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General News

Albert Bourla: The Biggest Challenge during the Pandemic was Negotiating the Politics

January 19, 2023

DAVOS, Switzerland — The Latest on the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland:

Pfizer’s chief executive says the biggest challenge the company and other vaccine-makers faced during the pandemic was negotiating the politics.

Albert Bourla, who was speaking Thursday on a panel on pandemic preparedness at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland, said mask-wearing, vaccine efficacy or questions about delivering the vaccines were all politicized and were constant obstacles for vaccine-makers.

He says “the biggest challenge … was the political challenge.”

He added that protectionism as a result of fear meant the governments closed down borders, making it difficult to export vaccines or bring in raw materials needed to make them.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the distinction between the “forgivable” politics of government leaders trying to vaccinate their own population when an election was beckoning and the “unforgivable” politics of politicizing public health.

He says turning mask-wearing into a political issue was “unforgivable and stupid.”

Blair added that for most countries, the virus had receded into the “rear-view mirror” and the only way to keep the focus on it was to convince politicians that “there are votes in it.”

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Zelenskyy urges West to speed up flow of weapons to Ukraine

— Putin foe Bill Browder slams jacked-up fee to attend Davos

— World Food Program postpones, not averts Somali famine

— Elon Musk apparently wasn’t on the Davos guest list

Follow AP’s coverage of the World Economic Forum meeting at https://apnews.com/hub/world-economic-forum

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has bared his frustration about not obtaining enough tanks from some Western countries to help Ukraine’s defend against Russian forces.

The Ukrainian leader, at a breakfast Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, offered a veiled critique of countries like Germany, Poland and the United States — crucial supporters of Ukraine — that have nonetheless hesitated about sending tanks.

Speaking by video link, Zelenskyy bemoaned a “lack of specific weaponry” and said that to win the war, “we cannot just do it with motivation and morale.”

Through an interpreter, he told the Victor Pinchuk Foundation breakfast that “I would like to thank again for the assistance from our partners. But at the same time, there are times where we shouldn’t hesitate or we shouldn’t compare when someone says, ‘I will give tanks if someone else will also share his tanks.'”

Zelenskyy also said air defense was “our weakness” in light of targeted Russian strikes, including use of Iranian-made drones, and reiterated his call for supplies of long-range artillery to fire at Russian forces in Ukrainian territory — not fire into Russia itself.

Ukraine has for months sought to be supplied with heavier tanks, including the U.S. Abrams and the German-made Leopard 2 tanks, but Western leaders have been treading carefully.

The United Kingdom announced last week that it will send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, and France has said it would send AMX-10 RC armored combat vehicles to Ukraine, designated “light tanks” in French.

Poland and the Czech Republic have provided Soviet-era T-72 tanks to Ukrainian forces. Poland has expressed readiness to provide a company of Leopard tanks but has said it would only do so as part of a larger international coalition of tank aid to Kyiv.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who attended the breakfast, said, “Get them the tanks, get Volodymyr Zelenskyy whatever he needs.”

 

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