Air Date 5/22/2021
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [00:00:00] Welcome to this episode of the award-winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we should all learn about the global struggle to acquire and distribute sufficient doses of vaccine in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not going as well as one might hope.
Clips today are from In The Thick, The Mother Jones Podcast, Democracy Now!, The Majority Report, Citations Needed, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and Counterspin.
Pandemic Immunoprivilege - In The Thick - Air Date 4-27-21
MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: [00:00:29] On Monday, the number of deaths in India is devastating, but it's been reported as, believe it or not, a serious undercount as well. So last Thursday on Democracy Now!, Ronna Ayyub is an Indian journalist and global opinions writer for the Washington Post, shared this about the situation there. Let's hear what she had to say.
RANNA AYYUB: [00:00:53] It is an apocalyptic situation in India right now. It's heartbreaking not just to be a citizen of this country, but it's heartbreaking to be a journalist who is bearing witness to the events that are unfolding in India, especially with the number of COVID deaths that we are witnessing. And many of them in their early thirties. The two friends that I lost were in their mid thirties; their families are still in the ICU.
Yesterday, 22 patients lost their lives at one go in a hospital after a tank that was providing oxygen to the ventilators leaked for 30 minutes and all 22 patients lost their lives in a span of an hour. I mean, It's like this country is breathless. On Twitter, in hospitals, whenever I'm going to report, everybody is begging for oxygen.
As I'm talking, hospitals after hospitals in the national Capitol, not far from the prime minister's residence, are petitioning the high court of the country to tell them that we have no oxygen left in our hospitals. State governments are accusing each other of oxygen theft, that they are stealing each other's oxygen tankers. It's that kind of a situation.
JULIO RICARDO VARELA - HOST, IN THE THICK: [00:02:00] So we're basically witnessing a global medical -- and I don't toss this word out lightly -- apartheid. Peter, what needs to be done to ensure global vaccine equity in your opinion?
DR. PETER HOTZ: [00:02:12] Well, well, just so you know, I'm a vaccine scientist. I co-lead a group at Texas Children's that's developed a low-cost what we call people's vaccine for COVID-19, a recombinant protein vaccine. That's now being accelerated in India by Biological E, BioE. So the announcement this weekend from the Biden administration, they're going to support BioE for their vaccines.
They're making too, they're making the J & J vaccine and they're making our vaccine. So hopefully that will, that will help a lot.
I think part of the problem has been that there was an effort in place called the COVAC sharing facility to try to promote vaccine equity. The issue is the vaccines aren't there. And part of that was the science policymakers put huge amount of emphasis on innovation. And we got some really interesting vaccines, right? The the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which I got and the Moderna vaccine, and then the Abna virus vectored vaccines from AstraZeneca and J & J. We have never scaled those technologies before.
And so a very high risk strategy was taken. And whether or not we can make enough of those vaccines for the world is unclear. Remember the size of this task: you have 1.1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa, 650 million people in Latin America, about half a billion people in the smaller, low income countries of Asia.
That's 2 billion people. We're talking four to 5 billion doses of vaccine. Where does that come from? Well, It's not clear to me that you can scale the mRNA vaccines to that level, it's still a new technology. So I pushed very hard and didn't get very far to say, look, we've been working on Coronavirus vaccines for the last decade. We've developed recombinant protein vaccines. It's not sexy. It's the same technology used to make the hepatitis B vaccine that's been around for 40 years by microbial fermentation and yeast, but it works and it's, we could do it for a $1.50 a dose.
And, you know, it was really tough to get the science policy makers behind that. I had to raise money privately at the first few months of the pandemic. You know, it was a terrible time for me because one, I became an expert in anti-vaccine disinformation over the years. I was one of the first call of what the Trump White House was doing an anti science, disinformation campaign that was really stressful. And then raising money. And we did finally, we raised about four to $5 million to develop the vaccine privately, and then now transferred it to BioE. So the problem is the vaccine's not there. And that needs to be scaled. We're too dependent on the multinational companies without having the ability to produce vaccines locally, almost no vaccines are produced on the African continent. Same with the middle East and Latin America with a couple of exceptions. And that's the long-term answer. We've got to fix that. And I think we can, but for now, it's trying to accelerate production of vaccines as quickly as we can. And India right now produces about half the vaccines for the world. They've excelled in this. The Serum Institute of India, biological E, Bharat. And then we have the problem was there was an export ban on materials for those vaccines, so they couldn't make them. So the Biden administration now has lifted that for these companies, which is going to help a lot.
Then the other question is whether prime minister Modi will allow these Indian vaccine manufacturers to export vaccine or whether they're going to have to keep it inside India. So there's this domino effect that's looking pretty dire right now. And the result of all of this, there's about half a dozen countries that will have fully vaccinated its population by the summer. It's, you know, the US and Canada and the UK. Maybe a few Western European countries and Israel, maybe a few other scattered, but that's it.
So how far our economy can grow at that point is really unclear, if there's devastation all around and all of these variants, so I'm really troubled.
MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: [00:06:07] We're all connected, people.
DR. KEISHA RAY: [00:06:10] We are connected. And what's even, I think, important to think about is how countries that we considered quote, unquote developed or the wealthier countries, how we are complicit in these other governments of underdeveloped or poor countries, and yet we aren't willing to do more, to step up to help them in these times of crisis. Yet, part of the reason they're in these crises is because of it, you know, historical actions and inactions by these other countries.
So we will all suffer if we don't help these other countries. It can't be this idea of nationalism where we just focus on ourselves, because that will not get us anything. If we think about just the basic ideas of global health.
We're Torn Apart: Inside India's Worsening COVID Nightmare - The Mother Jones Podcast - Air Date 5-12-21
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:06:49] Dean Baker is the senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He specializes in research around consumer pricing, intellectual property trade, and how, when it comes to medical patents, these are literally issues of life and death.
Dean Baker, welcome to the show.
DEAN BAKER: [00:07:08] Thanks a lot for having me on.
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:07:10] We've been talking about India on today's show. India has been leading a push at the World Trade Organization, WTO, to do away with patents on vaccines to treat COVID. What difference can that make to the crisis that's happening there right now?
DEAN BAKER: [00:07:25] Well, unfortunately, I can't make an immediate difference because the issue is, of course we need vaccines and we won't get more vaccines overnight, regardless of whether we had the patents or not.
But the point is if we did have the patents, it would facilitate the transfer of technology both within the US, Europe to other companies, and also to the developing world countries like India do have considerable capacity to produce vaccines. In fact, many of the vaccines are already produced there, Brazil, South Africa. There's other countries in the developing world that could be producing vaccines. And even getting rid of the patents, we're not going to have them up and running tomorrow. But the point is this is going to be here for a while. I mean, that's the unfortunate truth is the pandemic's not about to go away. So if we can get vaccine production up and running in some of these countries or more in the US and Europe in three, four or five months, that will still be an enormous help.
So we shouldn't think we're going to change the situation in India right away. But hopefully we can get these vaccines, more vaccines produced in time to have a very big impact on the spread of the pandemic in South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and other places.
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:08:31] Will this decision to lift patent protections be enough to open up distribution, you think?
