Vaccination and herd immunityThe principle of vaccination amounts to immunise a human being or an animal against a disease caused by a pathogenic agent (virus, bacterium), in inoculating it a watered-down version of this agent, or a part of it (for instance; a protein). This stimulates the immune system that will prepare its defence against a potential infection.
The efficacy of vaccines can vary (about 60% for a healthy human adult for the annual vaccine against flu, whose virus often mutates, more than 90% for the « DTP » against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis). Because of the immune response, temporary and minor secondary effects (fatigue, fever, headache, soreness, redness…) may frequently appear. More severe secondary effects might rarely occur; they are generally caused by an immune system dysfunction or by an intolerance to the adjuvant. If we compare the vaccines with the drug therapies that are based on the repeated ingestion of molecules, whose efficacy often brings with it toxicity, it appears that they are cheap and have few lasting secondary effects. In the whole history of the vaccination, it never happened that a secondary effect first occurred more than three months after the injection.
Universal vaccination, that is, vaccination on a global scale, brought about the eradication of smallpox. Herd immunity was achieved in several countries thanks to the compulsory vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis, hence cases are extremely rare.
Vaccines against Covid are reliable and efficientVaccines against Covid-19 were developed by private capitalist groups (in the United States, Britain, Germany, Russia, China …), but using public research. They fall into two categories:
- Those with messenger RNA (mRNA), mRNA strands bring to cells the instruction to fabricate the S (Spike) protein of the virus, the antigen that must trigger the production of antibodies: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna.
- Those with viral vector, an adenovirus, harmless for human beings, brings the S (Spike) protein of the virus to the cells: Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Ad5-nCoV, Jansen …
On the global web and on social networks, the « antivaccine » movement objects to the vaccination against Covid because of its novelty and of the innovative character of the technology in use. But all these objections were rebutted by competent scientists all over the world, on the basis of the current practice.
Risk of thrombosis: Because of a few cases of thrombosis on patients that were vaccinated by AstraZeneca, the governments suspended its use, and then restricted it to people over 55. Such cases are very rare. In late March, 62 cases of cerebral venous thrombosis all over the world had been reported, including 44 in the European Economic Area 30 countries, out of 9.2 million doses.
« These vaccines were too rapidly developed »: the usual period for developing a vaccine is about ten years, but here it took only one year. However, in a context of emergency, of a race to find a vaccine, the States massively invested in pharmaceutical labs, which themselves massively invested in equipment and personnel. Some tests that were previously conducted in a sequence were made in parallel. It took a long time for the multinational companies to develop vaccines because of high manufacturing costs (research, tests, validations, productions) and because they do not make much profit, especially if only one injection is necessary with very few booster shots in the lifetime.
« It is a new technology that we do not master »: the messenger RNA was discovered in 1961 and it has undergone many experimentations for decades. In particular, mRNA vaccines have been developed since 2009, notably against Ebola. In the veterinary field, since 2015 an RNA vaccine has limited the spread of the avian flu, another one of the porcine epidemic diarrhoea.
« We do not have enough hindsight on these vaccines »: these vaccines started being tested in mid-2020. This means that they have been investigated on the field for more than a year. Five billion doses were injected, and all cases of severe secondary effects are traced and analysed. No vaccine in history has been so monitored.
« We ignore long-term secondary effects »: when injected in the body, the mRNA does not survive, it is rapidly destroyed (within a couple of hours or a day), so that any secondary effect is provoked by its own action just after the injection. Moreover, since this mRNA is in a way a part of the virus, any secondary effect should also be provoked by the virus itself—see above the risk of thrombosis. As we already mentioned, in the whole history of vaccines, all secondary effects were noticed within three months after the injection.
« This vaccine is not natural »: a part of the medical achievements has been based on the implantation of prostheses instead of segments of degraded arteries, damaged bones, missing teeth … they have nothing « natural », no more than most of the medicines taken by most obscurantists and conspiracists when needed.
As far as realities on the ground are concerned, theses vaccines offer approximately a 90% protection against serious forms of the virus and against hospitalisation, including with the Delta variant.
