4 Burning Questions on the Global Vaccine Rollout

Yves here. This post contains a considerable amount of useful operational detail on vaccine manufacture and storage. For instance, it includesa topic discussed at length a couple of times in the comments section, the need for sensors (aka loggers) to monitor the temperature of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to make sure they haven’t gotten too hot or too cold in transit.

Even though this post covers a lot of ground, it still has some shortcomings:

1. It assumes that people will need to be vaccinated for Covid only once. In the absence of a track record, most experts assume that immunity from the current vaccines will last only a year or two, between immunity to all common coronaviruses being relatively short lived, and this virus having enough of a tendency to mutate so as to have the potential to reduce vaccine efficacy

2. It appears to consider only the mRNA vaccines as distribution candidates in the US. The UK just approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, which doesn’t require fussy handling. Others are in the pipeline.

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

Mounting delays, technical glitches, scheduling snafus. Companies, countries, and coalitions jockeying for position. The vaccine rollout we’ve all been waiting for is underway, featuring sky-high stakes and mind-bending complexities that seasoned experts struggle to comprehend.

Economist and business historian William Lazonick has spent a career studying how corporations function and analyzing their interaction with state and society. His critique of the shareholder value regime that swept American business culture in the 1980s — the idea that corporations should be run primarily to enrich stock traders — illuminated widespread misunderstanding of the role large firms play in the economy. His work reveals how dysfunctional business models drive instability and inequality.

Lazonick, critical of the rise of a financialized pharmaceutical industry business model that puts profits ahead of human life, has warned that companies fixated on manipulating stock prices in order to funnel money to shareholders are no longer focused on making the drugs people need at prices they can afford. As he sees it, these firms have morphed from socially useful and innovative enterprises into predatory, scofflaw monopolies that restrict the output of medicines and push prices out of reach.

Now, with the world’s attention riveted on the pandemic, Lazonick and co-researcher Öner Tulum, who has delved into the tension between innovation and financialization in the pharmaceutical industry, turn to real-time analysis of the vaccine rollout. Together, they examine how businesses, governments, and various civil-society coalitions are working together – and competing – to inoculate the planet against Covid-19.

The researchers focus on four key questions related to demand, capacity, scale, and control, each of which reveal the challenges to and pitfalls of an unprecedented mass-production effort that is critical to bringing the pandemic to an end. Now that Covid-19 vaccines are attaining regulatory approval, Lazonick and Tulum are monitoring the constraints posed to mass inoculations by the problems of limited manufacturing capacity, logistics of scaling up production, and competition by companies, countries, and coalitions for control over vaccine supply.

1. How much vaccine do we need?

By the researchers’ reckoning, there are 5.5 billion people in the world 18 years and older who need two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine (at least until a one-shot vaccine is approved), which means that 11 billion doses total would be required to vaccinate all of them.

Together, China and India account for nearly 40% of that 11 billion total. But not everybody needs to get vaccinated in order to beat coronavirus, so it may only be necessary to have 75% of people receiving two shots, in which case, about 8.3 billion doses worldwide would do the job.

Lazonick and Tulum note that the percentage of a population requiring inoculation may vary from country to country, depending on how individual nations have been handling the pandemic. A country like the U.S., for example, which has failed to take all of the recommended countermeasures to keep the virus in check, may need a higher proportion of its people inoculated, and much more quickly, compared to a country like South Korea, which has shown dramatically better control over the virus due to more robust measures taken and more social discipline to coordinate action from the outset of the pandemic and when surges occur.

Whatever the precise number of vaccine doses that will be required to end the pandemic, however, the mega-challenge facing the world is now the limited manufacturing capacity available to supply that demand.

2. How much capacity is out there?

Let’s say the world needs enough capacity to make just over 8 billion doses, plus all the stuff required to use them, ranging from new machinery for Covid-19 vaccine production, chemical ingredients, glass vials, and purified water — never mind the timeframes for constructing new manufacturing facilities. Lazonick and Tulum estimate that if we had three or four years to complete the entire global rollout, we could get all the production processes and supply chains in order and have those doses distributed, no problem.