DEAN BAKER: [00:08:36] No, it's a very, very big step. But as many people pointed out, there's industrial know-how that countries will need to get up to speed, basically. So the main talk has been about the messenger RNA vaccines. These are the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. And it's a complex manufacturing process that most even experienced vaccine manufacturers, they have not done yet, so they will need expertise. And what we really need is for the Biden administration to pressure these companies to transfer that expertise. Now, president Biden already did that with Johnson & Johnson, that's actually not an mRNA vaccine, but another effective vaccine. They got them to transfer their technology to Merck, which is now using some on idle manufacturing capacity to produce the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
What president Biden has to do, his authority on the Defense Production Act to try to pressure them. Now, where that comes down, you know, at what point do the companies say, no, we're not, and do it. That's hard to say. And this is an area it could conceivably end up in court. But my guess is at the end of the day, the companies don't want to be seen as being obstacles. They will get compensated too. So just to be clear, you know, this idea that, Oh, they're being whipped into doing something. They will get compensated. They might not get as much money as they want, but they can get compensated. And one of the points I made, I don't know if anyone want to go this route, is the end of the day, the government could go around, but say, Moderna says, no, we're not transferring our technology to anyone, you could pay off their top engineers, give them a million dollars a month to put blueprints on the web to hold webinars, hold hands-on training with people in India, Brazil, other countries. My guess is you'd get them to do it. I mean, you'd have to protect them from legal consequences because Moderna would surely sue them. But that would be a way to do it, or, again, I hope nothing would ever come to that, but the idea that we're somehow hostage to these drug companies, that's really not true.
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:10:32] How important will patent policies be to getting the world out of this pandemic?
DEAN BAKER: [00:10:37] Well, it's a huge, huge deal. And one of the things I think is under-appreciated is, they're very strong humanitarian reasons. No one can be happy seeing what's going on in India with the suffering there, the overwhelmed hospitals, people dying, who could be saved. But the reality is even beyond that, if we allow the pandemic to spread unchecked, we know there'll be mutations. There already have been mutations. And the biggest risk from the standpoint of people in the United States, Europe, rich countries, where people have been largely vaccinated, the big risk is that we'll see a mutation that's vaccine resistant. If that happens, we're back to ground zero. So, I've heard people say, well, these mRNA vaccines are very flexible and they are, I mean, I'm no expert on it, but I know people are, and they're a great breakthrough. But the reality is, even if say it takes them a week, two weeks, they develop a new one, well, they're not going to be able to produce hundreds of millions of doses in a week or two weeks. So we're back at ground zero facing lockdowns, more infections, more deaths. So this isn't just a matter of protecting people in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which we should care about. But it's also, if we want to be able to be secure against this pandemic, we really have to contain it everywhere in the world. Not just in the United States, not just in Europe.
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:11:53] We've been talking about vaccine patents. Are there similar patent issues with things like COVID testing and other COVID treatments?
DEAN BAKER: [00:12:00] There are. And again, the resolution that Indian South Africa put forward before the WTO would have moved protection for all of those, for the duration of the pandemic. And it would be great to see that. Because again, things that we might be able to afford in the United States, treatments that might be thousands of dollars, at least if we have insurance we could afford it. It's altogether unaffordable in most of the developing world. So it would be great to see, patents on those items suspended as well.
So I don't think many people I know, advocates who were pushing on the vaccine, were saying, well, this doesn't go far enough. It's a huge, huge step. But yeah, we should like to see the patents suspended on those as well. Because we really should want to see every people in the world protected as much as possible.
And again, it's a story where if you talk about a treatment costing thousands of dollars, that's out of the reach of people in the developing world. But in very rare cases are these drugs ever actually expensive to produce and distribute. So a treatment that might be sold for thousands of dollars here, if you remove the patent protection, most likely you're talking about 1, 2, $300 and quite often, even less than that.
So it's almost invariably patents that make drugs expensive. They're not expensive to produce.
JAMILAH KING - HOST, THE MOTHER JONES PODCAST: [00:13:13] Dean, any final thoughts? Anything else we should be paying attention to when it comes to getting out of this pandemic?
DEAN BAKER: [00:13:19] Well, this is kind of a different line, but I do work in different areas. And one of the things that's debated was the extent to which people are not seeking jobs because the $300 weekly unemployment insurance supplements. And being in different areas I go, okay, so we're worried we're giving people too much money because we're giving them $300 a week extra when they're unemployed. And we're talking about Pfizer and Merck not making enough money when we're giving them billions of dollars. And I don't know, I just find that very ironic. And again, it goes to how policy distribute determines the distribution of income. Because if we didn't give these companies patent monopolies, they won't have a leg to stand on right now. So this was entirely a policy issue. And obviously there's huge health outcomes, but there's also an enormous story here about the distribution of income.
Filipino Activist Walden Bello Global Vaccine Disparity Shows Irrationality of Global Capitalism - Democracy Now! - Air Date 5-5-21
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: [00:14:09] — by talking about the significance of these meetings and what difference it would make for people in the Philippines and in Asia, overall, in the Global South, for that matter.
WALDEN BELLO: [00:14:21] Well, as you know, because of the shortage of vaccines, you know, we are in a situation where only about 0.2 or 0.3% of the population of the Global South has had access to vaccines. And here, for instance, in the Philippines, it’s only been around 260,000 people, or 0.025 of the population of 110 million people, who have had access to vaccines.
And, you know, there’s no certainty about when these vaccines will arrive. We have mainly gotten a few shipments from AstraZeneca, a significant number of donations from China, and, just the last two days, the Sputnik V, or Sputnik 5, from Russia arrived. But with respect to the Western vaccines, there’s a very great deal of uncertainty of when those would in fact be coming, because of the fact that a lot of vaccines that should have been going to the South have been hoarded by the European Union and by the United States.
You know, the press officer of the Biden administration, Ms. Psaki, has in fact said that our policy is to be oversupplied. And one of the things that the Biden administration did in response to the situation in India was to say it was going to be sending about 60 million doses of AstraZeneca. And it was found out, in a report in The New York Times, that those are potentially spoiled vaccines that were produced by this factory in Maryland that had been contaminated.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: [00:16:50] That also produced the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that led to a halt on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca somehow contaminated each other at this factory.
WALDEN BELLO: [00:17:03] Right.
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: [00:17:03] Yeah.
WALDEN BELLO: [00:17:03] Right. And, you know, when people heard that, you know, my god, they’re sending spoiled vaccines to India. And that was taken as sort of, you know, “Well, let’s send the spoiled stuff to the Global South, and we’re going to keep the good stuff here in the United States.” So, that’s been sort of the mixed messaging that has been taking place with the rhetoric of the Biden administration.
I think it is going to be very important what happens in Geneva over the next two days. As Lori Wallach says, the decision point is: Will the U.S. stop blocking negotiations, or will it continue Trump’s policy? And, you know, this is the inflection point for the Biden administration with respect to the Global South. If it fails this one, there’s just going to be tremendous distrust of U.S. foreign policy initiatives. So, the test for Biden for the Global South has come very early, but then you don’t choose the time when these things come on. And as far as I know at this point, we don’t know exactly what is the thinking of the administration going into Geneva. And it’s kept its cards very close to its vest. But as I said in my column, in my guest editorial in The New York Times, Mr. Biden knows what is the right thing to do. And the question is: Will he have the courage to do the right thing?
AMY GOODMAN - HOST, DEMOCRACY NOW!: [00:19:11] Walden Bello, have you gotten a vaccine?
