by Toby Green
Wednesday, 18
August 2021
Explainer
11:42

What Gordon Brown misses about Covid Colonialism

People in Africa don't particularly want to get vaccinated
by Toby Green
A Kenyan man receives his vaccination. Credit: Getty

On Monday, Gordon Brown attacked G7 leaders for failing to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Africa. Pointing out that Covid vaccines manufactured in South Africa have been exported to the EU, and that the COVAX facility has thus far delivered only 60 million of the promised 700 million doses, he accused EU leaders of a “neocolonial approach”.

As the only Western political leader in history who has led a moderately constructive policy about debt in African countries, Brown’s heart is probably in the right place. Yet his anger exemplifies the tunnel vision of world leaders on Covid: unable to see broader issues because the narrative and policy discussion are framed around a small set of pre-defined concerns.

With vaccines, the lack of equitable access is the tip of the neocolonial iceberg. Brown’s concern does not encompass the fact that African access to Covid vaccines depends on World Bank loans. The World Bank website reveals the extent of loans which African nations have undertaken to buy vaccines: from large countries such as Ghana ($200 million), Ethiopia ($207 million) and Kenya ($130 million), to tiny countries such as Eswatini ($5 million), Gambia ($8 million), and São Tomé ($6.5 million), the Covid vaccine procurement system is mired in the neocolonial approach of indebting African countries.

And how will this debt be restructured? The World Bank’s partners-in-crime over at the IMF offer a good indicator. An Oxfam briefing paper issued two weeks ago revealed that “as of 15 March 2021, 85% of the 107 Covid-19 loans negotiated between the IMF and 85 governments indicate plans to undertake austerity once the health crisis abates”, and that the IMF was “systematically encouraging countries to adopt austerity measures once the pandemic subsides, risking a severe spike in already increased inequality levels”.

Many of the vaccines will be paid for by loans which will lead to austerity and worse future investment in public health in poor countries. All this for a disease which has proven itself to be milder in Africa than elsewhere, and where large numbers of Africans don’t want to get vaccinated against Covid because of the low risk there. Forcing people into debt and future poverty for a medical procedure they don’t want: sounds like a pretty neo-colonial approach to me.

If Gordon Brown really wants to address neo-colonial approaches to Covid-19, there are better ways to direct his energies. He could question the government’s red list quarantine, destroying economic livelihoods in African countries such as Cabo Verde, Egypt, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania which all rely on tourism. Or he could question the rush for universal vaccination in the West, based on a redefinition of herd immunity as only available through vaccination. After all, if we were not bullying young people in rich countries who are at very little risk from Covid into jabs, there would be plenty of vaccines for everyone who wants and needs them — and no need to worry about vaccine passports either.

Toby Green is the author of The Covid Consensus: The New Politics of Global Inequality (Hurst).

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Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
1 year ago

Very good article and excellent points raised .
Only the rich west has most susceptibility to Covid because of the lifestyle, the hypochondria wrt to diseases and the refusal to accept death even for the extreme elderly and sick. Trillions have been spent on developing and distributing vaccines. For who’s benefit? They only want to vaccinate the poorer countries in the hope that Covid may not return to their shores in a new shape. This perceived altruism and concern for the poorer countries is thinly disguising the self serving goal of the west but not really. They could easily ( as the author said) redefine herd immunity to include those who get Covid naturally but then would that not mean a few pockets of vested interests will not be filled regularly?
After all that noise about deadly Covid for nearly two years, what we are left with is just another flu like disease for which even a vaccine will become unnecessary (except for some of the vulnerable).
Admitting you were wrong about Covid will be the most difficult medicine to take.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
1 year ago

Yeah, well, maybe Africa doesn’t need vaccines so badly. They’ve got Ivermectin. Of course, we don’t know for sure that it’s really a prophylactic against covid, but that’s because our institutions — you know, the ones we’re supposed to trust — refuse to conduct proper tests to establish whether it is or not. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that Ivermectin is out of patent and there isn’t any money to be made off of it if it turns out to be effective.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

The much better conspiracy theory of why no proper studies have been done on Ivermectin is that
1) It actually does work as a cure and prophylactic for covid-19

2) the vaccines were given ’emergency license’ to be fast tracked (normally takes 3 years) on the condition that NO Medicine for covid exists.

