Tag Archives: WHO

News briefs for January, 2020

News and items of interest from around the world and around the Internet for January 2020 – by IWPCHI

1) If this is true and your revolutionary socialist workers party is not growing by leaps and bounds, then you are doing something wrong:  “More than a third of millennials polled approve of communism”!

The poll that this article was based on was apparently commissioned by a US Government-created anti-communist propaganda operation called the “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation”; the poll is conducted annually.  This foundation got its start as a bipartisan effort to spread massive disinformation about the history of the revolutionary socialist movement.  Racist Republican anticommunist scum like the late Sen. Jesse Helms laid down with Racist Democratic Party anticommunist scum like former US President Bill Clinton and gave birth to this deformed beast of an organization.  It’s planning to build one of the first museums in world history dedicated to the goal of systematic falsification of the history of revolutionary socialist working-class parties.  The “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” website is here. Their organization’s leadership is, of course, replete with out-and-out fascists like US Major General John K. Singlaub (Ret.), founder of the Cold War-era fascist “World Anti-Communist League”, now operating under the name of the “World League for Freedom and Democracy”.  By the way: isn’t this an interesting use of these political terms as a name for a fascist organization?

Here is the link to the poll.

This is undoubtedly the effect of the “Great Recession” when young people across the nation saw their families and the families of their friends and neighbors’ lives destroyed by the capitalist system.  They are of course also feeling the full brunt of the vast increase in college tuition and rent, with wages – until very recently – stagnant at essentially 1980s levels.  The positive attitudes towards socialism range widely among the various “generations”; interestingly even the elderly “Silent Generation” have become slightly less anti-socialist; for Boomers and Gen X ers it’s a mixed bag.  The poll is well worth reading.

I also recommend reading the 1000-plus comments on the Marketwatch article at the top of this item. Americans don’t know anything about socialism or communism; massive confusion abounds, the result of decades of US Govt propaganda and capitalist-owned news media disinformation.  There’s enough material there for at least one article, which I hope to be able to write soon.

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Just stumbled across this little gem while surfing the WHO website on some other errand; I did not know this!

2) #SocialismWorks: (2015) World Health Organization validates elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba”

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3) Illinois joins the growing list of states who have legalized marijuana, but the high taxes are designed to ensure the continued existence of drug cartel operations and profitability, as well as keep US prisons full of people busted for illegal drug dealing and (probably, eventually) for possession of illegal drugs. #DumpTheDems #BuildAWorkersParty #FightForASocialistFuture #Re-LegalizeAllDrugs

Receipt for legal weed purchased in Illinois on first day of legalization, 1 January 2020. Photographer unknown. Source: Twitter

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4) Union of Concerned Scientists 2015 study: “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave: How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions”

Very informative but unfortunately flawed IMO: in calculating the lifetime global warming emissions of BEVs they assume that owners will not replace the battery over the lifetime of the car.

If this assumption turns out to be wrong, the conclusions of this study may have to be significantly revised or even thrown out entirely. Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave – How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions” (2015)

As the manufacturing of Li-ion batteries is the #1 source of global warming emissions over the lifetime of the car, if this assumption turns out to be wrong, the conclusions of the study will have to be revised significantly – maybe even thrown out completely.  Early reports from Tesla owners indicate that their car batteries are often losing significant charging capacity over just a few years.  It appears to me that it is highly unlikely that owners of BEVs will wait until their car batteries lose even 30% of their charge-holding capacity before they either buy a new battery or sell the car (passing on that expense to the purchaser). We’ll soon know the answer to this question.

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5) Apropos of the previous entry: global supplies of lithium for Li-ion batteries have been the subject of much discussion, but that’s not the only material used in a lithium-ion battery. Most natural elements necessary for their production have adequate supplies for at least the short-term needs of li-ion battery manufacture… except for cobalt.  I recommend this 2018 article from Scientific American; and I highly recommend this 2017 study the Sci Am article is based upon, from the scientific journal “Joule”: “Lithium-Ion Battery Supply Chain Considerations: Analysis of Potential Bottlenecks in Critical Metals”

Source: Joule 1, 229–243, October 11, 2017

Zika Virus: Capitalist Press Spreads Inaccurate, Fear-Mongering Unscientific Information [UPDATED 17 Apr 2016]

Countries with reported cases of Zika virus as of December 2015.