WALDEN BELLO: [00:19:14] Yes, I have. As a senior, I was a priority. It’s called A2. And we were given the first dose of the vaccine, OK? So seniors in my city got the first dose of the vaccine. But the vast numbers of people, aside from seniors and from healthcare workers, frontline workers, have not gotten the vaccine yet. And will we get the second dose? We don’t know. It all depends, again, on developments in India and developments in different parts of the world.
Now, we would not have been facing this supply problem if, when India and South Africa had proposed the waiver the first time around, October of last year, and the U.S. and the rich countries, the other rich countries, hadn’t blocked it, we could have moved already to be able to get the formulas for the vaccine, the technologies to bring them out, repurposing, as Lori said, the big pharmaceutical capacities of a number of different countries in the Global South, like South Africa, India, Thailand. So, that could have already begun. But here, then, is a tragedy that we lost all that time. We lost about six months, because the U.S. was just not cooperating. It just was so shortsighted.
And it was caving in all the time to the pharmaceutical companies, who are tremendously unpopular in the Global South, but also in the United States, because these companies are just raking in, as we heard earlier, the billions that Pfizer is making. You know, it’s mainly out of — the biggest moneymaker has been the Pfizer vaccine over the last several months. So, it’s this very, very big contrast between what are the needs of humanity and what are the needs of these people in the drug industry, which not only are they making tremendous profits for their shareholders, but we’re talking about executives, that head these people — these corporations, making tremendous amounts in terms of their salaries, ranging from around $15 billion to — $15 million to $25 million a year. You know, these are the people, basically, among the 1%, who are making these decisions to block what would be benefits for the global poor, which is to live, you know, allow them to live.
So, this is really — if I may put it this way, this shows the tremendous irrationality of global capitalism, you know, where profits for a few takes precedence over the lives of many. This is why my sense is that the dynamics of this period of the pandemic has really exposed why we need to overcome capitalism, to get out of this system that allows these decisions to be made by a few, creates tremendous inequalities and allows a lot of people to die, because the medicines or the vaccines that would allow them to live are being blocked.
Media Ramps Up Vaccine Patent Propaganda Production - The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder - Air Date 5-8-21
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:23:29] Remember, all of these vaccines in one form or another have received billions of dollars, whether it's in the Pfizer, BioNTech where 500 million came from the German government, but there was $1.5 billion promised upfront. A pre-order from the US government, whether the vaccine worked or not. I mean, that's a pretty nice sort of a insurance policy there, to go ahead and develop these. And the development of mRNA technology, and all of these technologies, have been a function of enormous government investment.
But that's not even really the point. Right? I mean, the point isn't whether the US government and other governments have already invested in this stuff and should own part of it. Although that's a separate argument, which I would also make. But now at least, now that the Biden administration has been forced into announcing a commitment to waive the patents, and we'll see what the implications of that are, but now that they've been doing that, now we're seeing the sort of knock on a little bit more honest conversation about why folks were against the waiving of the patents. And here it is, I present to you Bloomberg News.
JOHNATHAN FERRO: [00:24:54] You have to be really careful with the language we use around this conversation. One thing that Left has done has monopolized the moral high ground with a single perspective. And what it does is it does not allow people to ask legitimate questions. And I think a starting position is not that the Democrats want to help low and middle income countries and the conservatives and Republicans do not. I don't see that. It's about how you help those countries. And that's the debate we need to have on a program like this. And when I hear you say things like Senator Warren would like the waiver --
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:25:28] I'll pause it a second. So it's set up as if there is bullying from the Left morally because they're taking some type of moral high ground, but we really should be talking about how to do this.
And, in other words, there is no moral response to the idea that we should share vaccine technology with other countries. It's really just a question of like, well, how can we help these countries the best? But there is no one making the argument that we should stop at allowing these IP waivers. No one's making the argument we should allow the Y IP waivers and not give vaccines to these countries. No. In fact, we've already made a commitment to send 60 million doses to India. We should be sending as many doses as we can around the world. No one has any compunction with that. So it's not a really question of how. It's like, well, what, why would we constrain ourselves? Why wouldn't we throw the kitchen sink at this? But it is amazing how much they talk about this and never actually articulate what they say they can't say.
EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:26:39] And that's such a key point because they're not even saying that argument because they know it's so flimsy that yeah, we can do both. We can give them vaccine doses now and we can waive the IP so that there's mass production down the line.
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:26:54] Continue.
JOHNATHAN FERRO: [00:26:57] Warren would like the waiver for IP. I think the worry that people have is that Senator Warren doesn't want it to stop there. She wants it to go further. Isn't that the real debate down in DC at the moment, that the freedoms people have lost, the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech, arguably, which is an argument going on down at DC at the moment. And if then we get into property rights, does it stop there, just in the crisis or does it go further? Isn't that the ultimate concern right now?
JACK FITZPATRICK: [00:27:23] That is not necessarily the immediate concern, but the ultimate concern, I think you could make potentially a pretty persuasive, slippery slope argument about how far this goes and what the effect would be potentially on vaccine productions for who knows if this is even going to be the last pandemic that I live through. We don't know when the next time we're going to have to have such a worldwide effort to ramp up production of vaccines. So the long-term concerns are there. And when I say the moral arguments that have won the Biden administration over, to be clear, these are moral arguments, but they're not the only moral arguments that have been involved in this.
So that has been so far the winning moral argument in terms of winning over the Biden administration, which is in control of this. But it does raise a lot of questions going forward for the longterm. But really a lot of the conversation in Washington is more on the immediate threats, even though there are concerns that mostly are being expressed on the right. Especially when you hear the Biden administration, a lot of the rhetoric around this is how to produce this vaccine right now, as quickly as possible.
EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:28:38] They're complaining that's the only moral argument that's being presented.
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:28:42] And they're not presenting any alternate moral arguments because there isn't one.
EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:28:46] Exactly.
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:28:47] But the long-term -- and let's be clear on what they mean by the long-term in the slippery slope here, they are concerned -- and they're not telling all of their concerns there -- the ones that they're expressing are, we don't know how this is going to impact vaccine production in the future. In other words, What's going to happen when we have all of this capacity to produce vaccines and we no longer can deploy the argument, they don't have the capacity to produce vaccines. Why would we give them the IP?
And not only just in general for vaccines for gosh knows what's going on, but we're not going to have the leverage to say this if there's another pandemic. I mean, literally their argument is, if we build vaccine creation, production, capacity, the pressure to give these other countries that cannot afford to develop, because look, there's just not other countries, or there's not as many other countries that can give five different companies a billion dollars to go produce a vaccine and roll the dice.
EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:29:57] And when they say a slippery slope argument, what they mean is it's a slippery slope towards that exact -- that's what they're saying, that there will be an understanding worldwide that vaccine production can be done quickly. And so he says, this may not be the only pandemic that I live through. That's exactly the point! That's exactly the point. The fact that we should set up infrastructure for the next pandemic as climate change causes more encroachment into the wilderness and as animals continue to pass these diseases onto humans, there will be another one down the line.
So the slippery slope argument is purely about pharmaceutical profits. Think about how myopic and how sick in the head you have to be to think that that is the biggest issue here. No, no, no. This is a trend in the correct direction as more pandemics come around.