So if 1) is true, the emergency license of 2) must be revoked.

and

3) Fauchi is head of NIH (National Institute of Health), and has been since the dinasaurs, and personally passes out the $81 billion in research grants – so do as he wishes or your life in University Medical Research is toast; as well as being the purse keeper for any current research. This guy has positioned himself at the very heart of global medical policy.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

How would you know that it actually does work – if no proper studies have been done on it?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

“COVID, Ivermectin, and the Crime of the Century: DarkHorse Podcast with Pierre Kory & Bret Weinstein”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL9TUjJVoZo

Weinstein was done by Freddy here on Unherd

And from UK’s, and the Anglosphere’s, favorite covid reporting Doctor, Dr Campbell

“Best ivermectin meta analysis”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j7am9kjMrk

I have my horse Ivermectin in my medicine cabinet in case. ($ 9 a tube, does 1200 pounds of body weight from ‘Tractor Supply’- (do not do this))

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I prefer to get my info from reading rather than videos, so I tried Google and found an different version. This says that just about all the evidence for Ivermectin working is based on a single preprint by an Egyptian group – and that this study is totally unreliable and highly .likely to be fraudulent. It has been withdrawn by the publishing web site and is under formal investigation. You can see reports of problems with it here, here, here, or here

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Helen Moorhouse
Helen Moorhouse
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

https://vimeo.com/511687719 Sorry, this is another video. But it presents a double blind study in Israel with 95 subjects and has high significance.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thousands of us use the animal version and have done so for many months. We have the equivalent dosages worked out and thereafter follow a protocol similar to that of the FLCCC. My doctor is happy with me using it and if I wanted, he would prescribe the tablets. Don’t see the need. A friend is writing her thesis on Ivermectin at the moment.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Hi Lesley, always good to hear your views.

I am back from a big shopping trip, been a couple weeks since last one – the Grocery store, Walmart, the Dollar Store, and am amazed! At two things, the prices are higher and the shelves have bareish patches. They are not fully stocked – and it seems they mostly are not anymore.

My guess is this means supply chain issues or hoarding. Is it like that where you are? I ordered 6 – 5 gallon food grade buckets – air tight seal, hammer on lids weeks ago from Amazon (they are what one can use to hoard grains and pasta – rice can last 30 years if the dry ice O2 removal system is used according to the internet.) The buckets are now a Week late, and Amazon sends messages extending delivery (it was a long time scheduled ahead from the beginning)

To me this hoarders bucket scarcity this means people are hoarding staples, if Amazon is back ordered…

What is funny is how USA Amazon has vast amounts of bulk food, lasts 25 years, page after page of bulk emergency rations for sale on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/s?k=emergency+food&qid=1629329135&ref=sr_pg_1
Wile UK Amazon has none.

I guess Americans are different – I have never hoarded food, but am setting up a couple 5 gallon buckets of beans/rice as it is cheap – Unherd’s fault, they had Bret Weinstein’s end of the world from a solar flare article – during a ‘Pandemic’. And so I also have my horse Ivermactin – everything under $200 total (includes couple cans Spam)

How about it Rasmus, food and horse Ivermectin hoarding?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

There is no major shortages of shelves here and the local Amazon is doing fine – we have never had access to everything on earth like the US, but are largely unchanged.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

‘Proper’ studies are the studies done by august organisations like Oxford who are conducting the Principle trial which is set up to fail. ‘Proper’ studies now apparently only include really big double blind RCT with placebo, which has no place in a pandemic using a safe drug.
Not that many have the appetite for these trials because there is no money in it… it must be discredited at all costs. Merck have been given $1.2 billion to sprinkle some fairy dust around and come up with a new anti viral.
Other proper studies, some RCT and some observational have been done and a peer reviewed paper was published in June on the efficacy of the drug.
I have used it for 6 months during 2 waves as have hundreds of thousands of others.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

