Lee Humber

Corruption, cronyism and abject failure

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Is there anyone left in Britain, apart from that tiny, tiny minority of individuals with a vested financial interest, who thinks that entrusting to private health capital Britain’s response to the pandemic was ever a good idea? The British Medical Association certainly don’t. Their report published mid-September, The Role of Private Outsourcing in the Covid 19 Response, is an expose and utter condemnation of how contracting out virtually every aspect of pandemic-related services has been an utter and complete disaster.

In the engine room

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In his short, fascinating and hugely influential book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher talks, amongst a great many other things, about education. He says, “Education, far from being in some ivory tower safely inured from the ‘real world’, is the engine room of the reproduction of social reality, directly confronting the inconsistencies of the capitalist social field.”

Will a vaccine save us from Covid-19 and future epidemics?

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biomedicine

Lee Humber completes the fourth part of his analysis of medicine’s response to the pandemic with a critique of the global machine that more and more dominates our healthcare

The Swine Flu epidemic of 2009, and the Ebola crisis still active in West Africa after nearly seven years, both attest to the problems and unknowns regarding vaccine development and deployment. With Swine Flu, not only were supplies of the vaccine extremely limited, there were a range of short- and longer-term side effects causing, in some cases, years of suffering. These included arthritis, fibromyalgia, lymphadenopathy, rashes, photosensitive rashes, to name but a few.

Covid-19 and racism exposes the ‘muck and filth’ of capitalism

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US

There are organic links between the global anti-racist rebellion and the Covid-19 pandemic. As Socialist Review has repeatedly shown, there is a clear class nature to how the virus affects global populations. Poorer communities, many with underlying health conditions socially determined by what Engels called the slow ‘social murder’ implicit to capitalism, have suffered by far the worst consequences.

Hyping up a vaccine

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The pharmaceutical industry is not only systematically hindering effective treatments for Covid-19, its drive for profits is distorting the whole process of drug treatment

Despite the intense hype throughout May, a Covid-19 vaccine is no silver bullet. Nor is it close at hand. At the very best, vaccines can play a part in integrated public health strategies to trace, contain and halt the spread of infectious diseases. However, in Britain, the US and most of the rest of the world the search for a vaccine has taken centre-stage to the exclusion of all other considerations.

How austerity undermined public health across Britain

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As COVID-19 continues to inflict terrible damage, it is the privatisation of social care, and the undermining of the NHS, that is the root of the crisis now facing healthcare

At the beginning of April, Queen Elizabeth II told a television audience: “Together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it.” Her appearance was filmed by a single cameraman encased in body-covering protective clothing. No shortage of PPE here.

Compare this with a care home for older people in Liverpool run by Future Care Capital, a care provider increasingly reliant on venture capital.

Covid-19 is decimating poor, elderly and vulnerable

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Malnutrition and poor health combined with the toxic impact of welfare cuts, run down health services and years of austerity has left many people at the mercy of pandemics.

The struggle between an abstracted version of nature and science is not what determines the health of global populations and it never has been. The nature we have is the one which has developed in its relationship with global capitalism. The threats nature now poses result from the multi-faceted failure of that relationship —the metabolic rift—which the current pandemic illustrates by its global attack on our health.

What makes a disease go viral?

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Lee Humber finds the true origins of the Coronavirus epidemic in the innards of the food industry.

Viral epidemics are not uncommon. This year’s flu season is shaping up to be the worst in years, according to the US Centre for Disease Control. In the US alone there have been 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalisations and 10,000 deaths.

More than 200 people in the UK had died from the 2018-19 winter strain of flu virus by February 2019, and there were more than 2,000 critical cases despite the relatively small numbers of people contracting it — meaning the virus had become more virulent. People who had been previously fit and well became critically ill.

Fighting to defend a working class Ruskin

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The relatively small University and College Union (UCU) branch at Ruskin College passed a vote of no confidence in the college’s principal, Paul Di Felice, on Wednesday 27 March. This came after several years of decline in student numbers during which time systems of management — including, crucially, systems of managing recruitment — have fallen into a chaotic state.

Proposed social care plan 'worse than US Medicaid'

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The Tory social care funding plans aim to extend to care in your own home, charges which individuals already have to pay if they move into residential care.

As it stood before the election, anyone with assets over £23,250 had to pay the full cost of their care if they move to a care or nursing home. Care costs in homes are high, with one in ten older people spending more than £100,000 in their lifetimes; £700 per week for residential care or an average of £1,000 per week for a nursing home place.

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