We stand behind the #ZeroCovid call for solidarity in dealing with the Corona pandemic. For a year now, the issue has had a firm grip on us and a concrete strategy to contain the pandemic in a sustainable way is not in sight. While public life remains severely restricted, social, art and cultural institutions have largely closed, and education at schools, training centers and universities has been massively limited, there is no mandatory home-office obligation in companies, nor is non-essential production being cut back. The results are “part lockdowns” which come repeatedly, and which are socially and psychologically grueling and which particularly burden disadvantaged groups in this society. That is why #ZeroCovid demands not simply more consistent measures to contain the pandemic, such as the temporary closure of offices and factories, but also solidarity-based financing of the costs of these measures and special support for those most severely affected by the current situation.
We especially support the last point of the demands: our contribution to the global distribution of vaccines. From a postcolonial, antiracist perspective, the demand to consider vaccines as global commons and thus to advocate for a globally just distribution of them is the only solidary way to deal with the vaccine. Once again it is currently evident that global problems cannot be solved in isolation. Nevertheless, countries in the Global North like Germany choose this path and use their power to protect themselves first. We continue to call for the removal of patent protection for the COVID19 vaccines to enable their global production at reasonable prices. For us, a solidarity-based approach to the pandemic would also include economic support for the regions of the world most affected by the current crisis, because it is not only in the richer countries of the Global North that millions of people have lost their income due to the pandemic and are dependent on government aid programs.
While in some countries, such as Taiwan and New Zealand, new infections have been reduced to a minimum, the EU in particular refuses to recognize the positive examples from the rest of the world. We demand a serious discussion of successful attempts at pandemic containment worldwide at eye level, namely without the presumption of European superiority. Of course, a #ZeroCovid strategy must not be used as a pretext for expanding the “Fortress Europe”. Quarantine does not mean compartmentalization. Financial support for people in quarantine and binding regulations across national borders are ways to ensure fundamental rights to freedom of movement and asylum even in the current crisis. We are convinced that a Europe of open borders is compatible with a responsible approach to the pandemic.