The United Kingdom has the highest child mortality rate in Western Europe except for Malta. The UK’s child mortality rate currently stands t 6.5 per thousand live births.
This has been the case for many years now and a recent research study into the causes has found that deprivation is the key factor which correlates with higher infant mortality rate.
Dr Karen Luyt from the University of Bristol lead the study which found that every extra 10% increase in deprivation, there is a corresponding increase in the child mortality rate.
To put it bluntly* the poorer a child is the more likely they are to die before they reach 18 years of age. (*and maybe crudely as poverty isn’t exactly the same thing as deprivation).
It’s not that being born into deprivation itself directly causes a child to be more likely to die compared to a child born into wealth, it’s the societal and lifestyle factors associated with being born into deprivation.
And the primary factor which causes higher child mortality rates is exposure to smoking.
The programme above features one interview with someone from a deprived background which illustrate how this works – she describes how she started smoking at 14, along with all her friends, and this wasn’t discouraged as her entire family smoked too.
She describes how her friends would pool their lunch money to buy cigarettes and do without lunch and sometimes use the school emergency fund not for lunch but again for cigarettes.
And then when these teenagers become adults they carry on smoking, and when some of them eventually get pregnant, around 6% of them continue smoking into pregnancy, and it’s that which increases the likelihood of child mortality.
(The link between smoking during pregnancy and damaging the foetus is well established).
There have been government intervention programmes to try and help people quit smoking but they are less successful in poorer areas where more people smoke as it’s simply harder to quit when more people around you in your daily life are smoking.
And not to mention cuts to government pubic health funding recently which mean many of these quit smoking programmes have been cut back.
This issue was the investigation of a recent News Night study which you can view on YouTube:
NB – the first half of the video is about the issue of smoking, the second half mainly consists of politicians lying about their commitments to improving public health funding.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This provides yet more evidence of the consequences of inequality in society, and the harmful effects of deprivation in particular, and it’s a useful update to topic of death rates, which have long been declining in rich countries, but this reminds us that even in rich countries like Britain the death rate can be relatively high in deprived areas.
If we look at the agenda of the report it’s also interesting that ‘deprivation’ is the main cause of high child death rates and yet the whole video is about the lifestyle issue of smoking – this might be an example of agenda setting from a Marxist point of view – shifting the emphasis away from the broader issue of inequality to the ‘lifestyle’ factor of smoking.
Finally, it’s a good example of quantitative data analysis – with a research team talking data from the public health database and correlating this with other factors such as the deprivation index. This is is research broadly in line with Positivist tradition.
These obviously stem from people’s theories about what the ‘causes’ of poor health are.
Long term economic growth
The first and probably most important point is that there is a broad, if not perfect, correlation between a country’s per capita income and its levels of health, as measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, overall death rates, and incidents of particular diseases. As countries get wealthier, they get healthier – thus increasing economic growth appears to be the best long term strategy for improving health. Theories of how to promote economic growth differs with different theories.
No one demonstrates the relationship between income and life expectancy better than Hans Rosling:
Currently two of the main global projects are the mass vaccination programme to eradicated polio and the mass distribution of free mosquito nets to populations in Malarial regions.
Improving water sources and sanitation
This is widely seen as one of the most effective means of reducing deaths from diarrheal diseases and involves such things as drilling bore holes to reach underground water sources in rural areas, or treating water in urban areas, as is done in the developed world. Improving sanitation might mean building sewage systems and installing flush toilets. In urban settings, both of these would involve massive infrastructural projects to install.
Many people in the world still effectively die of malnutrition – which weakens the body’s resistance to infectious diseases. Young children are especially vulnerable.
Improving women’s rights and maternal health
The importance of which is illustrated in the ‘Worst Place to a Midwife – Liberia’
Ending Corruption and Conflict – Obviously both of these are a drain on a country’s resources – corruption might mean money does not get effectively spent on developing health services while overt conflict can mean
Providing cheaper drugs
It is Western Pharmaceutical companies which manufacture anti AIDs drugs, and antibiotics, which they then patent and sell for a profit. Eventually other companies make cheaper copies of these drugs, but frequently The World Trade Organisation does not allow the cheap copies to be sold until the original patent has run out – this can be several years. The WTO could put the right to life before the right to Corporate Profit.