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:30:46] Well, and I will go further and say, Forget pandemics. I hope this slope is incredibly slippery. In fact, I hope it's an elevator, heading right down to the bottom of the slope, because there is no reason why, for a whole host of vaccinations and frankly other drugs, that we should not be investing billions of dollars into the development of these things and not use them for where they're needed around the world. We should no longer be sinking money into the development of drugs and of technologies and whatnot, and allowing them to be gatekeeped by private entities that get this money.
I'm sorry. We should not be doing so. I hope the slope is super, super slippery.
EMMA VIGELAND - CO-HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:31:39] Bloomberg will do you one better: remove IP for all medicine.
SAM SEDER - HOST, THE MAJORITY REPORT W/ SAM SEDER: [00:31:44] There you go.
#VaxLive is a PR Scam So Those Causing Vaccine Inequity Can Pose as Saviors of Global Poor - Citations Needed - Air Date 4-30-21
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:31:45] as many have been very clear to note that now hundreds if not, I think maybe over 1000 progressive groups, including Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, Public Citizen, over 400 members of various EU Parliaments because the European Union is still one of the major barriers to this, the European Union still opposes this, which we’ll get into later, they are very clear to say that the IP waiver is an essential first step, but it is not everything. There needs to be copyright information, technology transfer, there needs to be actual staffing help where people come explain mRNA or help set up the manufacturing. But as a prerequisite to do any of that to really allow the scaling up of manufacturing there has to be this TRIPS waiver at the WTO and there’s basically not a single public health or activist organization — and I can say this with pretty stern confidence and if I’m wrong, please correct me — there is not a single one who’s in this space, who does not support the TRIPS waiver that is not meaningfully funded by the Gates Foundation or for the pharmaceutical industry. Those are the only ones that are still holding up this barrier. And so in response to this, the pharmaceutical industry, corporate interests, the same people make up the Chamber of Commerce who have opposed the TRIPS waiver, which is Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Live Nation, Delta, Verizon, they all fund an organization called Global Citizen, who is very much also funded by the Gates Foundation, as well as Johnson & Johnson, who is one of the three major COVID vaccine manufacturers, all these corporations, either through the US Chamber of Commerce or through their own lobbying efforts, as reported on by The Intercept, have spent a considerable amount of money to prevent the TRIPS waiver. They are now putting on and help funding something called Vax Live.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:33:19] Oh. yeah, the “We Are the World” for COVID-19.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:33:22] Which is a concert on May 8 headlined by Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, an assortment of dopey liberal celebrities.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:33:29] And co-sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:33:34] So this is pretty greasy stuff. It is made in a lab just for a Citations Needed episode because it sounds good, right? It sort of sounds benign. Global Citizen positions itself, again, despite being a reputation, a laundromat for corporate interests, Comcast is a huge funder as well. They’re presenting themselves as the concert is to promote vaccine equity. Now, it is partly about doing a campaign for domestic vaccine usage, which is sort of fine enough, I have no problem with that, but for the most part is branding itself as promoting vaccine equity in the Global South, despite the fact that the parties that are putting it on, namely the Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and the US Chamber of Commerce and these various corporate interests, are the biggest barriers to the TRIPS waiver and you’ll be surprised to learn — as we say on the show — that Global Citizen does not in any of its press, any of its materials, any of its websites support the TRIPS waiver, despite the fact that almost every single actual progressive group that isn’t a corporate laundromat and isn’t funded by the Gates Foundation does support it. So what they’re trying to do, in my humble estimation — Nima, tell me if I’m wrong, I know this is the theme of the show — is they’re trying to take all the energy and outrage caused by what we’re seeing in India and caused by what we’re seeing in the Global South, which we all knew would happen, activists have been predicting this since last summer, this was all inevitable, was all predictable, that they’re trying to take the movement to free what they’re calling ‘people’s vaccine’ or ‘free the patents,’ there’s various sort of hashtags and calls for what they’re calling it, but basically it’s just a variation of the TRIPS waiver. They’re trying to take all that energy, and they’re trying to distract and to channel it into this totally bourgeois corporate-backed, Gates-backed limited hangout where they’re trying to raise money for COVAX. Now, COVAX was a program started largely by corporate interests, pharmaceutical companies and the Gates Foundation as a way, because here’s the deal, right? You rewind to last February, Nima, we all knew there was going to be inequity, this was inevitable and so what they did is they tried to get ahead of it because they knew that the logical follow up in the face of 85, 90 percent of vaccines going to the top ten wealthiest countries was going to be holy shit, why don’t we make this intellectual property free for everyone and force pharmaceutical companies to share information with quote-unquote “developing countries” so they can scale up and manufacture their own vaccines so they’re not dependent on the United States to give them their vaccines.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:35:45] Right, but of course that can’t happen.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:35:47] That’s not acceptable. So what they did is they got ahead of it, came up with COVAX, which is sponsored by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, a variety of pharmaceutical companies and funded by the Gates Foundation, was supposed to deliver over two billion vaccines, thus far it is done just under 50 million, which is not nearly scratching the surface, it’s been an abject failure and that’s because it exists to protect IP because what they want to do is they want to go the charity route, because they knew that there was going to be global outrage and now that that’s failed and then there’s a real concerted effort of late, again, lawmakers everywhere, everyone who is basically not paid by Bill Gates or big pharma supports this and now they’re trying to redirect that outrage and that energy back into this COVAX bullshit, which has failed. Now having said that, COVAX, as our guest explained on both episodes we’ve had on this, is perfectly fine. It’s, you know, donate vaccines, that’s better than nothing, but it is absolutely small time, small potatoes and fundamentally about protecting the global IP enforcement regime.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:36:40] Exactly. It’s clearly not enough and what it does is it really does shift the burden from a communal response, and not just a communal response, but a global response. This is something that we need to literally get through together as a planet, not by virtue of charity from rich countries to poor countries.
Harry and Meghan are campaign chairs and in one of the trailers that they released for this “Concert to Reunite the World,” is what they’re calling it, you know, it starts off with, it’s so, [chuckles] it’s instant death. It’s awful if you watch this, we’ll put it in the show notes, but, you know, it says, “It’s time to end this pandemic, reunite the world but first everyone everywhere needs confidence in the vaccine, needs access to the vaccine.” And so it gets to the access route and because it’s talking about access, you have the Sussexes, Harry and Meghan, releasing a statement, that, among other things, said this quote:
Over the past year, our world has experienced pain, loss and struggle — together. Now we need to recover and heal — together. We can’t leave anybody behind. We will all benefit, we will all be safer, when everyone, everywhere has equal access to the vaccine.
And it continues with this:
We must pursue equitable vaccine distribution, and in that, restore faith in our common humanity. This mission couldn’t be more critical or important.
So not only does that say nothing, but it’s saying equal access to the vaccine, which in the view of Global Citizen, in the view of Vax Live, in the view of the Gates Foundation and its supporters, equal access means charity, means how many millions of doses can we send to the poors?
Covid Vaccines - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver - Air Date 5-3-21
JOHN OLIVER - HOST, LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER: [00:38:39] I'm actually going to spend the rest of this piece, trying to clear up some of the biggest myths flying around, and some are pretty easy to debunk quickly.
Like the claims that bill Gates is using the vaccine to put a microchip in all of us, for the record, there are no microchips in the COVID vaccine. That rumor is based on the fact that the Gates foundation funded research years ago, which is frequently taken out of context in that study, researchers looked into creating an invisible ink that could potentially be injected along with a vaccine in order for.
