It’s in America’s self-interest to vaccinate the world

Roger Starnes Sr. for Unsplash

The U.S. is adding even more vaccine doses to its already-impressive stockpile, with drugmaker Moderna announcing yesterday that it had sold another 200 million doses of its mRNA Covid vaccine to the U.S., bringing total American orders of the vaccine to a half billion doses. That’s good news for the U.S. — the doses could be used to vaccinate children in the fall, or could potentially be used as booster shots. But it also underscores how much more it — and other rich countries — could be doing to help vaccinate the rest of the world.

That may seem like…


Vaccination mandates are the new political battleground. And now cruise lines are caught in the middle.

One of the most important stories in American politics right now is the growing fissure between Republicans and big business, which historically was the constituency that Republican politicians, at least, were most invested in protecting. The tension between the GOP and big corporations arose because of the emergence of what’s sometimes called “woke capitalism,” with companies taking positions at odds with Republicans on issues like LGBTQ rights, abortion, and, most recently, voting rights. But now that tension is being aggravated by a new issue: Covid vaccination requirements.

Even as widespread vaccination has helped bring down Covid infection, hospitalization, and death…


Delegitimizing the Covid vaccines isn’t just about spreading the perception that they’re not safe

Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

This is an odd moment in the history of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, developing countries around the world are clamoring for Covid vaccines, access to which has so far been dominated largely by wealthy countries. At the same time, there’s a burgeoning anti-vaccination campaign in those wealthy countries that’s doing everything it can to sow distrust and skepticism of the very vaccines developing countries can’t even get their hands on. Americans and Western Europeans are in the uniquely privileged position of being able to easily protect themselves against Covid. …


The new world of ‘shit coins’ is fertile ground for pump-and-dump schemes

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Last Wednesday was a rough day for cryptocurrency investors. Cryptocurrencies fell across the board, losing more than $500 billion in value at one point, with Bitcoin plummeting more than 20%. And while the market stabilized near the end of the day and bounced back some over the next couple of days, Bitcoin is still down almost 35% over the past two weeks, with other cryptocurrencies tumbling even more. …


Why an intellectual property waiver isn’t the solution

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When the Biden administration, in a surprise reversal, announced this week that it would support the waiver of intellectual property rights connected to Covid-19 vaccines, the announcement was hailed as a huge step in the fight to contain the global Covid pandemic, with the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) calling it a “monumental moment in the fight against Covid-19.”

For many, it sparked hopes that vaccine manufacturers around the world would soon be able to begin making copies of the various Covid vaccines, expanding supply at a time when the vast majority of the world’s population remains unvaccinated…


A tirade against mask-wearing reveals how people like Carlson have emptied popular conservatism of substance

Screenshot from Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox, 4/26/21

H.L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” With the Covid-19 pandemic entering (we hope) its final stages in the U.S., hardcore conservatism seems increasingly to be defined by the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may still be worried about Covid.

That, at least, is what’s suggested by this week’s bizarre attacks from people like Tucker Carlson on anyone who might consider wearing a mask outside (or having their children wear a mask outside). …


The J&J vaccine is especially useful for marginalized populations. Did that make it easier to suspend its use?

Mohammad Shahhosseini for Unsplash

In the wake of regulators’ lifting the suspension of the J&J vaccine (which I wrote about recently), states across the country have quickly resumed giving people the shot. This is obviously good news, particularly given that the pace of vaccination in the U.S. has been slowing of late. But it also points to the fact that J&J’s shot is not just a bit player in the U.S.’s vaccination campaign. Instead, it’s filling a role that the mRNA vaccines are not, allowing public-health officials to reach underserved populations that otherwise might be hard to vaccinate. …


Americans in states across the country started getting vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Covid vaccine again yesterday, after regulators ended a suspension of the vaccine that had lasted almost two weeks. The FDA and the CDC decided to halt the use of the J&J vaccine on April 13 over concerns about a rare blood-clotting disorder that had been found in six people who had received it, one of whom had died. (AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, which is in wide use in the U.K. and Europe, has also been linked to blood clots). …


Republicans are attacking big companies for pushing a progressive social agenda. Is this anything more than political game-playing?

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After a chorus of Fortune 500 companies criticized Georgia’s new law imposing new voting-rights restrictions, and Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta, a chorus of Republicans responded by inveighing against what’s often called “woke capitalism” — big companies flexing their muscles in defense of progressive social causes. Donald Trump called on his followers to boycott a laundry list of companies that had come out against the Georgia law: “Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS and Merck.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned corporations to stop behaving like a “woke…


Money Talks

Welcome to the new tragedy of the commons

Illustration: Julia Moburg/Medium; source: Getty Images

In the 1950s, the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland was, as it had been for centuries, one of the richest fisheries in the world, home to a massive and endlessly replenished population of cod. The fishery provided food for people across North America, and jobs to tens of thousands of fishermen and fish plant workers. But new technology — radar, sonar, electronic navigation systems, and massive drift nets — was allowing trawlers to fish for longer, and to take more fish with every trip. The result was that cod were being pulled from the ocean faster than they…

James Surowiecki

I’m the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I’ve been a business columnist for Slate and The New Yorker and written for a wide range of other publications.

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