle to fulfill their basic needs. The resulting social breakdown drives violence and support for authoritarian leaders.
Second, like annual influenzas, this virus is mutating as it courses through populations with different age compositions and acquired immunities. The variety that Americans are most likely to get is already slightly different from that of the original outbreak in Wuhan. Further mutation could be trivial or could alter the current distribution of virulence which ascends with age, with babies and small children showing scant risk of serious infection while octogenarians face mortal danger from viral pneumonia.
But universal coverage is only a first step. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that in the primary debates neither Sanders or Warren has highlighted Big Pharma’s abdication of the research and development of new antibiotics and antivirals. Of the 18 largest pharmaceutical companies, 15 have totally abandoned the field. Heart medicines, addictive tranquilizers and treatments for male impotence are profit leaders, not the defenses against hospital infections, emergent diseases and traditional tropical killers. A universal vaccine for influenza – that is to say, a vaccine that targets the immutable parts of the virus’s surface proteins – has been a possibility for decades but never a profitable priority.