It has been learned over the decades that it is *very* hard to establish with certainty whether a drug or treatment works. There is a huge risk that people jump to conclusions (for or against) based on insufficient data, hope,ambition, or the need to have something you can do instead of bieng defenceless. Those big double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are *necessary* to establish whether this drug works or not. Ivermectin may be safe as drugs go, but no drug is completely free from side effects. Even more importantly you are not doing people any favours by letting them believe they are protected by a drug if it does not actually work – thereby taking risks and spurning other safety measures in the mistaken belief that they are safe. Peace of mind is important, but not if based on a lie. Even during a pandemic. If you believe that you are kept safe by ivermectin, or homeopathic medicine, or a vegan diet, that is for you to decide. But the job of medical science is to stick to the rules for proving that drugs work, which have been established through costly experience and failures over the years. It is hard enough even so.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But the job of medical science is to stick to the rules”

As a full out Conspiracy Loon I Believe:

The world is run by 4 groups, they own the politicos, and everything else:

1) Military Industrial Complex, 2) Medical Pharma Complex, 3) The Banksters, and the 4) Social Media/Tech Oligarchy.

Your faith in the purity of the big pharma is not justified.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

It’s a little more tricky than that. The problem is that double blind RCTs are like a dinosaur. They are not nimble, cannot adjust mid-trial, have difficulty handling multi-drug/regimen combinations (ivermectin plus doxycycline or azythromycin, plus zin, plus vit D plus vit C, and lastly are limited by their recruitment procedures. For example I believe the principle trial is basically recruiting patients who are hospitalized and 14 days out from initial symptoms. Yet obviously all these interventions are best done at the very onset of symptoms – and at 14 days the boat has long sailed. As for seeing whether something like ivermectin (presumably in conjunction with Vit D, vit C and zinc) would take a huge number of people to enroll given that the number of cases per million is actually rather small. Finally, in terms of treatment following the onset of symptoms one should remember that the proper control is not a placebo but no treatment at all. The placebo effect itself can be massive – the mind is a beautiful thing and certainly interacts with one’s immune system. So if you believe you’re taking something that will help you get over COVD even if it’s a placebo, it will have a much larger effect than giving absolutely nothing.
So ultimately, what one really needs to ask is why not prescribe these rather simple and very safe repurposed meds together with some harmless vitamins and minerals. It may not do any good but it sure can’t do any harm, and if it only reduces hospitalizations by 5% its still better than nothing.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Plenty people being saved by Ivermectin in South Africa!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Plenty of people believe they are being saved by ivermectin. Unfortunately that is not the same thing – which is why there are all those annoying but necessary requirements for control groups, randomisation etc.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Two points here.

In order to prove the effect of a drug, you need a large number of people, precisely defined treatment, careful randomisation, double blind trials, and all that stuff that makes these trials so rigid. If you have few people, lots of different treatment variants, differences between treatment and control groups, and doctors and patients know during the trial who is treated, it is always possible to shuffle the data and find some combination that seems to show that your treatment works. People are briliant at finding significant patterns, even in pure noise, and there are huge incentives for everybody to find that your drug is working. If the trials are not capable of dealing with your claims it does not mean that the trials are no good. It means that your claims are unprovable.

Next you are saying that it does not matter if the drugs actually work. People feel better if they are given something that they believe will help, and feeling better is good for your health. Several problems with that. First it leaves the way open for any charlatan to promote his very own drug and get rich and powerful by doing it. If we are to systematically promote treatments that have no effect, can we at least stick to homeopathy? That really is harmless (pure water), it is well established, and it leaves minimal space for scammers to make a profit. Second, big pharma will also be quick to get on board, once we establish that you can sell medical cures without having to prove they work. Why spend billions on developing and proving effective drugs, when you can make more money with any old chemical and slick marketing campaign? Finally, selling false hopes and good feelings to people has a big downside. It guides people away from alternatives that might actualy work, and leads them to take unnecessary risks. Why get vaccinated, avoid sources of infection, stay away from your wife while she is sick (or you are)? You have ivermectin, you are safe!

When we tell people how to manage dangerous diseases, let us stick to the truth. And the truth about ivermectin is that it might help, but we do not yet know. And the evidence that it does work is not particularly strong so far.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Repurposed drugs were being actively sought from the beginning of the pandemic and repurposed drugs are used widely as a matter of course for many conditions. Why is Ivermectin singled out for the treatment you outline? Why not Remdesivir at $3000 per dose – that was pushed and used with great enthusiasm with very mediocre results. Ivermectin is a proven safe drug over many decades. Your argument doesn’t ring true in any way shape or form.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Well, Remdesivir got its own big clinical trials, and eventually it was concluded that it did not help. I do not know enough to say why Remdesivir got approval and Ivermectin did not, but so far it looks like the authorities were wrong to give approval to Remdesivir. That is hardly an argument for making the same mistake with other drugs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Why Ivermectin? You mean that bleach injections are not enough?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

haha, no they are not enough. To possibly save Granny in her dementia care home for another 6 months of life it is recomended by HMG that every student miss a year school, and be forced to stay in the house – thousands of small business close for ever, destroying the lives of those who spent their life building them, wreck inner city of London, make all the women stay in the house all day except to go food shopping – And then they must wear face covering, Talaban-esk, close all health care and preventive medical screenings so a great many will die prematurely of disease undiagnosed, increase drug and alcohol use, increase hugely mental issues, and kill 1.2 million third world children by reduced economic activity in the West.

If only it was as simple as a quick bleach injection…..

Last edited 1 year ago by Galeti Tavas
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago

Yes. I was being sarcastic. The point being that Ivermectin is not a proven treatment any more than bleach is.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Well actually the data in aggregate and the meta-analysis on Ivermectin coupled with doxycycline/azythrimicin, vit D, vit C and Zn is extremely persuasive.
The fact of the matter is the following: if you’re infected you have two choices. (a) Do nothing and wait for the hand of God to determine wether you get better or get worse and have to go to hospital; or (b) take things into one’s own hands and try and shift the odds in one’s favor by taking ivermectin and the other 4 things. Given that the safety of all 5 components of this treatment, including ivermectin, are extremely safe and that ivermectin has been used without prescription in most countries for well over 50 years, my inclination would be to give it a shot.
Incidentally, the data on the current crop of vaccines, while looking very promising to start with, is sure beginning to fade judging by what’s coming out of Israel and Iceland, both of whom have incredibly high overall vaccination levels. Now, personally, I would recommend vaccination for anybody over 50 for sure, and I’m pretty sure it reduces the probability of severe infection (i.e. hospitalization and presumably death).
At any rate, it’s lucky the medical academic world wasn’t as rigid during the 2nd world war when they brought out penicillin. Had there been an RCT with the initial regimen it would have failed and been abandoned. But they immediately realized one had to prolong the treatment, and the rest is history given that penicillin went a long way in helping us to defat the axis powers.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johann Strauss
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
1 year ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Have you got a link to those extremely persuasive data? I’d like to see them.

To be sure, Ivermectin – unlike bleach – is a reasonable candidate and might in the end be found to work. And I have no quarrel with people who would rather try a safe long-shot than go with the odds, do nothing, and feel powerless. But – as I have said above – the long-term cost of officially promoting unproven treatments is high. It is the demand for proof that got us away from faith healing and patent medicines.

I am not sure penicilllin is a good comparison. Back then bacterial infections were very common and – when sufficiently advanced – fatal. A drug that can reduce the two-week death-rate for a clearly identifiable condition from (say) 50% to zero and deliver a permanent cure does not need that much in the way of controlled trials. For a disease where most victims survive (even for those hospitalised) and where the death rate depends highly on age and other pre-existing factors it takes a *much* bigger effort to prove that any moderate improvements in survival rates you might see are actually real.