But we need it faster than that. A lot faster, because the coronavirus is extremely contagious, and potentially becoming more so as the virus mutates. The polio virus, in comparison, was less easily passed from person to person. You couldn’t get it by standing next to somebody infected — you’d need to drink water or eat food contaminated by their stools. Lazonick notes that in the 1950s, there was more time to roll out the polio vaccine and eradicate the virus. Today’s challenge is more akin to the urgency faced by New York City in 1947 when six million people were vaccinated against smallpox in less than a month to nip that contagion in the bud.

With Covid-19, however, we are launching inoculations with a full-blown pandemic continuing to escalate on a global scale.

Lazonick notes that Big Pharma was never all that enthusiastic about vaccines to begin with because, contrary to what anti-vaxxers will often tell you, they just aren’t big money-makers. Although vaccines are given to lots of people, the industry profits far more from therapies and medicines that people have to take every day or every week. Because so many people have to take vaccines, there are also limits to how much can be charged, particularly in developing countries. Then there are significant liability issues inherent in mass inoculations that make pharmaceutical companies nervous.

Tulum observes that the capacity to produce vaccines is controlled by a few Big Pharma firms and about ten large contract manufacturers, which are companies that provide services to drug companies. He adds that there are really only four global companies with sufficient capacity for a pandemic-sized vaccination effort on their own: Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, and Merck. And the only reason the big guys have this capacity is because governments have incentivized them to build it.

Tulum explains that in the U.S., for example, companies ramped up vaccination production in recent decades because the Clinton administration began to contract with them to vaccinate kids. In China, four companies, all backed by the Chinese government, have vaccine-production capability, while in India, the Serum Institute of India, a family-owned business, is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, with a current capability of producing 1.5 billion doses per year.

Contract manufacturers came on the scene because start-up companies designing new drugs lacked the ability to manufacture them. Lazonick explains that since the 1980s, Big Pharma companies have been buying up small biotech companies in order to grow, doing less research and development themselves. “You’ve got about 20 Big Pharma companies, like Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and so on,” says Lazonick, “which do manufacturing and distribution for smaller companies, like Moderna and Germany’s BioNTech, which are designing new drugs but don’t have much manufacturing capacity.”

All of which brings us to an even more daunting challenge: logistics.

3. What could go wrong, logistically?

The rapid scaling up of production for Covid-19 vaccines is a tremendous challenge. Not only must the vaccine be produced, it must be made on a massive scale. Already, reports indicate a wide range of problems and glitches.

Many issues involve the supply chain, in part because every company is competing with other companies all over the world for stuff needed for the manufacturing processes. Already, there are problems with firms getting access to the various types of machines and materials required. Pfizer, for example, slashed production projections for 2020 from 100 million to 50 million doses and then agreed to provide 100 million extra doses to the U.S. for 2021 in exchange for receiving priority from the government in the delivery of resources.

Equipment is an especially tough hurdle. The messenger RNA vaccine that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have developed, for example, requires new types of machinery that have never previously been used for mass production. In the case of the Moderna vaccine, now approved for emergency use, the U.S government has been lining up contract manufacturers, one of which, Swiss-based Lonza, is doubling its manufacturing capacity at a facility in New Hampshire.

So far, just over 2 million people in the U.S. have gotten their initial dose – that’s nearly 18 million short of the number promised by the federal government by the end of the year. Recent reports indicate that states have been cut back on the number of Pfizer doses they were promised as much as 30-40%. Pfizer, in its defense, claimed to have vaccine sitting on its warehouse shelves that President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed was supposed to take control of and deliver. U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, who oversees logistics, said the confusion was caused by a “planning error” in which the initial vaccine numbers he provided to states were higher than the number of doses actually available for release.

But is that really the whole story?

