You’re right, Chelsea Clinton is an idiot

Achal Prabhala is the coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa. Chelsea Clinton is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the vice chair of the Clinton Foundation in New York City.

They say:

As the trade representative for his country, Nkomo and his boss – the head of the mission, Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter – were pushing the WTO to endorse a global waiver of pharmaceutical monopolies so that poor countries around the world could produce the vaccines they need. (Less than 3% of the African continent has been vaccinated to date, because rich countries have bought up and hoarded nearly the entire global supply).


Anyone who has the ability to make vaccines can get permission to make vaccines right now. The shortage is not of permissions to be able to make vaccines, it is of the ability – and equipment, staff, bioreactors and all that – to be able to make vaccines. Patent waivers would add nothing to the global capacity to make vaccines.

But, you know, let’s strike at the capitalist pharma industry using an excuse!

38 thoughts on “You’re right, Chelsea Clinton is an idiot”

  1. The bigger question is why the west is hogging* vaccines by vaccinating younger and younger cohorts which are at minimal risk.

    *this doesn’t excuse the stupidity of some of those third world countries leaders in this. South Africa being a prime example.

  2. Less than 3% of the African continent has been vaccinated to date

    Apart from South Africa, has any African nation particularly suffered due to COVID? Of course other African nations might appear to have escaped due to their inability to collect the necessary data. Which answers the question of what would have happened if COVID occurred 30 years ago….

  3. India seems to be doing pretty well, 36% first dose, 10% fully vaccinated, and we are talking about a metric fuckton of people there. Despite selling a lot of production overseas. They had a thriving pharmaceutical industry already, and they’re using it.

    But no, patents are the problem.

  4. I suppose what they really want is, once the monopoly has been abolished, to be able to say, ‘But now you’ve got to give us the money. How the hell can we afford this muck otherwise.’

  5. How did a useless cunt like Chelsea Clinton get to be an “Associate Professor”. Unless you can get a qualification for shopping nowadays.

  6. The important word there is “adjunct”. It means “not a professor”. Also, someone paid some trivial amount, likely less than minimum wage, to teach one particular course. And definitely, definitively, not on track to gain tenure or become a real professor.

  7. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “adjunct associate professor” is a sublime insult, for it makes the recipient believe it to be a great honour.

  8. Mr Ecks, you missed the “adjunct” bit which means part-time freelancer, effectively equivalent to (but less important than) the Tea Lady.

  9. One assumes that since she’s Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, she’s been given a titled sinecure since she’s one of those who dish out the dosh.

  10. With all of those qualifications and highly placed positions, Chelsea’s father, whoever he is, must be really pleased with her progress.

  11. Dennis, Not Being Sarcastic At All

    As the trade representative for his country, Nkomo and his boss – the head of the mission, Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter – were pushing the WTO to endorse a global waiver of pharmaceutical monopolies so that poor countries around the world could produce the vaccines they need.

    Because we all know that Somalia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and both of the Congos have all sorts of excess capacity in their pharmaceutical industries. Not to mention all those pharmaceutical plants located in Burundi, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Uganda that are doing nothing at the moment.

  12. @john77

    I got spamtrapped I think, so trying again. The per capita death toll being worse in Tunisia than UK is particularly bad, given their younger population. Generally the trade-off in the developing world is that younger populations mean the average Covid infection is less severe than in the West, but the downside is if you’re someone (e.g. the older end of society) who gets a more severe infection, the chances of you dying given the local medical facilities are sadly rather higher. There’s also the issue of comorbidities, which in some cases can be more common in developing countries.

    As for other African countries: the situation in Namibia is very similar to that South Africa, and a couple of other countries aren’t all that far behind – Seychelles, Botswana, Eswatini/Swaziland, Libya, Cape Verde. Interesting that this list includes some of Africa’s more developed countries, suggests there may be biases in the data whereby the poorest countries simply lack capacity to track the pandemic.

    Egypt’s an interesting case in point. Their excess death figure is (proportionately) worse than Britain, but their officially recorded Covid deaths are an order of magnitude smaller. Not all African states even have the administrative capacity to register births and deaths – plenty of people live and die without ever joining the official statistics. Egypt seems organised enough to register deaths but maybe not enough to identify their causes. They may be the canary in the coalmine for just how much of an understatement other African countries’ official Covid statistics are.