Countries with reported cases of Zika virus as of 4 December 2015.  Source: ECDC, “Rapid Risk Assessment: Zika virus epidemic in the Americas: potential association with microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome -10 December 2015”

[UPDATE (17 April, 2016): The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have now BOTH announced that they believe that the latest scientific evidence DOES IMPLY THAT A CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ZIKA VIRUS INFECTION AND BIRTH DEFECTS EXISTS.  We agree with this statement made by World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan: “Though the association [between Zika virus infection and birth defects] is not yet scientifically proven, [researchers have] concluded that there is now scientific consensus that Zika virus is implicated in these neurological disorders. The kind of urgent action called for by this public health emergency should not wait for definitive proof.” We plan to write a new article incorporating this latest information; in the meantime you can review the latest announcements here:

World Health Organization (WHO): (22 March 2016)  http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/zika-update-3-16/en/

WHO:  Zika Virus – Questions and Answers  http://www.who.int/features/qa/zika/en/

CDC:  (April 13, 2016)  http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0414-zika-update.html

New England Journal of Medicine:  (April 13, 2016)  http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMsr1604338

—IWPCHI]

[Author’s note: this article, though slightly revised today, Mar 15th was originally written on 3 February 2015.  In a fit of uncharacteristic timidity we hesitated in publishing it due to the rather broad declarations made by the author, who is not a medical professional.  Having seen very little to date in the scientific literature that contradicts the gist of the author’s arguments we have decided to “let this bird fly”. We have appended links to latest peer-reviewed preliminary studies on Zika virus released this past week by the New England Journal of Medicine.  – IWPCHI]

As usual, the bourgeois press are eagerly trumpeting the latest health scare news in order to increase their profits, with little or no regard for the accuracy of their statements about the disease or the impact their horror stories will have on the public.

We were doubtful about the first scare stories we heard late last year (2015) as they were big on spreading fear and contained little useful information – as usual. It seems that it is beyond the ability of the capitalist press to report any science story without gross distortion of the facts or, in the case of “emerging diseases”, scare-mongering. But after all, the purpose of the capitalist press is not to educate but to make money. And so we are being bombarded by a flood of absurd and inaccurate fear-inducing articles about Zika virus and its possible effects.  We hope that this article will shed some light on the subject.

Our research into this topic took us to the websites of the New York Times, the Guardian (UK), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as a number of scientific papers on the subject. The links you’ll find throughout the article will take you to many of the sources we used to compile this review of the current status of the Zika virus epidemic.

No scientific evidence exists at this time proving a link between Zika virus and microcephaly

We are happy to report that our investigation of the Zika virus reveals little that should terrify anyone. A Zika virus infection almost never leads to death; in Brazil, where somewhere between 440,000 and 1,300,000 cases of Zika virus infection are belived to have occurred in 2015, fewer than a dozen people had died as of 30 November 2015.  [Source: ECDC – Zika virus epidemic in the Americas 10 December 2015 (see pages 3 and 8)]  Only an estimated 1 in 5 people who are exposed to the virus will even develop any noticeable symptoms! The Zika infection itself usually causes either no symptoms at all or mild illness (such as fever, rash and sometimes vomiting) and is over without any lasting complications usually in less than 2 weeks after onset of symptoms. In other words: Ebola it ain’t!

The loudly and irresponsibly spread stories comparing Zika virus to AIDS and linking Zika virus infections in Brazil to birth defects including microcephaly are – so far as we can determine at this time – utterly without foundation.

A note about how science suffers in the hands of the capitalists

All of these organizations are products of capitalist society and bourgeois science. They exhibit all the weaknesses inherent in all governmental and corporate endeavors in the “for-profit” capitalist world. The governmental and quasi-governmental scientific organizations of the capitalists are forced to justify their existence and the expenditures made in their support to a capitalist ruling class that would much prefer to keep the money in their own pockets rather than spend it on scientific inquiry. In order to keep the government channeling money into their bureaucracies, even “scientists” running organizations like the World Health Organization must remind the world from time to time just how important it is to keep the funding flowing in their direction. Epidemics like Ebola and Zika virus can be expected to be exploited for this purpose by national and international health organizations as well as by the for-profit news media. This is why we often see the supposedly “impartial” scientific bodies of the capitalist world exaggerating or understating the dangers of emerging diseases – depending on which way the political winds are blowing in the capitalist nation-states in which these scientific organizations are based.