Lazonick and Tulum are looking into questions raised by investigative journalist Olivia Goldhill, who thinks that the snafu may be related to sensors required to monitor the temperature of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a storage temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. If the vaccine becomes too warm or even too cold, it gets ruined (already, 3,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine on the way to California and Alabama had to be quarantined and shipped back to the company after the vials got too cold).

According to Goldhill, Pfizer has the sensors necessary to monitor the temperature while the vaccine is being stored in its own warehouses, prior to shipment. But the federal government had not invested adequately in the devices before assuming quality control after the handoff from Pfizer. Instead, it has simply left the vaccine supply in Pfizer’s hands while telling various states that they will receive far fewer doses now than had been promised.

Bottom line: a lot can go wrong, and things may be more complicated and chaotic than many realize. The vaccine rollout is rife with potential bottlenecks, supply challenges, possibilities for contamination, and other issues that could reduce the number of available doses.

Last, we come to perhaps the most pressing question of all. Who is in control of the vaccine supply?

4. Who controls the vaccine rollout?

A variety of companies, countries, and coalitions are vying to control access to limited manufacturing capacity and vaccine doses that can be produced now and as the rollout continues over the next years or so.

This is where geopolitics comes in: Who gets the vaccine first? In what order? How fast? Who makes the calls?

The U.S. and the U.K. are the most aggressive countries when it comes to seeking control over manufacturing capacity, supply chains, and vaccine output. For its part, the European Union (EU) is acting as a bloc to procure for member countries. At the same time, various coalitions have entered the competition, the most prominent of which is COVAX, an initiative coordinated by GAVI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and World Health Organization (WHO).

Lazonick and Tulum point out that according to one report on vaccine manufacturing capacity prior to the pandemic, 76% of the capacity was located in Europe; 13% in North America; and 8% in Asia. Nevertheless, because manufacturing capacity is under the direct control of companies, not countries, the EU has been less successful than the U.S. and U.K. in gaining procurement commitments. The upshot is that the German media has been lambasting the EU procurement plan as “too little, too late.” Much depends on which vaccines under development get regulatory approval; the EU has a big stake in one being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, but its clinical trial process is taking longer than expected and success is by no means assured.

Brexit means that the U.K. is not a member of the EU bloc, leaving it free to negotiate on its own. The U.K. was the first to approve the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and before Christmas, over half a million people in the country had received vaccinations. The U.K. is also home to a leading vaccine candidate being developed by a team at Oxford University, which made a smart move by granting manufacturing and marketing rights to AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish company that is among the Big Pharma global leaders. Still, that doesn’t mean that the U.K. will have privileged access to AstraZeneca’s output.

The U.S. has been the most aggressive of all in the procurement competition, with its Operation Warp Speed run out of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in collaboration with the Department of Defense. There’s been a lot of wheeling and dealing, and mind-blowing amounts of money poured into companies for bringing vaccines online extremely quickly.

A few highlights:

This is Trump’s vision of “putting America first.”

Lazonick notes that the U.S. infrastructure for healthcare delivery was underfunded even before Trump occupied the White House, with matters worsened by the incompetence and negligence of his administration in preparing for and responding to the pandemic. This is why the vaccine rollout faces problems in the U.S. even when vaccines are made available from the manufacturers. As he puts it, “Operation Warp Speed has been very active in paying billions of taxpayer money for procurement contracts and thus hoarding access to the very limited supply of vaccines that the whole world needs, but very inactive in making sure that the vaccines on which it puts its hands actually find their way into the arms of the American people.”

Lazonick also warns that the lion’s share of the available Covid-19 vaccines in 2021 will end up going to the rich nations. COVAX is working against that outcome, trying to secure two billion doses by the end of 2021 to protect the highest-risk and most vulnerable people along with front-line health care workers in member countries around the globe.

Not surprisingly, the U.S., which pulled out of WHO, is not a COVAX member. But for 92 poorer nations, COVAX represents the only coordinated initiative to secure vaccines. Even then, the Duke Global Health Innovation Center in Durham, North Carolina, estimates that many people in low-income countries might have to wait until 2023 or 2024 for their coronavirus shots.

