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Pfizer Threatens Termination For Any Unvaccinated Employees

Pfizer employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in coming weeks or face termination. The Pharma company is mandating all U.S.-based employees and contractors be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, according to an internal Sept. 21 memo obtained Friday by CBS affiliate, News Channel 3. The requirement does not apply to those with a religious or medical exemptions, according to the outlet. Those who do not abide by the requirement and do not have an exemption could get the boot, according to the memo from Nicole Shaffer, senior Director of Colleague Wellness at Pfizer. The company — whose mR...

My Covid-19 Vaccination, Part I

There were many times, I'm sure, when my mother was disappointed in me, but one memory is seared into my brain like rice scorched into the bottom of a forgotten pot on the stove. Imagine it's your mom's favorite pot. The one she inherited from the good grandmother.

I was 16, and for reasons I can't remember, I had to get a blood test at the hospital where Mom worked as a nurse's aide. This was the age when I was diagnosed with severe asthma, so maybe this was a test to see if I was going to die. I may be exaggerating.

Anyway, this blood test was a very big deal to both of us for different reasons.

For Mom, this was a chance to introduce her oldest daughter to dozens of co-workers before I left for college and immediately forgot the names of the parents who raised me (Mom's fear).

For teenage me, it was the daylight version of a slasher film, in which someone you trust coaxes you down the hallway and into the arms of the guy wielding a pickax. You might call it a needle.

Seventeen years earlier, my mother had to give up her dream of becoming a nurse because she became pregnant with me. She never put it like that. I was a gift from God, she always said, who helped her see that she was destined to be a mother.

Still, wouldn't it be nice, she often added, if her oldest daughter decided it would be her dream come true to become a nurse? Purely coincidentally, of course.

I was all in, until the day we went for that blood test. Again, I don't remember the details, but that never mattered as long as Mom was alive, because she remembered it with the accuracy of that witness to multiple crimes who nails the police lineup every time.

Apparently, it took a lot of negotiating to get me into the one-armed chair. After the needle pierced my skin, I started to hyperventilate. "What a performance," Mom said every single time we talked about this, which was often. For decades.

After the blood test was over, I reportedly stood up and said, ever so softly, "Uh-oh." Down I went, taking Mom with me.

Here comes the part I do remember: We're in the car in our driveway, after a silent trip home. Mom cuts the engine, looks at my bandaged forehead and says, "Maybe Leslie will be the nurse."

And God said, "It is done."

My sister Les became the nurse Mom had always wanted to be.

I still hate needles. Two years ago, a friend started describing over dinner how she loves to watch her blood shoot up the line when she donates it. I ended up with my head between my knees to keep from fainting right there in the restaurant. "Just looking for an earring," I said.

"Where is this going?" you may wonder.

Come with me. I'll drive.

We're sitting in my Jeep, made by union workers in Ohio, as we turn into the county fairgrounds. We are joining dozens of other cars slowly streaming in front of us and behind us. Remember that last scene in "Field of Dreams," when that long line of cars is winding its way to the magical baseball field in the cornfield? It's like that.

Friendly people wearing masks and smiling eyes are welcoming us, nodding hello to you, my passenger, as they check my license. One nice woman directs me to veer right because, being my mother's daughter, I have already printed my medical form and filled it out before leaving the house.

The sun is shining (it really was), and something is happening inside me as I slowly pull into what looks like a 4-H barn at the county fair. It's a feeling I've never had before.

I can't wait to get that shot.

I lower my car window, shove up my sleeve and offer it to the masked man with the needle. "Thank you," I tell him as he injects my first dose of the Moderna vaccine. "Thank you, thank you."

A week from today, I will be 28 hours out from my second dose of this vaccine for COVID-19. I may experience some side effects, but I can't wait to get that next shot. I'll let you know how it goes.

If Mom were here, she'd tell you that if her oldest daughter can get this shot, so can you.