The World Health Organization was severely criticised for its slow response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. That is a major reason why we think they may be “bending the stick too far” in the opposite direction, overreacting to an alleged microcephaly “epidemic” which is in fact merely coincident to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil. As with everything else, greed-based capitalism poisons scientific inquiry and the news media reportage on scientific topics. The scientific truth is buried under political and economic imperatives of a profit-mongering ruling class that places its own petty self-interest above all else. Political appointees to important governmental posts responsible for the health of millions or even billions of people have proven over and over again to have placed their careers ahead of the public welfare. We’ve seen this with the AIDS epidemic, the Hurricane Katrina fiasco, the Ebola outbreak, the Flint, Michigan (USA) water scandal, the “debate” over global warming and now once again with the Zika virus.

Added to this weakness inherent in bourgeois press reportage on scientific subjects in general and the motivations behind the sensationalist claims made by national and international medical organizations we must add the current hatred of the United States Government and its proxies for the government of Brazil, which is partner to a new economic union of the nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (known collectively as the “BRICS” nations) which represent a serious threat to the current domination of the world’s economy by the United States.  Elements of the Zika virus hysteria appear to be motivated by the US desire to do anything it can do to weaken the government of Brazil economically (Brazil of course being the “B” in “BRICS”).  By exaggerating the impact of Zika virus the US hopes to reduce tourism to Brazil, in particular during the upcoming Olympic Games to be held there this year, thereby putting severe economic pressure on the increasingly unstable current left-reformist capitalist government of Dilma Rousseff of the corruption plagued and grossly misnamed “Partido dos Trabalhadores” (“PT”: in English: “Workers Party”).  This campaign by the US and European press is already bearing its malignant effects; sales of tickets to this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro are reportedly going very poorly, and tourism is generally down as well.

The longer the working class allows the capitalist greedheads to run the world, with each passing day the more serious become the environmental and economic problems we all have to face. It is just a matter of time before these idiots destroy the planet through a combination of wars, epidemics and environmental destruction.  While workers pretend that there is nothing they can do to change the world, the capitalists, constantly focusing on satisfying their mad lust for money, will make our lives more and more difficult to bear.  With their new, idiotic campaign against Zika virus, they have undertaken to pointlessly scare the crap out of the world’s expectant mothers over something which has been demontrated for decades to be relatively harmless.

As a revolutionary Trotskyist political party we are not here to make money selling newspapers – we are here to tell the working class the truth about what is going on in the world as best as we can. We don’t benefit by spreading scare-stories like the bourgeois press does; that is one of the benefits of having a political party like ours solely dedicated to defending the rights and interests of the working class.  Sensationalizing such an important story would only bring discredit upon our political party – we have nothing to gain from such chicanery.  So here’s what we’ve been able to discover so far about Zika virus and its alleged link to microcephaly.

Brief historical background on Zika virus

Millions of people have been infected by Zika virus since 1947 and NEVER had there been a related outbreak of microcephaly reported anywhere – until late last year. Is there any reason to believe that something new is happening with Zika virus all of a sudden?  We think it is unlikely.  We could be wrong – we’re not doctors or virologists, and viruses can undergo evolutionary changes that transform harmless viruses into very dangerous forms.  Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often – if it did, the human race would have been wiped out long ago. 

The Zika virus was first detected in Uganda in 1947; starting in 1951 the virus was detected in humans throughout Africa and, later on, in Asia. In Nigeria in the late ’60s – early ’70s it was found that antibodies produced in response to Zika virus infection were present in the blood samples of 40% of the people tested – meaning that human exposure to the virus was extremely common and that chances of long-term survival after exposure were very high. [Source: Edward B Hayes – Zika Virus Outside Africa]  During all this time that the virus was causing illness in human beings in many countries on two continents NO ONE reported cases of birth defects caused by the virus, nor were there any accompanying epidemics of microcephaly reported anywhere until in the recent Brazilian outbreak of 2015.  In a Zika virus epidemic in French Polynesia during 2013-14 there were reports of Zika virus illness accompanied by the development of Guillain-Barre syndrome  but those reports have not yet been confirmed as it is quite difficult to diagnose accurately.