As Lazonick sees it, the incoming Biden administration will have a major challenge to consider needs of the global community as it seeks to vanquish the out-of-control pandemic at home. Will the U.S. be a supporter or an obstructor of the worldwide vaccination effort? Stay tuned.

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36 comments

  1. Amfortas the hippie

    only real quibble i have with this is that it’s “Trump’s Vision”.
    this is end stage Reaganism, and the Vision is that of the American elite.
    the Helping People parts of government have been drowned in the bathtub.
    it is not an anomaly, or an accident.
    not a decree from some capricious god.
    this is what “They” have been pining for…and planning for…since the New Deal….but it didn’t stop with reversing that paradigm:the Enlightenment, itself, had to be undone.
    neofeudal pseudo-mercantilism…1100ad with smart phones.
    medieval social structure with star trek for those god smiles upon.

    Reply
  2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    For what it’s worth being likely not very much – Mum is so far OK after getting the Pfizer shot, which by the time she was returned to my sister she had forgotten that she had received. When asked about it, she only replied that they were very nice people.

    Reply
  3. paul

    This article comes at a very strange time.

    I remember the last pandemic, swine flu.

    They got as many billable doses out of the shop as possible, in the uk i think there was a 28GBP bounty per ‘immunisation’.

    The snake oil was then withdrawn and destroyed.

    I am forced to wonder what damage it did to my family

    Reply
  4. The Historian

    There is also another practical issue that I haven’t seen addressed. One of the reasons we were able to vaccinate for polio and small pox so rapidly is that we had vaccine clinics set up where people would all congregate and get in lines for their vaccine. I can remember doing this as a child for my polio vaccine. That isn’t going to happen now because we understand contagion better and we need to practice social isolation even when getting the vaccine – not to mention that the vaccination station has to be cleaned after every shot. So this will slow down the delivery to humans even more.

    So far in my state, the vaccinations have been given to health workers and people in nursing homes, but these are facilities where people are already being isolated. I don’t think anyone has yet figured out how we are going to do mass vaccinations while still practicing social distancing yet. I’ve heard the idea of ‘drive-up’ vaccinations, but then someone has to watch the people in the cars for a half hour after the vaccination – which means parking and ‘watchers’ have to be provided for – which will also slow down the process.

    Reply
    1. Mikel

      Polio, small pox…examples of what is a real vaccination. You don’t get it for a long while and/or you don’t carry it.

      Can we think of another name for a yearly regime of shots? They really don’t do what a vaccine on the level of a polio does.
      “Viral maintenance” or “viral chasing” or “something.

      I can’t even be sure there isn’t more work going into making these short term alleged “vaccines” because greed is so off the charts in this degenerate system.

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          1. Susan the other

            Where are the naturalists? Once upon a time in Turkey (? i think) the scab woman sought out people recovered from smallpox, picked their scabs, ground them to powder in a mortar and blew the powder up the noses of people needing immunity. And it worked. And when Ben Franklin’s youngest son died from smallpox Ben said, Oh gosh, that was my fault – I should have taken the time to inoculate him. Isolating viruses has become a high-tech story. We are no longer in the world of scabs. We have found the source. Which – just something to think about – could be the greatest threat of all. Because if we do all these high-tech and highly specific and refined vaccinations they might be far more biologically flexible than fragments of scabs. They might specialize us beyond recovery in the sense that if a species becomes too specialized it fails to adapt to some change in conditions. Possibly making us unable to respond naturally and therefore reliant on this creepy new technology. But those are just my ravings as I think about the New Year.

            Reply
        1. Basil Pesto

          Does the article not make the very point that anything taken at a less than weekly frequency is in fact not good cash flow?

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          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Selling therapeutics for the side effects?

            ‘I’ll let the first hundred million go first’ is sounding better and better. Even after taking a vaccine, I’ll still have to wear a mask and wash my dang hands until covid is no longer endemic. Until I know that this isn’t ‘just like hepatitis’ my goal is don’t get it.

            Reply
    2. the suck of sorrow

      I agree!