Dependency Theorists point out that if Corporations are allowed to make workers work for 12 hours a day in dangerous, toxic conditions, this will have a long term detrimental effect on the health and life expectancy of workers.
Health and Development is one of the aspects of development students taking the global development option for A-level sociology have to study…
There are a number of fairly obvious explanations as to why low income countries face poor health conditions.
Lack of an improved water source
Hundreds of millions of people in sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia especially, mostly living in rural areas, rely on water from local streams and rivers, which is often contaminated with disease spreading parasites, which are ingested and then cause diarrhoea – resulting in hundreds of thousands of death each year from the resulting malnutrition and dehydration.
This is responsible for the spread of diarrhoeal diseases – living in close proximity to open sewers full of human and animal waste products exposes one to a host of disease pathogens
Nearly a billion people in the world are malnourished – this is one of the leading causes of child mortality.
Underdeveloped public health services
In the developed world there is 1 doctor for every 520 people, in the developing world there is one doctor for every 15 000 people. In rural areas, hospitals are spread so far apart that pregnant women often find it a practical impossibility to get to one for child birth.
War and Conflict
Some countries, most notably Somalia and Afghanistan, are currently in conflict – obviously this increases the likelihood of people getting injured and puts additional strain on a countries economic and health care resources.
All of the above are ultimately linked to underlying poverty – as emphasised by Hans Rosling in his various videos.
Patriarchy and Traditional values
Modernisation Theorists emphasise the internal cultural values of developing countries that can act as barriers to improving life expectancy etc.
Patriarchal traditions may prevent money being spent on training midwives and providing maternity resources which could help reduce deaths in pregnancy
Patriarchy and religious values may prevent contraception use – which is linked to the spread of HIV in Sub Saharan Africa
Jeffrey Sachs also points out that Environmental Factors also play a role – simply put, Mosquitos, which spread Malaria, responsible for 5% of deaths in low income countries, are especially partial to the conditions in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
You might also like this post: strategies for improving health in developing countries. Link to follow.
As a genera rule, people in developing countries suffer from poorer health than people in developed countries – with higher rates of deaths from preventable causes resulting in higher child mortality rates and lower life expectancies.
Theories of development aim to explain why this is the case and what the most effective solutions to improving health should be.
Modernization Theorists would expect health patterns of developing countries to follow those of the developed world in the past. They believe that developing countries are entering the ‘epidemiological transition’ associated with economic development and rising GDP
Before the transition, infectious diseases are widespread and are the major causes of death; life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. With Industrialisation, urbanisation and economic growth come improvements in nutrition, hygiene and sanitation which lead to falling death rates from infectious diseases. After the transition, health improves.
It follows that the best way for developing countries to improve the health of the nation is to focus on industrialization, urbanization and economic growth. Improvements in health should follow.
Modernisation Theorists also argue that targeted aid can play a role in improving the health of developing nations
This can mainly be done through ‘Selective biomedical intervention’ – Such as mass immunization against disease, or distributing vitamin supplements to populations, or handing out mosquito nets. One of the best examples of this is the work of the Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation work on combatting Malaria, the reduction of which has been one the great success stories of the last decade.
The eradication of Smallpox is a good example of this strategy working:
One limitation of using selective biomedical intervention is that theexpense means that it is difficult to maintain, and, where the distribution of mosquito nets is concerned, this may lead to choking off local entrepreneurs, as Dambisa Moyo argued in ‘Dead Aid’.
Dependency Theory points out that attempts by developing countries to improve health may actually be hindered by the West
Firstly, if you remember, Dependency Theorists point out that it is exploitation by developed countries that keep developing countries poor and they receive very little income from their dealings in world trade which means there is little money left over for investment in health care.
Secondly, there is the problem of the ‘brain drain’ from the developing to the developed world. At least one in ten doctors in the west has been poached from the developing world – it is obviously much more appealing for people in Africa and Asia to work in Britain where they can receive several times the salary they would in their native country.
Thirdly, Many African companies have had to pay high costs for pharmaceuticals manufactured by Western corporations. This is especially true of AIDS drugs. Western companies are thus accused of exploiting desperate people in Africa.