News reports from Brazil, where an apparent epidemic of cases of microcephaly is now occurring, have screamed that the Zika virus is responsible for these microcephaly cases. BUT AS OF THIS WRITING, THERE IS NOT A SHRED OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE INDICATING THAT ZIKA VIRUS INFECTION CAUSES BIRTH DEFECTS IN HUMANS!  Something very unusual appears to be happening in Brazil… but it’s so very new that scientists simply don’t yet know what exactly is going on with the apparent birth defect outbreak there.  A closer look at the evidence indicates that the reported microcephaly outbreak may be greatly overstated.

Distribution of microcephaly cases in Brazil as of 28 November 2015. Source: ECDC

Distribution of microcephaly cases in Brazil as of 28 November 2015. Source: ibid., ECDC

Notified - NOT confirmed - cases of microcephaly reported in Brazil, 2010 - 2015. Source: ibid., ECDC

Notified – NOT confirmed – cases of microcephaly reported in Brazil, 2010 – 2015. Source: ibid., ECDC  Scary-looking graph – but over half (66%) of the reported cases of microcephaly examined so far turned out to have been falsely diagnosed, according to Brazilian health authorities quoted in the New York Times (see story below).

Over half of reported microcephaly cases in Brazil proven to have been wrongly diagnosed so far

The hysteria generated in Brazil by the idiot bourgeois press in their lust for profits has led to overstating of the number of actual cases of microcephaly in newborn Brazilian babies. The New York Times reported this past week that in well over half (462 out of 700 cases, or 66%) of the reported cases of microcephaly either no microcephaly was found, or it was equally likely to have been caused by something other than an infection like alcohol or drug abuse by the mother during pregnancy” according to the Brazilian Health Ministry.

Microcephaly is not always easy to diagnose in newborns, as many children are born with slightly smaller heads; in some cases, the parents themselves simply have slightly smaller skull sizes in comparison to the “average” – which is, by itself, not indicative of any brain abnormality at all. The “average” human skull is the median size between the largest and smallest – there is variation in human beings’ “normal” skull sizes. Except in extreme cases it is often necessary to wait for some time – months – before it becomes clear that a baby’s growth rate is not progressing normally.  Since many of the people whose babies are suspected of suffering from microcephaly are poor, their ability to obtain the proper medical care necessary to provide an early and accurate diagnosis is lacking – thanks to the crappy capitalist system which only provides quality health care to those who can pay for it.

Microcephaly cases in Brazil concentrated in northeastern provinces

The current hysteria over Zika and the perceived increase in Microcephaly cases in Brazil may well be leading to overdiagnosis of microcephaly by overly cautions medical personnel. It would be more accurate to say that what we are seeing in Brazil is not necessarily an increase in microcephaly, but an increase in the number of cases diagnosed as microcephaly.   Only time will tell how many actual cases there are.  As these suspected cases of microcephaly are studied over the next few months, it is highly likely that many of the babies will turn out to be developing normally.  It is crucially important at this stage of the investigation into this apparent unaccountable increase in microcephaly cases that all potential causes are looked into, not just Zika virus.  The distribution of microcephaly cases may be indicative of regional exposure to environmental toxins, contaminated food or milk or water or any number of other things.   Focusing solely on Zika could prove to be a costly mistake if it turns out that something else is causing the alarming rise in microcephaly cases.

SOMETHING is going on in northeastern Brazil which is causing a significant number of babies to be born with measurably smaller skulls.  The fact that never before have there been reports of increased incidence of microcephaly accompanying Zika infection – even after hundreds of millions of people having been exposed to it – is very good news and hopefully this long-term trend of no Zika virus-microcephaly link will continue.

 The Brazilian government seems to be focusing on eradication of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. This may turn out to be a waste of time and money as well as a wild goose chase that may have deleterious impacts on the environment. A very broad investigation encompassing all possible ways that pregnant women whose babies are confirmed to have microcephaly may have been exposed to chemicals or toxins known to cause such birth defects must be undertaken. It appears to us to be doubtful that Zika virus is in fact the cause of any actual microcephaly outbreak taking place in Brazil.

Adding to our suspicions that the world is going off on a wild goose chase is the latest data coming in from an even more recent outbreak of Zika infection in Brazil’s next-door neighbor, Colombia. There, additional thousands of people have come down with Zika virus illness – but as yet, thankfully! – no increase in the number of microcephaly cases has been reported there so far (as of 3 February 2016).  That is very good news!