  13. is only sporadically updated (last update mid-August but some countries’ statistical agencies have only released data up to last December anyway!) but is indicative of what might be missing from official Covid death data. Other international comparisons can be found at Worldometers, Our World In Data, the FT (which has had a good data team working on Covid and has paywall-free access to that section of their site) and elsewhere.

  14. “The per capita death toll being worse in Tunisia than UK”: is it really worth comparing two numbers that are each of such limited accuracy? International comparisons are notoriously tricky even with data that might perhaps be pretty good. Anyway, maybe the answer is that Covid is easily spread by goats.

  15. I’d forgotten the claim that her father was the fat chap who was a Clinton bumsucker at one point. Thank you, Penseivat.

    I did read once that Slick Willie’s own purported biological father couldn’t have been: his army records established his whereabouts and it wasn’t anywhere near SW’s mother at the relevant time.

  16. @dearieme,
    I was told, some years ago, by an American friend, that when SW was state governor, Hillary had 4 state troopers as her personal security detail, all of whom were posted to different parts of the state when she announced her pregnancy. Allegedly, 2 of them died in mysterious circumstances, shortly after Chelsea was born. I guess the jury is out on that one, and unlikely to come back any time soon.

  17. @ MBE
    I mostly agree; one point that you have omitted is the higher temperature in Africa, which is significant because the virus does better at low temperatures; also the lower population density in regions relying on subsistence agriculture slows the spread of the virus (in some areas it reduces R to <<1 so that small pockets of infection die out.
    As to under-reporting, there are two main causes: incompetence/inability and lying. We know Mexico has massively under-reported due to incompetence because it told us so [Peru had and then restated numbers at around three times earlier figures], and that Iran has due to lying because the government was caught when someone spotted that official Covid-19 deaths were only 40% of the number record by the state statistics body. So I am willing to believe that most African states have understated the covid-19 death toll but I still reckon that African deaths are only a smallish fraction of those in Europe, especially eastern Europe south of the Baltic states, and Latin America. You may note that all the countries on your list, including Egypt, and Tunisia have more temperate climates than Nigeria, Congo, etc.

  18. @dearieme

    Yeah, when you’re doing an international comparison probably the first thing to consider when asking “why is the figure in A higher than the figure in B?” is if it’s just due to the difference in methodology. The gap between Tunisia and the UK is currently within the realms of the margin of statistical fuzziness, but almost all the damage there has been done in one enormous Delta-driven wave (starting in about June, still grinding on at an enormous rate right now) rather than over the two distinct humps of mortality (the original then Alpha wave) in the UK. The trend in Tunisia is so bad that any remaining inkling of doubt that they might not yet have surpassed the UK death toll per million is going to vanish sooner rather than later, and on an population age-adjusted basis it surely already has.

    For what it’s worth, the Tunisia-UK comparison is probably one of the more reasonable ones to make, since in both of these countries, there has been a reasonably small discrepancy between their official Covid statistics and their excess mortality, so their stats are probably in the right ball-park. Russia, Kazakhstan and Serbia have more than four times as many excess deaths as official Covid deaths; South Africa, Iran, Mexico, Ecuador and Bolivia more than double; Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Kosovo, North Macedonia and the Baltics a bit under double. In some places – Egypt, Belarus, Tajikstan, Nicaragua – the gap is well over ten times and their official statistics are essentially meaningless. For many countries, including India, the excess deaths data simply doesn’t exist at a national level, and in the local areas where it’s been estimated, tends to greatly surpass the numbers recorded as dying of Covid. Goodness knows what’s actually happened there, but I wouldn’t want to compare their numbers to anywhere else and draw any kind of conclusion from it.

  19. @john77

    Urbanisation is also high in both south and north Africa, so the population density argument might have something in it. (Though there’s also a lot of urbanisation in West Africa, south of the Sahara.) But there’s a confounding problem, in that urbanisation and economic development are correlated – hard to discern whether low Covid deaths in predominantly rural areas are due to underreporting because the place is poor and efficiently administrating sparsely populated rural areas is difficult, or because you get less transmission. And though the relationship between Covid mortality and temperature has been confirmed in places where the data is of reasonable quality, disentangling the extent to which it affects Africa may be tricky for the same reason as before – it’s yet another pattern of being more favourable to Covid in the north and south. I’ll leave untangling this problem to the epidemiologists…

  20. @ MBE
    I am not an epidemiologist nor pretend to be: I just read numbers, among which is the mortality rate of Bangladeshis in Bangladesh at 158 per million – far less than one-tenth of their death rate in England.
    Sweden chose not to lockdown (although it did observe some restrictions) and has a mortality rate of 1440/million, nearly ten times that of Norway (150/million) whereas Pakistan, where Imran Khan said frankly that it couldn’t afford to lockdown, has a mortality rate of 115/million. 115 is very likely an understatement but the true level isn’t twelve times as high.
    So: of course you are right that we don’t know the true level, *but* I don’t believe the death rate in Africa is anywhere near that in Eastern Europe, Latin America or the USA.

