The key elements of containing and ultimately eradicating the pandemic are: universal testing, contact tracing, safe isolation of infected patients, strict travel restrictions, and shutdown of all schools and nonessential workplaces. —
No 2772 by fw, August 22, 2021
“The battle lines in this global struggle have been clearly drawn. Three basic strategies for approaching the virus have emerged: 1) ‘herd immunity’; 2) mitigation; and 3) eradication. The global spread of the highly infectious Delta variant and the drive to fully reopen schools worldwide, despite the well-known risks to children, have sharpened the antagonisms between these three positions and made clear that global eradication is the only scientifically grounded and effective strategy. …Therefore, the only viable strategy is eradication, based on the policies advanced by the foremost epidemiologists, virologists and other scientists throughout the pandemic. Eradication entails the universal deployment of every weapon in the arsenal of measures to combat COVID-19, coordinated on a global scale, to stamp out the virus once and for all. … The mainstream media in every country now advance the lie that the global eradication of COVID-19 is a ‘fantasy.’ But historical precedents for globally-coordinated eradication efforts exist for Ebola, smallpox, polio, and other diseases, all of which required a massive allocation of resources. … The key elements of containing and ultimately eradicating the pandemic are universal testing, contact tracing, the safe isolation of infected patients, the imposition of strict travel restrictions, and the shutdown of all schools and nonessential workplaces. Vaccine production and distribution must be rapidly expanded to quickly inoculate the roughly 5.8 billion people who remain unvaccinated worldwide. … Only a handful of countries have pursued the elimination strategy, including China, New Zealand, and some others, all of which must be studied carefully. However, recent outbreaks in each of these countries, as well as major surges in Australia, Vietnam and other countries that had almost entirely suppressed viral transmission, underscore that the eradication strategy must be global in scope and that no single country can defeat the pandemic alone.” —World Socialist Web Site
Below is my repost of an article by WSWS authors in their critical review of three ways to combat and stop the COVID-19 pandemic. As the above excerpt clearly reveals, the pro-socialist authors are persuaded that among the three approaches, global eradication, led by a “powerful international and unified mass movement of the working class, is the only scientifically grounded and effective strategy. Only a mass movement that is not driven by the profit motive and fettered to the obsessive pursuit of personal wealth can generate the social force required to compel a change in policy.”
Hands up those who believe that only a “powerful international and unified mass movement of the working class” can save humanity from this COVID-19 pandemic? Yeah, right! – Me neither.
But I do subscribe to Dr. Nate Hagens’ vision of the future:
“Humanity is not in harmony with our biophysical reality, and adjustments are on the way. People are starting to realize that the business-as-usual road ahead is closed. All possible futures exist as a probability distribution between ‘bad’ and ‘great’ futures… feelings of uncertainty impel us to mentally create and believe in a positive future vision. Individually, the range of our perceived future outcomes may range between ‘no problem’ and ‘we’re screwed.’ Fixed, biased personal viewpoints can subvert interpersonal communications about ‘the future’. We need many more creative people to conceptualize alternative paths forward, constrained, of course, by our biophysical reality. However, given our fossil-fuel-based supercharged economies, we’re headed for a smaller more chaotic economy. … the future is not yet certain, but many benign and even wonderful futures are still on the table.”
And, if I may add: “Life finds a way.”
My repost includes added subheadings, highlighted text, images, and, at the bottom, a link to two related articles. Alternatively, to read the complete piece on the publisher’s website, click on the following linked title.
COVID-19 pandemic is again on the rise: At this critical juncture, how is it to be dealt with?
All over the world, COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths are again on the rise. The United States is again at the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 155,000 COVID-19 cases and 967 deaths officially reported Thursday. The number of breakthrough* cases among fully vaccinated people rises each day, underscoring the dangers posed by new variants of SARS-CoV-2. [*breakthrough infections occur when vaccinated individuals contract the disease they’ve been vaccinated against. While that may initially sound startling, breakthrough infections are expected since no vaccine is 100% effective at preventing infection.]
Falsely downplayed as a disease of the elderly, the virus is increasingly infecting young adults and unvaccinated children. In the second week of August, over 121,000 children tested positive for the virus and a record of over 1,900 were hospitalized in the US alone, figures which are set to skyrocket in the coming weeks amid the full reopening of schools.
At this critical juncture, how is the pandemic to be dealt with?
Three strategies have emerged: herd immunity, mitigation, eradication
The battle lines in this global struggle have been clearly drawn. Three basic strategies for approaching the virus have emerged: 1) “herd immunity”; 2) mitigation; and 3) eradication. The global spread of the highly infectious Delta variant and the drive to fully reopen schools worldwide, despite the well-known risks to children, have sharpened the antagonisms between these three positions and made clear that global eradication is the only scientifically grounded and effective strategy.