Finally, some Transnational Corporations have actually contributed to health problems through selling products that would not be regarded as safe in the West, not to mention polluting in the pursuit of profit.
A recent series of videos by the Corbett Report offer a critical look at the role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in global health generally and in our response to covid-19 more specifically.
The report suggests that our rush to develop a vaccine for the entire world population isn’t necessarily in the interests of the people, but really about establishing a global population control grid through the rolling out of biometric ‘passports’ which prove people have been vaccinated.
Ultimately the normalisation of vaccines and vaccine passports will benefit big pharma companies, bit tech companies, Bill Gates himself and governments, and make populations easier to keep under surveillance and to control: once they have all our biometric data, it’s easy to link this to government records, and access to finance, for example.
This analysis is broadly in line with a modern day Dependency Theory/ Marxist perspective on global health which is critical of the role of biomedical intervention in dealing with global health problems.
The post below summarises a two hour long video by the Corbett Report, which is available here with the full transcript and links.
How Bill Gates Monopolised Global Health
In the late 1990s and early 2000s Bill Gates established something of a miraculous monopoly with his plagiarised, bloated and virus ridden software: Microsoft Windows, and he was rightly despised for that.
However, in 2021, Bill Gates is now presented to us as a generous philanthropist, one of the richest and most generous men in the world using his wealth for the great good of humanity, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates has somehow managed to transform his image from that of evil software monopolist into Global Health Guru, spearheading Global Health Initiatives which have helped to save millions of lives over the last decade.
However the Corbett Report suggests we should not be taken in by this reworking Bill Gate’s Image – it is a similar re-invention to that of J.D. Rockefeller – who used to be despised as the head of the wealthiest oil corporation in America but in later life used his wealth to establish charitable foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and re-invent himself as a kindly old man in the process.
Bill Gate’s Image as a modern day Saint is achieved by buying good publicity – the Foundation has spent tens of billions of dollars Media partnerships such as
Our World in Data
The Global Development section of The Guardian and
BBC Global Development news.
Among other sources
And funding these media outlets which report on Global Health means it is less likely that Gates is going to be criticised.
NB – crucial point here: while the the Gates Foundation has funding several global health initiatives over the last decade with billions of dollars in contributions, Bill Gates also controls another for-profit institution – the Bill Bill and Melinda Gates Trust with $46.8 Billion on its books, which tends to profit from the initiatives the foundation funds, AND Bill Gates as got richer over the past decade – in fact his wealth has doubled from around $50 billion to over $100 billion!
The Gates Foundation has funded every major global health initiative of the last two decades and is major player in global health and the response to Covid-19.
Just some of its donations over the last decade include:
Huge amounts to set up Gavi – the Global Vaccine Alliance
The Gates Foundation is the second largest donor to the the World Health Organisation after the United States.
It has pledged $250 to the Covid-19 Response
It funded the work of two research groups which were crucial to convincing governments around the world to go into Lockdown- The Imperial College Research Team (funded by 80 from B and G) and the Institute for health Metrics and Evaluation ($200 million received).
The response the Covid-19 has largely been driven by institutions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the narrative of the importance of ‘developing a ‘Good Vaccine’ in order to get back to normal stems from institutions funded by the Foundation.
Ultimately we should be critical of the fact that our response to the largest pandemic of our times is being driven by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which isn’t a philanthropic institution, it is driven by the interests of the Gates Family, which seem to involve making Bill Gates richer, and which can change on a whim.
As is explored in part two, the agenda of the Foundation for the last decade has been to ‘develop markets’ for vaccines, benefitting pharmaceutical companies.
Bill Gates Plan to Vaccinate the World
In January 2010 Bill and Melinda Gates announced a $10 billion commitment to launch a ‘Decade of Vaccines’ which would save ‘eight million lives’, in line with one of its core funding areas, that of ‘vaccine development and surveillance’
This led to the development of the following:
A global vaccine action plan adminsitered by the Gate’s Funded World Health Organisation
However, the Corbett Report’s view on this is that the main beneficiaries would be the Big Pharma companies who stood to profit from so many vaccines and greater power and control for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the global health agenda.