      Anecdotal but a local hospital is using up a Pfizer allotment distributing vaccines on a 30 minute schedule.
      So 4-5 injected/30min over 120 hours would use up the quota. Hospitals are 24 hour facilities.

      So you can easily anticipate real logjams for distribution of vaccines to the hovel-led us.

      Reply
      1. the suck of sorrow

        I need to clarify.
        Wrote: distributing vaccines on a 30 minute schedule
        To clarify: distributing vaccines to their front-line employees on a 30 minute schedule

        Reply
  5. Tom Doak

    If the numbers in the article are correct, and Yves is correct that those immunized may have to get booster shots again every couple of years, then it’s quite possible certain favored countries will get *all* the vaccine and un-favored-nations will wait in line forever.

    Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        And from this perspective, “ manufacturing capacity is under the direct control of companies, not countries,” this is a problem for the Owners, exactly why?

        No threat of nationalization and actual governance in any of this — I wonder if any telling emails or memos will ever surface to display what the executives of the “companies” have actually structured, for their supranational corporate benefit… One could posit that a late release of “damning evidence” by some whistleblower might actually be part of the plot — to remind the mopery where the power lies, since consequences for executives acting against the public good will never happen…

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    1. Nick Alcock

      Not hardly. They’ll build up more capacity if that happens. Sure, this is a slow process, but it doesn’t take *forever*, and as long as vaccines aren’t *all* sold at cost, there’s going to be a financial reason for them to do it even if they’re all completely evil. (Plus, there is of course a major PR reason to do it too.)

      Reply
  6. Pavel

    USA population: ~330,000,000
    Japan population: ~125,000,000

    USA covid deaths: 330,000+ (though I am dubious about some of the “covid causes of death”)
    Japan covid deaths: ~2500

    Of note, Japan has a very large elderly population, and did not enforce any lockdown on the level of, say, the UK, Spain, France, or certain US states (let alone parts of Australia).

    Perhaps some of the billions of dollars spent on vaccines (which as noted above may need to be taken regularly and may not even prevent transmission) could be spent on analysing why Japan did so well?

    (Off the top of my head: rigorous contact tracing, equitable access to health care, very low rates of obesity, a diet rich in certain nutrients and minerals, and strict targeted “lockdowns” e.g. of the elderly in nursing homes.)

    There is a certain absurdity of spending so much time, energy, and money in the USA on distributing a single covid vaccine which may be of limited use to those under, say, 50 years of age while doing almost nothing to reduce the obesity rates… Thanks to Big Cola, Big Sugar and others, in fact, tax monies go to subsidise the purchase of junk food and sodas through the SNAP program. Sheesh! [/rant]

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      snap recipients are not required to buy those things, and generally(at least in washington) get double if they shop at the farmers market. Try not to blame the victims.

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      1. KLG

        True. But SNAP recipients are more likely than their richer fellow citizens to live in a food desert (wiki but a good description). I know this is true in my deindustrialized small city with marginal public transportation that means a minimum 4-hour round trip to ALDI or Kroger. What does that mean? No ready access to legitimate grocery stores. If the nearby convenience store and adjacent fried chicken franchise are the only available food sources, salt and sugar seasoned with artificial fat is what’s available. Our Farmer’s Market is open one afternoon a week and does offer double for SNAP. But see above regarding transportation. This market is also primarily a PMC hangout selling local grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken and “artisanal” bread and cheese for 3-5x the cost of the reasonable facsimiles available at ALDI. This sad state of affairs is a (the?) major social determinant of poor health outcomes.

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      2. pricklyone

        SNAP does not pay for soda, period. “Junk food” is subjective term, and you shouldn’t force your “food religion” on anyone else.

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        1. Pavel

          SNAP does in fact subsidise soda and other junk food, despite efforts by public health experts to change this. A few press clippings:

          What do households on food stamps buy at the grocery store?

          The answer was largely a mystery until now. The United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the $74 billion food stamp program called SNAP, has published a detailed report that provides a glimpse into the shopping cart of the typical household that receives food stamps.

