US Covid death toll passes 500,000 in grim milestone

The number of US coronavirus deaths have passed 500,000 as of Monday (22 February 2021) according to data from John Hopkins University. Over 28 million have also tested positive for COVID-19 in the USA. This is higher than any nation in the world. Both statistics are the worst in the world and the pandemic has thrown a harsh spotlight on the country’s ability to cope with such a disaster, especially during the tumultuous tenure of Donald Trump, whose administration botched the government response.

Premature school opening puts COVID recovery at risk

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the “roadmap” out of lockdown for England on Monday (22 February 2021), with an idea of when pubs, cinemas, sporting events and non essential shops would be opened. However many are concerned at the opening of schools as early as the 8th of March. Johnson put forward his 4 step plan for England to the House of Commons, with the first step being schools opening early next month.

Anti-Asian violence surges in U.S. during COVID-19 pandemic

There has been an upsurge in violence against Asians and Asian-Americans across the U.S. in recent weeks. The elderly have especially been targeted by these attacks; among them was Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old from Thailand who died after an unprovoked race-based assault in San Francisco.

High Court finds Matt Hancock acted unlawfully over COVID contracts

A High Court judge has ruled this week (19 February 2021) that Matt Hancock’s failure to publish details of contracts related to the COVID-19 pandemic response within 30 days was unlawful, breaching the “vital function” of transparency over how billions of taxpayers’ money was spent. The case was brought forward by the Good Law Project, an organisation that is in the process of many legal challenges against the government’s procurement of services during the pandemic, including PPE contracts.

Wetherspoons owner threatens to sack staff if government doesn’t open pubs soon

Wetherspoon’s chairman Tim Martin today threatened the government with job losses if pubs are not opened as soon as possible, in a move which is a surprise to no one that has been paying attention. Conservative donor Martin, who has made £50m from his shares in the company despite its first pre-tax loss since 1984, has expressed concern that the “great contribution” that his company has made to the tax kitty has been forgotten in order to save human lives from Covid-19.

Communist Party calls for “unity against monopoly power”

“State support for the capitalist monopolies and their profits is at the root of society’s major problems, including the Tory government’s disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis”, Bill Greenshields told a meeting of the Communist Party’s Executive Committee over the weekend. “This approach characterises the whole range of government policies from austerity and privatisation to state subsidies and the woefully inadequate test-and-trace system”, he charged. Mr Greenshields said that Britain’s successful vaccination programme owed most to the role played by public sector investment, the NHS and other public health and education institutions.

Slow vaccine roll out intensifies Tory COVID-19 incompetence

The UK has now administered the first COVID-19 vaccinations to over 5.4 million members of the population according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest update on Friday 22 January. The rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and, more recently, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been lauded by Conservative MPs as large success of an otherwise shambolic and devastating response to the coronavirus crisis.

Communists: “underinvestment and privatisation to blame for COVID-19 death rate”

“Decades of underinvestment and privatisation in our health, elderly care and emergency services have produced Britain’s disastrous COVID-19 death rate – the sixth worst in the world”, according to the Communist Party. Speaking to the party’s Political Committee on Wednesday evening (20 January 2021), general secretary Robert Griffiths said the Tory government’s late and inadequate response to the coronavirus had added a “deadly twist” to the figures.