The entire Covid-19 agenda has been shaped by a narrative coming from institutions funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – that we cannot get back to normal until a ‘good vaccine’ is developed, and this will take at least 18 months.
HOWEVER, the Corbett Report suggests that we should be wary of this message – thinking back to two recent other Pandemics – SARS and MERS – we did not develop a vaccine against them, many pro-vaccine scientists are skeptical about the possibility of being able to develop a truly effective vaccine, and an final problem is that vaccines may just make Coronavirus tougher – through ‘disease enhancement’.
What we are doing is rushing through an experimental vaccine, not testing it thoroughly before administering it to literally billions of people, and it is those people who bare the risk, not the Pharma companies who are being given legal immunity if anything backfires.
The report lists a few examples of where the Gates Foundation has worked with governments to establish vaccine programmes – for Polio and Meningitis – and there is some evidence that these vaccines actually led to hundreds of thousands of people developing chronic conditions because of being given the vaccines.
We are then reminded that the primary aim of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to work with governments to establish vaccine programmes which in turn opens up vaccine markets for the large Pharmaceutical Companies they work with – all of this also benefits the Bill and Melinda Gates Trust and Bill Gates own personal wealth too!
Bill Gates and the Population Control Grid
Bill Gate’s PR hacks consistently depict him as a superhero, using his ‘superpower’ of being very rich to help ‘save the planet’.
However, the idea of the billionaire philanthropist helping the world is merely that, an idea, a fiction.
The Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation take over of public health and the mass vaccine programmes instigated through the bodies they have funded are really about gaining control of the global population.
In 2009 there was a secret billionaires meeting in New York attended by some of the richest people in the world such as….
This was about how to pool their wealth to reduce population growth, which ties into the vaccination programme because if you improve people’s health and thus standard of living (especially the child survival rate) they have fewer children.
By 2014 they were championing birth control implants – wireless tech that can be turned on and off with a remote control. The Gates Foundation granted $20 million to MicroCHIPS biotechnology to develop them.
Gates has long been introduced in reducing the size of the global population through birth control, but with vaccines he aims to take this a step further, by controlling the population itself.
In 2017 Gavi first floated the idea of providing every child with a digital biometric identity, or developing a ‘secure digital identification system which could store a child’s medical history.
One example of this is an Indian company called Khushi Baby who have designed a necklace to be worn by infants which contains a unique identification number with a communication chip – this can be scanned using a mobile phone enable health workers even in remote areas to update a child’s digital health record.
Robert Langer and colleagues at MIT have taken this a step further – they have been developing a new vaccine delivery method using dissolvable microneedles (delivered by a plaster like patch rather than a classic injecting needle) that create particle patterns in the skin which can be read using modified smartphones – quantum dot tags which act like a bar-code tattoo.
And lo and behold we now have a discourse surrounding the Covid-19 vaccination programme, led by Bill Gates, stating that we will need some kind of biometric digital ID system which shows who has been tested/ vaccinated/ recovered in order to ‘get back to normal’.
This is already underway, for example Onfido is a tech startup specialising in AI-based biometric ID verification which is in talks with the British government to provided the kind of digital certification which Gates has been talking about.
Oh, and Onfido has received $50 million in seed-money from Microsoft.
NB – Gates has already been involved with a biometric identity scheme in India – a decade ago one billion people had their biometric details recorded (fingerprints and iris scans), headed by Nandan Nilekani, a long time friend of Gates and partner in the Gates Foundation.
There have been similar schemes on a global scale, such as the World Bank’s 2014 ID4D Initiative, presented as means to help the world’s poor access finance, but really being about control and for the benefit of large corporations.
The Corbett Report in fact suggests that the global biometric control grid is really about financial exclusion – when people have a biometric ID, established because of ‘vaccines’ it is relatively easy to link this to access to finance – no vaccine, no doing what the government says, then no money!
‘The vaccination drive ties into the biometric identity drive which ties into the cashless society drive. ‘
Bill Gates is not at all concerned about people’s privacy, he is interested in controlling us, he is better off depicted as a super villain.
Meet Bill Gates
This final part investigates the motives and ideology of the man who is so central to shaping our post coronavirus world.
Firstly, he is not a genius – he got his break with a software company because of his mother’s connections with the CEO (he was from a wealthy background) and his Graphical Interface (Windows) idea was ripped off.
Secondly, he is primarily concerned with profit rather than saving lives – the poorest of the world would be best served by secure food supplies and clean water, not costly vaccines, but there is no profit in the former, hence why the Gates Foundation focuses on vaccines, for profit.
if you take a look back at Bill Gate’s involvement with Microsoft in the late 70s what he basically did was to change a culture of largely open source software development and establish software code as a property right, making it illegal for anyone else to modify the software Microsoft developed, even though he had ripped that off from someone else.
So his ‘genius’ lies in manipulating the legal system to establish property rights for his own benefit. He is a very selfish profit-motivated individual.
The video also suggests that Bill Gates might be motivated by A Eugenicist ideology – like the Nazis were. He has links to Jeffry Epstein who, like him, believes the wealth elites are superior and that we should use population control to seed the global population with the DNA of the wealthy in order to ‘improve it’.
And today Gates wants to set up a web to control:
our public health services
It is likely that this desire for control comes from the same desire for domination and superiority that motivated him on the way up the corporate ladder in the first place.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This is mostly relevant to the option in Global Development, but it also has relevance to the Media option- it’s worth mentioning that the mainstream media would dismiss most of the above as a ‘conspiracy theory’, but you’ll have to make your own judgement call about that!
It is worth distinguishing first of all between the negative health effects of the virus itself and the negative effects of government lockdowns. The severity of lockdowns and the capacity to enforce them vary from country to country, and so the consequences of this politically imposed response to the pandemic will vary greatly across countries.
EVEN IF the stats are unreliable, governments the world over have responded with lockdown measures in response to public concern, which has very real consequences.
Lockdowns are pushing people into poverty, hunger and children are being pulled out of school
This brief report from the ODI puts a human face on the consequences of Covid-19. They provide a case study of one woman in Nairobi, Kenya, who was eating three meals a day and sending her children to school pre-lockdown.
However, lockdown forced the shutdown of her street food stall and now she is eating one meal a day, the children are meal sharing at another household and she doesn’t have the money to send them back to school.
Coronavirus has pushed another 71 million people into extreme poverty
The World Bank estimates that 71 million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2021 as a result of coronavirus, an increase of 0.5% and taking the total to nearly 9% of the world population, eradicating all progress towards ending extreme poverty since 2017.
A further 170 million people in low to middle income countries will be pushed below the global poverty lines of $3.20 and $5.50 a day.
How covid-19 has affected households in developing countries
Another World Bank report from December 2020 used phone surveys to interview people in IDA (countries qualifying for development assistance, mostly the poorest countries) and non-IDA countries.
The results show that the consequences have generally been harsher for people in developing countries:
People in IDA countries are less likely to have stopped working but more likely to have taken cuts in wages.
They are more likely to have skipped a meal.
Children’s education has suffered much more in IDA countries compared to non-IDA countries
Government bail outs are much less common in IDA countries.
This united Nations article suggests that poorer countries lack the capacity to respond to a global pandemic and that coronavirus could create further burdens in those countries having to deal with other major health problems such as aids and malaria.
It further notes that closure of borders will affect those countries reliant on trade, and reduce remittances from abroad (money sent home), reduce migrant labour opportunities and affect those countries which rely on tourism for income.
Covid-19 will increase inequality
A final World Bank report suggests that inequality will increase as a result of Covid-19.
This is based on evidence from how countries have recovered from previous Pandemics.
The theory is that households with resources are better able to weather the negative affects of a downturn, by keeping their children in school for example, and by using savings rather than taking on debt, and so can just ‘carry on’ as normal when economic recover comes, while poorer people are having to play catch up.
It’s explained in this handy infographic:
Those working in the informal sector are hardest hit
This LSE. blog post reminds us that many more people work informally in developed countries – and these people will be the hardest hit by lockdown policies – they are the first to be laid-off when work is reduced and they do not qualify for any government assistance measures either.
Other potential impacts
You should be able to find out about other impacts, such as:
In the long term more countries might cut their foreign aid budgets, like Britain has done recently.
Charities such as Oxfam are likely to receive less money from the general public.
It will be more difficult for migrant labourers to find work because of border restrictions.
