William Silversmith assesses the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and outlines a socialist strategy for responding to the full spectrum failure of the U.S. government.
It is illustrative to consider how people would respond to a massive radiation leak that poisoned the whole world. Would people blithely exclaim, “You gotta live your life!” and walk around with smiles plastered on their faces as radioisotopes nestled into their lungs? Would the people watching national and global life expectancy plunge while disability rates sharply rise feel social behavior, entrenched in the pre-pandemic pattern, has become so detached from reality that daily life feels like one is surrounded by the melted clocks from The Persistence of Memory? Would scientists accurately note that beta emitters must be filtered out of the air via HVAC or fitted face respirators to prevent the premature death and disabling of the population—and be ignored?
Would the rejected hormesis hypothesis be revived with TV anchors encouraging millions at a time to inhale a mild dose of Strontium-90 or Iodine-131 because a little radiation is good for you?1
Perhaps they would draw subtle distinctions between the biological effects of Cesium and Uranium or between different proportions of isotopes within a chemical species. Uranium is a heavy metal, but Iodine is a natural element your body needs, right? Indeed, after the fallout from a nuclear explosion dusted half the nation for a few weeks, would all food and soil contamination be compared to the absolute peak irradiation rate instead of the natural background rate?
This scenario is simultaneously absurd yet disturbingly credible given our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth year of the pandemic, the state has decided that its best interest is in making the pandemic invisible for the short term benefit of business and private wealth. The crisis fades from the headlines while in some ways it is getting worse. While the daily death toll has fallen from thousands to hundreds, the prospects for the virus have been improving with the removal of protections. This is why we are seeing the wild proliferation of immune evasive and transmission enhancing variants descended from the Omicron lineage.
The capitalist media, and astoundingly even many socialists, refer to our current period as the “post-pandemic era.” From a behavioral standpoint, many people have ceased responding to reality aided by powerful cognitive dissonance, adversarial health communications and the carefully orchestrated dropping of aid and protection by government, health, business, media, and military authorities. The ongoing pandemic is a new phase of the class war that has highlighted for all to see that correct scientific ideas and public health measures are almost totally subservient to capitalist class interests.
Yet the threat of COVID-19 is still very much present. If caged dogs ceased responding to a predator, what would we call that? The phrase “learned helplessness” comes to mind. Unfortunately, we cannot manifest the environment of 2019 using the power of positive thinking anymore than we can manifest socialism purely by wishing it were so and pretending the capitalist state does not exist.
People are still dying and becoming disabled by COVID-19 in large numbers, mainly from reinfections (most of the population has already been infected at least once). Those still paying attention to the science journals, the reality-based community, see new discoveries of post-infection problems several times a week from even mild cases. It remains to be seen what the equilibrium level of Long COVID in the population will be. It is still uncertain how many will recover from acute COVID infection, and if they do, the time scales are only known for the fastest recovering problems. Some manifestations of Long COVID (and associated post-COVID conditions) may persist for a lifetime. Dr. Tendros, The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that about one in ten infections, potentially hundreds of millions of people, will be at risk for Long COVID and will need long term care over the next few years given the let-it-rip policy.
In the near term, while we can try to estimate how many people may have Long COVID from controlled studies, it is more difficult to accurately measure the total prevalence as biomarker tests and diagnostic guidelines are still being developed. Given the general social delusion, fear of becoming disabled in an ableist society that has rediscovered its love of eugenics, lack of clear information about Long COVID, the lack of treatments available, lack of insurance, and long lines at Long COVID specialty clinics, it’s likely that many people will fail to attribute their new problems to COVID-19 infection, which is now stated by some to “just be a cold.” Many will underreport their issues on questionnaires and try to cope without seeking medical attention. After all, with Joe Biden and Ashish Jha kicking COVID health care to the private market (which will work feverishly and parasitically to leech money from those it can and deny care to those it can’t) by ending the Public Health Emergency and kicking millions off Medicaid, who can blame them? In 2021, before the emergency declarations ended, 8.3% of Americans (1 in 12) didn’t have health insurance.