Recent studies reveal that the “herd immunity” policy has no scientific credibility
“Herd Immunity”*—the bogus claim that the rapid spread of the virus among the younger and hardier sections of the population will create a human shield around the most vulnerable—is not a strategy for fighting the virus and saving lives. It is, rather, a cold-blooded policy aimed at protecting the financial, business and geopolitical interests of the ruling elites, whatever the cost in human lives. It opposes any anti-COVID measures that impinge on these interests, such as lockdowns, school closures and even masking. It promotes distrust and hatred of science, even to the point of encouraging resistance to vaccination. [*Herd immunity refers to the claim that if, through vaccination, a majority of a population produce antibodies to COVID-19, then the virus will have less opportunity to spread and infect fewer unvaccinated people. Many countries rely on mass inoculation instead of natural means to achieve herd immunity. But clinical studies show that vaccine-induced immunity wanes over time. Moreover, with the Delta variant, herd immunity through vaccination is impossible.]
“Herd immunity” began as a reckless experiment in Sweden, which refused to implement lockdowns in March 2020 and achieved a death rate nearly 10 times higher than its neighbor Finland. Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell wrote to his Finnish counterpart on March 13, 2020, “One point might speak for keeping schools open in order to reach herd immunity more quickly.”
The phrase “the cure can’t be worse than the disease” was adopted by Trump, Boris Johnson, Bolsonaro, and Modi
This strategy was given ideological justification by Thomas Friedman of the “liberal” New York Times, who praised Sweden’s approach and wrote on March 23, 2020, “Is this cure [of lockdowns]—even for a short while—worse than the disease?” This phrase—“the cure can’t be worse than the disease”—was immediately seized upon by Donald Trump in the US, Boris Johnson in the UK, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Narendra Modi in India and other fascistic figures.
Collectively, the countries that have pursued herd immunity most aggressively account for the vast majority of the estimated over 10 million deaths worldwide.
“No more fucking lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands!” – Boris Johnson
The herd immunity policy utilizes disinformation campaigns to spread confusion and conspiracy theories within the population, cultivating the most backward and fascistic conceptions. It has no scientific credibility and is based on the application of the 19th century Social Darwinist conception of the “survival of the fittest.” Its utterly reactionary character was summed up in the words of Boris Johnson, who blurted out last November, “No more f***ing lockdowns, let the bodies pile high in their thousands!”
Mitigation strategies include: masking, distancing, testing, contact tracing, patient isolation, ventilation, vaccination, and more
The second strategic approach towards the pandemic is so-called “mitigation,” an amorphous collection of measures that tries to negotiate between the realities of the virus and the financial interests of the ruling elites. This strategy amounts to the epidemiology of the golden mean.
But mitigation strategies do not lead to the effective containment of the virus
There is a broad spectrum of mitigation measures that limit the spread of COVID-19, including masking, social distancing, testing, contact tracing, isolation of infected patients, ventilation, vaccinations, and others. Such measures have a role to play in reducing the velocity of viral transmission. But they do not lead to the effective containment of the virus and, in the absence of a strategy to sever the chain of viral transmission, can actually become counterproductive.
Vaccinations and masking are the two major mitigation approaches; Biden and Trudeau are two proponents of these two measures
The two major elements advocated by proponents of the mitigation strategy are vaccinations and masking. Extraordinary claims have been made by the Biden administration in the US, Trudeau in Canada and many others worldwide that the simple combination of these measures will bring an end to the pandemic. These claims are based on a gross distortion of the character of the Delta variant.
First, vaccinations alone have proven ineffective against the Delta variant
First, it has been scientifically proven that the Delta variant is too transmissible and vaccine-resistant for vaccinations alone to put an end to infections. A recent theoretical model by Dr. Malgorzata Gasperowicz at the University of Calgary estimated that with 64 percent of the population fully vaccinated and assuming the vaccines have 60 percent efficacy against the Delta variant, the R number* would likely remain at the highly elevated 3.7. Her model found that only through the combination of vaccinations and public health measures including lock-downs would the R number be reduced to 0.86. [*R number is a way of rating coronavirus or any disease’s ability to spread. R is the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, on average. Measles has an R number of 15 in populations without immunity. That means, on average, one person will spread measles to 15 others.”]
Second, masks used by the general public are “totally inadequate” for the viral load of the Delta variant
Second, the types of masks used by the general public are totally inadequate for the Delta variant, which is vastly more transmissible and produces a viral load roughly 1,000 times higher than the wild type of the virus. Given this extreme viral load, some scientists have estimated that one second of exposure to the Delta variant is equivalent to 15 minutes of exposure to the wild type of the virus, with the widely-used cloth and surgical masks leaving individuals largely unprotected. To make matters worse, the masks are often used improperly by a public that does not clearly understand, as a result of miseducation and false information, the process of viral transmission.
Earlier this year, Biden and other world governments proclaimed the pandemic to be over
This spring and summer, the Biden administration and other world governments proclaimed the pandemic to be over, presenting the vaccine as a magic bullet and telling vaccinated individuals they could remove masks and throw all caution to the wind. They sanctioned the full reopening of schools, claiming that unvaccinated children could be protected simply by mask-wearing.