Since the virus and its infection run their course so quickly it is impossible to say for certain whether or not a woman was infected with the Zika virus during her pregnancy unless blood and perhaps even spinal fluid samples were taken from her during the time she was suffering from a Zika infection. Reports that Brazilian women had been infected with Zika virus during their pregnancies were often based on surveys conducted with the women after they have given birth – months after their alleged Zika-related illness may or may not have occurred. It’s quite possible that many of these women whose babies have been born with severe birth defects and who THINK they may have been exposed to Zika virus during their pregnancy were not in fact exposed to the virus while they were pregnant. The media-induced hysteria could be creating create “false memories” in people who are only now, retrospectively “remembering” experiencing symptoms of the disease that were caused by other things.

Intensive studies of the apparrent microcephaly epidemic are underway now and we expect that the scientists investigating this mysterious outbreak of birth defects will be able to determine its cause over the next year.  At this time there is no reason for pregnant women to fear for the health of their babies due to the spread of the Zika virus. Health agencies are urging women living in or traveling to countries where the Zika virus outbreak is ongoing to take basic precautions to prevent exposure to the mosquitoes that carry the virus.  Since the mosquitoes that carry the virus are active in the daytime as well as night, pregnant women are urged to use insect repellent all day as well as mosquito netting while sleeping or resting.   

Based on our survey of the available literature from the WHO, PAHO, and the CDC and ECDC there is no solid scientific evidence at this time indicating that Zika virus definitely causes microcephaly or Guillain-Barre syndrome. The Zika virus has infected millions of people all over the world since the late 1940s and has proven so far to be as harmless as the common cold for the vast majority of people who are exposed to it. Zika is nowhere near as dangerous as “Ebola”.  There is at this time absolutely no reason for people to panic over the spread of this relatively innocuous virus.  We advise people to continue to monitor the situation as it develops over the next year.  Panicking does no one any good – unless you happen to be an owner of a print or broadcast media empire – or the head of state of a declining imperialist power like the United States.

—IWPCHI

[UPDATE 15 Mar 2016:  The latest information on the developments in Brazil relating to the Zika virus and its possible links to microcephaly cases that we have found was published over the past two weeks in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The titles and links are available below.  — IWPCHI

“Zika Virus Associated with Microcephaly” (reporting on ONE confirmed case);  New England Journal of Medicine, 10 Mar 2016

“Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro – Preliminary Report” NEJM 4 Mar 2016.  This article relates the findings of the first 88 pregnant women who have been enrolled in a study of the effect of Zika virus in them and their babies.  While prenatal ultrasound exams indicated microcephaly in 4 of the 88 babies examined so far, those results were only confirmed in just one case; two predicted cases of microcephaly based on ultrasound proved UNFOUNDED at birth.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, "Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro - Preliminary Report", 4 March 2016 NEJM (4 Mar 2016) at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1602412#t=article

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, “Zika Virus Infection in Pregnant Women in Rio de Janeiro – Preliminary Report”, 4 March 2016
NEJM (4 Mar 2016) at
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1602412#t=article

Ebola Epidemic: Good news from Africa & Texas; Political Games in New York Threaten to Spread Epidemic Globally

Unidentified Nigerian man and World Health Organization rep celebrate victory over Ebola in Nigeria

Unidentified Nigerian man and World Health Organization rep celebrate victory over Ebola in Nigeria, 20 October, 2014.  Source: World Health Organization/Andrew Esiebo

There was good news this week from the World Health Organization (WHO): both Nigeria and Senegal were declared by WHO to be free of Ebola virus transmission! We congratulate the heroic health care workers in both countries and from around the world who contributed to stopping those outbreaks in spite of tremendous obstacles beyond their control.

Nigeria’s outbreak, thanks to strenuous efforts by the government and health care workers was limited to only 19 people infected, of whom 7 died.  Senegal was more fortunate: it had only 1 case of Ebola and that man survived and has since returned to Guinea where the epidemic continues to rage.  The World Health Organization, in an update published on 25 October 2014, states that as of that date, “There have been 10,141 EVD cases in eight affected countries since the outbreak began, with 4922 deaths”.   There is much to celebrate, but this epidemic is far from over and threatens the lives of thousands of people in West Africa.

