24 May, 2022


Covid-19 & Structural Adjustment Of Economy & Society: Inequality & The Deadly Policy Response In The Global South

By Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake

Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake

While the now available 2020 annual global data clearly indicates that Covid-19 is primarily a first world virus, the Global South was locked down, impoverished and ‘structurally adjusted’ during 2020 – the year of the Corona virus. Decades of development gains have been wiped out in South Asia due to WHO recommended policies of lockdowns and curfew which resulted in massive job losses, displacement of migrant workers, increased poverty, and inequality. 

It is not the Covid-19 virus, but the Covid-19 infodemic, as well as, WHO-led international policy that has triggered a deep economic, social and political crisis in the Global South at this time. The call for lockdowns, curfews and stoppage of public transport systems, often implemented by militaries based on the “Global pandemic” narrative and infodemic of Covid-19 infection figures form the John’s Hopkins University data base with contradictory messages resulted in creation of Covid-19 fear psychosis and anxiety in many tropical countries where the Corona virus is mild. As a result, millions have not been able to go to work and have lost jobs and livelihoods in countries like Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Center for Environmental Studies in Sri Lanka noted that the country suffered the biggest environmental destruction in its history in 2020 with the clearing of forests and land grabs with and massive eco-destruction while people were in Covid-19 lockdowns. In India Farm laws giving big Corporations comparative advantage were rushed through parliament without discussion under cover of Covid-19 and without consultation with farmers, eliciting the biggest protest in the world by thousands of farmers across India, leading to the intervention of the Supreme Court of India.

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html

As OXFAM’s ’Hunger Virus” and “Inequality Virus” Reports noted: COVID-19 is deepening the hunger, poverty and inequality crisis in the world’s hunger hotspots and creating new epicentres of hunger across the globe. By the end of the year 12,000 people per day could die from hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than will die from the disease itself. The pandemic is the final straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers. 

The Covid-19 policy response has increased poverty and inequality across the world and widened disparities between the Global South and north, while eroding democratic space and practices, and militarizing public life and health systems: In Sri Lanka a punishing military curfew with just 4-hours prior notice was imposed in March 2020, after which the WHO head, Tederos, called the President of Sri Lanka to congratulate him. This same policy was implemented in India a few weeks later in India, where millions of migrant workers lost jobs and many died walking hundreds of miles to get home.

Meanwhile, as OXFAM noted “those at the top are continuing to make profits: eight of the biggest food and drink companies paid out over $18 billion to shareholders since January even as the pandemic was spreading across the globe – ten times more than has been requested in the UN COVID-19 appeal to stop people going hungry.” 56 new billionaires were created in 2020.

The Covid-19 “shock doctrine has prepared the way to structurally adjust economy and society in the Global South

The Covid-19 ‘shock doctrine’ has prepared the as no other disaster, to structurally adjusted the global economy, particularly the Global South:  Internet sales and dot com companies have been the big gainers along with big business.

Economically, socially and politically devastating lockdowns in 2020 have wiped out development and poverty reduction gains in some of the poorest countries in the world where Covid-19 is demonstrably milder than seasonal flu. Meanwhile, all the plastic and sanitary sprays and and disposable masks further contribute to the global plastic garbage and toxicity environmental crisis.

The Center for Environmental Studies in Sri Lanka noted that the country suffered the biggest environmental destruction in its history in 2020 with the clearing of forests and land grabs with and massive eco-destruction while people were in Covid-19 lockdowns. In India Farm laws giving big Corporations comparative advantage were rushed through parliament without discussion under cover of Covid-19 and without consultation with farmers, eliciting the biggest protest in the world by thousands of farmers across India, leading to the intervention of the Supreme Court of India.

Fundamental questions arise about the integrity of data, analysis and policy “advice’ provided by WHO, the John’s Hopkins University Covid-19 Global Data base and other UN agencies. It is increasingly apparent that many of the WHO’s recommendations and policy response on Covid-19 has marginalized data, perspectives and voices from the Global South.

As Debapriya Bhattacharya and Sara Khan noted in a recent paper: “the narrative on the post-COVID world seems to be once again characterised by the usual dearth of inputs from the global South. “Even though it has been accepted time and again that actors from the Global South will be critical in shaping the emerging international development landscape, gatekeepers are yet to come out of their comfort zones and make credible space for more Southern perspectives and initiatives. The current discourse continues to have a top-down view of issues that demand more local level contextualisation and substantiation…”[1]

The international development policy response to Covid-19 in the global south has exposed a deep crisis in the UN led international Development Aid system dominated by OECD DAC countries and continuing structures of colonial domination in the UN system. The deliberately hyped “global pandemic” media narrative coupled with the WHO’s and JHU’s daily ‘infodemic’ of Covid-19 numbers of infections, has distracted from the metrics that matter to determine the severity of a disease in a particular county.