          The findings show that the No. 1 purchases by SNAP households are soft drinks, which accounted for 5 percent of the dollars they spent on food. The category of ‘sweetened beverages,’ which includes soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks and sweetened teas, accounted for almost 10 percent of the dollars they spent on food. “In this sense, SNAP is a multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidy of the soda industry,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “It’s pretty shocking.”

          NY Times: In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda

          Or this:

          The food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is under pressure from medical groups and nutrition experts to ban the use of its credits to purchase sugary beverages, such as soda and energy drinks. But the beverage industry fights such restrictions to the program, which in 2013 served 20 percent of American households — the highest percentage since the program began in 1969.

          Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and his colleagues used computerized simulations to estimate the ban’s effect. “Restricting or removing the subsidy that SNAP provides for sugar-sweetened beverages would be very likely to reduce type-2 diabetes and obesity among low-income Americans,” said Basu, the lead author of the study.

          But because these findings challenge the subsidies received by the processed-food industry, they are likely to be challenged by lobbying groups, he cautioned.

          Other government assistance programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, do not allow the purchase of sugary drinks and limit purchases to only healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products and whole-grain items. SNAP restricts only the purchase of alcohol, tobacco and hot foods prepared in the store. Soda, salty snacks and junk food are all eligible for SNAP benefits.

          Because tax dollars fund SNAP, some groups are concerned that taxpayers are subsidizing an unhealthy diet that will result in more spending on the health-care costs associated with diabetes and heart disease down the road. These costs will largely be borne by Medicare in older individuals and Medicaid in low-income Americans.

          Stanford Medicine: Forbidding use of food stamps for sweetened drinks could reduce obesity, diabetes, study finds

          I guess I’d rather be accused of “blaming the victims” (per tegnosi above) than support the purveyors of junk food, sugar, and colas (and their lobbyist and politician enablers) who are destroying the health of millions and causing enormous health care costs.

          Thanks to Arizona Slim for the above support :)

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    2. Dwight

      US press reporting out of Japan hasn’t been good. The biggest story of the year was about emergency care collapsing and hospitals supposedly turning away cases of stroke, heart attack, and injuries, published in April by AP, ABC, and numerous smaller outlets. The report was based on misreading a bad translation of a joint statement of the emergency and acute care associations, which was only stating concern that timing of such emergency care might be impacted.

      Great point about obesity. Japan has one of the lowest rates in the world. We need to stop subsidizing and consuming high fructose corn syrup. In Covid context, it is deadly poison.

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      1. Dwight

        I meant subsidizing with corn subsidies. Don’t know about SNAP program, and wasn’t just speaking of lower income people. I do think that nutrition plays huge role – e.g. good food contains quercetin and zinc that are recommended as prophylaxis.

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    3. Sierra7

      Pavel:
      Good post. Especially focusing on the cultural and life-style differences between US and Japan. The US corporate agricultural food chain is poisoning whole parts of our peoples. It is up to the commons to become aware on how awful most individuals’ diets are and how they are being condemned to shorter lives because of the inevitable overcoming by greed versus a decent food chain.

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    4. rocktaster

      Yes! There is a lot to be studied from a political and sociological standpoint. The West could stand to learn a lot of things from the East, where traditions and cultures span millennia. I’m not qualified to speak to SNAP subsidies for processed foods. I have always been appalled that in the typical US supermarket there are two classes of whole food, Organic and “Inorganic”. The banana looks the same, but it implies you can pay 20% more for one that won’t poison you or your family, if you have the means.

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    5. ian

      In addition to taking precautions, why not just assume you’ll get covid and do everything you can to increase your chances of survival: lose weight, exercise regularly, eat sensibly, get enough sleep, etc…
      This is what we should have been telling people along with ‘wear a mask’ – but of course, we dare not go there.

      Reply
  7. rjs

    notice that we’re seeing 200,000 new cases a day, roughly the same number that we’re vaccinating…so the more infectious strain that has begun to circulate could outrun our ability to distribute the vaccine..