Universal vaccination is necessaryA workers’ government would know how to motivate the population for vaccination, it would mobilise health workers and the scientific community. Yet it is not the case for the governments that favour the army over health, those in the advanced countries that condition the health system on the realisation of profit, and that strangle public hospitals.
In fact, while it is on a global scale that the prevention of the onset of new pathogens (viruses, bacteria), as well as the research for treatments (vaccinations, drugs…), their production and distribution should be organised, health issues remain in the hands of archaic national States and of the capitalist groups whose purpose is profit. If it is true that the WHO has implemented COVAX, a program for an international vaccination against the Covid-19, it is in practice paltry with respect to the needs, especially in poor countries.
The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50% in highincome countries. (WTO, IMF, WB, Statement, August 27, 2021)
But the imperialist countries themselves are causing trouble. In most European countries, the obligation to vaccinate is only imposed to some professions. The firefighters must be vaccinated, but not the policemen who often escort them. Health workers must be vaccinated, but not elderly people, who are the most vulnerable to the serious forms of Covid. Henceforth, these professions feel stigmatised, and this drives some to refuse vaccination, while it is necessary. A genuine policy of universal vaccination would first make the vaccination compulsory for much more professions that are in contact with people (teachers, representatives, deliverers, drivers, policemen, customs officials…) as well as for some categories of the population (for instance, those over 80). Such a requirement would then extend to other categories, gradually, as far as vaccinations are done. If planned and shared on a large basis, such a requirement would not create the feeling of an injustice and a stigmatisation.
A genuine policy of encouragement for vaccination would be initiated by the health authorities and by the social security. A large proportion of people who are marginalised within the capitalist society, for several reasons (age, disability, geographical isolation, medical desert, poor mastery of the language, illiteracy, digital gap …) did not get vaccinated and do not often go to places where the pass is required. It is thus necessary for vaccination teams to go to these populations.
Finally, several governments accept a negative PCR or antigen test. Still, the margin of error is significant for the PCR tests, and the serological tests do allow neither to conclude on a potential protective immunity nor to conclude on its infectivity. Yet, the infectivity through the Delta variant is very fast. A patient may be contagious less than 72 hours after being infected.
Freedom, is it to go through the red light?In some countries, governments refuse to take measures, while in others, there are reactionary demonstrations opposing the wearing of masks and vaccination, in the name of « freedom ».
The hard core of these demonstrations aggregates anti-vaccine obscurantists, illuminated conspiracy seekers, xenophobic parties, and fascist groups. The leaders claim that they want to defend « freedom » against « health dictatorship ». In fact, here is the freedom to contaminate others.
In matters of public health, the rule is not individual freedom, but the compulsory norm. A waged worker does not choose freely to be registered or not with Social Security, this registration is compulsory. Parents do not choose freely to batter or not their children, to have them educated or not, to provide them with healthcare or not. In the interest of the whole population and of children themselves, some vaccines are compulsory. In Europe, their number is important (measles, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B, whooping-cough, mumps, rubella, meningococcus C, pneumococcus, influenza B), allowing to increase the vaccination coverage against those diseases.
At workplaces and in towns, security and health rulings are not optional, they are imperative. Speed limits for vehicles are not an option; the use of safety belts is compulsory for all occupants of a vehicle. In many countries, it is forbidden to smoke in confined public spaces. And the use of asbestos in buildings is forbidden.
« Individual freedom » in matters of health, in particular when individual behaviour can affect others, belongs to the spontaneous ideology of the big bourgeois used to violate social rules, of the petty bourgeois whose social life depends on the capacity to face competition, as well as the asocial « lumpenproletariat » that lives on shift or delinquency. It is opposed to the age-long fight of the labour movement to protect the health of workers.
Admittedly, every large-scale social movement starts in some confusion, but their leaders are fascistic or fascist, their base is the traditional petty bourgeoisie, their « freedom » is the freedom to contaminate.
