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Socialist countries response to pandemic shows stark contrast to capitalism

By Steff Yorek |
March 18, 2020
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Minneapolis, MN - As the number of confirmed cases of the viral illness COVID-19 approaches 200,000 worldwide, we can already see how differently issues of public health and human needs are treated in socialist countries vs. capitalist countries.

COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, a major city in the People’s Republic of China. Local officials took three to four weeks to recognize its significance. Once the threat was clear, the whole of the country and vast resources were mobilized. Everything was shut down to stop the virus in its tracks. People were quarantined at home as new hospitals were constructed, some in as little as ten-day’s time, to manage the large numbers of sick people.

Because there is a cradle-to-grave social safety net in socialist China, people could be quarantined at home, with neighbors assigned to check on each home, identify needs and find solutions. China shut down the country for eight weeks for the singular purpose of saving lives.

As of today, most of the deaths from COVID-19 are outside China, and the epidemic in China is essentially under control. All those wealthy countries, even those with national health systems, have not been as effective as China in combatting the disease. This shows the superiority of a socialist society, where serving the wealthy is not the first priority of the government.

Socialist Cuba is stepping up to provide health care with a spirit of working-class internationalism. For weeks, a cruise ship has been roaming the Caribbean, unable to find a welcoming port due to fears of passengers with possible COVID-19 symptoms. Cuban officials are welcoming the ship to dock; doctors will be screening passengers for coronavirus, treating the sick and getting the remaining passengers home.

Cuba, a small and poor country, has an incredibly dedicated cadre of doctors with a medical community that is armed with Marxism and excellent technology. When I visited this past summer, a group of doctors and public health workers explained to me how thoroughly they are able to manage an outbreak of infectious disease. So far they have only five cases of the virus and I feel confident that they have a real plan, already functional on the ground for this kind of pandemic.

Cuba has an important biotechnology sector and a Cuban anti-viral drug is in clinical trials as a treatment for COVID-19. Cuban Interferon Alpha 2b has proven effective for viruses that have characteristics similar to those of COVID-19. Cuban biotech specialist Dr. Luis Herrera Martinez explained that “its use prevents aggravation and complications in patients, reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death.” Cuba first developed and used interferons to arrest a deadly outbreak of the dengue virus in 1981. The biotechnology sector is being developed to benefit all of the Cuban people and hopefully all of the worlds peoples, not for profit for a small handful.

A sad contrast is the situation in capitalist Italy. A small-scale player in the European Union, Italy has been required to apply intense austerity, making enormous cuts to its system of socialized medicine. Its neglected health care system has collapsed under the weight of the epidemic.

We can see the United States the anti-science Trump administration suddenly scrambling in the face of a situation the is quickly escalating in a dangerous way. The U.S. has a for-profit health care system that was designed to make money – instead of treating people - and is ill equipped to deal with the unfolding pandemic. Programs serving public health have been cut.

A health care establishment that serves corporate profit is an indictment of capitalism. Capitalism is once again showing itself to be a failed system for the vast majority of the people. We need something better, and the socialist counties are showing the way.

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