Science has been turned on its head, as Scientific Principles like regional Context and Comparison, and country-specific data analysis are important for evidence-based policy making, seem to have been be dis-regarded amidst the JHU infodmeic, enabling hi-jacking of national and local level policy processes in countries in the Global South, by so-called international development agencies and related Corporate actors and interest. The quarantining of healthy people in counties where data shows that there is no Covid-19 health emergency is counter to science and common sense!

Low Covid-19 rates and vaccine Colonialism: BCG versus mRNA 

The WHO has promised to provide 20 percent of vaccines free to the Government of Sri Lanka, but questions are now being raised as to why national health authorities in many Southeast Asian and African countries where there is NO Covid-19 health emergency, are being urged by the WHO and UNICEF, with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB), providing loans to buy vaccines at this time, especially when it is claimed that there may not be sufficient doses for populations in North America and Europe where there appears to be a Covid-19 emergency? 

As these vaccines have not gone through an adequate trials process and their long term impacts on populations in the Global South (where the health and nutrition statuses of people are different than in the northern hemisphere), are unknown, would it not be prudent for governments in countries where the 2020 data shows that there is no Covid-19 health emergency to await non-emergency authorization of use of these vaccines? Moreover, would not the WB and ADB loans be better spent to build back livelihoods lost due to Covid-19 curfews and lockdown policy? 

On average it takes over 5 to 10 years to systematically trial vaccines. The ultra-costly Pfizer and Biontech and Moderna mRNA vaccines, that use brand new, never before used technology ,were the first to be authorized in the UK and US. The WHO’s subsequent first authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for use throughout the world has conferred ‘first mover advantage” or strong brand recognition and product loyalty on the US Govt. allied Pfizer Pharmaceutical company before other cheaper vaccine come to the market. 

However, there are questions about these mRNA vaccines and suggestions that the anti-bodies they trigger may last less than 10 months, while a US nurse tested Covid-19 positive after receiving a vaccine, and another nurse in Portugal died a week after taking the vaccine.

At the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic in Euro-America in March 2020, the WHO, contrary to many scientific studies denied outright the hypothesis that the 100-year-old BCG vaccine may be protecting populations in tropical countries with universal BCG vaccination where there were low rates of Covid-19 infections and death. This despite the fact that numerous studies had showed that the COST-EFFECTIVE tried and tested Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), may be useful against Covid-19 as a bridging vaccine as it protects against a broad range of respiratory tract illness in many parts of the Global South. Early BCG trials for Covid-19 adaptation seem to have disappeared from radar screens to be trumped by mRNA vaccines, as WHO contrary to many scientists had affirmed that there was ‘no evidence’ the BCG could fight Covid-19?

Are we not seeing what Naomi Klein termed “Disaster Capitalism” in her book titled “The Shock Doctrine” unfolding in Real Time? Klein uses the terms to describe the “brutal tactic of using the public’s fear and disorientation following a collective shock, be it, bio-terrorism, war, coups, market crashes or natural disasters to push through radical pro-corporate measures often called “shock therapy”. Thus, by accident or design, a disaster occurs and then the “humanitarian” business solution or cure is provided, as a total solution and complete business and profit cycle.

The WHO’s Covid-19 vaccine authorization process may reveal its cozy relationship with some big Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer that are also backed by vaccine Czar, Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Gates Foundation is now WHO’s second largest funder, after China, since Donald Trump withdrew US funding from WHO. Gates is also promoting a shift to the digital economy and surveillance that enable gaming data analytics the world over — in competition with China’s Huawei.

The WHO-led Covid-19 policy response reveals a deep crisis in the UN and International “Aid” system that is increasingly captive to Corporate interests and great power rivalry. This issue is not new as a Transparency International’s British Branch Report has noted some years ago: “Within the health sector, pharmaceuticals stands out as sub-sector that is particularly prone to corruption. There are abundant examples globally that display how corruption in the pharmaceutical sector endangers positive health outcomes. Whether it is a pharmaceutical company bribing a doctor for prescribing its medicines irrespective of a health need or a government employee facilitating the infiltration of substandard medicines into the distribution system, public resources can be wasted and patient health put at risk.”