We can say a few things based on the known mechanisms of Long COVID. Some kinds of disease induced damage are likely to become chronic and may not be reversible. These include pulmonary fibrosis, brain damage, kidney damage, heart and vascular damage, and new onset diabetes. Furthermore, we are increasingly finding persistent COVID-19 infections in the gut and heart. Studies are appearing showing a link between SARS-CoV-2 infections and acceleration of pre-existing dementia.2 Other work disturbingly shows a possible link to prion disease.3 A study of veterans and a recent publication by the federal RECOVER study show that reinfections can cause Long COVID with cumulative risk as high as 20% (and even higher for previous variants) with that number only moderated slightly by vaccination.4 Some relative risk increases are astounding. A major study found a 40% increase in the prevalence of auto-immune disease among those infected with COVID-19 (increasing from 11% to 15% prevalence).
Thus, since these types of conditions are mostly permanent and subsequent infection will increase their prevalence, there is reason to suspect that Long COVID’s steady state burden will be high. Other problems, such as inflammation or dysregulation of gut biota may be recoverable or curable. The rate of injury acquisition versus natural life expectancy (i.e. how many people will die before they get injured) will be important in determining the population equilibrium.
In 2022 alone, about 244,000 people in the United States officially died of COVID-19. In December, the Federal Reserve reported that about 400,000 U.S. workers have been killed over the course of the pandemic since 2020. Up to 4 million facing long-term disability have been unable to return to the workforce as of August 2022. These numbers are not dried ink preserved for the ages, but are dynamically shifting and they represent real people whom we have essentially abandoned.
People who have died or become disabled by COVID-19 are continuing to be left out of the conversation, and are increasingly treated as a traumatic reminder of the ongoing pandemic that is socially considered to have ended. To actively consider them and people who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 complications, would have implications for personal behavior such as wearing masks, avoiding indoor dining, avoiding travel or socializing when sick, or other measures too horrible to entertain. Sadly, many will repress this reality until they themselves join the ranks of the invisible injured—which is reasonably likely to occur given a 10% chance of Long COVID per an infection with potentially multiple infections per year occurring given the uncontrolled mutation of the virus.
“Endemic” is another phrase bandied about by governments and the minimizer crowd. Endemic has two medico-scientific definitions, neither of which is intended when it is invoked in the context of COVID-19. The first definition is that mathematically, the effective reproduction number equals one, meaning the prevalence of the disease is stable, neither increasing nor decreasing. The second definition, more practically useful given very few diseases are present at a constant level and many appear seasonally, is that the disease burden is predictable and manageable. It is obvious that COVID-19 does not meet the first definition, and given the proliferation of escape variants with shifting seasonality (we’ve had winter waves and summer waves that stress our health infrastructure in the U.S.), it does not meet the second either.
While deaths have been declining in the U.S. since the 2022-2023 winter wave, the situation is still dynamic. In June 2023, India just experienced a wave due to XBB.1.16 (nicknamed “Arcturus”) and China experienced one as well that may have peaked at 65 million cases per week. Indeed, Indian wastewater measurements have already recorded a wave taller than Omicron BA.1 in Bengaluru (Bangalore) due to XBB.1.16, though due to lack of testing, case numbers are vastly undercounted. In March, the WHO updated its variant classification definition to allow Omicron sublineages to be categorized separately as Variants of Interest and Variants of Concern.5 In August 2023, the United States appears to be experiencing a new variant swell due to EG.5.1 (“Eris”, a descendent of XBB.1.9 with additional mutations) though it is unclear as of this writing how it will develop.
What is meant when people invoke the word “endemic” is simply that behaviorally, people stop responding to threats to themselves, friends, and loved ones because they feel powerless to address them. “Learned helplessness” might be a more straightforward interpretation of this term. Another scientific term that accurately describes our predicament is “hyperendemic,” which means a high and persistent level of disease burden. That term doesn’t paint nearly as rosy a picture as “endemic” though.
