The resignation of Health Secretary Matt Hancock after breaking rules that he had himself formulated, the revelations of connections to board members at the Department of Health, and the use of private mail accounts and WhatsApp communication all show the hypocritical disregard for the code of conduct in the political apparatus in the UK. The range of attacks instigated by Boris Johnson’s former advisor Dominic Cummings are further signs of the decomposing political life of the bourgeoisie. Cummings' revenge in a vendetta from a so-called 'outsider' against 'the establishment' is another illustration of the impact of populism on British politics.
Since Johnson sacked him last November, Dominic Cummings has made all sorts of efforts to scandalise his former boss. At the end of May, he brought in the heavy artillery against the government when giving testimony to an inquiry by two Commons committees. Cummings, himself accused of being an advocate of the policy of 'herd immunity' at the beginning of the pandemic – until his famous trip to Durham, when he changed position on the lockdown – has launched a massive campaign on social media, accusing the government of incompetence and not acting fast enough in implementing the lockdowns in March and, later, in September. Cummings reports a meeting where Johnson said that he would rather "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" than impose another lockdown. The latest Cummings blog posted on the Substack platform, an essay of more than 7000 words, revealed classified mailings and protocols that show the incompetence of Hancock and the rest of the government. This has been further spun by outbursts by Cummings on Twitter.
Whatever motives Cummings may have for his vendetta with Johnson, this 'revelation' of the policy of herd immunity is nothing that surprises us: neither the handling of the elderly, moving to the care homes without being tested for the virus, nor the lack of PPE for the staff of the NHS. As we have written previously in the ICC press, the bourgeoisie has showed both cynicism and a criminal negligence of the effects of the SARS-Cov-2 virus since its beginning. The modelling based on the earlier experience of influenza viruses was not applicable and therefore, the idea of a quick spread through the population and the development of a supposed 'herd immunity' in a matter of months was soon abandoned – although scientists, both in the UK and in Sweden, where a policy of “soft lockdown” was adopted, were still advocating this concept at the beginning of the pandemic. Of course, they deny it now. “But the eugenics-based policy of herd immunity continued, was refined and became more directed. Thus Whitehall came up with its policy of the "Stiff Broom" in order to clear the old and the sick out of hospitals and "back into the community" if they were "medically fit" i.e. into care homes that were already creaking under the weight of decades of cuts, poor wages, inadequate supervision and lacks of protective equipment.” (ICC online 1 May 2020)
Herd immunity is not a 'policy': it is an epidemiological concept. Normally, herd immunity, or when an infection gets endemic, is a process that can take generations. The only other way to develop widespread immunity is through mass vaccinations. In March last year, the world population was as naïve to the virus as the indigenous people of Hispaniola when the Spanish conquistadores exposed them to measles. The assumption that SARS-Cov-2 would behave like an ordinary influenza virus was a fatal mistake for the different modellers, as the prognosis for 'herd immunity by September 2020' clearly showed. But is this the 'fault' of the experts, the scientists, the mathematicians that tried to model the scenario? Biological systems are notoriously unpredictable, but the chaotic handling of coronavirus by the different governments only exacerbated the situation. Scientists were taken hostage: basically, they were told that if one conclusion doesn’t work, you have to find another that suits the policy decided. In some mathematical models made by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team (ICCRT), the different parameters were changed afterwards to fit the desired conclusion that lockdown was the best option (Nature, Spring 2020).
Scientists working under the yoke of capitalism must comply with the short-sighted considerations determined by the chaotic policy of the bourgeoisie. The fast development and collaboration in the development of vaccines shows the potential of science, but the full power of scientific research and development can only be realised in a communist society.
Erik 1 July 2021