Populations like refugee kids to be able to retain vaccine records without paperwork over time, the original context was lost contorted and kind of telephoned its way to becoming something, something bill Gates, microchips on Facebook, it Clayton. Which if you think about it for just a second, doesn't make sense because if your main concern is that bill Gates could use microchips to track you.
He can already do that. That's what your fucking phone is. Now I'm no, the more reasonable sounding concern has to do with just how fast the vaccine came together. Their worry is that we are being used as Guinea pigs for a rushed untested vaccine. It is an understandable thing to worry about, even if some express it in less than ideal ways.
Tell me why you're concerned. Six words, testing, testing, testing, testing, and more testing. It's important. If you're going to put something into your body that it's absolutely and totally tested. I'll tell you what I admire about that guy. His confidence, because I don't think I've seen anyone more self-assured than the man who just promised six words, said seven and counted five all without even flinching.
That guy is so secure in his thinking. He could be wrong about numbers on camera twice, and do it with an unbreaking smile. But it is worth understanding exactly how the vaccine was able to come to market so fast because researchers had been working on vaccines against other Corona viruses for years.
So when COVID-19 hits, they had a significant headstart operation warped speed, as it was famously called. Wasn't about rushing the science. It was about significantly cutting through bureaucracy that could have otherwise slowed it down as this vaccine researcher explains, ever imagined that we'd be able to develop a vaccine in 12 to 18 months.
The short answer is no. We were able to compress the timeline. So the things that we would normally do in a linear fashion, a to B, we actually start the F in the eighties at the same time as an exactly. They took steps that usually happen sequentially and save time by running them simultaneously. Now another concern that you may have heard or seen online is that the Pfizer and Madonna vaccines are the first authorized to use messenger RNA, which is true, but that has given rise to speculation about what MRN is capable of doing basically anyone taking these vaccines, they're all designed to the same thing, um, is going to have neurological disorders within one year.
Most of the people taking the vaccine will be dead within 10. Let me tell you something you take. The M a, it creates plaque in your brain and gives you Alzheimer's. And I got the studies too. So Hey, you think they just put flora in the water to dumb you down? Man, Alex Jones is having a blast isn't he? No one else has as much fun while making the world a worse place to live in.
But the thing is there is absolutely no evidence or credible studies supporting any of what he just said as for the claim that MRN vaccines modify your DNA. It is very important to know that the vaccines MRN does not enter our genome.
It does its work far from the cells nucleus. Which is where your DNA is, but the fear of what the vaccine contains or what it could do to you seems to be common. Some evangelicals are concerned that it contains cells from aborted fetuses, which it does not others worry that it could change the body's inner workings.
You might, might've had a friend tell you that they are worried that the vaccines cause infertility. Those rumors were fueled by a blog post, which falsely claimed that Pfizer's vaccine contains ingredients capable of training the female body to attack a protein that plays a crucial role in the development of the placenta, but a few things there.
First experts say of that claim. It's a myth it's inaccurate. There is no evidence to support it. And there was already pretty good proof that Pfizer's vaccine doesn't cause infertility because during the trials last year, Multiple women became pregnant. And the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss was given the placebo.
So it is just not true. And look, the final myth you might of heard is it, the risks from the vaccine are somehow greater than the risks of COVID. That is a perception fed by the constant circulation of misleading headlines about people falling ill or dying after getting their shot. For instance, you may have seen this story that was widely shared about.
23 people in Norway dying within a week of getting the shot, which does sound scary, but that headline is missing some pretty major context while those people did die. At that point in Norway, the vaccine was being administered to the oldest or sickest people and a certain percentage of them were statistically going to die that week vaccine or no vaccine on average 400 people die every week in nursing homes in Norway.
And when the world health organization reviewed those incidents, they didn't find any unexpected or untoward increase in fatalities, which does make sense correlation isn't causation. The vaccine protects against, COVID not the concept of mortality. It is weird that I have to clarify this, but you are in fact going to die one day, Mike.
Yeah. Mike, stop listening to what Joe Rogan tells you. He's a fucking moron and those are his words. Not mine. That also goes for stories that you might see hyping up, scary sounding data from various the vaccine adverse event reporting system. It's a database that collects stories of medical events, following vaccination, but any lay person has to treat data coming out a bit with extreme caution because reports can be anything by anyone and are not routinely verified.
One doctor. Once claimed that the flu vaccine turned him into the Hulk and that Report was accepted and entered into the database, which is completely absurd. A drug cannot turn you into the Hulk, although admittedly, it can turn you into captain America. The only superhero whose origin story is a metric ton of experimental Nazis steroids.
And look, I'm not saying Vegas is useless. It very much. Isn't. The reason the CDC collects this data is so if a pattern does emerge, actions can be taken. That is exactly what happened with the Johnson and Johnson shot. The CDC found a potential pattern of rare blood clots and paused the rollout under an abundance of caution of our sung vaccine skeptics pointed to that as evidence that they were right about vaccines being dangerous in reality, it kind of proves the opposite.
But the safety risk of vaccines is rigorously and publicly analyzed, not secretly buried and somehow linked to the human footballs in the Deon scream out. And none of this is to say that there are no side effects to the vaccines. There can be just that serious ones, like anaphylaxis are incredibly rare, 4.7 cases per million for Pfizer, two and a half cases per million.
And you should know those also occur mostly in individuals with a history of severe allergies. The fact is the vast majority of people can expect at most typical cold or flu symptoms in the first few days after they're shot, or maybe just a sore arm or maybe nothing at all for what it's worth. And anyway, the key thing to remember is that no side effect of the vaccine is worse than the alternative COVID, uh, disease that has killed over 500,000 people in the U S alone.
While once again, to date, the vaccine has been proven to kill exactly zero. So it is more than natural to have questions, but there are reassuring answers out there and anyone just throwing out questions without acknowledging that. Probably has another agenda entirely, but the problem is to get anywhere close to herd immunity, we badly need to convince anyone who can be convinced.
The truth is I'm not going to be able to convince the people in your life who are hesitant the person with the best chance of doing that is you.
So if you know someone who is worried for whatever reason, and you want to convince them, otherwise, don't show them this video, but maybe do try and use some of the information is cited to tell them yourself. And when you are trying to do that, don't dismiss or judge them for having doubts. And I know that that is not always easy.
I could have given that guy a pass for holding up the wrong number of fingers, but I couldn't do it. I don't have that level of restraint. I'm a small petty man. And that guy is a fucking idiot. But if you think you can do better, it is incredibly important that you try to put it in the terms that that guy could understand.
I've got two words for you. Please. Just try as hard as you can.
James Love on Bill Gates & Vaccine Politics - CounterSpin - Air Date 5-7-21
JANINE JACKSON - HOST, COUNTERSPIN: [00:47:59] There's plenty to be said about how being wealthy, however you get there, evidently conveys expertise, at least according to US news media, and to many other actors in society. Part of the reason that people have a kind of distorted or misleading understanding of the balance of arguments in terms of vaccinating people has to do with media coverage on the outsize voices of people like Bill Gates.
I wanted to ask you just finally about media coverage. You know, I mean, if we're talking about Gates, he's an expert on malaria. He's an expert on public education. Now he's an expert on vaccines. And we definitely, if you just look at sources, you know, I'm not sure the voices we're hearing the voices that we actually necessarily need to hear. What's your thinking on that?
JAMES LOVE: [00:48:56] Well, it's the song, "If I was a rich man," which is the notion that people think just because you're rich, you must know. And that's one issue that you have. But it's more than that. Gates personally, and his foundation, which has some of his money, spends a huge amount of money on public relations. They fund a lot of media organizations. They give money to BBC. They give money to lots of organizations that cover public health. And so they tend to give very favorable coverage to the projects that Gates is involved in. And they offer money to all sorts of organizations, whether or not you take it or not. So it's out there.
We once had approached one publication, Washington Monthly, about doing a story that involved Gates' support of media organizations and the reporter came back, he said he talked to his editors and this was a really a small niche publication, Washington, DC. one that we like, but it wasn't really a major one. And the editor said, that's a great story, but we also have a grant application out to the Gates Foundation, so we we're just not going to write it. And there's that kind of a problem. And then there's back that not just Gates personally, his expertise, but his organization, they have consultants, they have organizations they fund that work on vaccines plays an important role in sappy and in Kovacs, two of the organizations who play a role in development and distribution of a vaccine for infectious diseases. He has consulting firms like McKinsey or Boston Consulting Group that worked with them. And he knows the CEOs of companies. He has a lot of contacts and things like that. So when the pandemic hit, very few people in government knew anything about vaccines or anything about infectious diseases. And so Gates was a famous guy. He has some expertise. So people would like, you know, what does he have to say? And because he was giving away a fair amount of money or managing money, people like Warren Buffet were donating money, he seemed like, he must be a pretty honest broker because he's pretty free of any kind of conflict, unlike a company. But Gates himself has an ideological connection to strong intellectual property rights ever since he was in college. He's always thought that strong intellectual property rights and strong privatization of government-funded research were good things, not bad things. He's been focused on that his entire life. And I don't think people realize how radical he is on those views.
Even during the height of the AIDS pandemic, when there was very few people getting access to treatment, he was trying to block every effort to expand access to generic HIV drugs, despite the fact that there was probably 9,000 people a day dying from the disease at the time.
So here we are fast forward it to the pandemic. It's COVID. And he's telling people, "No, now don't worry about things. We've got the manufacturing all ready to go. We've worked with all of the best people, all of the best companies. We know more about this. The people that are wanting more open sourcing of the vaccine are anticapitalist nothing activists. Listen to me, I give you better advice." So that was sort of the early role he was doing. And then he started to use his surrogates, like the Center for Global Development and other groups to lobby against the trips waiver. He personally started lobbying against it. And when he was interviewed on Sky News about a different issue than the patent issue, he was asked about the know how issue, he said he was opposed to sharing the recipe or the know-how how to make a vaccine with developing countries. And more broadly making it more public. And I think that's a ridiculously dangerous position to take because the company said they're manufacturing vaccines right now are not remotely close to meeting demand. And if you go at the pace that they prefer, which is to keep the technology closer and control the pricing mechanisms, you'll have a slower rollout that exposes us to risks of new variants. And it means people that have less power and less money around the world are the people last in line. And that line is going to be pretty long, if you don't speed up the production.
So it's been difficult because he was an outsized voice. And I think Gates is a smart guy. He's not the only smart guy around or a smart woman around. I think people need to listen to other views. And actually Gates had set a mental block about these issues. And so some of his arguments just don't add up.
#VaxLive is a PR Scam So Those Causing Vaccine Inequity Can Pose as Saviors of Global Poor Part 2 - Citations Needed - Air Date 4-30-21
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:53:02] Now, if it looks like we’re saying that the Gates Foundation is a sort of origin of all evil here, we sort of are because, in a sense, because I don’t think people quite know how much fucking money they throw around. I don’t think people quite know that if you’re, if you’re like Bill Gates, and you’re worth north of $100 billion, how cheap it is to basically buy the discussion around public health and intellectual property. You can throw in $100 million, which to you is a rounding error, and then when you offset it with the trust annuities and investments in Microsoft, and all the other things he invests in, you pretty much offset it anyway — which is why he keeps getting richer despite supposedly giving away billions of dollars — you’re not only effectively by the silence or what you do is you narrow the conversation, the acceptable conversation, right? So I think people like Dr. Jha, I think several other people have noted, I don’t think they’re evil people. I don’t think they wake up in the morning twirling their mustache. But I think that when you take the Gates money, you have to accept a certain limitation about what is a quote-unquote “realistic pathway,” and I think that if you asked them, they would say, ‘The IP waiver is a radical left-wing fantasy, and it’s not going to happen. So I’m offering real solutions.’
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:54:02] ‘This is really complicated and those calling for the waiver are not understanding how complicated this is, they think you can just wave a magic wand, and therefore everyone else can just produce a vaccine,’ which is literally not what anyone is saying. It’s a complete straw man. That is not the argument. It is the first step on the way to actual global cooperation and relinquishing the stranglehold on intellectual property, on profit motives for these vaccines to actually save millions of fucking lives, if not more, and so the idea that this is so complicated it’s really not just about the waiver. It’s not just about the waiver, no one’s actually saying that, and no one’s saying that you should then stop, you know, funding COVAX, as we’ve said — sure, do that too but that’s not going to do everything — and what gets you closer to being able to vaccinate more and more and more people without relying on the fucking charity of richer countries and potentially just of billionaires who are donating this stuff, instead of doing that you actually make it accessible and available at the production stage, not the delivery stage, you make it available at the production stage, and you do what you need to do to help those countries, help those factories, help those medical experts in those other countries ramp this the fuck up. So the idea that it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s so complicated, that’s not going to do it, that’s some left-wing fantasy,’ is a made up thing, because no one is actually calling for the thing that they say can’t be done.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:55:36] And this is fundamentally a media story. So writer by the name of Tim Schwab — who I think was inspired by our episode that we did on Gates a few years ago, and he sort of said that and he tagged us on Twitter — about this really fantastic article he wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review. How much money Bill Gates lavishes on the media and he found out that quote:
…the Gates Foundation had made through the end of June and found more than $250 million going toward journalism. Recipients included news operations like the BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, and the Center for Investigative Reporting; charitable organizations affiliated with news outlets, like BBC Media Action and the New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund.
So one of the reasons I think that his influence here gets kind of casually overlooked, again, there are exceptions, there are sort of The New Republic article being one of them, although I don’t think that would fly under the current editorship of Michael Tomasky, but they got in just under the radar by week. I think that it’s slowly, to say nothing of his tremendous investments in Comcast, and by extension companies like Fox who runs puff pieces on Bill Gates all the time, is that there’s just a subtle kind of, you don’t want to sort of, if you begin to sort of connect these dots, you’re this wacky conspiracy theorist, right? You’re kind of getting out of your tech or health bubble and the extent to which you can criticize Gates, it’s very sort of limited. Is this the right approach? Is this impactful? But for the most part, people just sort of take these things on face value that oh, Selena Gomez fucking woke up one day and decided to have a concert with all of our celebrity friends. Oh, and by the way, we’re going to talk about vaccine inequity and we’re going to completely ignore, completely omit the number one demand by the vaccine equity movement right now, again, backed by very mainline organizations, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, we’re not, we’re not talking about fucking, you know, obscure Trotskyist parties in the UK, this is very mainstream shit here for the most part. The only thing that makes, the only X factor here is they don’t take a significant amount of Gates money, enough to really influence that particular policy position.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:57:34] Or if they do, they’re still deciding to have the right fucking policy decision.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:57:38] Well, the ones who have supported it, none of them really take over more than, like, five percent. So it’s not enough for it to really matter, right? And so, which is a problem I imagine he’ll try to correct in the coming months. But like, this is how you get the fucking stranglehold because it’s so obvious to anyone paying attention that we don’t need to protect the intellectual property of these drugmakers with mRNA vaccines that we have been proven to be effective and yes it’s complicated and yes manufacturing won’t happen overnight but all the IPS do is remove pathways and foreclose on pathways of potential scaling up of vaccinations. And you have this supposed concert run by celebrities that’s going to address this issue without addressing the fucking elephant in the room. It is like Michael Jordan giving his Hall of Fame speech and not mentioning the Chicago Bulls. It would just be weird. It’s like how do you have a global vaccine equity drive with all these celebrities without addressing that fucking TRIPS waiver? Which is that right now the number one demand from these grassroots organizations and the answer is obvious, which is that’s the whole point. The whole point is to take, and to the extent to which they are focusing some attention on big pharma, again, they’re funded by Johnson & Johnson, they’re probably I’m sure we will later realize, reveal in other 990s in the future, you never really know who funds these things until years later. My guess is it’s probably other pharmaceuticals as well, and probably more Gates money than we even know. But they’re saying that Moderna and Pfizer need to reduce their prices. This is the really revolutionary ask, they need to reduce their prices and they’re calling on governments to give more money to these countries but these were commitments, for the most part, these governments made anyway and they’re largely token. Cisco Systems announced back in February that they’re going to give away $5 million to like COVID awareness or whatever and they gave $5 million to this supposed concert and Selena Gomez is like, ‘Thank you, Cisco Systems and CEO John Evil,’ it’s like, give me a break. This is such a fucking joke. This is just a reputation laundering outfit for fucking corporations who are backing this US Chamber of Commerce and other lobbyists who are opposing the waiver.
NIMA SHIRAZI - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [00:59:35] Yeah, the Global Citizen site actually has a petition that you can sign that says this, “Tell Big Pharma: Protect People’s Lives Over Profits,” sounds incredibly passionate about this and part of what it says about the action to take, about the petition to sign is this, quote:
COVID-19 vaccines were developed to save the world from the pandemic. The World Health Organization [WHO] estimates that we need 60% global coverage to begin seeing the end of COVID-19 for good — and the longer it takes, the more at risk we are of further deadly mutations of the virus emerging and threatening everyone all over again.
Now here’s the kicker:
Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax — companies with leading COVID-19 vaccines already being distributed, or close to it — are taking a profit, making it harder or in some cases impossible for lower-income countries to access them. This is a dangerous path, with experts saying that millions of people may not receive the vaccine until as late as 2024.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Other vaccine producers Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have both committed to non-profit pricing of their COVID-19 vaccines through the pandemic to provide wider global access and fairness.
If they can commit to this, the others can too. Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax must not let profit get in the way of saving people’s lives.
ADAM JOHNSON - CO-HOST, CITATIONS NEEDED: [01:00:59] The limits of J&J’s supposed nonprofit are [a] they’re being subsidized by several governments and [b] how you say duration of the pandemic is debatable, because there has been very clear internal literature and if you again, if you look at pharma websites they talk about this in interviews when they when they’re not talking to, you know, mainstream media, this is a huge cash cow for them. You know, the first time we covered this, I said, I don’t think the pharma is really, their protection of IP is not so much about the actual revenue from COVID I think it’s about the potential for mRNA moving forward, which is tremendous in terms of cancer drugs, we’re talking billions of dollars over decades. They’re not just going to leave that fucking money on the table without putting up a fight. But now I think that it actually is both, I do think that there’s going to be so many different variations, so many booster shots in perpetuity, right? Forever. I mean, really, at least for the foreseeable future, that that’s a huge cash cow for them and how you define the quote-unquote, “emergency pandemic” is very debatable and Johnson & Johnson, the chief intellectual property counsel for Johnson & Johnson, Robert Barron, went on a CSIS panel — the spooky think tank we always make fun of on the show, because it’s basically a corporate lobbying firm — he went on a CSIS panel and very adamantly argued against the TRIPS waiver, that was the point of the panel, and these are this is the same company that’s funding the supposedly vaccine equity drive concert
Pandemic Immunoprivilege Part 2 - In The Thick - Air Date 4-27-21
MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: [01:02:18] So we here In the Thick have been talking from the very beginning about the impact that this pandemic is having on Black, indigenous, Latino, Latina, and POC communities. Last week, vaccinations opened up for all of the adults in the United States, and wow, over 40% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of this past Sunday. But always with this pandemic, it's like, yes, but. The rate has been declining with less than 3 million vaccines being distributed per day. And that's the lowest level since March 31st. So it's a little bit like, what's going on?
And today we're going to talk all about this next phase of the pandemic in terms of vaccination equity, and this notion of immuno privilege, which I've been thinking a lot about because I am now, I had a social gathering on Friday night in the park and I'm, I realized my privilege to feel safe enough to do that with my girlfriends who were all vaccinated.
So Kesha, in a recent interview with Sigal Samuel for Vox, you said that there's a moral and a mutual obligation for people to get vaccinated, though of course, as we know, the access thing isn't equitable, right? I mean, just even in New York, the fact that you have to have a computer, you have to have internet, you have to know how to do it, you have to know how to refresh. So can you talk to us, Kesha, about this question of moral obligation, and how you understand this in terms of the next phase of open access, truly open access in terms of vaccinations?
DR. KEISHA RAY: [01:03:50] So I think what's really important to remember is that when you call something an obligation, it puts certain obligations on other people. Right? So if I say that, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is a moral obligation, that then puts the obligations on public health services, on governments, on our healthcare system, to make sure that people can even get access to the vaccines. And right now that's a real big problem that we're seeing.
You know, a lot of people like to talk about vaccine hesitancy. Maybe I've heard that term a lot and they'll say things like people of color don't trust medicine, Latin X people, indigenous people, black people, they don't trust medicine. And you know, to some degree that's absolutely true. But what we're seeing when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine is less distress and more about access. Every day you'll go on the internet and you'll see that there is some public health clinic that was giving out vaccines that closed down for some reason or another. But when you read about where these clinics that are closing down are located, they're located in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods.
So if the COVID vaccine is a moral obligation and that we want people to get it so that way they are healthy and they are vaccinated against this deadly COVID-19, but then also we can contribute to herd immunity and make sure that their neighbors and other people in our communities and globally also don't get infected with COVID-19. People have to make sure that vaccines are assessable. And that's really the big issue right now is, can people get access to the vaccines when they want them?
MARIA HINOJOSA - HOST, IN THE THICK: [01:05:33] Dude, I just need to say that that is like a massive headline. It is not in of color communities and nonwhite communities. It's not the distrust that's leading the issue. It's the plain old access issue. I think that's just important for people to think about.
DR. KEISHA RAY: [01:05:50] Absolutely.
DR. PETER HOTZ: [01:05:51] Yeah. And if I could add on, you know, what Keisha said is absolutely correct. What I'm seeing now is it's an overwhelming access issue. But that's a change, because late last year, the number of groups did surveys, I worked with Texas A & M University, they did a survey. Kaiser Family Foundation did a survey. And there were several other polls. And it did show that vaccine hesitancy in Black and Brown communities was high. But one of the things that impresses me is people worked at it and chipped away at it to bring that way down.
I was on a podcast about two weeks ago with a Black church in Richmond, Virginia, Providence Baptist Church. And there was a pediatrician who was a member of the church. Dr. Freeman invited me and the pastor was on. It was a Zoom call with the church members. And I said to both, I said, you know, the polls are saying now -- because this came out of the PBS News Hour poll, and it was also with a couple of others said -- that the rate of vaccine hesitancy is going down in Black and Brown communities. Is that your experience? And the pastor spoke right up. He said, absolutely. I mean, it's still there. I mean, we still have issues, but it's gotten better. And I say, well, what do you, what do you attribute that to? And he said, well, one, he says it's docs like you reaching out to Black and Brown communities, going on podcasts and radio programming, but then he said, the other thing that he thinks is it's the clergy, it's the leaders of Black churches all around the country realized that there was a problem. And they stepped up in a big way. And he said they created an informal network of pastors and church leaders. So we're not going to allow this. And I think he's onto something. I think that made a big difference. So vaxing hesitancy hasn't gone away entirely. And now you've got anti-vaccine groups specifically targeting Black and Brown communities now, which is really disgusting.
And, but not right now, the overwhelming vaccine hesitant group in the country, four different polls, Monmouth University, Quinnipiac, PBS, all point to the same thing. It's Republicans. That's how they call it. Especially white Republicans.
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:07:59] We've just heard clips today, starting within the thick discussing what it would take to accelerate vaccine production. The mother Jones podcast explained the process of canceling vaccine patents. Democracy. Now discuss the shortage of vaccines as it relates to big pharma and capitalism. The Majority Report highlighted some of the hollow arguments being made by the likes of Bloomberg news against canceling patents.
Citations needed explained why solidarity not charity is the long-term solution we need. And John Oliver on last week tonight debunk some of the popular myths about vaccines. That's what everyone heard. But members also heard a bonus clips from counter spend discussing the outsized role, wealthy people like bill gates are given to speak on public policy.
Citations needed dove deeper into the strongman defense of relying on charity for vaccine distribution and in the thick had a nuanced discussion about immuno privilege, moral obligation, and a vaccine hesitancy for non-members. Those bonus clips are linked in the show notes. And are part of the transcript for today's episode.
So you can still find them if you want to make the effort, but to hear that and all of our bonus content delivered, uh, seamlessly into your podcast feed, sign up to support the show at Best of the Left dot com slash support or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds, a barrier to hearing more information.
Every request is granted. No questions asked and now we'll hear from you.
Disney IP and copyright law - Nick From California
VOICEMAILER: NICK FROM CALIFORNIA: [01:09:34] Hey, this is Nick from California. I'm actually calling in about the Disneyland, the Disneyfication problem episode.
I just wanted to say that I am not sure how I feel about whether corporations should be able to keep their IPs copyrighted or not. That is, they're still using Mickey Mouse and using him actively. So if somehow this early doesn't bother me as much that they control that domain, he's very much used. There are lots of things like they talked about Marvel characters that are not used or lots of other intellectual properties that are essentially not used that big corporations have gobbled up and don't use them.
They sit there unused, and I think that's a real shame. I'm sure I could be persuaded with a few more segments on why even corporate control over Mickey Mouse is bad, but again, at least they're using it. It really bothers me when properties are basically dead because they're copyrighted and the corporations that own them essentially won't let you use them, but nobody's using them either. They're just sitting there unused. And that really bothers me. As someone who, it's certainly not their day job, it's like an amateur who likes to do creative works, there are definitely more times than I would have tried to maybe even write something or do something in a creative space.
But again, the IP is locked down. And so if I happen to -- and it's dead and it's not being used by anyone -- but if it was actually successful or I really spent a lot of time in it and actually went somewhere, which is unlikely, but still it's just the fact that it can't be used, full stop. It means I don't try to use it.
And it does stifle, at least for people I've talked to in similar amateur level-type creators. Yeah, it definitely stifled. They should definitely be some rules that if something is just sitting dead for 30 years, from the seventies, eighties, and now the nineties and it hasn't been used and nobody's using it, nobody's produced anything with it in years, but that should become, again, something that could be used in a creative space again. But that's just my opinion and it's self-serving, but I definitely have strong feelings about that.
Again, for those things that are being actively used, whatever. You know, I don't even care about that. It's really more the things that just sit fallow forever
All right. Later, dude.
Final comments on our recent bonus episode about surveillance capitalism
JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: [01:12:21] Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line or wrote in their messages to be played as a VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at (202) 999-3991. Or write me a message to [email protected].
Now, today, I don't mean for this to be a naked pitch for membership, but I recognize it is kind of going to be that too. But I wanted to tell you about the bonus episode that we just recorded this week, because it was a surreal experience. Like great, but surreal. So first of all, we did a bang up job and I know like, If I didn't do a bang up job, maybe I would say that anyway, but it's also happens to be true.
We recorded this great episode, exploring the existential dangers of surveillance capitalism. Not existential to our survival as a species, although maybe that too, but existential in terms of the essence of our humanity, that is being lost through constant surveillance. It's a really, really fascinating topic. But also the production of the show itself turned out to be this sort of meta lesson on basically the same topic that none of us could have predicted while we were discussing on the show, lessons that we couldn't have predicted. It really couldn't have been more perfect, or as I said, surreal, and it was the sort of thing that I only figured out after we recorded. And so it was the experience of editing the show and realizing what had happened and what had been lost and what was done, I don't even know how to describe or summarize without just telling every detail about what happened. And that's not really how it should be experienced. It should really be experienced as an episode that you listened to and you get the details in the introduction about what happened, and then you listen to the show and let the waves of recognition wash over you.
So I just have to leave it here and hopefully you will find that enticing enough to make you go sign up and listen to it. And look, if you want to sign up and listen to it and then cancel because you really don't want to be a member, that's fine. I also give memberships away for free to anyone who can't afford it.
I'm just talking about it because I really want for people to hear these episodes. Every time we do an another bonus episode, I think, well, we've peaked. We're probably not going to be able to do another one that good. And then we do the next one. And it's so good. And this is coming from someone who makes a living listening to other people do podcasts and give their opinions and have conversations. And I gotta say, we're doing a really good podcast that only the members are getting to hear.
So as always, I would love if you would support the production of this show and sign up as a member, and then you get all of that bonus content as well.
But really this one in particular, again, I really feel like we might've peaked. This is a really good and interesting episode and there's no way we're going to be able to recreate -- I mean, we couldn't have done it this time if we had tried to have the experience we did and make the show we did and have the meta lessons built into it, that we did all unintentionally. It's really something that should be heard. So check that out.
As always, check us out at BestoftheLeft.com/support.
And now as always, keep the comments coming in at (202) 999-3991, or by emailing me to [email protected].
That is going to be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes. Thanks to the monosyllabic transcriptionist trio, Ben, Dan, and Ken for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together. Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic design, and bonus show co-hosting. And thanks of course to all those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at BestoftheLeft.com/support as that is absolutely how the program survives. For details on the show itself, including links to all of the sources and music used in this and every episode, all that information can always be found in the show notes on the blog and likely right on the device you're using to listen.
So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay!, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast, coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from BestoftheLeft.com.