News Brief: #VaxLive is a PR Scam So Those Causing Vaccine Inequity Can Pose as Saviors of Global Poor

Citations Needed | April 30, 2021 | Transcript

Citations Needed
23 min readMay 7, 2021


Nima Shirazi: Welcome to a Citations Needed News Brief. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam Johnson: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: We do these News Briefs in between our regularly scheduled episodes when the news just demands the hot Citations Needed takes. Of course, you can follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, become a supporter of our work through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated, we are 100 percent listener funded, and we’d love to keep it that way. And this News Brief, Adam, is part of our ongoing series, apparently, about the vaccine rollout, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and how there still remains the fight over intellectual property rights. We have discussed this on a full length episode, we talked about this on a News Brief as well after that, but calls for loosening the IP on vaccines, we hear from advocates, we hear from experts, we hear from medical and civil society groups in the Global North and Global South, we’ve heard about this for a long time now, freeing up the IP would save millions of lives and yet there remain a faction of people, not least among them President Joe Biden and Bill Gates, who are against loosening these restrictions.

Adam: Well, technically President Joe Biden’s administration has no position but to have no position is of course to oppose the TRIPS waiver at the WTO. Now, of course, 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: Oh. yeah, the “We Are the World” for COVID-19.

Adam: Which is a concert on May 8 headlined by Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, an assortment of dopey liberal celebrities.

Nima: And co-sponsored by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan.

Adam: 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: Right, but of course that can’t happen.

Adam: 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: 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. And so now what they’re doing with is Vax Live and the reason we really wanted to do this News Brief is because we needed to talk about Vax Live, which is the, you know, do they even really know it’s COVID charity event, hosted by Selena Gomez, as was mentioned, 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, remember they’re the campaign chair —

Meghan and Harry! (Getty)

Adam: It’s the Sussexes? It’s not the Sussexi? I guess it’s not Greek in origin, although technically Prince Harry is Greek in origin, but go ahead.

Nima: Too soon.

Adam: Oh, he died. That’s right. Sorry.

Nima: Yeah. They released 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.

End quote.

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?

Adam: Yeah, they’re calling on Europe and the United States to donate vaccines.

Nima: Right.

Adam: Which again, is like, fine, but is a scratch for really what we need to do. It’s not nearly enough.

Nima: And so you have not only the celebrities involved, they include the ones we’ve mentioned, but also — don’t worry — Ben Affleck is going to be there.

Adam: Sure.

Nima: David Letterman’s gonna be there, Gayle King, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Penn obviously could not miss this. But not only that, you also see this being a political ploy, right? So at the highest levels of government, you see the same kind of buy in, which means who is really running this? Who is in charge of vaccine rollout? Is it the governments or is it really the Gates Foundation who is setting policy? Because you have here, as The Guardian has reported, quote, “Biden, along with the US first lady, Jill Biden, and the vice-president, Kamala Harris, will make special appearances through Global Citizen’s partnership with the White House’s We Can Do This initiative, which encourages measures, including mask wearing.” “Encourages measures,” what a great thing to say. There will also be appearances by French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister heartthrob Justin Trudeau as well as some others. And so you see this really not just being a kind of, you know, celebrity Live Aid but for vaccinations, but a fundamental political policy decision to promote charity over cooperation — but don’t worry, a trailer for Vax Live, one that I that I didn’t just read, promised that the concert will feature quote, “big names and an even bigger message,” end quote.

Adam: Yeah, and you know, these celebrities are golden retrievers, you know, they sort of mean well, I don’t think they know what the sort of more sinister motives are here and the thing you have to note is that these political leaders, these North Atlantic government political leaders who are pledging these vaccines, are the biggest barriers to the TRIPS waiver. They’re the ones blocking the TRIPS waiver. So the head of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen, so they did this this dumb thing where Selena Gomez, because they don’t want you to know it’s Bill Gates because he said a lot of bad press, so Selena Gomez is sort of, ostensibly the one like calling out world leaders.

Nima: (Laughing.)

Adam: So they have these scripted, these extremely scripted Twitter exchanges, which I think are hilarious.

Nima: Yeah.