Then she'd tell you a story. You know the one.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University's school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including "...and His Lovely Wife," which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Daughters of Erietown. To find out more about Connie Schultz (schultz.connie@gmail.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

Biden Secures 200 Million More Vaccine Doses -- But Says Masking Still Vital

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

On the seventh day of his administration, Joe Biden stepped out to announce that he has purchased another 100 million doses of vaccine each from both Pfizer and Moderna. These doses won't arrive until summer, but added to the vaccine already purchased—and potential doses coming soon from Johnson & Johnson or others—there should be enough vaccine to get every American over 16 vaccinated. And then some.

As Biden said in his brief appearance, "I hope by the end of the summer we have too much vaccine left over. We have too much supplies left over. That's not my worry."

But Biden was also blunt that the nation is facing enormous challenges right now. Cases of COVID-19 are still very high. Both vaccines and supplies are in short supply. New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are spreading rapidly, threatening to bring another spike of cases and strain every point of the nation's ability to fight the pandemic. Biden admitted that getting the vaccine was just one step, but he committed to making sure that the rest of the challenge was met.

Getting everyone vaccinated by summer or early fall means not just coming up with more doses, but increasing the rate of vaccination by two to three times. Biden pledged to meet that challenge. As first steps, he notified states that starting next week the number of doses going out will increase from about 8.5 million to 10 million a week. He also pledged to be clear to states about quantities they will be receiving so that each state can better plan how to efficiently distribute vaccine.

Biden mentioned several times his intuition to use the Defense Production Act, not just to secure more vaccine, but to make sure there are adequate supplies. That includes the vials and syringes needed for vaccination, personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare workers, and swabs and reagents needed for testing.

Biden also continued to emphasize that in the near term, masks are a more valuable tool than vaccines. He repeated projections that having a high rate of mask-wearing just between now and April can save over 50,000 lives, and he took a swipe at Republicans who sneered at the idea of Biden's 100-day mask order, saying that real patriots wear a mask to protect their fellow citizens.

On travel restrictions, Biden made it clear that he wants universal testing of all travelers coming into the United States before they've left their origins, and isolation of travelers on arrival. This level of restriction is perhaps the only step that would work considering that numerous variants are now being carried around the world and bans against specific nations or regions have limited utility.

Overall, the theme of the appearance continues Biden's absolute commitment to address the COVID-19 crisis head on, and deliver for America the kind of effort that should have been there … over 400,000 lives ago.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Why A Real Vaccine Won’t Arrive Before Election Day (Without A Miracle)

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

Despite President Donald Trump's promises of a vaccine next month and pundits' speculation about how an “October surprise" could upend the presidential campaign, any potential vaccine would have to clear a slew of scientific and bureaucratic hurdles in record time.

In short, it would take a miracle.

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Drugmakers Add Insult To Injury

It’s one thing for Pfizer to renounce its U.S. citizenship, moving its official residence to Dublin, Ireland, as a tax dodge — all the while continuing to run the business in the United States. That disgusting tactic happens to be disgustingly legal, thanks to our indolent Congress and its failure to fix the corporate tax laws.

It’s quite another to insult the public with blatant phoniness that avoiding billions in U.S. taxes gives the company “the strength to research, discover and deliver more medicines and therapies to more people around the world.” Those are the words of Pfizer’s chief executive, Ian Read, an accountant by training.

The Pfizer deal involves a merger with a much smaller Allergan, an Ireland-based company that happens to do its business in New Jersey. Wall Street analysts scoffed at the notion that the deal had any purpose other than to let the company avoid billions in U.S. taxes — billions that other American taxpayers will have to replace.

Since Read took the helm in 2010, Pfizer has slashed its research and development budget.

We assume the company will expect the United States to continue subsidizing research through the taxpayer-supported National Institutes of Health. We assume it wants the U.S. government to continue defending its intellectual property rights.

