Begging For A Vaccine, by Sharon Black + Cuba and COVID 19 Public Health, Science and Solidarity


Image by Doc Searls via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Sharon Black
Struggle ★ La Lucha
February 26, 2021

This is what it’s like in the United States, people desperately competing with each other to get jabbed with a needle. Of course, it’s not just any needle, it’s a potentially life saving vaccine.

I live in Baltimore city, and since day one when I became eligible, over a month ago, I began the impossible, painstaking process of trying to get a vaccine. Early in the morning and later at night when I wanted to be asleep, I hunted. I signed up every single day. But no vaccine.

Eventually, a friend sent me a spreadsheet showing how to work the system — not about jumping it, but how to use the internet portals more successfully — and a Facebook group called “Maryland Vaccine Hunters.” I lost myself in reading the posts and finally broke down in tears.

Post after post, told the same story. “My husband has cancer, please help me get him a vaccine.” “I’m 80 years old, can anyone help me.” “My grandma needs a vaccine.” “My mom’s too old to get to the site, she needs a ride.” You get the picture.

It was no longer about me personally; besides I said to myself, I’m tough.

The issue became about, why in a country with as much wealth, resources and technology, can we not simply vaccinate people.

The U.S. military and Pentagon can spend millions on jet fighters and manage to keep over 500 unwanted military bases equipped and functioning around the world, but can’t seem to prioritize the logistics of making, transporting and giving vaccines.

What happens to my neighbors, the older ones, who I used to bring extra food to from the People’s Power Assembly food distributions, or even the younger workers on my block who work at Amazon or one of the hospitals? These are the people I see in the morning and in the evening when I walk, that I love and hold dear.

The complete inhumanity of watching people compete to get life-saving vaccines; to watch people despair and simply give up is unbearable. Or to know full well that this system deems most of us as unnecessary if we are older, or less than human in the case of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people, or for that matter workers who can be expendable, is criminal.

Capitalism has workers globally competing against each other for jobs and over wages; and now we are competing to live during a pandemic. Frankly, dogs have it better than humans under capitalism.

Baltimore and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine

If the lack of vaccines, the terrible inequality and decentralized way in which they are being distributed isn’t enough to make you want to scream, look at Baltimore.

Emergent BioSolutions, a Big Pharma transnational corporation, set up a manufacturing plant on the edge of East Baltimore. I live in East Baltimore. Their plant is located next door to the Black and Latinx community hit hard by COVID 19 deaths, is set to produce Johnson & Johnson’s new vaccine.

They say they will be producing 400 million doses, 100 million which are set aside for the federal government and who knows where the other 300 million are slated to go.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott has asked — maybe he is pleading — that just a small amount be distributed to Baltimore and it’s underfunded Baltimore Health Department. He’s gotten no answer, ‘crickets’ from Emergent BioSolutions. In our city only 5% of those qualified have been vaccinated.

Everything is based on what they call the market. They should tell the truth. Everything is based on what is most profitable!

Maybe I could go to Cuba as a tourist and get vaccinated

I have friends that I met in Cuba when I attended the International Che Brigade; I don’t know how I could explain this to them. I remember it was so hard for some of the Cubans to comprehend homelessness; they were incredulous that it could exist in the wealthy U.S.

It’s not only that health care is free in Cuba; it’s about human dignity. At the present, Cuba has four vaccines. You won’t hear too much of this in the big business media. Three are ending their trials. Public health is a priority in Cuba.

If you want to see for yourself watch the film “Cuba & COVID 19 Public Health, Science & Solidarity.” [See video below]

I will bet my entire but meager Social Security check with anyone who wants to wager with me, that Cuba has its entire population vaccinated in a month. Take my bet, I need the money.

Public health has not been cut like it is here. There is no ridiculous patchwork of lucrative giveaways to private companies like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Giant Pharmacy, Walmart, etc. whose confusing websites have been impossible to navigate.

Cuba’s health teams will go to where the people are.

I wish this was just my story, just the story of Baltimore, but it isn’t. The same can be said of every poor and oppressed community in the United States. In Indigenous communities and on reservations where COVID 19 deaths have ravaged in what amounts to genocide. The same can be said for Black, Brown and Latinx communities. And we cannot forget the poorer countries that cannot afford to buy vaccines from the capitalist world.

“Don’t starve, fight!” was the battle cry of workers during the Great Depression. I think the new battle cry for our time should be “Fight, don’t die!” I’m going to fight, and I’m going to organize every old person, young person, worker and friend to do the same!

Struggle ★ La Lucha: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Cuba & COVID 19 Public Health, Science and Solidarity

Dani Films on Dec 8, 2020

A global pandemic in a globalised world. Over one million people have died. What could we have done differently to save lives and livelihoods? In search of collective solutions and best practice, Dr Helen Yaffe and Dr Valia Rodriguez look to Cuba for valuable lessons. By reacting decisively, mobilising their extensive public healthcare system and state-owned biotech sector, Cuba has kept contagion and fatalities down and begun over a dozen clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. They have also treated Covid-19 patients and saved lives overseas. Within seven months of the pandemic, Cuba had sent nearly 4,000 medical specialists to 39 countries. This has been achieved despite the Trump administration severely tightening sanctions against Cuba, blocking revenues and generating scarcities of oil, food and medical goods.

Cuba & Covid-19: Public Health, Science and Solidarity is produced by DaniFilms in collaboration with Belly of the Beast Cuba.

English subtitles embedded, select subtitles/CC for Spanish subtitles.

If you would like to donate to buy material aid for Cuba’s healthcare system, please do so here:

From the archives:

The Final Dance: A Conversation with Cheryl Deines on Death and Dying, the Pandemic, and Living Our Best Lives, by Kenn Orphan

The Scale of Loss: 400,000 Dead, by Rivera Sun

Global Vaccine Apartheid, by Yanis Iqbal

Covid-19 as a Weapon in Colonial Genocide, by Rainer Shea

Chris Hedges and Margaret Flowers: Our For Profit-Driven Health Care System Is Not Designed To Handle A Pandemic

Covid-19 and the Health Crisis in Latin America, by Yanis Iqbal

How Communist Cuba is on the World’s Frontlines Against Coronavirus