In fact, a more alarming and consistent narrative on the long term evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is emerging among some pandemic modelers. Arijit Chakravarty, CEO of Fractal Therapeutics, a biomedical modeling company, gave a clarifying interview with the World Socialist Website where he discussed a paper his group released on the phenomenon of a Gray Swan, a high consequence rare event that is entirely predictable. Chakravarty noted that contrary to popular conception, the virus is not particularly disciplined by its mode of transmission towards becoming less lethal. For example, it spreads asymptomatically and kills weeks after most transmission is accomplished. Others in the scientific community agree that COVID-19 has properties that violate the assumptions of the transmission–virulence trade-off hypotheses.6
This means that as the virus mutates it is randomly drawing from distributions of severity as it improves its immune evasion. Indeed, there are some viral properties, such as enhanced immune suppression (a version of which was seen in the Alpha variant), that would increase transmission as well as severity. This means that if allowed to proceed, it is highly plausible that we will experience one or more highly lethal waves despite our partial population immunity. Indeed, other biostaticians recently estimated between a 5–40% risk that we will experience another “Omicron event” by 2025 due to ongoing variant proliferation.
The John Snow Project recently discussed how the major changes in the pandemic have been intentionally obscured by using the term “variant” for all SARS-CoV-2 mutants when the proper term “serotype,” accurately refers to a major new strain like Omicron XBB.1.16 with highly modified cell entry mechanisms (since Omicron BA.1) and such a low level of cross immunity to the ancestral strain (on par with SARS-CoV-1). In their conception, we experienced not one, but three SARS pandemics in 2003, 2019–2021, and in 2022–Present with the potential for more serotypes to emerge given unmitigated transmission. Together, this is an alarming and consistent narrative that is obscured in the corporate press and public health practice.
Nonetheless, punctuated disequilibrium aside, while each reinfection of the current Omicron serotype substantially increases the cumulative risk of incurring hospitalization or Long COVID. It does appear that subsequent infections are less likely to be as severe as a first infection (at least for this edition of variants). However, this is a probability distribution and some subsequent infections will be more severe than the first one. Even “mild” infections can trigger the onset of Long COVID. It is not yet clear that risk for all-cause mortality, hospitalization, or new health problems ever fully returns to baseline after infection. In the veterans study, these risks are still elevated at 180 days post-infection. Additionally, evidence is accumulating that COVID-19 may damage immunity via several distinct pathways including accelerating aging of the immune system—a wearable part.7 It is a mistake to consider SARS-CoV-2 a health food.
Perhaps if SARS-CoV-2 was a one-and-done virus, given the vast majority of people have had it already, just waiting it out for a few years would have worked (indeed, this was China’s strategy until November 2022). At this point, it has become obvious (though given our knowledge of other coronaviruses, not unexpected) that people are getting reinfected as the soup of immunity escaping variants proliferates totally uncontrolled. Meanwhile, immune imprinting has lessened the ability of the ancestral strain vaccine (and even the bivalent updated vaccine which included the ancestral strain as what could now be considered a distractor) to counter the cutting edge variants and new vaccine countermeasures are still being developed.8
Medically vulnerable people have been in protective isolation more-or-less for over three years now. During a relatively low transmission period in spring 2022 immediately after the towering Omicron wave, some people started to poke their heads out. Almost immediately, the rest of society discarded most pandemic protections including mandatory masking in public places. So-called “Freedom,” meaning a media synthesized and socially reinforced simulacrum of 2019 for the most ignorant, weak-willed, and selfish in society, now meant indefinite protective isolation for the medically vulnerable.
There are millions of medically vulnerable people in society. We are in the midst of a eugenic sacrifice; sometimes the media is so bold as to say so.9
However, there is a wrinkle in this story that gives me some hope. While those jacked into the 2019 matrix believe at some level that they are sacrificing others’ lives and health for their own liberty, they are being misled. COVID-19 will damage their bodies and render them medically vulnerable faster than they can imagine. Even without that effect, everyone becomes medically vulnerable eventually. There is no permanent way to slice apart these populations.
To put it succinctly, these dreamers are self-immolating. This essential difference from 1930s racial, ethnic, and religious categorization means that in principle, we are all in the same boat and education can pierce propaganda by appealing to self-interest. The dreamers must be rescued from their liquid pod and shown the nightmare world of the present so that we can fight together for a better world as comrades.
Yet, it is a near-universal experience that having tasted “freedom,” the majority do not want to even discuss the pandemic claiming thousands of lives every week. Let’s look at why that is.