Adam: Where she said, where she tags the head of the EU Commission and says, “Let’s end this pandemic, join me at #VaxLive and ask other leaders and companies to step up too.” And then right on cue, you know, a few hours later, same script, the same marketing firm I’m sure runs obviously both languages, von der Leyen says, quote, “Thank you Selena Gomez. Europe is committed to bringing the world together to end this pandemic and to prevent future ones. We want to make the world stronger and more prepared to deal with health crises. For this we count on global cooperation and solidarity #VaxLive.” Now let’s get to an article a couple days ago, CNBC headline, “Rich countries are refusing to waive the rights of Covid vaccines as global cases hit record levels,” and there it quotes European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen saying that they cannot support the TRIPS waiver because they need to quote, “preserve the incentives to innovate.” The European Commission has been the biggest barrier along with the United States.

Nima: “Incentives to innovate” is literally code for protecting intellectual property, which is exactly how Bill Gates has gotten so exorbitantly wealthy.

Adam: Now a lot of this goes to the EU, but French leader Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau, their governments have opposed the WTO waiver at the World Trade Organization, the TRIPS waiver. So these are the countries that are the primary barrier to freeing up the intellectual property to allow scaling up, again, which every single non Gates funded health and human rights organization will tell you is important, suddenly, they’re being put on the forefront as a charity event. So obviously, it’s very cynical stuff.

Nima: So if you haven’t already, we really do urge you to read this really excellent breakdown of how Gates has really halted global access to COVID vaccines published in The New Republic written by Alexander Zaitchik on April 12, 2021, it really goes into this. The kind of prime villain here is Bill Gates and his foundation for really pushing this idea that the way out of this pandemic globally, is not to allow everyone to be able to produce effective vaccines it is rather the generous charity, the Global North benefactor giving, because of its wonderful heart, as many vaccines as possible to countries in the Global South, to countries that have been extracted from by the Global North for centuries, but rather, this is one more kind of part of international development, this is part of, you know, being seen as delivering aid as real charity work and this is kind of where we find ourselves and the fact that honestly, there’s a star studded concert to promote this is almost too on the nose. Do you know what I mean?

Adam: Well, it’s again, it’s to take all the anger and energy of what’s happening in India and the Global South and redirect it into a totally false solution because again, doing COVAX is perfectly fine. Countries should donate excess vaccines if they have them, but it’s not going to cover 10 percent, 20 percent of the problem. The problem is you have to free up vaccines and share information and compel pharmaceuticals at risk of losing public funding to help countries in the Global South begin to manufacture their own drugs otherwise these countries are not going to get vaccines until 2024, 2025. And so one thing is that this isn’t just limited, of course, to this bogus concert, anywhere you look where someone’s poopooing or dismissing the TRIPS waiver, almost without exception, there’s a pretty glaring conflict of interest. So I want to go over some of those examples. So The Washington Post ran in an op-ed on March 15 of this year by Rachel Silverman entitled, “Waiving vaccine patents won’t help inoculate poor nations.” Who is Rachel Silverman? She’s the Policy Fellow at the Center for Global Development. Who is the majority funder of the Center for Policy Global Development Nima?

Nima: I think it’s probably the Gates Foundation.

Adam: It’s the Gates Foundation. Financial Times received half a million dollars from the Gates Foundation in 2020, they ran the following op-eds: “Waiving IP rules will not deliver more Covid vaccines.” That was on April 25 2021. They also ran one a couple weeks ago called, “How to vaccinate the world,” in which the vaccine patent waiver was dismissed tith the following line, quote, “Even so, patents are a bit of a sideshow,” saying that compulsory license are a better route, which was the exact argument that Silverman made. Again, who knows if the Financial Times would have published it anyway, they can be very pro IP in general, but just suffice to say they if you’re in doubt, a poopooing of TRIPS waiver will invariably follow funding by either the pharmaceutical industry or the Gates Foundation. There was an article by Mahesh Sharma in Bloomberg News, he is a columnist there, in addition to being a columnist there, he is a Senior Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, who gets millions of dollars a year from the Gates Foundation. Then there’s Dr. Ashish Jha, who is the Dean of Brown Medical School, which sounds very, you know, sort of objective and neutral and esteemed, which of course it is, and I’m sure he’s a wonderful doctor, he went on Ezra Klein’s New York Times podcast and dismissed the TRIPS waiver out of hand last month saying, quote:

And the one sort of simple, simplistic thing that people often say, ‘Oh, this is all about intellectual property and we should just take these patents and make them public.’ It’s not about that. There aren’t that many companies that can make these things. They’re actually complicated to make.