I dread to think how all of this has affected the movement of refugees!
There have probably been more cases of domestic abuse worldwide as a result of lockdowns.
Possibly the most devastating long-term affect is the number of days of schooling that children in poorer countries would have missed – low income countries have much less capacity to offer home based, online learning, compared to wealthier countries.
Relevance to A-level sociology
This is mainly relevant to the health and global development topic, but there are also some useful links here to social constructionism and social action theory.
According to this New York Times heat map, Covid-19 cases seem to be much more prevalent per capita in developed countries compared to developing countries…
The counts are especially high in America, Europe and South America doesn’t fair too well either.
But the count per capita is much lower in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Analysis from Brookings (source) shows the contrast much more starkly – People in developing countries make up 50% of the world’s population but account for only 2% of covid deaths.
The infographic below shows how many people die from covid (the circle) compared to the other main causes of death – if you look at the left hand side, they are generally poorer countries, on the right, generally richer countries…
Are there really fewer covid cases and deaths in poorer countries?
Brookings suggests the different may not be as great as the statistics above suggest. Because….
The different age profiles – Covid-19 affects the very old more severely – especially the over 70s – and to put it bluntly there are hardly any people aged over 70 in poorer countries, because of the lower life expectancy, whereas in developed countries have a more older age profile.
Differences in detecting and reporting covid-19 as a cause of death. In developed countries we have much better detection capacity and it’s possible that Covid has been mis-recorded as a cause of death when really, because of co-morbidity, something else was really the cause. While in the developing world people may well be dying of (or with) covid-19 but it hasn’t been traced.
in short, remember that these covid-19 death statistics are a total social construction.
However, the statics may lack validity, but government responses the world over have been severe – and this social reaction has had very real negative consequences in rich and poor countries alike!
Relevance to A-level sociology
This material is mainly relevant to the global development health topic, but there are also some nice links here to the problems with official statistics.
What are the short and long term affects of Coronavirus for the UK’s social and economic development?
in this post I focus on how Coronavirus has affected health (obviously) education, work and employment, as well economic growth prospects.
There are many more consequences I could focus on, but all of the above are specifically on the Global Development module specification as aspects of development for students of A-level sociology to consider.
How has Coronavirus impacted health in the UK?
NB – forgive me if the stats below date pretty quickly, this is a rapidly evolving situation, and I can’t update every post daily!
At time of writing the total number of covid related deaths in the UK has just surpassed 100 000, in the 11 months since recording of covid-deaths began in March 2020.
The Office for National statistics allows you to look at the latest figures for covid-19 infections and covid-19 related deaths, without any of the ‘panic’ aspects (and without the distractions of flashing adverts) of the mainstream media.
The covid-related death rate is three times higher among men working in elementary and service occupations (the working classes) compared to those working in professional and managerial occupations (the upper middle classes)
This is an interesting article from the BBC which outlines the possible long term negative effects on mental health of dealing with Covid – including increased anxiety and OCD (hand washing!), loneliness, a sense of meaningless and uncertainty (anomie?) and depression – not least because of so many people having to deal with loss of someone they know among that 100, 000 death toll.
This research adds to above finding that there were statistically fewer people who started cancer treatment in 2020 compared to 2019, probably because of lower test rates due to covid-19.
How has Coronavirus impacted education in the UK?
Lockdown measures meant that students missed several months of in-school education in 202.
This report by the Nuffield Foundation suggests that pupils started school in September 3 months behind as a result of lockdown in 2020. There is also evidence that poorer students suffered more as they were less able to access online learning provision.
Exams were also cancelled in 2020, but GCSE and A-level pupils received better grades than students in previous years, because of the reliance of Teacher Predicted Grades. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case in 2021.
How has Coronavirus impacted work and employment in the UK?
The effects have varied enormously be sector. The service sectors have been hardest hit, with accommodation and food services suffering a 25% downturn by GDP because of the lockdown rules imposed in response to the pandemic.
Education has also taken quite a hit, but I guess the switch to online learning has lessened the impact here.
The impact has generally been a lot less (somewhat obviously) on sectors where it’s easier to work from home, on professional occupations and on rural occupations.
How has Coronavirus impacted economic growth the in the UK?
The UK has seen a projected decline in GDP growth in 2021 of – 12.9%, which is going to take years to recover from and an expected increase in unemployment going forwards into 2021-2024 – with unemployment figures double that what we’d anticipated for these years.
Also note the debt figures shown in the bottom rows – almost £400 bn borrowed in 2020-21 to cover the cost of dealing with the Pandemic. Not exactly small change!
And then the debt repayments as a percentage of our GDP increase from 5% to 15% – meaning the government is going to be spending 20% more for at least the next five years (and probably longer) to pay for the Pandemic!
This probably means cuts to welfare and public services sometime in 2021 or 2022 – given that the government is neoliberal and will be reluctant to raise taxes, also something which is difficult to do when the economy is struggling.
Those in working class jobs are about two to three times more likely to die of covid-19 related deaths compared to those in middle class jobs.
The Office for National statistics allows you to look at the latest figures for covid-19 infections and covid-19 related deaths, and one of the aspects of the death rate it focuses on is how it varies by occupation.
The covid-related death rate is three times higher among men working in elementary and service occupations (the working classes) compared to those working in professional and managerial occupations (the upper middle classes)
The class difference in the covid related death rate isn’t quite as large for women – those in ‘working class’ jobs are only around twice as likely to die as those in professional jobs…
OK so I’m being quite crude in my measurements of social class, but nonetheless, this is yet more evidence of social class inequality in the UK
Why are the working classes more likely to die from Covid-19?
Referring to the ‘coronavirus class divide’ (there’s a not so nice new concept for you!) the answer is very simple:
Working class jobs are the kind of jobs you have to be physically present to be able to do – cleaning, care work, taxi-driving, food and accomodation services – you simply have to be ‘out there’ away from home and you are more likely to be interacting with people.
And thus you are more exposed to the virus if you are working in a manual, working class job:
While if you’re in a managerial or professional role, it is much easier for you to work remotely, to work from home, or if you must go into your workplace, it is easier for you to maintain social distance by shielding yourself in an office or at your individual work station.
The figures for stay at home work, post lockdown, are much higher for those in middle class jobs:
So there is even a class divide when it comes to your chances of contracting and dying from covid-19
Moderna is a BioTech company that has had some recent success with a covid-19 vaccine in clinical trials – vaccine mRNA 1273.
There’s a video about it here:
Moderna says it has the capacity to produce 1 billion shots of the vaccine in 2021 and has already sold most of those shots to rich governments, and stands to make an estimated $8 billion next year from the vaccine.
In one deal the US government has agreed to pay $1.5 billion for 100 million shots (pending agreement of emergency legislation in January). The U.S. also has the option to buy a further 500 million doses (it might take two shots per person to work, so that would cover most of the US population).
As this article from Global Justice Now points out most of this new vaccine has already been bought up by rich world government.
There doesn’t appear to be much hope that developing countries will gain access to this vaccine in 2021, given that those 1 billion shots the company can produce have already been reserved for richer countries.
The rich benefit
Global Justice Now also report (in the article linked above) that this new vaccine has been funded with nearly $2.5 billion of public money, but with governments paying at least another $8 billion on top of this, this really does seem to be a tidy profit for Moderna.
Moderna’s stock has been increasing ever since it started leaking news about positive progress being made on the vaccine, with two leading executives having cashed out shares and made $30 million each.
The stock continues to rise on the back of the deals being struck with western governments for courses of the vaccine. It has quintupled in value since it started work on the vaccine….
Relevance to global development
This topic is clearly relevant to health and development, and also several theories of development.
This is clearly an example of a Transnational Corporation playing a positive role in development – it is developing a vaccine that will help combat a global pandemic, but we need to go further….
This is also an argument against neoliberal theories of development – governments are very involved here – tax payers money has provided a seed fund for this company and it is governments agreeing to buy the vaccine.
Finally, this seems to support global pessimist theories of globalisation – it is governments with the money and thus people in rich countries who are initially going to benefit from this vaccine, the poor in poor countries are going to have to wait.
We don’t know yet how developing countries are going to pay for this vaccine – if they have to pay? Will it be donated, will it be funded with loans?
That remains to be seen, but for now it seems like it’s vaccines for the rich, nothing for the poor!
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