I’m back with your Extra! Extra! COVID-19 coverage. This week, we look at the pandemic from a few angles: personal experiences of having the virus, how the pandemic is affecting sex workers and how corruption, profiteering and discrimination are alive and well, even during a pandemic.
What It’s Like to Have COVID-19
There’s so much we don’t know about how the Coronavirus works, how it affects people and why it affects people so differently. One thing that seems to be emerging is that symptoms can last many, many weeks in some people – even those deemed to have “mild” cases. Racial disparities in health care existed long before this pandemic, and they, sadly, continue.
The Pandemic Makes the Case – Once Again – for Decriminalizing Sex Work
The criminalization of sex work has always been problematic. The pandemic has exacerbated the precarious position the vast, vast majority of countries have left sex workers in because sex work is treated as a crime. In many countries, sex workers have been excluded from economic relief packages because their work isn’t recognized by the state. The rare exception to this is New Zealand, where sex work is decriminalized.
Corruption Continues, Even in a Pandemic
In case anyone was concerned, capitalism is alive and well even during the pandemic, and corrupt business people continue to profit off the suffering and deaths of millions of people.
Last week, the FDA granted emergency authorization for the use of remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19 and Anthony Fauci – a leading face of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force – claimed, “The data shows that remdisivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery.” But it seems the data aren’t quite so clear, with a recent study in medical journal The Lancet finding no difference in outcomes for severe cases of COVID-19 between patients who received remdisivir and patients who received a placebo. By the way, it just so happens that Gilead – the pharmaceutical company set to profit off of remdisivir – substantially increased its lobbying efforts to Congress starting this year. This is the same company that is known for charging $1,000 per pill for Hepatitis C treatment and $22,000 per year for HIV treatment.
Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur charged New York State a premium price of $47,656 per ventilator as the state desperately and frantically tried to increase its stockpile in response to the surge of cases. It’s unclear how this entrepreneur, who has no background in manufacturing medical technology, made it through the state’s procurement process. Those ventilators have yet to be delivered, and the state is trying to get its money back.
And then there’s the fact that hospitals are expected to run profits and, when they fail to, they close. This is a problem across the US but particularly in rural areas where hospital closures mean that patients may not have access to emergency medical care.
But the US isn’t alone in corrupt profiteering off of the pandemic. Reports from Central Asian imply corrupt charities have opened up in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with allegations that small businesses are being forced to donate.
Speaking of Money, What Happened with that Stimulus?
We’ve shared news on this before, but the stories continue of stimulus money not reaching the people it was intended for and continuing to exacerbate existing inequalities.
When COVID-19 Becomes an Excuse to Curb Freedoms
The pandemic has just become another excuse for groups to advance their discriminatory agendas and for governments to restrict free press. This is true in the US, and it’s true around the world. But one glimmer of hope lies in the fact that the homophobic group running a field hospital in New York City is finally leaving (after operating for over a month). Small wins, I suppose.