Monkeypox, inequality and imperialism

September 13, 2022

From the September-October 2022 issue of News & Letters

Toledo, Ohio—In July the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency. In August the U.S. government finally declared monkeypox a health emergency. Cases of the extremely painful, contagious disease are rising around the world. It has spread to 85 countries. As of this writing there are more than 14,000 reported cases in the U.S.

This did not have to go this way. There is a well-known vaccine—the smallpox vaccine—which in past years was held in massive stockpiles in millions of doses around the world and also works on monkeypox. But for decades the disease existed almost exclusively in Africa and was not studied by scientists outside of Africa. Although the continent of Africa had thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths, it got NO vaccines for monkeypox, and got none of the medicine to treat monkeypox.

This is one of the more stark expressions of the bitter reality: to the global system of capitalist imperialism, the lives of people in Africa mean nothing. (Another stark expression: two years after the COVID vaccine was developed, less than 19.8% of Africans are vaccinated for COVID.)

Monkeypox, which could have been contained in Africa, and its spread there greatly reduced, is now spreading worldwide.

—Comrade Easley #306400, Instagram: @DecarcerateOhio_33

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