Presently, this good-news advice has exploded by mass infections in schools and workplaces
Within weeks, these falsehoods have been exploded by the reality of mass infections in schools and workplaces throughout the US, including an estimated 35,000 symptomatic “breakthrough infections” (the infection of vaccinated individuals) each week.
Everyone must “learn to live with the virus” has become the mantra of politicians and corporate media
The mantra for the politicians and corporate media who advocate the mitigation strategy is that everyone must “learn to live with the virus.” Proponents of mitigation fundamentally accept that COVID-19 will become endemic, that there will always be a persistent low level of infections and even periodic surges that strain hospitals to their breaking point. Economically and politically, the mitigation strategy accepts the basic framework that the interests of the corporations cannot be impinged upon.
Deluded mitigationists hold that COVID-19 will eventually become as harmless as the common cold
Mitigation is to epidemiology what reformism is to capitalist politics. Just as the reformist harbors the hope that gradual and piecemeal reforms will, over time, lessen and ameliorate the evils of the profit system, the mitigationists nourish the delusion that COVID-19 will eventually evolve into something no more harmful than the common cold. This is a pipe dream totally divorced from the science of the pandemic.
In reality, as it spreads, the virus will mutate into more infectious, deadly, vaccine-resistant variants
In reality, as long as the virus spreads it will continue to mutate into new, more infectious, lethal and vaccine-resistant variants that threaten all of humanity. Unless it is eradicated on a world scale, the embers of COVID-19 will continue to burn and create the conditions for the virus to flare up anew.
Those who advocate the mitigation strategy want to negotiate with COVID-19, but the coronavirus refuses to negotiate with them. It is driven not by logical arguments, but by the remorseless laws of viral transmission.
Eradication of the virus on a global scale is humanity’s only viable strategy to combat COVID-19
Therefore, the only viable strategy is eradication, based on the policies advanced by the foremost epidemiologists, virologists and other scientists throughout the pandemic. Eradication entails the universal deployment of every weapon in the arsenal of measures to combat COVID-19, coordinated on a global scale, to stamp out the virus once and for all.
The mainstream media in every country now advance the lie that the global eradication of COVID-19 is a “fantasy.” But historical precedents for globally-coordinated eradication efforts exist for Ebola, smallpox, polio, and other diseases, all of which required a massive allocation of resources.
“The combination of vaccination programs, broad public health measures and a global interest in combating the disease could make eradication possible worldwide”
In an analysis presented last week in the international journal BMJ Global Health, Professors Michael Baker and Nick Wilson from the University of Otago, Wellington, determined that the global eradication of COVID‐19 is theoretically more feasible than for polio but less so than it was for smallpox. They stress that the combination of vaccination programs, broad public health measures and a global interest in combating the disease could make eradication possible worldwide.
The “key elements” of containing and eradicating the pandemic include —
The key elements of containing and ultimately eradicating the pandemic are —
“Significance of regular, widespread testing and universal contact tracing—which have not been implemented in almost every country—cannot be overstated”
The significance of regular, widespread testing and universal contact tracing—which have not been implemented in almost every country—cannot be overstated. These methods involve a highly active campaign to locate the virus and cut off its access to human beings. The only vulnerability of the coronavirus is that it relies on a human host to survive and replicate. If deprived of this host, the virus gradually dies off.
Other tactics that have a crucial role to play as part of a broader global strategy include —
All other mitigation measures have a significant role to play,
Undoubtedly, the eradication strategy is difficult.
Essential lockdown measures “need only last for a few weeks or months” depending on…
But every correct policy imposes a social cost. The necessary lockdown measures need only last for a few weeks or months, depending on the current rate of transmission in a given country, with travel between countries gradually resumed as they reach zero new cases.
A few countries have adopted the eradication strategy but not with complete success; evidently, single countries, alone, cannot defeat the pandemic
Only a handful of countries have pursued the elimination strategy, including China, New Zealand, and some others, all of which must be studied carefully. However, recent outbreaks in each of these countries, as well as major surges in Australia, Vietnam and other countries that had almost entirely suppressed viral transmission, underscore that the eradication strategy must be global in scope and that no single country can defeat the pandemic alone.
For emphasis, here’s a summary of key elements required for the eradication strategy to be successful
The implementation of the eradication strategy requires
How will Delta evolve? Here’s what the theory tells us, Hamish McCallum, The Conversation, August 22, 2021 — The COVID-19 pandemic is a dramatic demonstration of evolution in action. Evolutionary theory explains much of what has already happened, predicts what will happen in the future and suggests which management strategies are likely to be the most effective. We can expect future pandemics when animal viruses spill over into humans, just as they have done in the past.
Casualties of reopening schools: Children dying from COVID-19 by Niles Niemuth, World Socialist Web Site, August 18, 2021 – Children’s deaths are the outcome of a bipartisan policy to eliminate all measures which would control the spread of the virus while only half of the population is fully vaccinated, including all of those under 12 who remain ineligible for inoculation. The purpose is to keep workers on the job and block the implementation of measures which would save lives and suppress the pandemic—mask mandates, the closure of non-essential business and lockdowns—but would lead to a fall in the stock market.
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