    Reply
  8. Your Mechanic

    Lockdown Civilization

    The China lockdown of 50 million citizens overnight was a key element in the long-standing plan to foist a fake pandemic on humanity.

    That lockdown provided the model for the rest of the world.

    We are now in phase one of Lockdown Civilization.

    The “scientific” rationale? THE VIRUS. The virus that isn’t there. The virus whose existence is unproven.

    But the story line works: “We have to follow the China model because the pandemic is sweeping across the globe…”

    Close on the heels of this con job, we have the intro to phase two: “In order to deal with future pandemics, we must install a new planetary system of command and control; human behavior must be modified.”

    Translation: wall to wall surveillance at a level never achieved before; universal guaranteed income for every human, tied to obedience to all state directives; violate those directives and income is reduced or canceled; the planting of nano devices inside the body which will broadcast physiological changes to central command, and which will receive instructions that modify mood and reaction…

    Phase one lockdowns prepare the citizenry to accept phase two.

    In other words, phase one had nothing to do with a virus. It was part of the technocratic revolution.

    I call your attention to a stunning article in The Atlantic. “The Panopticon Is Already Here” (9/20), by Ross Andersen.

    Here are significant excerpts:

    “Artificial intelligence has applications in nearly every human domain, from the instant translation of spoken language to early viral-outbreak detection. But Xi [Xi Jinping, president of China] also wants to use AI’s awesome analytical powers to push China to the cutting edge of surveillance. He wants to build an all-seeing digital system of social control, patrolled by precog algorithms that identify potential dissenters in real time.”

    “China already has hundreds of millions of surveillance cameras in place. Xi’s government hopes to soon achieve full video coverage of key public areas. Much of the footage collected by China’s cameras is parsed by algorithms for security threats of one kind or another. In the near future, every person who enters a public space could be identified, instantly, by AI matching them to an ocean of personal data, including their every text communication, and their body’s one-of-a-kind protein-construction schema. In time, algorithms will be able to string together data points from a broad range of sources—travel records, friends and associates, reading habits, purchases—to predict political resistance before it happens. China’s government could soon achieve an unprecedented political stranglehold on more than 1 billion people.”

    “China is already developing powerful new surveillance tools, and exporting them to dozens of the world’s actual and would-be autocracies. Over the next few years, those technologies will be refined and integrated into all-encompassing surveillance systems that dictators can plug and play.”

    “China’s government could harvest footage from equivalent Chinese products. They could tap the cameras attached to ride-share cars, or the self-driving vehicles that may soon replace them: Automated vehicles will be covered in a whole host of sensors, including some that will take in information much richer than 2-D video. Data from a massive fleet of them could be stitched together, and supplemented by other City Brain streams, to produce a 3-D model of the city that’s updated second by second. Each refresh could log every human’s location within the model. Such a system would make unidentified faces a priority, perhaps by sending drone swarms to secure a positive ID.”

    “An authoritarian state with enough processing power could force the makers of such software to feed every blip of a citizen’s neural activity into a government database. China has recently been pushing citizens to download and use a propaganda app. The government could use emotion-tracking software to monitor reactions to a political stimulus within an app. A silent, suppressed response to a meme or a clip from a Xi speech would be a meaningful data point to a precog algorithm.”

    “All of these time-synced feeds of on-the-ground data could be supplemented by footage from drones, whose gigapixel cameras can record whole cityscapes in the kind of crystalline detail that allows for license-plate reading and gait recognition. ‘Spy bird’ drones already swoop and circle above Chinese cities, disguised as doves. City Brain’s feeds could be synthesized with data from systems in other urban areas, to form a multidimensional, real-time account of nearly all human activity within China. Server farms across China will soon be able to hold multiple angles of high-definition footage of every moment of every Chinese person’s life.”