So first off, that isn’t what people say, they don’t say you just waive IP and we all go home, they have been very clear from day one that you waive IP as a prerequisite to do a number of other things as we’ve laid out now several times, which wasn’t disclosed by Ezra Klein that in addition to being the Dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, Jha is a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge, a firm that represents Pfizer, and Merck, who he later than promotes in the interview saying, quote:

If you think about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s a live virus. It’s an adenovirus that you’ve injected some RNA actually into, and it’s got to be done incredibly well.

There are companies that can do it. Merck can do it, which is why Merck is now going to make J&J vaccines. I think that’s great. But there really is a problem here of production.

Nima: Yeah, there’s actually a problem of disclosure here because Professor Jha is not disclosed by Ezra Klein on The New York Times podcast as being a senior advisor at Albright Stonebridge, which literally, not only just represents Pfizer and Merck, but represents them on exactly this issue, on intellectual property law.

Adam: And guess who else’s Albright Stonebridge’s client, the Gates Foundation. 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.’

Bill and Melinda Gates

Nima: ‘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: 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. I’m actually shocked it made it to the Columbia Journalism Review since they’re quite conservative. I tried writing for them one time and they edited it so much pro-cop bullshit I pulled the piece and ran it for FAIR, a little gossip there.

Nima: (Laughing.)

Adam: Some people there are fine, but anyway, they ran this very excellent criticism of 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: Or if they do, they’re still deciding to have the right fucking policy decision.

Adam: 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: 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: 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 I mean, this is —

Nima: Let me just say, I actually got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and I’m thrilled to have done it, but I think others should get it, too.

Adam: Well, yeah, we’re obviously not telling people not to get vaccinated. So these forces are funding the same thing. This is just like, I’m sorry, this is like Exxon Mobil sponsoring an Arbor Day Parade. These are the people who are preventing the scaling up of vaccines. They’re presenting themselves, they’re co-opting any kind of activist energy, putting a bunch of golden retriever celebrities in front of it, and doing it in a way that I think is pretty cynical and I think their goals are not good, their goals are quite sinister. So be skeptical of this concert and other efforts by big pharma and the Gates Foundation, again to poopoo or hand wave away or ignore the actual fundamental asked by grassroots activists, which is we have to suspend these patents and compel pharma to not only suspend the patents but to help the transition in the manufacturing in the Global South so we can have more pathways to scale up the vaccine. This charity bullshit is not going to cut it.

Nima: But how would that incentivize innovation, Adam?

Adam: Oh right, innovation. I forgot about that.

Nima: (Laughs.) So that will do it for this Citations Needed News Brief. Thank you everyone for listening. Of course, you can follow the show on Twitter @CitationsPod, Facebook Citations Needed, become a supporter of our work through with Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson. All your support through Patreon is so incredibly appreciated. We can’t do the show without it. So if you’re considering it, please do, if it’s between signing the Global Citizen petition and becoming a Citations Needed patron, I think you should go with Patreon. But that will do it. Thanks again. We’ll be back soon with more full length episodes of Citations Needed but until then, thank you everyone for listening. I am Nima Shirazi.

Adam: I’m Adam Johnson.

Nima: Citations Needed is produced by Florence Barrau-Adams. Associate producer is Julianne Tveten. Production assistant is Trendel Lightburn. Newsletter by Marco Cartolano. Transcriptions are by Morgan McAslan. The music is by Grandaddy. Thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll catch you next time.


This Citations Needed News Brief was released on Friday, April 30, 2021.

Transcription by Morgan McAslan.



Citations Needed

A podcast on media, power, PR, and the history of bullshit. Hosted by @WideAsleepNima and @adamjohnsonnyc.