Part of it is lived experience. With the vast majority, more than 70% of the population, perhaps as high as 97% as of July 2022, having contracted COVID-19 at least once, the survivors believe they have been tested and lived. Some have even gotten it multiple times and lived. Some of them have gotten Long COVID, but they do not yet attribute their symptoms to their experience. They now believe they are invincible, and push the idea of cumulative damage or risk out of their minds. They must be invincible, because to have been infected and placed on a potentially pessimistic course is a thought best left repressed. This is an individualistic survivor response, but why don’t they care about others?
Some COVID-19 survivors resent those that have yet to be infected. In a kind of negative collectivism that is common among liberals, they feel that everyone should suffer equally, like we all live in a British boarding school or on Parris Island, even when such suffering is completely unnecessary (of course, for these types, economic benefits should remain unequally distributed). However, in my view, the main reason people are defaulting to individualistic survival responses is due to the perceived futility and hopelessness surrounding the prospect of a collective response. Yes, some people, particularly the all-too-common U.S. libertarian, are selfish, but generally public policy has led public opinion rather than the other way around. Mask mandates on airplanes were suspended when there was still majority support for them for example.10
If you haven’t been paying careful attention to the scientific literature, you will have been lied to about extremely basic facts about the virus at every step of the way. For example, when people wore surgical masks and still caught the virus, they would conclude masks don’t really work and infection is inevitable when it has been known since 2020 that the virus is airborne, which requires a fitted N95/FFP3 respirator or better and air cleaning.
People were told this virus would be a one-and-done and this later proved to be false. People were told the vaccine would make you bulletproof, this was false. People were told kids don’t spread COVID-19 and were essentially safe, this was a lie. In fact, the seroprevalence of children ages 0 to 17 in February 2022 was higher than any other age group, implying that the total antipathy to any protections in schools was used to both get parents back to work and to vertically accelerate transmission to the rest of the population in order to attempt to achieve the fake vaunted herd immunity so that rich people could make money as fast as possible. This is abject class war with child sacrifices, not of a distant other’s children, but of your own. Today, COVID-19 is a leading cause of childhood mortality.
There were many other lies told in service of the business set, so many it is difficult to even enumerate them all (though the folks at the Death Panel podcast do an admirable job). Ever since the Biden administration came to power, there has been no left counterweight serving the people against this unending stream of comforting lies. If you have started to come to some consciousness of what has been done to you, without a visible force fighting on your side, all that is left are psychological coping strategies, most of which involve some level of cognitive dissonance. That’s exactly what we see in the world.
It takes a certain mental toughness, persistence, or high risk status to look at a nightmare scenario with seemingly no exit squarely in the eye. Let’s be honest, that’s not most people; they need some hope before they attempt to defy an angry god. We know from history, and even from early 2020, that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary feats. We also know that it takes extensive effort to organize them before they are capable of it.
Every dictatorship seems unassailable until revolutionaries attempt the seemingly impossible act of toppling it. Then, after much struggle, the impossible becomes the inevitable. Many revolutionaries have stood where you stand now—amidst despair and hopelessness that their country would ever taste freedom, that their countrymen were hopelessly backwards. These conditions do not preordain defeat, and in fact, nearly every victory has been pulled from their jaws.
Yet the question must be asked: Where are our revolutionaries?
A Better World Than 2019
Despite our failure to act, it remains the case that a robust left response is required to combat the ongoing crisis. It is clear that no other political tendency even has the ideological seeds to fight for mere survival in the face of this ongoing catastrophe where the long term effects of infection, let alone repeated infection, are yet to be understood. Simultaneously, the threat of an even more deadly H5N1 influenza pandemic, currently circulating in birds the world over, but alarmingly spreading in small spurts among mammals, looms sinisterly over us while people treat mitigations as an unbearable displaced trauma.
This world historic crisis demands that we rise to the challenges of our moment in history in order to defend ourselves from a dynamic, implacable, nanoscopic species which emerged from the dark forests of our world and which renders unprotected social activity dangerous.
The reaction of bourgeois society across the capitalist world has been so irrational and steeped in deadly superstition that our duty as socialists, seeking not merely to restore the world of 2019, but to a create a better one, is to fight on behalf of the wage dependent proletarian class for the betterment of all of society. Our victory will restore reason to its rightful place as the guiding principle of humankind and, by its implication, enduring personal, social, and mental freedom from the virus. We must politicize the pandemic and starkly present both a vision of a better world and establish the correct enemies in the public mind.