It is reactionaries who place true freedom in individuality, in the particularism of individuals, of localities, of provinces … (Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx, The German Ideology, 1845, III)
In the Balkans, the influence of Orthodox Christian Churches and of fascistic parties works against vaccination and even barrier gestures. Therefore, hospitals are overwhelmed in Serbia (where only 25% of the population received two doses) and in Romania (35%).
In Romania, the far right also feeds antivax opinions. A new ultranationalist and anti-European party, the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), organised demonstrations against the health pass, introduced in September, which gathered on October 2 several thousand people in front of the seat of the government to protest against vaccination. Antivax activists also found allies within the Orthodox Church, to which 87% of Romanians claim to belong. (Le Monde, October 22)
In Italy, during the anti-pass and anti-vaccine demonstration in Rome on October 9, fascist gangs (Forza Nuova …) attacked the seat of the main trade union organisation.
Saturday afternoon, at five and a half, the national seat of the CGIL [General Italian Confederation of Labour] was assaulted by a group of antivax demonstrators who broke open the entrance door and ransacked inside the premises. (Corriere della Sera, October 9)
If it is against Big Pharma or the government in place, is it good?In dominated countries, most labour organisations demanded vaccination: as in June 2021 the teachers’ union of South Africa SADTU, or the union of street sweepers SIEMACO-SP in Brazil.
Nevertheless, in Bulgaria, the Socialist Party BSP (member of the « Socialist » International), instead of demanding universal vaccination, opposes the health pass, siding with the GERB (the sister party of the CDU, the ÖVP, Forza Italia and LR).
In several imperialist countries, one saw some reformist parties that apply the « left populism » of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, as well as centrists used to run after anything that proclaims itself « anti-imperialist » or « anti-governmental », compound dangerously with the anti-lockdown, anti-mask, and anti-vaccine movements.
Robertsonists came out of a long silence on May 1, 2021 to declare stupidly: « Down with the lockdowns » (ICL-FI, April 2021).
In Brazil, the Morenoites of the MRT (FTQI, represented in Argentina by the PTS, in Spain by the CRT, in France by the CCR-RP), have spread, like Bolsonaro and Trump, the false idea that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) constituted an alternative to the barrier gestures and to vaccination (Gilson Dantas, Esquerda Diário, April 15, 2020)
In France, LFI supports the Saturday demonstrations against vaccines and the health pass. Its leader, far from defending compulsory vaccination, quite to the contrary, positioned himself on the terrain of bourgeois individualism.
These Saturday marches are unusual in the middle of summer … Let us know it: such a movement cannot be « nobbled » by anyone. It is its own political object. As many of my Insoumis friends, I give it consideration and understanding. (Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Facebook, August 1, 2021)
Worse, LO, the NPA, the CCR-RP, the POID, the POI and other groups that fraudulently claim their Trotskyism support these obscurantist demonstrations: « There are not only anti-vaccines in these demonstrations, there is also an anger that expresses itself against Macron » (Nathalie Artaud, LO, July 19, 2021).
Independence of the working class is necessary for a real solutionEnemies of our enemies are not always our friends. It is that stupid logic that led a wing of the socialist movement and a part of anarchism to support in 1887 general Boulanger, slaughterer of the communards in May 1871, in the name of the struggle against the anti-workers 3d republic. It is that stupid logic that led les Stalinists of the Tudeh party and Castroists of the organisation Fedayeens of the Iranian people to support ayatollah Khomeini in 1978. It is that same stupid logic that leads centrists to support Islamist attacks against workers. It is that same stupid logic that leads social-democrat parties, former Stalinists, some centrist currents (SP in Great Britain, LO in France …) to support actions of policemen against governments in place.
Workers’ organisations must map out another way than those of the bourgeoisie, its State and its collaborators:
- Free vaccination of the whole world population, end of patents on vaccines, international collaboration to produce vaccines and develop curative treatments!
- Hiring of workers in public health, wage increase, establishment of precarious staff!
- Expropriation of big capitalist firms in medicine and in medical equipment, of clinics and private retirement homes, under the control of workers!