SftP Statement on COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 Pandemic has generated multiple crises across healthcare, economic, and social systems in the U.S. and across the world.
Progressive and radical organizations must rise to meet the immediate challenges of these crises, while also working to replace the failing systems that gave rise to them. We must practice solidarity by aiding impacted communities and by marshaling scientists and scientific resources in these efforts. We demand accountability for the effects of these crises from government, financial, and social institutions. We must support institutions conducting, supporting, and applying scientific research related to the pandemic.
The pandemic is causing great harm not only due to direct effects of COVID-19 on health, but also through economic devastation affecting livelihoods, housing, transportation, medical care, education, access to nutrition, and all systems necessary for our health and well-being. Physical distancing and anxieties regarding the pandemic will have negative impacts on mental health and social relationships, with even greater impacts on working people laid off amidst financial collapse. Meanwhile, the absence of adequate resources for healthcare, combined with the focus on protecting the financial sector, lay bare the priorities of the capitalist system.
People in low income and marginalized populations, often with compromised health and denied adequate healthcare long before the pandemic, are the hardest hit. Current government assistance plans proposed during this crisis have been woefully inadequate and leave out major sections of the population: the unemployed, the houseless, the disabled, people who are imprisoned, and the vast majority of people with no wealth and much debt, who are disproportionately people of color. We demand that their needs are put first in public assistance programs dealing with the pandemic.
It is crucial that we grow and amplify scientific knowledge amidst this pandemic through responsible transparent research and technological development. Building knowledge about the virus and the disease, including publicly available resources for genomics, epidemiology, infection control and vaccine development will improve containment and medical treatment. Centering vulnerable populations in our priorities will help protect them and build the best overall public health strategy; when vulnerable populations have good healthcare, care is better for everyone. Projections of the extent and severity of COVID-19 are crucial for planning strategic deployment of resources; testing must be universally available and implemented. We demand that any science and technology developed to respond to the pandemic are available for all, without profit or patent.
Nurses and other healthcare workers are on the front lines of fighting the pandemic and face great risks delivering care. Supporting these workers is critical for public health. They must have access to the personal protective equipment, adequate testing resources, and training programs needed to stay safe while providing care. Additionally, we must support the right of these workers to form unions and engage in collective bargaining to support their interests. Public funds must be allocated to greatly increase the number of healthcare professionals and to adequately compensate them. We demand that all public and private healthcare institutions listen to and meet the needs of nurses and healthcare workers.
The workers who are ensuring adequate supplies of food, transportation, and other essential supplies by continuing to go to their jobs through the pandemic, are mostly underpaid and lack the resources to choose to not show up. Farmworkers, many of whom are migrants in precarious situations, are continuing to work in the fields. We demand that these workers be given adequate pay, benefits, and protection immediately, not only during the pandemic but permanently.
Production of masks, protective clothing, ventilation systems, isolation rooms, and other protective equipment must become a top economic priority, to be provided free wherever needed. Universities, research institutions, government agencies, the military, and private enterprises that have personal protective equipment in their inventories must offer these resources to support medical response to the pandemic. We demand that healthcare and essential service workers be given proper personal protective equipment for their safety.
This pandemic shows us the impact of neoliberal defunding of public health institutions and attacks on science, education and public media. Stopping and reversing this trend is critical for our survival. The exorbitant funds allocated for the military and state security apparatuses should be immediately reallocated to public health and social support systems. Professionals with expertise and experience in infection control must be given the opportunity to provide honest communication to the public. We demand truth in reporting and accurate data about the pandemic.
Local efforts to support these needs and control the pandemic should be supported. However, there is a pressing need for more adequate infrastructure and leadership from the federal government. We must support, politically and financially, institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, while at the same time greatly increasing the funding and political support for community health organizations and State and local health departments. We must develop and implement strategies for increasing the cooperation and collaboration of local health departments with the national institutions such as CDC. Combined, these measures help lay the groundwork for implementing the necessary programs for combating the pandemic and ensuring public health. We demand adequate funding and support for public research institutions.
The pandemic is a global phenomenon. It cannot be addressed by isolationist, xenophobic and nationalistic “America First” policies. Internationalism and anticolonialism must guide collaborations across the world, for sharing research and resources, and for learning from best practices wherever they are occurring. In particular, sanctions that prevent countries such as Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela from accessing needed medical equipment and supplies must be suspended or cancelled.We demand a global and peaceful response to the pandemic.
Science for the People stands in solidarity with all people across the world as we work together to end the pandemic. We ask that scientists uplift these demands and provide aid where they can.