What I will try to outline here is a partial strategy for accomplishing this. I must emphasize it is not complete, just the efforts of a single individual to provide a starting point for the struggle ahead. I invite wide debate on how to improve and extend this strategy from the broad reality-based, non-minimizing left that acknowledges the strategic necessity and moral duty to combat the eugenic program of bourgeois society-at-large.
The start of any worthy political strategy begins with its theory of change. The first theory of change must contain the physical scientific basis for overcoming the pandemic. The second theory must contain the social basis for implementing effective mitigations.
While the let-it-rip policy has been a genocidal humanitarian disaster, and while herd immunity alone cannot put an end to this virus, we have achieved a high degree of partial immunity to the virus across the surviving population. This means that, so long as the virus doesn’t substantially escape this immunity, the effective transmission number (the average number of people infected from a single infection) will be substantially lower than R0, the basic reproduction number in an immune naive population. If we can drive Re, the estimated effective transmission rate in the population, below 1, this will lead to the decline of cases to a very manageable amount, possibly even to extinction of the virus in the human population (it will remain in animal populations).
When the ancestral strain of the virus first appeared, the R0 was estimated to be 2.87 (95% confidence interval 2.39 to 3.44) and was easily controlled with mitigations in China.11 As R0 climbed as variants adapted to human biology, the virus became much more difficult to control. This is what forced China to make a decision on whether to maintain their dynamic zero policy as containment had become much more difficult, requiring extended lockdowns, a huge testing apparatus, and more. China also had administered a mass vaccination campaign targeted towards the ancestral strain, but it was an Omicron serotype that tore through the country. While masking was prevalent in China, many people wore inappropriate surgical masks that are not rated for airborne protection. As far as I know, very little was done to clean the indoor air throughout the country.
Thus, because the Chinese dynamic zero experiment ending in November 2022 occurred in a different state of play and not all potential strategies were tried, I still believe dynamic zero COVID is reasonably on the table with existing technology. The Omicron wave was very difficult to arrest without global cooperation, which China did not benefit from.
Today, now that most survivors have been vaccinated or infected, while the virus is still capable of epidemic growth, its Re is usually much lower than during the early waves where R0 was more applicable. This suggests that mitigations can again control the virus. Still, susceptible individuals are highly likely to be infected in the vicinity of a contagious individual due to the properties of the virus, so that means the old model of wearing cloth and surgical masks is insufficient.
I don’t have a mathematical model to support this, but here are the elements of a strategy I consider plausible. First, the strategy is only viable so long as partial population immunity is maintained as the R0 of the Omicron variants has become so shockingly high. This means, as we make progress, we will need to continually update booster vaccinations and administer them on a schedule that enables year-long immunity as opposed to the current strategy of attempting to tamp down the winter wave.
Second, we need to clean the air in all areas where people congregate, especially in high density settings like schools, factories, restaurants, public transit, and entertainment venues. This can be done using a variety of techniques such as ventilation, air filtration (e.g. HEPA filters, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, re-designed HVAC systems), upper-room or in-duct 254nm UV-C lighting, or potentially the currently expensive emerging technology of 222nm far UV-C lighting which appears to be safe, but whose safety rests on not penetrating the stratum corneum (the upper layer of dead skin), or the ocular tear layer; far UVC also produces ozone gas in a quantity depending on intensity and may exceed safe exposure limits if not considered carefully.12 CO2 monitors can be used to know when to introduce fresh air in contexts where ventilation is practical.
In October 2022, the White House held a summit on indoor air quality explicitly to fight COVID-19. In May, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently completed a draft pathogen mitigation standard. If air cleaning were to be implemented diligently in high density areas, we could limit the prevalence of superspreader events as the spread of COVID-19 would be reduced to short-range transmission in these settings. Since so much COVID-19 is spread through secondary attacks in households, we will need to provide education, materials, and building regulations for improving air quality in homes as well. It is possible to design low power, low noise, and high throughput air filters as has been seen with the PC fan version of the Corsi-Rosenthal box. If partial immunity can keep Re low enough, then further cutting transmission with clean air may be enough to move Re below 1 and keep it there. This infrastructure improvement will also reduce the burden of many other airborne infectious agents as well.
