Big Pharma's plot to derail US COVID vaccine waiver revealed: confidential documents

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While global health advocates applauded the Biden administration's recent decision to support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines as "critical," "transformative," and "unquestionably the right thing to do," Big Pharma took a decidedly less optimistic view of the move and has been hard at work behind the scenes in a bid to thwart the policy, a report published Friday by The Intercept revealed.

In a bid to stymie U.S. support for a proposal by India and South Africa to enact a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), the pharmaceutical industry is "distributing talking points, organizing opposition, and even collecting congressional signatures in an attempt to reverse President Joe Biden's support for worldwide access to generic Covid-19 vaccines," according to The Intercept's Lee Fang.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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