So what should we expect from the sanctions? Western pundits and commentators have little doubt: the sanctions will hamstring the Russian economy, sow discontent among the Russian people and elites alike, and possibly even cause the downfall of the Putin regime. At the very least, we’re told, they will hinder Russia’s war efforts. But history suggests otherwise: see Iraq, or more recently Iran. Far more likely is that this turns out to be the latest Western strategic miscalculation in a long list of strategic blunders, of which the United States’ inglorious withdrawal from Afghanistan is just the most recent example.
After all, Russia has been preparing for this moment for quite some time. Following the first wave of Western sanctions, in 2014, and partly in retaliation against them, Putin embarked on what analysts have dubbed a “Fortress Russia” strategy, building up the country’s international reserves and diversifying them away from US dollars and British pounds, reducing its foreign exposure, boosting its economic cooperation with China, and pursuing import substitution strategies in several industries, including food, medicine and technology, in an effort to insulate Russia as much as possible from external shocks.
Is Pfizer putting profits above lives? Public Citizen, a non-profit organization says that Pfizer can stop countries from speaking about contracts, block vaccine donations, unilaterally change delivery schedules & demand public assets as collateral. Palki Sharma tells you more.
Public Citizen reveals Pfizer’s demands:
- Waive the sovereignty of its assets abroad
- The rules of the land be not applied of Pfizer
- Take into consideration delay in vaccine delivery
- Not penalised for delaying delivery
- Exempt from all civil liability
Nine countries have been forced to make concessions to Pfizer in exchange for Covid-19 vaccine supply:
- Right to silence governments.
- Pfizer decides where the shots go.
- IP Waiver – if Pfizer is accused of intellectual property theft, governments must pay to defend Pfizer.
- Private arbitrators, not public courts, will decide disputes in secret.
- Pfizer can go after state assets to secure compensation.
- Pfizer decides on key decisions such as delivery timelines.
IFFIm’s financial base consists of grants from 10 sovereign sponsors. By signing the grant agreements, countries agree to pay these obligations in a specified schedule of payments.
|Country||US$ equivalent||Currency of pledge|
|United Kingdom||US$ 3,652 million over 23 years||GBP 2,130 million|
|France||US$ 1,884 million over 20 years||EUR 1,390 million|
|Italy||US$ 821 million over 25 years||EUR 654 million* *Includes a pledge to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) through Gavi for the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.|
|Norway||US$ 647 million over 25 years||US$ 27 million & NOK 5,100 million* *Includes additional pledges to support the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) through Gavi for the development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates|
|The Netherlands||US$ 487 million over 20 years||EUR 330 million & US$ 67 million|
|Australia||US$ 284 million over 20 years||AUD 288 million|
|Spain||US$ 240 million over 20 years||EUR 190 million|
|Sweden||US$ 38 million over 15 years||SEK 276 million|
|South Africa||US$ 20 million over 20 years||US$ 20 million|
|Brazil||US$ 20 million over 20 years||US$ 20 million|
|TOTAL||US$ 8 billion (approximately)|
Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?
In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing. Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.
…explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.
To those people who, still now, object to lockdowns on civil liberties principles, this will be a chilling reminder of the centrality of the authoritarian Chinese model in influencing global policy in this historic year.
Randomised control trial study showing safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine has clear conflicts of interest.