  21. Definitely some strange numbers when you start looking at international comparisons.
    For example locally our deaths per vaccination rate is 1/10th of the UK, my first assumption is that big a difference is a reporting issue

  22. That Sweden to Norway comparison is very dodgy.

    Norway and Denmark are massive outliers. Why, I don’t know. But *everyone* looks terrible compared to them, regardless of lockdowns or whatever.

    Sweden are about the European average. Their strategy has paid off in all the other areas, and not clearly done worse in Covid results.

  23. Bloke in North Korea (Germany Province)

    Please, everyone, scientists, doctors, laypeople, all the fine patrons of Mr Worstall’s fine establishment:



    The latter is defined differently in different places, looked for differently in different places, and changes over time.

    Outside of totally fucked up places, all-cause mortaility is reliably collected and difficult to manipulate.

  24. BiNK(GP):

    What I keep saying. Not that anyone listens. And they still keep talking about ‘cases’. We get exactly as many ‘cases’ as we care to look for.

    All-cause mortality is not a good number, but it’s the only number we’ve got.

  25. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    We want to know one thing. How many more (or fewer) people died because corona came along than if corona had not come along.

    This requires us to know the second number (the no ‘rona hypothetical situation), which is basically unknowable. Also we had two “treatments” applied, namely the ‘rona (which definitely killed some people who would not have died in the no ‘rona situation), and lockdown, which may have stopped some ‘rona deaths, but also both killed some people and prevented some deaths (road traffic accidents), _entirely independently_ of any effect it had on the ‘rona.

    Since baseline mortality appears influenced by various long-term trends (birth rates change over time, healthcare keeps olds alive longer more now than in the past, migrants arrive, citizens emigrate), and fluctuates by up to 5% from one year to the next (to me looks like driven by both seasonal respiratory infections and summer heatwaves), there is much room for arguing about the relative effects of ‘rona, lockdown, and what would have potentially happened with ‘rona and no lockdown. All three scenarios lead to different outcomes.

    But it is all arguing on the head of a pin. The killer [sic] argument for me is that nowhere saw any all-cause mortality that looked all that much different from a stochastic fluctuation on top of a long-term trend.

    We have a new killer bug to deal with, but it appears to be only slightly more dangerous than several other killer bugs we have essentially ignored several times in living memory. If this had been an influenza, rather than a coronavirus, it is likely that the massive panic would never have happened.

    Some people believe that this is worth risking the destruction of society – some of that margin (large but still a margin) actively seeks the destruction of our current society. Some for their own ends, some out of a belief that we are raping mother earth, but they have got the majority on their side by cynical psychological manipulation.

    Most of the world are now cultist believers in the corona religion. They cannot be convinced by numbers, logic, statistics, science, or even an appeal to bravery and accept the small chance that you might fall in keeping the world turning. So a teacher in Texas dies of covid. Can we name a school in their memory, rather than ban a billion children from learning?

  26. Don’t stop saying it.

    “They cannot be convinced by numbers, logic, statistics, science”

    Still have to try, all of us – even if it’s just winning one person at a time. Even sowing doubt (ie, no longer believers), following which they might slowly work it out for themselves.

  27. One possible factor is a lot of people in Africa taking hydroxychloroquine as a matter of routine for malaria prophylaxis.

    If it also prevents/alleviates C19, there’s a very relevant factor.

  28. Bloke in North Dorset

    Why you can’t compare Sweden and Norway:

    As to Sweden and lockdowns. Just because the government didn’t order lockdowns it doesn’t mean that people didn’t take steps to protect themselves when things looked bad. Why wouldn’t they?

