THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC—LET US PAY EQUAL ATTENTION TO BOTH IMMUNISATION AND THERAPEUTIC SOLUTIONS.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a reality that will redefine world history and narratives of what is exactly happening in the world.Whilst there is a global consensus that this Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome known as Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) is a deadly disease which has led to lockdowns in virtually all parts of the world, there is still no commonly accepted solution on what is to be done to contain and ultimately eliminate the disease. The various developments in many parts of the world nevertheless raise many questions than answers and we all should begin to think on what should be sustainable health, economic, political, and social responses to the pandemic.
As of early August 2020, the world has witnessed more than 19million known and recorded infections, 12 million recoveries and more than 700 000 deaths. In South Africa, infections are more than 550 000, with more than 400 000 recoveries and 10 000 deaths. The government of South Africa as announced by its President believes that by the end of 2020, there would have been between 40 000 to 50 000 COVID-19 related deaths. This estimation is of scientifically contested by both extremes with those who believe is overstating that impact and those who believe these estimations are understated. There is not yet certainty and there will not be any in the foreseeable future due to government’s reduced testing of the people.
Despite the uncertainty of where this will lead to, the strict lockdown regulations and measures in many parts of South Africa have collapsed and many people continue with lives as usual. In anyway, many townships, informal settlements and villages where black people live could not practically lockdown and isolate due to the spatial realities of congestion and landlessness. The standard World Health Organisation guideline and advice that all people should constantly wash their hands, use alcohol-based sanitisers and keep social distancing is a practical impossibility for most of our people. It should be so because if government estimations are anything to go by, this disease will cause a lot of preventable deaths.
There are however questions on what is to be done globally and domestically to contain and ultimately eliminate COVID-19. It is evident however that the dominant and seemingly only permissible narrative in the world is that COVID-19 will and should only be contained through a vaccination of the entire global population. All authorities, inclusive of the WHO, influential governments such as the United States and its disproportionately influential advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, super-billionaires such as Bill Gates, and even the South African government promulgate a singular perspective that it will and must only be vaccination/immunisation that should contain COVID-19. It is only vaccines that will get us out of this pandemic we are told.
Whilst scientific and properly administered immunisation or vaccination should be part of the solutions, it should and cannot be the only solution to the containment and ultimate elimination of COVID-19. The same energy that is dedicated to immunisation should be dedicated to scientific therapeutic solutions. The reality is that majority of otherwise deadly diseases in the world are contained and treated through therapies, and of course vaccines have excellently contained pandemics such as polio and smallpox. What is odd about the COVID-19 pandemic is that the only solution promulgated is vaccination and any other medical solution is denigrated, undermined, scorned at or even censured.
All media platforms in the world, inclusive of social media platforms are hard at work to suppress and censure anyone who suggests that there is, can or should be therapeutic solutions to COVID-19. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all media platforms literally discontinue and remove posts that suggest that there can be a therapeutic solution to COVID-19. The immediate case is that of Dr. Stella Immanuel, a Cameroonian Doctor, trained in Nigeria and practicing as a physician in the United States. Instead of testing the claims that 100% of the more than 350 patients of all ages and with different comorbidities whom she treated with a combination of Hydroxychloroquine, Zithromax (Z-Pak), and Zinc were cured, the world’s mainstream and social media platforms chose censure, deleting all the videos where she made these claims in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The censure of those who speak about therapies to COVID-19 is perhaps linked to the Decade of Vaccination Collaboration. In 2011, the Bill & Melinda GATES Foundation launched the Decade of Vaccination Collaboration, and established a Leadership Council which includes members such as Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO; Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director for UNICEF; Ms. Joy Phumaphi, Chair of the International Advisory Committee and Executive Secretary of African Leaders Malaria Alliance; Dr Tachi Yamada, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and notably, Dr Anthony S. Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) .The decade of vaccination ends in 2021 and that is the year the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved and begin to be given to all the people in the world.
Whilst there are currently no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, the number of recoveries globally and domestically should give some direction on what those who recovered do to recover from COVID-19. There is certainly a common thread amongst the 12 million recoveries in the world and the 400 000 recoveries in South Africa that should be deducted and made known to all the people. What is conspicuously evident and absolute fact is that majority of these recoveries happened without hospitalisation and the sophisticated medical equipment such as ventilators, which in the beginning of the pandemic were presented as panacea to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In South Africa, those who recovered mostly treated the symptoms and some used the highly effective traditional healing heard called Umhlonyane/Lengane, whilst some depend on recurrent steaming. Millions of South Africans use these and other measures as part of boosting their immune systems, and whether these works will be tested by history. Whilst all these interventions have no common scientific validity as cures of COVID-19, they have to led to recoveries of thousands of people without hospitalisation.
Amidst all these developments, Governments carry a moral obligation to educate the general public about primary healthcare and healthy interventions to immunise or recover from COVID-19 in the same way more than 60% of those infected recovered. Censure, suppression and isolation of views that speak about preventive and therapeutic solutions does not and will not help the world overcome the pandemic. The global economy has already suffered, evidenced by the US’ economy contraction by more than 30% in the 2nd quarter of 2020, a recession worse than the global depression and the 2008 financial crisis. Millions of jobs have been lost and industries are closing every day. If the establishment continues to suppress everyone with the intention of imposing their own pre-determined solution, then we are headed for a global crisis which might culminate in a physical catastrophic world war.
Additional to preparing quality healthcare infrastructure, governments should build Healthcare Reserve capacity in the same way military reserve capacity were built in the post war era which will now be replaced with the post-Corona era. A Healthcare Reserve capacity will entail that all governments should train not less than 10% of its population with basic but necessary healthcare skills and capacity, which will give the population some intermediary skills to provide healthcare services in the era of pandemics. It is now proven that with knowledge and adequate care, people can recover from COVID-19 without hospitalisation. Therefore, we need an army of healthcare practitioners who can administer basic healthcare as and when needed. In the immediate, the permanent scientific solution to COVID-19 should be both immunisation and therapeutic.
Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President