Last edited 1 year ago by Rasmus Fogh
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

After a stuttering start, there is now a plentiful supply of vaccine to South Africans, and the staff and bureaucracy is set up to administer it. The problem now is a lack of takers. What westerners don’t grasp is that people here are threatened every day with hunger, homelessness, criminal violence, AIDS, TB, joblessness, crumbling civil infrastructure with sewage in the streets and no electricity or water. The social strata of people who have the luxury of ventilating about ‘social justice’ is a very thin one here; for the vast majority Covid19 is just another small fly in an already rancid ointment. When you don’t expect to live until next week, worrying about not making 83 is a tad academic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Smith
Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Point taken but here in Sri Lanka, which faces quite similar economic and social problems, they’re absolutely paranoid about Covid and desperate to get vaccinated. No idea why the difference – perhaps someone else here does?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

An interesting point.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

There is also the fact that the only real vaccine enthusiasts are the middle classes and a subset of the middle classes are vaccine hesitant and for very good reason. Many are not the traditional anti vaxxer and have just done their homework on these Covid vaccines, especially mRNA. Many blacks are sceptics because of long standing mistrust of the West doing experiments on them. And I agree, the poorest of the poor couldn’t be bothered.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

“With vaccines, the lack of equitable access is the tip of the neocolonial iceberg.”

The new jargon of ‘oppression’ is now worked into every discussion.

Equitable? Come on, what do you really mean by that? That all outcomes must be equalized is the current meaning (rather than equality of opportunity, it is equality of outcomes) – the key part of the Lefty/Liberal philosophy – and patently impossible, and unworkable.

Neo-Colonial? best leave that one…

Covid – 19 is a problem of the Western Nations, and the Americas primarily. The West has inflicted such vast harm on its own young and middle aged in these insane lockdowns that the young will never fully recover from lost education, and the lost ability to save – the Middle aged are having their life savings plundered by the ‘Inflation Tax’ from the insane Monetary and Fiscal spending to shut down the West wile paying as if it was open – and importing so profligately the global balance of payments is crazy – and destroying the very concept of personal freedom, replacing it with some Mao like police state. The developing and Third world have been harmed irreparably by the global economic slowing due to Western Lockdowns.

Naturally they feel they have to do this globally just to keep up the illusion that the response was proportionate to the illness. Remember when they tried to bring back the pot banging for the NHS? Much like that.

Troy MacKenzie
Troy MacKenzie
1 year ago

So expecting countries to actually pay for the vaccines that they receive is now considered “neo-collonialism.”
Is everything our fault now?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Troy MacKenzie

Of course it is, and there are a huge number of peer reviewed studies from our ‘unis’ to prove it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Smith
Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
1 year ago

Excellent explainer. Thank you

Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
1 year ago

I’ve read the brilliant comments here.. I do think that what is happening is not just equal to Nuremberg but far.. far worse.. I do want to see everyone has taken those insane “decisions” to be punished accordingly.. Those decisions have brought many devastated results in the name of protecting us!!.. that no one have ever wanted or asked for.. they do continue pushing those plans and they must be stopped and exposed.. Although I also believe they obey to others hiding in the shadows.. and the time has come to find out who are they.. One by one all that has been branded as a conspiracy theory is unfolding in reality.. If there was indeed a pandemic many millions of people would have died while waiting to get vaccinated.. but that is not happening.. unless they will release another virus or pretend that this time is the variants..
What we see instead is that the deaths and the side effects due to those vaccines are not report by the corrupted TV channels. The larger scam of all is the tests.. that is how they are cooking the cases, the graphs and curves….covid is a platform of violence.

David Bell
David Bell
1 year ago

The global power with neo-imperialist ambitions is China which is forcing impoverished nations into debt servitude by supplying its crap vaccines.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

South Africa went onto the red list because of the dreaded beta variant. Now the country has the delta variant and the UK has the delta variant. Nothing will change in respect of the ‘light’ system, that we know.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
1 year ago

Spot on analysis.

Fran Martinez
Fran Martinez
1 year ago

Excellent!

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

The author raises some very important questions about our response to the pandemic, issues that receive little attention elsewhere. I’ve just submitted a request to our local library to add his book to their purchasing list for this year.