by Nigel Smith, York Socialist Alternative
The British Government has put profit before people throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, graphically illustrated this on BBC question time last week. He described the government’s response as a national scandal. He was also careful to outline the inadequacy of the equipment provided for the NHS staff, commenting that it is putting their lives in danger. He described how the government knew that this pandemic was coming and wasted the whole of February before it acted. He stated that not only were there insufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), but the equipment didn’t come up the WHO standards. He implied that there was a degree of hypocrisy in politicians clapping for the NHS when the NHS had been so badly let down by the government.
Indeed the hypocrisy is illustrated ironically by Boris Johnson and some of his close associates contracting the coronavirus. They were seen in parliament behaving in ways that did not match with the advice they were giving around social distancing. A few weeks ago, Johnson was even boasting that he was still visiting hospitals and shaking hands with people! He was clearly not demonstrating a sensible approach to the virus and has now fallen victim to it. This is a glaring example of a lack of seriousness and a lack of understanding of one of the first laws of leadership – leading by example. Thankfully the British people have shown more sense than Johnson and his minions and are taking this crisis seriously in spite of Johnson’s callous disregard for science.
It is understood in government circles that both Chris Witty: Senior Medical Officer, (SMO) and Sir Patrick Vallance: Chief Scientific Adviser, (CSA) were both advising Boris Johnson to take a much more decisive approach to the virus from the very beginning and to mirror the steps taken by the Chinese after their initial delay in Wuhan.
In fact, the Chinese regime bears chief responsibility for allowing the outbreak to take hold in the first place - including through their brutal attempt to cover it up and persecute the doctor who discofvered the virus. But the British government is guilty of a long delay in taking action. From the beginning, Boris Johnson was more concerned about the economy than with the lives of the British people and failed to grasp that a delay would cause greater economic problems than effective action early on.
There is also amazement from the British military that the British state had not planned for such an eventuality and that the correct PPE was not ready to be deployed. Could you imagine our military being put in a situation where they were directed to go into yet another foreign conflict but had no bullets to fire or armoured vehicles to use?
On top of this is the incompetence around procurement that has been reported across the media: The Independent 29.03.2020, with the government delaying purchasing equipment or even answering emails, so missing out to other countries on thousands of ventilators and millions of testing kits.
Closer to home, in York, health campaigners are receiving reports of NHS staff being terrified when they go to work because of the virtual non-existence of testing and the inadequate equipment. There is no means of testing for coronavirus across the York Trust, which extends to the East coast and across six hospitals. York Trust depends on tests being sent to Leeds with consequent delays inevitable. As a response to their fear, staff have reported attempting to buy their own PPE equipment on the internet and of being ripped off by bogus sites. They are being over-charged and are not receiving the items they have ordered. When PPE equipment has been provided it has proved to be inadequate.
Johnson has proved himself a failure, as capitalism has failed and he is not alone. The USA is now becoming the epicentre for this pandemic, a situation unimagined at the beginning of this crisis, because it was seen by medical experts as a first world country that could control the problem with no scientific or logistical reason for it to get out of control there. Numerous Chinese and Japanese cities have shown that this virus can be controlled. Of course they don’t have the dangerous Donald Trump making their strategic decisions for them. Now US citizens are going to die in large numbers because of his sociopathic refusal to understand the situation. Trump himself talked about the possibility of a million casualties. Without a healthy population, there is no economy and without a robust health service we have barbarism. Johnson, Trump, Bolsonaro and others are the barbarians, the health workers are heroically trying to mitigate their terror.
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