Pfizer made headlines more than a decade ago when it persuaded the city of New London, Connecticut, to use eminent domain to seize a working-class neighborhood around its shiny new headquarters — and replace it with an upscale shopping, hotel and office complex more to the company’s liking. Actually, it was a condition of its move to the city, according to The Day in New London.

The Supreme Court gave the controversial plan a green light in 2005. Four years later, Pfizer abandoned New London.

Yes, the drugmakers know how to make government work for them. Their lobbying group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, leads efforts to ensure that Americans pay far more for their products than citizens of other countries.

The drugmakers’ crowning achievement was getting a Republican-controlled Congress to write a Medicare drug benefit law to their specifications. While funneling billions in taxpayer subsidies toward helping the elderly buy drugs, it forbade the U.S. government to negotiate the prices on behalf of said taxpayers.

No other Western country lets drug companies charge whatever they think they can get away with. This is why the government of Norway pays about $460 for an injection of the asthma drug Xolair and our Medicare pays about $860.

(Pfizer also lobbied against proposals to let Americans buy their drugs from other countries at these lower prices.)

These conversations always circle back to the drugmakers’ argument that Americans must pay their price to cover the high expense of developing wonderful life-enhancing products.

We can close that circle by asking: To the extent that high U.S. drug prices support research and development benefiting the world, why are Americans the only ones footing the bills?

The drugmakers don’t talk much about that publicly for a very simple reason. It is not in the interests of their executives and investors to stop Americans from playing the chump. If they can get the job done by writing checks to obedient U.S. politicians and the chumps keep re-electing them, why make trouble for themselves?

In a recent annual report, Read told shareholders of Pfizer’s desire to earn “greater respect from the public,” which entails “acting as a respectable corporate citizen.”

Read may have reason to take the American public for easily deceived children. Basic decency, however, demands that he limit such thoughts to private dinner parties.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM

The Pfizer logo is seen at their world headquarters in New York April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Drugmaker Pfizer Abandons AstraZeneca Takeover Bid

New York (AFP) – U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said on Monday it would abandon its controversial bid to acquire British rival AstraZeneca after its final $117-billion offer was rejected last week.

“Following the AstraZeneca board’s rejection of the proposal, Pfizer announces that it does not intend to make an offer for AstraZeneca,” the New York-based company said in a statement.

The announcement put an end to a long-running saga that drew widespread attention over fears that British jobs and research capability would be lost and accusations that the tie-up was a cynical ploy by Pfizer to pay less tax.

Pfizer had said that the combined company would deliver an expanded product pipeline, deep potential cost cuts and significant tax savings.

“We continue to believe that our final proposal was compelling and represented full value for AstraZeneca based on the information that was available to us,” said Ian Read, chairman and CEO of Pfizer in the statement.

Pfizer’s proposal also included a controversial plan to re-domicile the combined company in Britain for tax purposes, in a move that would help it avoid paying billions of dollars in tax to the US government.

Pfizer’s play for AstraZeneca comes as global pharmaceutical giants maneuver to cope with lost revenues from public sector cutbacks in health care, and patent expirations.

AFP Photo/Mario Tama

Pfizer Reaches Settlement With Teva On Generic Viagra

New York (AFP) – Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Tuesday announced that it settled patent litigation against Teva Pharmaceuticals over the sale of a generic version of blockbuster drug Viagra in the United States.

The settlement means Israel-based Teva “will be allowed to launch a generic version of Viagra in the U.S. on December 11, 2017 or earlier under certain circumstances,” Pfizer said in a statement.

“Teva will pay Pfizer a royalty for a license to produce its generic version,” Pfizer said.

Other terms of the agreement were confidential.

Patents for Viagra, which treats erectile dysfunction, expire in April 2020, Pfizer said.

In June 2010, Pfizer lost its patent in Brazil to exclusively sell the drug. Pfizer’s patent for Viagra has also expired in Europe and Japan.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted tentative approval for Teva’s generic version of Viagra, said Teva, which is the world’s biggest generic drug maker.

Photo: Waleed Alzuhair via Flickr