So long as COVID-19 is in the community transmission phase, it is essential to wear appropriate PPE such as a NIOSH approved N95 respirator or a higher grade of respirator. Even once it is no longer circulating in the community, health care workers will still need to use them to prevent its circulation. Early in the pandemic, N95 respirators were not available in great quantities, but now they are and there’s no reason not to use them. N95s will help prevent long and short range transmission and are the single most effective piece of equipment to prevent infection and transmission simultaneously. Even if the virus mutates to evade prior immunity, N95s will still protect you and help keep Re lower overall.
Once the overall level of COVID is controlled and the infrastructure is in place to help keep it contained, methods that work better on a smaller scale such as contact tracing can be employed more effectively. Deprived of opportunities for superspreader events, COVID-19 will be able to be handled like TB with routine public health measures. With the circulation of the virus low, and kept low, through air cleaning, routine vaccination, and masking with N95s when outbreaks occur, a semblance of the pre-pandemic world can be restored.
Of course, in order to get there, we need political change. That’s where we come in. The left has failed on this most important issue. The question is how can we correct this right-wing idealist deviation? I have a few ideas.
The first task of the COVID-19 resistance is to gather together the elements of the left that still are COVID conscious and willing to fight. Due to both the geographic sparseness of these elements and the high likelihood that many of them are disabled or averse to meeting in person, at least initially, this organizing should start online, though local cells can materialize if there is enough local density. If the socialist left is the only political tendency that has the ideological seeds to resist the pandemic right now, we need to concentrate them into a special purpose vehicle for fighting it as all large socialist organizations have apparently decided to simply accept what the state dishes out.13 Thus, this new organization should admit only members that subscribe to a socialist, scientific, and materialist view of the pandemic.
Based on the physical characteristics of the virus, I expect that the public’s attitude and media coverage of COVID-19 will shift from time to time. For example, if Long COVID saps so much of the workforce that labor shortages become more severe, if non-workers are just so sick it can’t be ignored, or when a variant of high consequence appears. Our job is to lay the groundwork for the left to be responsive and capture the energy to promote our ideas and social change when that happens.
The primary purpose of this organization will be to promote a practical vision of dynamic zero COVID to the left, both domestically and internationally.
The initial strategy of the organization might be as follows:
- Gather together the strands of the socialist movement that recognize the threat.
- Model appropriate behavior and communications to other socialist organizations and the public.
- Gather or develop prevention strategies, safety guidelines, and model resolutions both internally and from other organizations and share them with each other.
- Members take what they learn back to their own organizations, be they parties, proto-parties, unions, or other socialist organizations and persuade their fellows to join the fight against COVID-19.
- With the left onboard, we can advance our program within the broader society. It seems foolish to think that we can win out there if we can’t even win among the most politically sympathetic section of society.
This strategy has the benefit of being scalable and also extremely safe for medically vulnerable people as it consists mainly of writing and virtual meetings until safety guidelines are in place.
However, it seems shortsighted to not have some ideas for what to do for when a higher point of development is reached. Ideally, we want to see change in society, not just meetings between activists, though safe organizing spaces are both inclusive to the medically vulnerable and prevent the physical degradation of the left. Here are some tactics that could be used to fight for change in the broader world.
- Writing campaigns to get letters to the editor and op-eds into local papers and other more mainstream press.
- Using CO2 monitors to show schools, businesses, and other organizations that their air quality is bad and how to fix it.
- Phone zaps on politicians and businesses to fight e.g. against mask bans or to reinstate masking in healthcare settings.
- Train people to do FOIA requests to pry the truth about how they made their mitigation decisions out of federal and state agencies.
- Day of Action! Develop a program to color or write messages on masks to raise awareness that COVID isn’t over and show solidarity to each other.
- Call for a People’s Tribunal or jurisdiction by the International Criminal Court as a crime against humanity is currently being perpetrated against the people.
- Politicize the pandemic! Name criminal politicians, think tanks, business leaders, and call for restructuring of institutions and call for criminal penalties.
- Mutual Aid—Distribute PPE, Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, and political education to people and high risk locations!
- For people that are so high risk they can’t leave their homes, a publicized hunger strike might be helpful. They’re trapped in prison!