    “The government might soon have a rich, auto-populating data profile for all of its 1 billion–plus citizens. Each profile would comprise millions of data points, including the person’s every appearance in surveilled space, as well as all of her communications and purchases. Her threat risk to the party’s power could constantly be updated in real time, with a more granular score than those used in China’s pilot ‘social credit’ schemes, which already aim to give every citizen a public social-reputation score based on things like social-media connections and buying habits. Algorithms could monitor her digital data score, along with everyone else’s, continuously, without ever feeling the fatigue that hit Stasi officers working the late shift. False positives—deeming someone a threat for innocuous behavior—would be encouraged, in order to boost the system’s built-in chilling effects, so that she’d turn her sharp eyes on her own behavior, to avoid the slightest appearance of dissent.”

    “If her risk factor fluctuated upward—whether due to some suspicious pattern in her movements, her social associations, her insufficient attention to a propaganda-consumption app, or some correlation known only to the AI—a purely automated system could limit her movement. It could prevent her from purchasing plane or train tickets. It could disallow passage through checkpoints. It could remotely commandeer ‘smart locks’ in public or private spaces, to confine her until security forces arrived.”

    “Each time a person’s face is recognized, or her voice recorded, or her text messages intercepted, this information could be attached, instantly, to her government-ID number, police records, tax returns, property filings, and employment history. It could be cross-referenced with her medical records and DNA, of which the Chinese police boast they have the world’s largest collection.”

    “The country [China] is now the world’s leading seller of AI-powered surveillance equipment. In Malaysia, the government is working with Yitu, a Chinese AI start-up, to bring facial-recognition technology to Kuala Lumpur’s police as a complement to Alibaba’s City Brain platform. Chinese companies also bid to outfit every one of Singapore’s 110,000 lampposts with facial-recognition cameras.

    In South Asia, the Chinese government has supplied surveillance equipment to Sri Lanka. On the old Silk Road, the Chinese company Dahua is lining the streets of Mongolia’s capital with AI-assisted surveillance cameras. Farther west, in Serbia, Huawei is helping set up a ‘safe-city system,’ complete with facial-recognition cameras and joint patrols conducted by Serbian and Chinese police aimed at helping Chinese tourists to feel safe.”

    “In the early aughts, the Chinese telecom titan ZTE sold Ethiopia a wireless network with built-in backdoor access for the government. In a later crackdown, dissidents were rounded up for brutal interrogations, during which they were played audio from recent phone calls they’d made. Today, Kenya, Uganda, and Mauritius are outfitting major cities with Chinese-made surveillance networks.”

    “In Egypt, Chinese developers are looking to finance the construction of a new capital. It’s slated to run on a ‘smart city’ platform similar to City Brain, although a vendor has not yet been named. In southern Africa, Zambia has agreed to buy more than $1 billion in telecom equipment from China, including internet-monitoring technology. China’s Hikvision, the world’s largest manufacturer of AI-enabled surveillance cameras, has an office in Johannesburg.”

    “In 2018, CloudWalk Technology, a Guangzhou-based start-up spun out of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, inked a deal with the Zimbabwean government to set up a surveillance network. Its terms require Harare to send images of its inhabitants—a rich data set, given that Zimbabwe has absorbed migration flows from all across sub-Saharan Africa—back to CloudWalk’s Chinese offices, allowing the company to fine-tune its software’s ability to recognize dark-skinned faces, which have previously proved tricky for its algorithms.”

    “Having set up beachheads in Asia, Europe, and Africa, China’s AI companies are now pushing into Latin America, a region the Chinese government describes as a ‘core economic interest.’ China financed Ecuador’s $240 million purchase of a surveillance-camera system. Bolivia, too, has bought surveillance equipment with help from a loan from Beijing. Venezuela recently debuted a new national ID-card system that logs citizens’ political affiliations in a database built by ZTE…”

    That gives you a chilling outline of Lockdown, phase two.

    Lockdowns were never about a virus or a pandemic.

    Lockdown Civilization has been in the planning and development stage for a long time.

    People say, “Why? Why are they doing this?”

    The short answer is, because they want to and they can.

    Technocrats don’t view life as life. They view it as a system, and this is their most comprehensive system to date.

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