By Mark Buckley
It is now clear that the ‘third wave’ of coronavirus infections is under way in the major Western imperialist countries, the United States and Europe including Britain. As these countries also represent a hugely disproportionate part of the renewed growth in the infection rate of the virus, it is equally clear that this is not coincidence. It is the policies of these governments which have led to the new upsurge. As a result, these governments and their supporters bear full responsibility for the new cases, hospitalisations and deaths that will follow.
In addition, the revival of the pandemic is synchronised across these countries. According to the ‘Our World in Data’ website there were 644,000 new cases worldwide on December 21st, on a 7-day moving average basis. Of that total, 432,000 were new cases in the US and in Europe (of which 29,000 were in the UK).
The data is shown in Fig.1 below. Not only do the majority of the world’s new cases emanate from these countries, in fact it is more than two-thirds of the new total. This is despite them having just 14%, or one-seventh, of the world’s population.
Fig.1 New COVID-19 cases in World, EU and US
The situation is even more stark and the role of these countries even more pernicious if the nearest large neighbouring countries of the US and Europe are included, Canada and Mexico and Russia and Turkey respectively, plus the largest country most obviously under the influence of the Western ‘herd immunity’ ideology in Brazil. Adding these five countries, the total number of new cases rises by a further 127,000 to 559,000. This represents 87% of the global total, or approximately six out of seven of all new cases. Yet these countries together account for around 21% of the world’s population, little more than one in five of the global total.
Fig.2 below shows only the US, Europe and UK new cases per million population on a 7-day moving average basis. It confirms that a ‘third wave’ has already begun. In all three cases, US, Europe and UK, the first peak in terms of new cases per million (7-day moving average) was in April, at 96 new cases, 52 and 72 respectively.
Those peaks in cases were reduced by some types of lockdown, although the US measures were so partial, mistimed and incomplete that there was another peak at 202 new cases per million as early as July. Because of stricter measures, the new peak of European cases was not until early November at 384 per million and in the UK one week later at 374 per million.
But now, new case numbers continue to climb. The latest level of new cases for the US, Europe and UK are 651, 431 and 288 respectively.
This is the ‘third wave’ in the US and UK, and new cases are six times or more greater than their original peak levels in April. Europe has yet to record a new high in terms of new cases, but the trajectory is clear.
Fig 2. New cases per million in US, Europe and UK (log scale)
These trends also completely undermine the British government’s claim that it is the mutant strain of the virus and its supposed higher transmission rate which is responsible for the ‘third wave’. The EU is heading in the same direction and the US is already there. Neither of them has identified the same mutant strain as driving their growth in cases.
The British government has yet to cite or publish any evidence to support its claims. Meanwhile, a series of experts has cast doubt on them, including the WHO and others.
There is also no evidence for the repeated claim that other countries are under-reporting cases. The countries that have successfully suppressed the virus to one extent or another, ranging through Australia, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam all took similar measures of strong lockdowns (including travel bans), closed schools and non-essential workplaces, and have effective testing, tracing and isolation regimes. They learnt the lessons of China’s containment of the virus largely to Hubei province.
Instead, as Prof. Anthony Costello argues, it is British government policy which has allowed the virus to continue in circulation, so that mutation is a natural consequence. It was predictable and predicted that relaxation of restrictions would lead to increased infections. Unfortunately, this is exactly what has happened.
Across the Western imperialist countries a third wave has already begun or is clearly coming. This is entirely a product of their policy of putting private sector profits before public health. The situation in these countries, including Britain, is likely to get worse before it gets better because the correct measures are still not in place. Only a Zero COVID policy offers the prospect of eradication of the virus and an end to catastrophic loss of life and disastrous loss of jobs.