- Introduce anti-pandemic resolutions into city and state councils.
- Non-cooperation struggles complete with jail support for mask bans.
- Coordinate with unions that are fighting for pandemic protections.
- Developing a coherent program to fight for, perhaps based on some of the ideas above, that will not only show people we can fight and win dynamic zero, but will also fight for and defend popular elements like remote work, Medicaid expansion, free money, and more!
We can fight for and win a better world than 2019. Already, we’ve begun this work to bind together the left around the COVID-19 pandemic through a new socialist single-issue organization called Socialist COVID-19 Organizing Resistance & Education (SCORE). If you’re interested in joining the fight, regardless of what organization you are with, check out our Points of Unity and join our Discord (full membership requires a short discussion with one of our members). This anti-pandemic coalition is still nascent, but I believe we are slowly building the right structure to fight for a better world on this critical issue. We need more organizers like you to be able to have an impact both nationally and internationally.
As a DSA member, my first duty is to my own organization and towards that end I and other DSA members have been working chapter-by-chapter to improve our COVID safety. Along with the DSA Disability Working Group (of which I am also a member and encourage DSA members to join), we proposed a near comprehensive national resolution for the 2023 DSA National Convention that can be found at https://pandemicjustice.icu. While this resolution did not pass, we identified a base of support, gathered reasonable criticisms, elevated the issue significantly, and many new comrades became interested in our work. Develop a program, fight for it in a principled fashion, and you will win people to your side. As of this writing, we are engaged in assisting comrades that contracted COVID-19 during their convention activities.
Let’s do our duty and fight for a better world. The pandemic presents rich opportunities for socialist politics and ongoing social damage, at times lesser, and at other times, sharply more. We must be objective and recognize that our material reality has changed. As socialism is the only political tendency that wholeheartedly subscribes to a scientific materialist view of reality, the potential of our contribution to this fight is enormous.
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- “A theoretical phenomenon of dose-response relationships in which something (as a heavy metal or ionizing radiation) that produces harmful biological effects at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses.”—Merriam-Webster
Back in the day, the promoters of atomic energy and nuclear weapons tried to sell the public that a little radiation is good for you. It was through the activist efforts of scientists like John Gofman that the linear no-threshold model was eventually recognized and adopted (meaning that there is no safe level of exposure to ionizing radiation).
- Dubey, S., Das, S., Ghosh, R., Dubey, M.J., Chakraborty, A.P., Roy, D., Das, G., Dutta, A., Santra, A., Sengupta, S., Benito-León, J., 2023. The Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on the Cognitive Functioning of Patients with Pre-Existing Dementia. ADR 7, 119–128. https://doi.org/10.3233/ADR-220090
- Zhao, Y., Jaber, V.R., Lukiw, W.J., 2022. SARS-CoV-2, long COVID, prion disease and neurodegeneration. Front Neurosci 16, 1002770. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2022.1002770
- Bowe, B., Xie, Y., Al-Aly, Z., 2022. Acute and postacute sequelae associated with SARS-CoV-2 reinfection. Nat Med 28, 2398–2405. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-02051-3; Thaweethai, T., Jolley, S.E., Karlson, E.W., Levitan, E.B., Levy, B., McComsey, G.A., McCorkell, L., Nadkarni, G.N., Parthasarathy, S., Singh, U., Walker, T.A., Selvaggi, C.A., Shinnick, D.J., Schulte, C.C.M., Atchley-Challenner, R., Horwitz, L.I., Foulkes, A.S., RECOVER Consortium Authors, RECOVER Consortium, 2023. Development of a Definition of Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection. JAMA. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2023.8823
- Current variants in the US can be found here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#variant-summary. The European CDC lists the status of different variants here: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19/variants-concern
- Kun, Á., Hubai, A.G., Král, A., Mokos, J., Mikulecz, B.Á., Radványi, Á., 2023. Do pathogens always evolve to be less virulent? The virulence–transmission trade-off in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. BIOLOGIA FUTURA. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42977-023-00159-2
- The immune system has a large, but finite, capacity for self-renewal. Certain aspects of the immune system feature a kind of planned obsolescence over time. A famous example is the involution of the Thymus, which trains new naïve T-cells, around age 35. After that point, many fewer new naïve T-cells are produced, eventually leading to a suboptimal immune response as they decline in proportion.
