How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines

On February 11, 2020, public health and infectious disease experts gathered by the hundreds at the World Health Organization’s Geneva mothership. The official pronouncement of a pandemic was still a month out, but the agency’s international brain trust knew enough to be worried. Burdened by a sense of borrowed time, they spent two days furiously sketching an “R&D Blueprint” in preparation for a world upended by the virus then known as 2019-nCoV.

The resulting document summarized the state of coronavirus research and proposed ways to accelerate the development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The underlying premise was that the world would unite against the virus. The global research community would maintain broad and open channels of communication, since collaboration and information-sharing minimize duplication and accelerate discovery. The group also drew up plans for global comparative trials overseen by the WHO, to assess the merits of treatments and vaccines.

One issue not mentioned in the paper: intellectual property. If the worst came to pass, the experts and researchers assumed cooperation would define the global response, with the

— source | Alexander Zaitchik | Apr 12, 2021

Nullius in verba

Pharmaceutical pollution in the world’s rivers

The new study looked at 258 rivers across the globe, including the Thames in London and the Amazon in Brazil, to measure the presence of 61 pharmaceuticals, such as carbamazepine, metformin and caffeine. strong correlations between the socioeconomic status of a country and higher pollution of pharmaceuticals in its rivers (with lower-middle income nations the most polluted). the most polluted countries and regions of the world are the ones that have been researched the least (namely sub-saharan Africa, South America and parts of southern Asia). The study revealed that a quarter of the sites contained contaminants (such as sulfamethoxazole, propranolol, ciprofloxacin and loratadine) at potentially harmful concentrations. The study included noteworthy rivers such as the Amazon, Mississippi, Thames and the Mekong. Water samples were obtained from sites spanning from a Yanomami Village in Venezuela, where modern medicines are not used, to some of the most populated cities on the planet, such as Delhi, London, New York, Lagos, Las Vegas, and Guangzhou. The study forms part of the University of York-led Global Monitoring of Pharmaceuticals Project, which has expanded significantly over the last two years

The contaminants found at potentially harmful concentrations include:[]–

propranolol (a beta-blocker for heart problems such as high blood pressure)
sulfamethoxazole (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic for bacterial infection)
loratadine (an antihistamine for allergies)

— source University of York | Feb 14, 2022

Nullius in verba

Covid-19 Vaccine Apartheid Is Exacerbating Global Inequalities

The highly uneven global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is exacerbating deadly inequalities between—and within—countries, threatening to undermine socio-economic gains throughout the developing world, the United Nations warned Monday.

Two years into a pandemic that has killed millions, 2.8 billion people—91% of whom reside in low-income nations—have yet to receive their first lifesaving shot, according to a new analysis released this month by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).

Although there has been a substantial increase in the total number of Covid-19 vaccines administered over the past several months, the allocation of doses remains starkly unequal. Of the 10.7 billion jabs given out worldwide, just 1% have gone into the arms of people in low-income countries, the UNDP found.

In addition to giving the coronavirus more opportunities to circulate among unprotected populations—increasing the likelihood of new, potentially vaccine-resistant variants emerging and further prolonging the global public health emergency—vaccine inequity has harmed national economic recovery efforts, thereby widening “the poverty gap between rich

— source | Kenny Stancil | Mar 28, 2022

Nullius in verba

Sackler family to pay $6bn for role in US opioid crisis

The wealthy Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, is set to pay $6bn (£4.5bn) for its role in America’s opioid epidemic under a new deal.

The sum is nearly $1.7bn more than a previous settlement.

Purdue, which filed for bankruptcy in 2019 amid thousands of lawsuits, made drugs like OxyContin, and is blamed for fuelling the opioid crisis.

Addiction to both legal and illegal opioid painkillers has been a serious, ongoing problem in the US.

The country saw nearly half a million deaths from overdoses between 1999 and 2019, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— source | 3 Mar 2022

Nullius in verba

How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care

In 2000, the healthy life expectancy of Americans ranked 38th in the world.

In 2019, we were at 68th – behind China, Cuba and Jamaica.

Citizens of Japan live eight years longer in good health than Americans.

Canadians live five years longer.

And yet, we spend $1.5 trillion more per year on our healthcare system than do other wealthy countries.

Why is this happening?

In a nutshell, it’s the power of large multinational pharmaceutical corporations.

— source | Mar 7, 2022

Nullius in verba

Vaccine Inequity Prolongs the Pandemic

Global health leaders are warning that new cases of the highly infectious Omicron variant continue to climb in undervaccinated parts of the world. Only about 62% of the world’s population has received at least one shot, and the divide between the rich and poor regions remains vast. This is World Health Organization Emergencies Director Mike Ryan speaking virtually at the World Economic Forum last week.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN: If we look at in Africa, in our African regional office states, only 7%. So the reality is that the world is moving towards a 70% goal; the problem is we are leaving huge swathes of the world behind.

2022 must be the year that we completely tip the balance in favor of increased vaccinations in the developing world, especially in Africa. As we speak, just about 10% of the population in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, have been fully immunized. I think we have a gap and a journey to get to the 70% target which the WHO has established. This is the year we must vaccinate at scale and at speed, if we have to defeat the emergence of new variants. We saw what Omicron did. Omicron taught us a lesson that any threat anywhere in the world is a threat everywhere in the world. So we really have to scale up vaccination using all the assets that we have and in a more deliberate manner, with

— source | Jan 26, 2022

Nullius in verba

Professor Quits Vaccine Trial over Moderna’s Corporate Greed

Jeremy Menchik is associate professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies wrote an article called “Confessions of a ‘human guinea pig’: Why I’m resigning from Moderna vaccine trials” in the medical news website STAT. He writes, “In July 2020, I volunteered to be in Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine trial. If I knew then what I know now about the company’s quest for profits, I wouldn’t have done that.” He’s now heard from dozens of other trial volunteers who share his concerns. They’re launching a campaign today for other trial participants who want to get involved.

I volunteered because, as you remember, March 2020 was a scary time. It was disorienting. And I thought anything that I could do to help, you know, get us out of this pandemic nightmare was an ethical imperative. You know, my wife is a nurse practitioner. She was working in Dorchester, the hardest-hit part of Boston in terms of COVID-19. And so, we faced just imminent pressure from the virus.

But on my way to work, I would drive by Longwood Medical Center. And living in Boston, you’re very much aware of the power and the importance of these enormous hospitals and companies that are doing groundbreaking research on vaccines and other technologies. So I thought, you know, as a professor of international relations, I don’t have much to

— source | Jan 13, 2022

Nullius in verba

America’s billionaires got $1 trillion richer last year

America’s nearly 750 billionaires collectively got $1 trillion richer in 2021, a tax-free 25% gain, according to calculations by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) based on Forbes data. Their wealth rose from $4.1 trillion to $5.1 trillion over the 12 months ended on Dec. 31. That wealth rise could fund half of the Democrats’ proposed 10-year, roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better plan of social and environmental investments.

Go here for the full data set and see the top 15 billionaires table below. The number of U.S. billionaires rose from 659 to 736 during the year.

Under current law, none of that gain will ever be taxed unless the underlying assets are sold—something the very rich generally don’t need to do to lead lives of luxury. But if the Billionaires Income Tax (BIT) proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden had been law last year, billionaires would owe up to $240 billion on their 2021 wealth gains, depending on how much

— source | Jan 4, 2022

[this is called #classwar. class war of the capitalists]

Nullius in verba

Confessions of a ‘human guinea pig’

In July 2020, I volunteered to be in Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine trial. If I knew then what I know now about the company’s quest for profits, I wouldn’t have done that.

As one of about 30,000 “human guinea pigs,” I permitted Moderna to test its experimental vaccine on me to see if it would provide protection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. It wasn’t clear if the vaccine would work, but it was clear the world needed a solution to this pandemic nightmare that has now claimed nearly 5.5 million lives in just two years.

As a participant in the double-blind trial, I didn’t know if I was in the control group, which received shots of saline, or in the experimental group, which received shots of the experimental vaccine. It was only six months after starting the trial that I learned I was among those who received saline.

Letting a company that had never brought a vaccine to market use my body as a test subject was scary, painful, and exhausting. Participating in the trial entailed seven visits to a hospital, 24 phone calls, dozens of diary entries, repeated batteries of questions about my private life, five blood draws, and numerous nasopharyngeal swabs — the painful

— source | Jeremy Menchik | Jan. 4, 2022

Nullius in verba