Breaking down the numbers, WHO points out that “[a] total of 450 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of 23 October: 80 in Guinea; 228 in Liberia; 11 in Nigeria; 127 in Sierra  Leone; one in Spain; and three in the United States of America.  A total of 244 HCWs have died.”  These women and men are heroic workers who gave their lives selflessly in this battle against Ebola in order to prevent the epidemic from spreading out of control globally – we honor their memory!

We mourn all of the victims of this largely preventable disaster and send condolences to the friends and families of all who have died.  They were and are our sisters and brothers!

Good news came in the form of the recovery from Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) of another heroic health care worker, Ms. Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who has completely recovered from her bout with the disease. Just 15 days after she contracted the disease she was declared to be “Ebola-free” and was allowed to travel to Washington D.C. this week for a meeting with President Barack Obama during which, to prove to the nation that there was nothing to fear from survivors of the disease, he awkwardly hugged her at a press conference.

Yes, kids: there’s no need to worry; head Democrat and Wall St. puppet Barack Obama’s on top of the Ebola epidemic: he just appointed a new “Ebola Czar” – Democratic Party spin doctor Ron Klain, “a longtime political hand with no apparent medical or health care background. He did, however, serve as chief of staff to Al Gore and later Vice President Biden.”  By choosing party hack Klain, Obama pointedly ignored the fact that he already has another person who is supposed to oversee the same work as Klain – but, unfortunately for her, she’s not male.  And you can’t have a female “Ebola Czar” now, can you?  “Ebola Czarina” sounds too “girly”.  We’ll have more to say about this later.
[Source:  Fox News, “Obama to name longtime political aide as ‘Ebola czar,’ bypassing senior health official“, 17 October 2014]

In spite of the major success stories there was bad news as well: The first case of Ebola was reported in Mali;  and an American, Dr. Craig Spencer, who works for the French international medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders (MSF/DWB) returned to his home in New York City from his work in the hard-hit West African nation of Guinea and… tested positive for the Ebola virus a few days later. His case has set off a bipartisan, politically-motivated festival of slander and fear-mongering as Democratic Party Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie declared “a mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus. Additionally, all individuals with travel history to the affected regions of West Africa, with no direct contact with an infected person, will be actively monitored by public health officials and, if necessary, quarantined, depending on the facts and circumstances of their particular situation.
[Source: Press release, “Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Chris Christie Announce Additional Screening Protocols for Ebola at JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports”, Governor’s Press Office at http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/10242014-ebola-screening-protocols%5D

While announcing their politically-motivated quarantine, the scientifically illiterate, allegedly God-fearing, self-aggrandizing coward, Democratic Party Governor Andrew Cuomo, took the time to slander the truly heroic and selfless Dr. Spencer, announcing to the world that Dr. Spencer had wantonly exposed the citizens of New York City to the Ebola virus by refusing to obey the quarantine protocols he was to follow under the protocols established by MSF/DWB: “He’s a doctor, and even he didn’t follow the guidelines for the quarantine, let’s be honest” Cuomo was quoted as saying.
[Source: New York Times: “Cuomo, Shifting His Policy on Outbreak, Opens Up Public Rift With de Blasio,” 24 October 2014]

It turns out in fact that Dr. Spencer was under no such quarantine order and had scrupulously followed – and perhaps even exceeded – the protocols set by MSF/DWB: “As per the specific guidelines that Doctors Without Borders provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, the individual [Dr. Spencer] engaged in regular health monitoring and reported his first symptoms immediately to MSF […] “ ‘Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments,’ said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF. ‘Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management.’ “As soon as he developed a fever, the MSF staff member was immediately isolated and referred to Bellevue Hospital.”
[Source: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.orgEbola: MSF Staff Member in U.S. Hospital“. 24 October, 2014]

In fact, Dr. Spencer had been so careful about checking his own temperature, he notified MSF/DWB when it reached just 100.3F rather than waiting for it to reach the 100.4F threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (originally the CDC had set the threshold at 101.5F).
[Source: New York Times: “Ebola Patient in New York Is Called a Doctor at Ease in Danger“, 24 October 2014]

Both Cuomo and Christie are engaged in election campaigns and are cynically using the Ebola crisis to “enhance” their political careers at the expense of the health of the citizens of their respective states and of the entire United States. To top it off, “[t]he city’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, was not informed in advance of the Cuomo-Christie mandatory quarantine order and was ‘furious,’ a senior city official who spoke to her said.” Dr. Bassett had also praised the actions of Dr. Spencer, telling reporters that he had “handled himself really well,” adding, “I don’t want anyone portraying him as reckless.”
[Source: New York Times: “Cuomo, Shifting His Policy on Outbreak, Opens Up Public Rift With de Blasio,” 24 October 2014]

This public degradation of the top woman allegedly in charge of New York City’s response to the Ebola crisis is entirely in character for the politicians of male-chauvinist Democratic and Republican parties, who routinely use women’s rights as poker chips in their political games to win votes from the reactionary right wings of both parties. Dr. Bassett was not even asked to appear at the press conference announcing the new mandatory quarantine guidelines. What women think is just not important to the men running the twin political parties of US imperialism – not even in an election year.