Finally, it is highly likely that in many Tropical Asian countries may have achieved a degree of ‘herd immunity’ as the flu season at the end of 2019 had all the signs of Covid-19, also given high levels of travel and tourism to and from China in the region, but since there is no systematic anti-body testing we do not know if this is the case. Rather than buying vaccines it would be appropriate to conduct anti-body tests to assess how many in the population have immunities and if herd immunity has been achieved as the country-level data and statistics seem to indicate. Those who would like a vaccine may take a BCG booster.

[1] COVID-19: A game changer for the Global South and international co-operation? https://oecd-development-matters.org/2020/09/02/covid-19-a-game-changer-for-the-global-south-and-international-co-operation/

*Dr. Darini Rajasingham Senanayake is a Social and Medical Anthropologist, based in Colombo. Sri Lanka at the International Center for Ethnic Studies.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    Wonder how much WHO and Tedros Adhanom made from funding from Big Pharma vaccine companies and Pfizer whose vaccine was authorized with Warped Speed in 2020?!
    After exploring China’s Bat caves for Covid-19, it would be good if WHO Teams went to the Headquarters of Bio-warfare/terrorism at Fort Detrick, Virginia, USA. to find the REAL SOURCE of the Covid 19 virus.
    Detrick is not too far from the CIA head quarters where HIV sequences were inserted into the Corona virus to create a virus for WHO’s Covid-19 Fake Pandemic narrative,
    All part of Gain of Function research later banned in the US and subcontracted by Faucci et al. to CHina’s Wuhan Labs…

  • 1

    I thought it was the decisive action of GR to impose a curfew for 5 consecutive weeks, unprecedented in rest of the world, that controlled the pandemic (which was before the Indian workforce who imported the virus & started the second wave that seems to be still spreading) I remember the GMOA President gloating on TV how well the pandemic was controlled, obviously implying, it was under their stewardship. So, now it seems that it was the WHO behind the curfew decision.
    As for the environmental destruction in SL happening under cover of the lockdown, it is a new observation for me. OK, Oxfam exposed multi nationals for profiteering & Indian migrant workers walked hundreds of miles to their villages (wasn’t COVID supposed to be a first world pandemic?). Has SL done any better? We are well aware of govt. cronies & oligarchs cashing on opportunities from the pandemic & the destitute stranded workers in the middle east. In a nut shell, is this write up about pharma companies & Bill Gates colluding with WHO to screw poor countries?

  • 3

    “…the now available 2020 annual global data clearly indicates that Covid-19 is primarily a first world virus….”
    I wonder if only Venezuela in South America and Cuba and Haiti in the Catibbean, and Nicaragua in Central America belong to the Third World in their respective regions.

  • 1

    Sri Lanka has certainly reached herd immunity, no need for vaccine, but GMOA which is in the pay of WHO and the Big Pharma vaccine mafia is desperately seeking new Covid-19 cases to pump up the numbers of those dead from Covid-19..!

    So in January 2021 the GMOA mafia changed the manner in which private hospitals certify cause of deaths, and now all corpses have to be taken to the General Hospital for certification, causing delays and anxiety for families, just so that GMOA and other doctors in pay of WHO and the local vaccine mafia can claim that 7-9 people are now dying daily from Covid-19!

    This sudden spike in Covid-19 deaths in January 2021 after the 2020 data came out and timed to coincide with Vaccination is remarkable – encourages everyone to get the 62 percent effective Oxford India vaccine!

  • 1

    This doctor lady is right. Like me, she isn’t afraid of expressing opinions, even if against people worldwide, including so-called learned medical specialists. Like she says, pharma companies, Bill Gates and WHO are trying to screw poor countries. Rich countries also want to poke poor countries – poke in the eye I mean.
    This doctor lady’s advice on the following will be valuable. Can the following cure Covid19? Hydroxychloroquine; holding breath for 30 seconds without coughing; exposure to afternoon sun; rinsing nose with salt water; vitamins and mineral supplements; Dhammika Panniya; eating pepper, garlic or jack seeds; avoiding 5G mobile networks; shot of arrack after breakfast, then before lunch and dinner. When I tell friends about these possible cures, they say I must be “pissu”.
    Now I know RAW, CIA, Trolls, Bots, Chivy, Sonali etc., will rush to attack me for supporting doctor Darini. What to do aney?

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