Last Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that five vaccination sites managed by the city, including the massive operation underway in the Dodger Stadium parking lots, will close for at least two days, beginning February 12, due to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccine doses. Thousands of appointments have been canceled or postponed, and timely second doses for those who received initial vaccinations are in jeopardy.
As of February 10, Los Angeles, with a population of four million, has administered only 293,252 vaccinations, consuming 98 percent of the vaccine supply. Health care workers were injecting an average of 13,000 doses per day across the sites forced to close. According to Garcetti, the city received only 16,000 doses this week, after receiving 90,000 doses last week and 29,000 the week before.
Garcetti stated that he hopes to reopen the drive-through vaccination sites by February 16 or 17, adding, “It is only fair that Los Angeles receives a steady supply to meet this moment.”
That the largest city in the richest state of the richest nation on Earth cannot be provided a steady supply of vaccine doses is the direct result of capitalism’s inability to meet basic medical and social needs for the overwhelming majority of the population.
Over the course of the last year, as the pandemic has raged, representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties ruthlessly pursued a deadly herd immunity policy while billionaires increased their collective wealth by over $1.1 trillion and the stock market averages hit record highs.
Today, there are over 10 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic levels, and almost half a million people have died. The huge growth of wealth among the very richest is the direct result of the massive injection of cash by the Federal Reserve Board into the markets and subsidies to big business. At the same time, there has been no significant investment in social resources and infrastructure necessary to save lives.
There is a direct contradiction between the advanced state of modern medicine, which relatively quickly formulated vaccines which are effective against COVID-19, and capitalism’s failure to allocate sufficient resources for the mass production, distribution and inoculation of the population, not only in the United States but throughout the world.
More could be done to ensure that more lives are saved, but the priority of both the Trump and Biden administrations has been to preserve the stock market and put workers back on the job as quickly as possible. The resulting spread of infections has caused new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to evolve, threatening the efficacy of the existing vaccines.
Both Republicans and Democrats have blood on their hands as the death toll continues to climb. To save lives and end the pandemic, workers must unite and fight for their own interests in opposition to the entire capitalist system.