The panic-mongering capitalist-owned bourgeois press; the under-funded, broken US health care system and the hired politicians of the US capitalist class can be counted to do only one thing regarding the US response to the Ebola crisis: fuck it up. The US capitalist class has created a situation in which ignorant, scientifically illiterate and superstitious politicians are in charge of the response to a major international health care crisis. They pose and posture as being “in charge” and immediately engage in rampant fear-mongering in response to political polls that show that they might obtain a few more votes from the even more ignorant and backward American voters if they would only take actions that are likely to do more to create panic and even sabotage the efforts to stop the spread of the Ebola epidemic in Africa. Many health-care professionals have criticized the new policy, pointing out the hardships that it will impose on medical personnel considering going to West Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola.

Yesterday’s (October 24) New York Times quoted Dr. Dan Kelly of the Wellbody Alliance, an organization he founded, who is currently fighting the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone: “I think we are just digging the grave deeper […] [c]ome on, that’s exactly the move to push people away from going to Sierra Leone and other affected areas. It’s going to escalate the epidemic and not help solve the crisis. If we’re going to get in front of it, we need health care workers from abroad. They cannot feel shunned or discriminated against.”

[Source: New York Times: “New Ebola Quarantine Protocol Seen as Barrier to Volunteers“, 24 October 2014]

 

Of course, the new quarantine rules in New York and Newark will not apply to rich capitalists flying to and from West Africa in their private jets.  They’ll just be waved through customs as usual; the people most likely to be profiled and placed under quarantine will be… you guessed it! – black medical workers and travelers to and from the nations hardest hit by the epidemic.

Under socialism, a quarantine would be made easy for returning medical workers: they would be paid full salary to stay in an isolated retreat in the country they are working in, and it would be impossible for them to lose their jobs due to an unexpectedly long absence.  Or, they could come home and take an extra 21 days off with full pay and lay low until they were completely out of harm’s way and then could go back to work with no problems.  But under capitalism?  What are travelers supposed to do if they are placed under a 21-day quarantine?  Where will they stay and who’s going to pay for it?  What will happen to their jobs?  How will they pay their rent and utilities and take care of their families?  They’ll all just have to fend for themselves – and that is going to lead to people getting sick and still going to work, just as happens now when people get the flu – they go to work because no one can afford to take time off for fear of losing their jobs, cars, homes, etc.  Life under capitalism in the USA is like a dream come true for a virus seeking to spread as widely as possible.  Every year the flu kills an estimated 40,000 US workers thanks to our lack of a comprehensive socialist medical plan for everyone as well as the lack of paid sick days for workers and the constant fear of losing one’s job that is the plight of every working woman and man who lives in any capitalist country.

 

After the twin debacles of the CDC screwing up its protocols for protecting health care workers from Ebola and then the hospital in Texas refusing to hospitalize and sending home a now-deceased Ebola patient, you might think that the government-appointed medical professionals and the for-profit hospitals would have learned something and finally properly trained their workers to handle Ebola cases, right?  WRONG!

 

In spite of Democratic Party clown, NY Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s fatuous and vastly delirious statement that “We have the finest public health system, not only anywhere in the country but anywhere in the world”, the fact is that in New York, just as in Texas, hospital workers report that they have received little or no training to handle the crisis.

At Bellevue Hospital, where Dr. Spencer has been taken and is being treated in a special isolation ward used for tuberculosis patients, a “veteran nurse” who works at the hospital told the New York Times: ““We’re wondering how Ebola is being spread. Is it airborne? There is a lot of concern about it.”

 

The head of occupational safety and health for the New York State Nurses Association – who has been working with the for-profit hospitals “for months” preparing them for the Ebola crisis – told the Times that much of the worry of nurses over Ebola was coming from workers who had received “no training” because they weren’t going to be assigned to work in Ebola wards!