This paper on HIV discusses multiple mechanisms by which that disease wears down the immune system, not solely through direct killing of CD4+ T-cells, but also by chronic immune activation.
Paiardini, Mirko, and Michaela Müller-Trutwin. 2013. “HIV-Associated Chronic Immune Activation.” Immunological Reviews 254 (1): 78–101. https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12079.
- The latest evidence presented to the FDA appeared to show that the most recent variants have changed so substantially that the vaccine no longer confers much protection from hospitalization after 90 days post-vaccination, though the numbers looked better for critical illness. Link-Gelles, Ruth. “COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness updates.” June 15, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/media/169536/download; A pre-print found that two doses of a monovalent recent variant vaccine three months apart can overcome this effect in animal models, however, these vaccines are not available outside of laboratory experiments. The bivalent vaccine currently available unfortunately reinforces the immune imprinting effect due to its inclusion of wild type mRNA alongside BA.4/5 spike mRNA. Yisimayi, A., Song, W., Wang, J., Jian, F., Yu, Y., Chen, X., Xu, Y., Yang, S., Niu, X., Xiao, T., Wang, J., An, R., Zhang, N., Wang, Yao, Wang, P., Zhao, L., Sun, H., Yu, L., Gu, Q., Shao, F., Jin, R., Shen, Z., Xie, X.S., Wang, Youchun, Cao, Y., bioRxiv 2023. Repeated Omicron infection alleviates SARS-CoV-2 immune imprinting. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.05.01.538516; The FDA recently announced that the next vaccine update will be a monovalent XBB.1.5 based spike. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/covid-boosters-fda-panel-recommends-new-xbb-shots-fall-rcna89331
- “I think this is a critical year because this is the year that COVID will become endemic,” Dr. Chin-Hong said… We as a society have to be prepared for as much as 100,000 to 250,000 people a year dying of those vulnerable groups,” Dr. Chin-Hong said. “But, in general for your average person, it will probably fizzle out.” Dorsey, Dustin. “Bay Area doctor believes COVID-19 to become endemic this year.” May 22, 2023
- Daugherty, Alex. “Travel mask mandates have majority support, despite the viral videos”. April 25, 2022. Politico.
- Billah MA, Miah MM, Khan MN. Reproductive number of coronavirus: A systematic review and meta-analysis based on global level evidence. PLoS One. 2020 Nov 11;15(11):e0242128. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242128. PMID: 33175914; PMCID: PMC7657547. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7657547/
- Buonanno, M., Welch, D., Shuryak, I., Brenner, D.J., 2020. Far-UVC light (222 nm) efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses. Sci Rep 10, 10285. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67211-2; Here are some possible concerns that I have not yet seen addressed, but also I am not well read on far UV-C technology. The stratum corneum varies in thickness across the body and is particularly thin on the genitals, skin can be damaged, and some medical conditions such as diabetes, eczema, other skin conditions, and medications may thin the stratum corneum. I do not know whether the thinning amount is significant for far UV-C safety. It does seem fairly obvious though that an uncovered cut or scrape could allow UV-C light to illuminate live tissue. The following industry publication answers many physics and safety questions, but is not fully comprehensive on the above questions. It does address the thickness of the stratum corneum in skin cancer patients versus healthy controls, dry eyes, and general exposure limits. The publication concludes that: “…the available data do not provide evidence that there are significant subgroups of individuals who, by virtue of age, sex, race, health conditions, or genetics, are systematically more sensitive than average to the effects of far UV-C radiation.” Far UV-C Radiation: Current State-of Knowledge https://www.iuva.org/resources/covid-19/Far%20UV-C%20Radiation-%20Current%20State-of%20Knowledge.pdf
- A notable exception to this was the 2023 DSA National Convention, which I attended as a delegate, which featured a very lightly enforced mask mandate, vaccination mandate, and a negative test to attend. However, these measures were not stringent enough and an outbreak occurred at the convention, though it may not have been due to the main event. It will be some time before a full report becomes available to understand what went wrong. However, I am very thankful to DSA for creating the minimum conditions for many delegates to safely deliberate though a hybrid convention would have enabled many more to participate.