A ‘Monumental Moment’ In The Global COVID Fight

A protester at a May 5, 2021 "Free the Vaccine" rally in DC calling on the US to commit to a global coronavirus vaccination plan that includes sharing vaccine formulas (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Good morning! It’s time to get up!

VAX TO THE FUTURE: The administration of President Joe Biden got behind a plan to temporarily waive patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines as the pandemic continues to create catastrophic conditions abroad. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the move a “a monumental moment “ in the battle against the deadly virus and a “a powerful example” of American “leadership to address global health challenges.”

America’s support for the patent waivers comes as other countries — particularly India and Nepal — are in dire straits with massive surges in new cases that threaten to overwhelm their healthcare systems. India and South Africa were two of the leading voices in a group of about 60 countries that spent approximately six months calling for the waivers as some foreign leaders criticized “vaccine apartheid” where substantial portions of the population in the U.S. and wealthier nations were inoculated while the rollout has moved far more slowly abroad. 

The pharmaceutical industry has argued the waivers could hurt medical research and development. Former President Trump’s administration and the European Union had both opposed the measure. In the wake of the U.S. decision, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “ready to discuss” the proposal. 

Biden had backed vaccine patent waivers during his presidential campaign last year. However, the move ultimately came after months of pressure from the international community and progressives here in the U.S. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who was one of the leading advocates of vaccine patent waivers in Washington, issued a statement praising the Biden administration — and the advocates who put pressure on the White House — for the move. 

“I applaud the Biden administration for taking this bold step to speed up the production and availability of coronavirus vaccines,” Sanders said. “I also recognize the dedicated work done by activists around the world to put this issue on the global agenda.”

One progressive source on Capitol Hill who spoke to The Uprising the situation was “very in character for Biden.”

“He acts only after significant pressure for not acting. Vaccine waiver, refugees, India aid,” the source said. “Obviously we’d prefer he just do these things without having to mount a large pressure campaign. But at the end of the day, he’s listening to progressive pressure, which is more than you can say for most presidents!”

GOTHAM: The New York City mayor’s race may have a new frontrunner. 

A new poll released on Wednesday showed Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams ahead of the crowded Democratic primary field with the support of 21 percent of respondents. This is the first time former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has not been in the top spot in a major poll since he joined the race in January.

Yang came in second in the poll with 18 percent followed by embattled City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 15 percent. The new numbers come as the race is heading into the home stretch before the  Democratic primary, which is typically decisive, and is set for June 22. 

Stringer backers took note of the fact his standing in the poll was relatively strong even though it was in the field last week as his campaign was rocked by sexual harassment allegations from Jean Kim, a woman who volunteered on his 2001 bid for public advocate. Stringer has denied the accusations and his team has highlighted evidence calling aspects of Kim’s claims into question. Kim’s attorney, Patricia Pastor, who did not respond to requests for comment, has not presented any corroborating evidence. 

One Stringer ally talked to The Uprising about his rationale for sticking in the race and said the numbers show voters may be skeptical of the accusations. 

“He's fighting, and I think it remains to be seen if voters actually buy the allegations,” said the ally.

The ally also suggested the media coverage might actually help Stringer in a race where Yang has dominated the spotlight thanks to his national name recognition. 

“He has struggled to break through and get coverage because of Yang's celebrity,” the ally said of Stringer. “And now, everytime you turn on the news, you see him.”

The ally also pointed to the fact Stringer came from behind against former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in the 2013 comptroller’s race.  

“The thing people don't know about Scott is that he is at his best in these moments,” they said. “In 2013, he went from being almost the shoo-in to twenty points behind. He was not supposed to win - his political career was over. If he hadn't fought like that he would have lost.”

Stringer’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

FLORIDA MAN: There’s a new glimpse of former President Trump’s office at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida courtesy of a fan account on Instagram. The picture, which shows Trump meeting with an unidentified woman, also includes two statues that seem to depict the former president. 

One of the statues looks like it could be the bust depicting Trump on Mount Rushmore that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem gifted the former president after his visit to the landmark last year. The other shows Trump standing and appears identical to one that was seen in the first photo of Trump’s office that emerged last month. The statue of Trump standing does not seem to be in the same location as the one in the earlier photo. That means the ex-president seems to have filled his office with at least two to three statues of himself. Peak Trump!  

FUN FACT: Another leader who apparently enjoys statues of himself is Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the leader of Turkmenistan. Berdymukhamedov’s regime has been described as a “dictatorship” and “one of the most pervasive personality cults in the world.” In 2015, Berdymukhamedov was honored with a massive statue in the capital city of Ashgabat depicting him riding a horse. The monument is covered in 24-carat gold leaf and reportedly stands 69 feet tall. Nice. 

Fridays are normally downtime here at The Uprising. However, this week, I will be sharing my full conversation with attorney Ben Crump about his work on police violence conversation. This will only be available for paid subscribers. It’s a fascinating discussion and to help make sure as many people see it as possible I am offering 25 percent off subscriptions through Monday. 

On Friday afternoon, you can also check into the website for a Happy Hour discussion session! I will hang around to engage in the comments from 5-6 p.m. to discuss the Crump interview, other stories from this week, and anything else that’s on your mind! 

That’s all for today! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to The Uprising and tell your friends! And if you work in politics, please don’t forget to leave a (news) tip on your way out → hunter.walker@protonmail.com