[Source: New York Times, “Bellevue Back on Front Line in Another Crisis” 24 October 2014]

To a hospital worker, that might seem to be a strange way of looking at things seeing that medical workers can only work in Ebola wards wearing the oppressively ponderous protective gear for only a few hours at a time; they also suffer from the disease itself as a result of their handling of infectious fluids from Ebola patients and many have given their lives fighting the epidemic.  But to a capitalist owner of a hospital, every penny not spent on properly training hospital workers to safely treat Ebola patients is a penny he or she can put in one of their offshore bank accounts!  Now doesn’t that make sense?

As if that’s not bad enough: a Canadian company actually developed an Ebola vaccine years ago that was proven effective in monkeys – indicating that it had great promise as a vaccine for humans, seeing that humans and chimps – being closely related members of the same branch of the tree of evolution –  share 99% of the same genetic information in their genes.

A human vaccine was developed by researchers in Canada in the early 2000’s and tested by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (AMRIID) in 2005 where it “protected all the monkeys injected with the virus”.  The Canadians tried to sell the vaccine to a number of major pharmaceutical companies so that it could be prepared for human trials –  but to the capitalists running the show at Big Pharma “an Ebola vaccine didn’t look like a profitable undertaking”.   The people who were mostly affected were poor Africans living in impoverished nations – how could the capitalists make big money developing a vaccine for them?  So it was never done, and only NOW – after some 4900 people are dead from Ebola and the epidemic is spreading uncontrolled – are human trials of the vaccine being scheduled by WHO.  The small US pharmaceutical firm that had purchased the contract to develop the human vaccine never moved forward with it, so the Canadian government canceled the contract and gave it to WHO instead.

“‘If this vaccine had been developed on time, probably people would be living now who are dead,’ said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa.”

“Heinz Feldmann, who developed the vaccine, complained angrily:  ‘It’s  a farce; these doses are lying around there while people are dying in Africa,’ he told Science Magazine.”

[Source: Canada.com (via Postmedia News), “Canada’s Ebola vaccine delays may have cost lives, professor says” 21 October 2014]

The US Government and the US Military have long studied Ebola and Marburg virus for possible use as biological weapons; they have also sponsored development of vaccines for Ebola.  One of the new vaccines had its development halted in 2012 when the US Defense Department cut funding for the project; another vaccine development program was halted by the US Food and Drug Administration on July 3 of this year in order to ensure that proper protections for subjects participating in the human trials would be in place before the trials began.  When the lives of poor workers are in the balance, the capitalist class and their agencies are in no hurry to do anything to save them.  Only after a major disaster takes place is the capitalist class government stirred into action. This happens time and time again with such predictable events as famines, earthquakes, hurricanes and transmittable diseases.  Human life means nothing under capitalism, when it comes right down to it, compared to profits.

[Source: Science magazine, “Ebola Drugs Still Stuck in Lab” 25 July 2014]

The longer the working class allows the US capitalist class and their worthless political cretins in the Democratic and Republican parties to run the country, there is only one possible trajectory for the handling of the Ebola epidemic: it’s going to go from bad to worse.

ATTENTION: Workers of the United States!  You need desperately to put down your TV remotes and your joysticks and start taking control – not of the cable box or the video game but of your future and the future of your children! Get up off your couches and start fighting the capitalist system before it kills us all! You have sat by for far too long, expecting that someone else would come along and save your sorry asses! It is up to every working woman and man in this country to get involved in the fight for a better future for our kids and grandkids and to build revolutionary socialist workers parties – like ours – so that we can not merely pressure the Democrats and Republicans to do the right thing but to take power from the hands of the greed-infected capitalist class and their paid shills in every state capital in the country and place it in the hands of people who give a damn – the political leaders of, by and for the US working class! As the sudden appearance of the medical crisis of Ebola shows, the long-running US working class “strategy” of hiding your heads in the sand and/or voting this year for a Republican and next year for a Democrat just isn’t going to save your asses when Ebola comes to your town! Does half of the country have to die from Ebola while the capitalist class and their politicians run around like headless chickens before you working-class wage-slaves wake up? Will you sit there watching reality TV shows while your children die? What is wrong with you? WAKE UP AND JOIN US!

Workers of the World, Unite!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago