The United States announced it will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine with other countries -- but big pharma leaders still oppose opening up the patents so every country can make what it needs.
Meanwhile, the CEO of the vaccine production company that screwed up 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine sold off $10 million in stock before the mistake was announced.
And lastly, the new census numbers are in, and as we feared, Republicans are going to pick up a few key house seats in
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The United States has finally agreed to share. On Monday, the White House announced it would send up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine around the world.
The AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t even approved for use in the U.S., so it’s not like we have anything better to do with it, meaning it’s kind of absurd we hadn’t done this already. Still, the FDA wants to clear the drug before we send it overseas, though dozens of other countries are already using it and could use more.
We’re not even the first major power to do this. Russia and China have both already actively shared vaccines outside their borders. Prior to this announcement, we’d only committed to sharing a measly 4 million doses with Mexico and Canada.
It’s clear the U.S. could be doing a whole lot more to help as our own vaccine rollout continues relatively smoothly.
Perhaps the biggest impediment to global vaccination, though, is once again the capitalists in charge. U.S. drugmakers have jealously guarded their patented vaccine formulas, and thus far, Biden has let them, despite making a promise not to while on the campaign trail.
The Guardian reported recently on Biolyse, a small Canadian drug manufacturer that said it was ready and willing to devote its facility to cranking out doses of the vaccine to send to developing nations, if only one of the pharma giants would give them the recipe. So far, they’ve gotten nothing. Biolyse’s head of production Claude Mercure said quote: “I don’t understand pharma’s
stance on this. Everyone needs to make money, sure. But this is a very serious situation and there’s no reason to be this harsh.” Endquote.
The bigwigs in charge know this, but as we know by now: money comes first.
Pharma CEO Dumped Stock Before Vax Screwup
With that in mind, let’s turn to another story of unabashed corporate greed. Back in February, the pharma company Emergent Biosolutions completely messed up a massive order for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, ruining 15 million doses in a plant in Baltimore.
A new report by the Washington Post shows that at least one person saw this coming: Emergent’s CEO. Emergent boss Robert G. Kramer sold more than $10 million worth of stock in his own company in early February, right before Emergent reported the mistake and its stock price took a nose dive. If Kramer were to sell those same shares now, he’d only get $5.5 million.
It seems pretty cut and dry what happened here. The top leaders at Emergent knew something was going wrong, so they dumped their stock and hoped for the best. The Post reports that other execs at the company also sold off stocks.
In Kramer’s case, he set up the trades back in November, apparently trying to ward off complaints of insider trading. But the Post’s investigation found that Emergent’s plant was already having production problems back in October, including one earlier issue with making the J&J vaccine.
If you heard yesterday’s story on CEO pay, you’ll love this: Kramer’s total compensation went up 50 percent in 2020.
To seal the deal, Kramer’s last sell-off of his own company’s stock was in 2016 -- and guess what happened: investors sued him, saying that he had dumped his stock after misleading them about a government contract. Sure sounds like he was playing his favorite trick once again.
Republicans Make Census Gains
The Census results are in, and they don’t look good for the Democrats. Thanks to Trump’s pandemic-addled, count-disrupted Census attempt, the 2020 Census reported significant population gains in red-leaning states, which means they’ll get a bigger share of House of Representatives seats.
Texas, Florida and North Carolina are set to gain a combined four new Congressional seats after the 2022 midterms, while California, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York — will each lose a single congressional seat. There are some other shifts, but those are the big ones
The nuances of how this all works is a bit more tricky. It’s not as simple as handing seats directly to Republicans, as they’ll obviously have to win elections and the new districts will depend heavily on how the lines are drawn. But in Republican led states, the GOP will hold most of the power over that redistricting, so it follows that they’ll try to gerrymander as many new safely red seats as they can.
Part of this is due to population shifts that are really happening, but the effects are likely more dramatic thanks to Trump’s efforts to disrupt the census project and add a citizenship question, likely suppressing the population of undocumented people who were accounted for.
This matters for representation, but also for the share of federal tax dollars those communities receive, meaning in many cases they’ll be paying taxes to get very little in return.
You can see who’s the clear winner in all this, and it’s not the Democrats or working people around the country.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The population of the United States grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s, the new census showed, fueled by both declining birth rates and stagnant immigration. You can pin some of that blame on Trump, but not all.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hear arguments in a new major gun control case challenging a New York law on carrying guns outside of the home. The NRA has backed the challenge, which it clearly hopes will set a dangerous precedent further eroding any attempts at gun reform across the country.
A Republican-led drive to remove California Gov. Gavin Newsom from office got enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, state officials reported Monday. The LA Times reports that Newsome could see a statewide vote of confidence before the end of the year.
And finally, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will undergo an internal review aimed at rooting out extremists and white supremacists inside it’s own ranks. The key word in that sentence is “internal.” We’ll see what they find, but don’t hold your breath for real change.
APRIL 27, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn