Edit: Previously, I linked to an article about a doctor that was accused of ‘stealing’ vaccinations in Texas. Dr Hasan Gokal was trying to give away vaccinations that would have otherwise gone to waste to people most in need of receiving them (though, it should be said that anyone receiving a vaccine so it doesn’t spoil is a good thing).
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all exhausted from COVID. We’re tired of hearing about it, and we’re tired of seeing hundreds of thousands of people die; we’re tired from arguing about the “school reopening” debates, from being told to “go to work” when we should all be given the resources to stay home (unless we absolutely need to leave), from being terrified that our lives will be upended at any moment because of an inability to pay for rent, from watching politicians who are (mostly) secure in their ability to procure necessary medical treatment flout rules that they claim “protect us,” and from not knowing what the rules even are in the first place.
COVID didn’t cause this burnout or fatigue; it only exacerbated fears and frustrations that were already there. In all honesty, this so-called “COVID fatigue” should be listed as one more symptom of “capitalist fatigue.”
Many articles detailing ‘COVID fatigue’ focus on how we’re upset that we can’t live our lives as normal, going to restaurants and socialising “the way we’re used to,” but this is a poor starting point for what we’re really exhausted by. Other articles blame people for “not following rules” without addressing the fact that governments did little to make it possible (and further enabled more exploitation, especially in non-essential workplaces that managed to be classified as “essential”); they even make claims that COVID fatigue is what’s making people “take greater risks,” but they forget that we’ve been dealing with this for over a year and haven’t seen any support for the overwhelming majority of people (and even in some countries that provided “support,” it still wasn’t enough).
Instead, what we’ve actually seen is a constant attack on people by their own governments and those across the world.
There have been a lot of issues in the United States. If you follow Alice Wong on Twitter, it’s likely that you’ve seen a variety of High Risk hashtags (such as #HighRiskCA, #HighRiskWA, and #HighRiskNY) that are aimed at addressing the complete negligence of multiple US governments to even consider whole populations of people who are vulnerable and the continued medical gatekeeping that further harms disabled and chronically ill people.
There were numerous scandals with regards to vaccine distribution. In Philadelphia, the CEO of “Philly Fighting COVID,” Andrei Doroshin, stole doses of vaccines and gave them to his friends; he also received millions of dollars from the government for their “distribution plan” that caused more confusion than ever was necessary. In New York, as a result of there being far more websites than anyone would ever need, Huge Ma built a website to actually make it functional for people to view online, highlighting government inefficiency. There’s also the fact that the CDC in the US stole software for a vaccine administration system that was created by Tiffany Tate and basically gave it to Deloitte.
That’s all without discussing how white people in the United States are getting vaccinated, many of whom are flocking to predominantly non-white neighbourhoods in order to get them quicker. There still remains a gap between the vaccination rates in Black and white communities, which is horrifying since COVID has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people. To the north, there was the Canadian mogul Rodney Baker and his wife who stole vaccines that were meant for Indigenous Canadians! (There are actually a lot of thieves, like this paramedic from Florida and this care center for the elderly in Florida who gave them to donors.)
Outside of the United States, the UK saw loads of waste in their national spending as multiple politically connected firms received contracts for COVID-related equipment. Wealthier nations also decided, rather than enabling countries to produce the vaccine to help ensure that more people are vaccinated quicker, that they would block the bid to ban the patents on it (seeming to decide that profits for a few companies are worth more than the health of the world).
And then we even need to highlight the times where people were kicked out of places they were living: the forcible eviction of the Autonomous Factory ROG in Llubljana, the eviction of Le Serrande Occupate in Torino, and the many places destroying encampments of homeless and housing insecure people in the middle of a pandemic.
Everything these people are telling us (along with the increasing numbers of deaths) boils down to one thing: A whole lot of us are completely disposable.
Yes, it would be nice to do some of the things I used to. I miss going to cafes and meeting with friends in parks. It would be wonderful to finally take my Slovak course in-person and get away from Zoom-based schooling because it’s not helping me; I can’t focus, and I have an audio processing disorder that makes it hard for me to understand what’s been said to me.
I want to go for walks again and to feel comfortable leaving my house, knowing that I don’t have to try to figure out what the rules are today because they changed over night or are entirely inconsistent. I’d like to be less stressed out trying to figure out how stable my life is because I don’t know what changes, if any, have been made to residency permits for non-citizen residents (because the government and media of countries rarely, if ever, provides us with accessible information); we may as well not exist, as far as their concerned.
It would be wonderful to no longer feel anxious any time someone gets too close to me in a grocery store or walks too close to me while improperly wearing a mask (if they’re wearing one at all). I miss being able to just casually talk to people, to eavesdrop on conversations around me in an attempt to continue learning Slovak. And I miss teaching, which I had to leave this year purely because of how the government chose to (not) handle COVID in schools.
Trust me, I’m just as tired as everyone else is, but it’s not because of COVID that I’m tired. I’m tired because all of this could’ve been prevented if governments just made a conscious effort to do something that ensured the safety of everyone in their borders.
I’m tired because almost everything governments in Europe, Canada, and the United States have done has shown that they don’t care if we live or die as long as the economy is “safe” (for them).
I may be sick of COVID, but I’m fatigued, frustrated, and entirely demotivated because of these capitalist bastards ruining every aspect of the lives of many.
We’re all burnt out because that’s what the systems we live in have been designed to do. They were made to ensure that we’re as exhausted as possible so we can’t fight back. They were made to be impossible to navigate because confusion stops people from fighting for their rights. All of this was only exacerbated by COVID.
I don’t have COVID fatigue. No one really has COVID fatigue.
What we’re fatigued by is capitalism and corruption.