    Ref BiNK (GP) s point about excess deaths. This chart on the Spectator data site is worth a look

    “Excess mortality in 2020, adjusted for age
    Percentage difference between deaths in 2020 and the average deaths 2015–2019”

    Four charts down on the RHS:

    England and Wales 10%
    Scotland 7.5%
    Germany 3.3%
    Sweden 1.5%
    Norway -3.6%
    Denmark -4.3%

    It will be interesting to see 2021 figures because some countries have had a terrible time after doing so well initially.

  29. BiND

    Excess mortality in 2020, adjusted for age
    Percentage difference between deaths in 2020 and the average deaths 2015–2019

    I did this analysis using June year ends. So all of the effects of a single winter are included within the same reporting year.

    What’s clear is that there is a big trough (away from the trend-line) through 18/19, all the way up to Covid in Spring 2020 (it shows up clearly as two light winters up to that point in Feb/March 2020). Purely on an annual basis, the peak in 19/20 pretty much does nothing more than reverse the trough in 18/19. 20/21 (to June 2021) is flat, ie, in line with the prior trend. That’s it.

    The 10% excess for 2020 calculated by using 2015-19 as a base line rather conveniently takes that 18/19 trough within the base line (slightly reducing the comparative), but – worse than that – doesn’t make any adjustment in 2020 for the fact that part of it is clearly a reversal of 18/19. Whoever came up originally with using 2015-19 as a base-line (and which then took hold in all the analyses) I suspect knew exactly what they were doing….

    On an annual basis, I can’t see more than ~2% tops (rather than 10%) being the cumulative variation effect of 18/19 through 20/21.

    Obviously not denying the monthly effects (April 2020 etc) or anything like that, but that 2% also includes the effect of lockdown. The Government’s own analysis shows that there were a lot more deaths from home heart attacks and similar through this period (ie, not Covid).

    The more I scrutinize the data, it’s impossible to reconcile the rhetoric (or lies) with the numbers. Neatly illustrated by that poll (across 4 countries) taken last summer. “What % of the population do you think have died from Covid”. The answers given were a response to the rhetoric/fear campaign. The mean average response was 7%…. It doesn’t matter whether people understood %s or not. The point was that the fear campaign had created that entirely false and dishonest perception.

  30. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    BiND vs PF perfectly illustrates the baseline problem. We don’t know what it is and you can, if cynical enough, construct one to prove any predetermined outcome. The closer resolution you look at the more differences you will see (e.g. month to month or week to week rather than year to year, or country-by-country [sorry]), but also the more statistical noise and background effects you see.

    As BiND’s data shows if you pick a baseline that supports the narrative that Covid is a mass killer in England (I’d argue about 10% excess mortality indicating a mass killer rather than something a bit more dangerous than average, the next lesson will be on relative versus absolute risk) it then fails spectacularly in other countries. At least the analysis is honest enough to apply the same rules to everywhere, and in so doing illustrates nothing but normally distributed departures from baseline, around an actual mean excess mortality (for that baseline) in the low single digit percent. Again ~3% additional deaths, not 3% additional people dead. I suspect it is these numbers being bandied about that lead to the survey results PF refers to.

    Another illustration of the resolution effect (in both time and space) – about a year ago we had high “case numbers” in Saxony. Of course the press was all over it, it proves that it was careless granny-killing AfD voters, all of them Nazi conspiracy theorists, driving the pandemic. Now we have high case numbers in NRW, traditional stomping ground of the big two parties (SPD in the cities, CDU in the countryside), and not a word is spoken about careless granny-killing conservatives and social democrats.

    The point about Sweden not mandating lockdowns but people voluntarily being more careful is just that. Mandates are not necessary.

    And if you really want to be cynically manipulative you do something like taking Israel out of Euromomo just as their vaccination campaign is successfully eradicating Covid throughout the country once and for all…

  31. Guys, you don’t seem to have noticed that my point was that Pakistan, which is mostly fairly hot, has a lower Covid-19 death rate than Sweden which is mostly fairly cool. This is an argument that temperature makes a difference.
    FYI Denmark is not an outlier: it fits logically between Norway and Finland, each of which has a rate noticeably less than half Denmark’s, and Germany which has a rate noticeably more than twice Denmark’s.

  32. Bloke in North Korea (Germany Province)

    More than 80% of Germany’s covid dead died more than 5 weeks after their positive test.

  33. Bloke in North Korea (Germany Province)

    This is why you should look at fucking all fucking cause fucking mortality, not “covid dead”.

  34. In US unis “associate professors” get the coffee. I assume “adjunct associate professors” wash up afterwards.

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