Vax on Pause | Crooked Media
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March 16, 2021
What A Day
Vax on Pause

In This Episode

  • Italy, Germany, France and several other countries in Europe are halting use of Astrazeneca’s coronavirus vaccine amid concerns over side effects in handful of people. The company is defending the drug while authorities assess the situation.
  • Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyers request to postpone and relocate his trial following news of a $27 million settlement for the killing of George Floyd.
  • And in headlines: Protests against sexual violence in Australia, Google’s goes to court over incognito mode, and hundreds of Spring Break-ers arrested in Miami Beach.




Gideon Resnick: It is Tuesday, March 16th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan, filling in for Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: And this is What A Day, the podcast equivalent of holding a big steaming coffee mug while gazing out a rainy window.


Erin Ryan: Oh, when will my Moderna vaccine come home from the war?


Gideon Resnick: So another update on the Derek Chauvin trial, then some headlines.


Erin Ryan: But first, the latest.


[clip from BBC News] France, Germany and Italy have become the latest countries to suspend use of the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, over concerns about blood clots. The moves come as the World Health Organization appealed to governments not to oppose vaccination campaigns.


Erin Ryan: That was a BBC News broadcast from yesterday about a major story progressing in Europe over the last few days. Several countries, including the ones mentioned there, but also Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Ireland, have all put a pause on AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine. So Gideon want to explain what these countries are saying?


Gideon Resnick: Sure. So for now, the pause is temporary. They’re saying and we should say, it’s happening at not a great time for many of these countries. Like we talked about yesterday, there is a surge of cases in many parts of Europe right now. And Denmark is one of the first countries to actually pause. They halted as of last week. According to The Wall Street Journal, Danish health officials cited some reports of severe blood clots in people who had received the vaccine. And the country’s health authority said, quote “It cannot be concluded whether there is a link between the vaccine and the blood clots.” But they couldn’t conclude otherwise either. And so they passed. These other countries have all basically followed suit in the days since for the same reason, while this gets investigated further.


Erin Ryan: So no conclusions yet, but there’s concern, obviously. So what do we know about the clotting cases so far, and what is the company saying?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, they seem pretty limited. According to the AP, AstraZeneca has ID’d 37 reports of blood clots out of more than 17 million people vaccinated between the U.K. and the E.U. They also went on to say that the number of reported cases is lower among vaccinated groups than it would be in a general population of similar size. And so the pause appears to be quite temporary and as a precaution, according to statements yesterday from health officials in Germany, Italy and France. Some experts have said that an investigation of these kinds of situations is actually a sign of the system working as it should. If you found something that concerned you, you should probably stop and check it out. Sort of similar to how we saw pauses during the clinical trials of the vaccines to assess potential issues then. And meanwhile, the suspensions haven’t happened everywhere. Here’s what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had to say about the vaccine when asked yesterday.


[clip interviewer] We’re hearing about people showing up to their appointments in Montreal. When they hear it’s AstraZeneca, they don’t want to get it. What’s your message to people who are worried about getting this vaccine?


[clip of PM Trudeau] Health Canada and our experts and scientists have spent an awful lot of time making sure that every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective. Therefore, the best vaccine for you to take is the very first one that is offered to you.


Gideon Resnick: Trudeau also reportedly said that the country’s doses did not come from a batch linked to the investigative potential side effects.


Erin Ryan: OK, so it seems like a real dramatic response to this, to shut down vaccinations. But let’s talk about how this could affect the world’s vaccination efforts as we wrap up trials here in the U.S. In the short term, all of this seems pretty, not positive.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s right. It seems for now at least, that even if this is a short blip and these countries end up resuming the use of it in the coming days, it could create problems in terms of the trust that people have in getting this vaccine. And AstraZeneca’s vaccine is a big part of the overall vaccination strategy in the EU and elsewhere. There’s no other way to put it. That company had promised to produce over three billion doses, which has made it part of the UN supported Covax program to give vaccines to poorer nations. And kind of ironically, European politicians had been going after the company recently for not meeting supply obligations, according to reporting in The Wall Street Journal. And EU countries had been trying to protect their own supply. For example, there was a high profile dispute involving Italy and Australia, where Italy banned this planned export of AstraZeneca shots to Australia. So overall, a bit of a messy situation, to say the least.


Erin Ryan: Honestly, it just put it in my arm. I don’t care. I will be, I will be a guinea pig. It is impossible to get a vaccination appointment even though I technically qualify here. Put this in my arm, I will be a guinea pig. OK, so what are American public health experts saying so far?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, to get a sense of that, I spoke with Dr. Ashish Jha, he’s the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. Jha said that it is possible that there could be a link between the vaccine and clotting. But if there is a link, it is very rare, given just how many people have gotten the vaccine without issue. He described the pauses that we’re seeing as kind of a quote unquote “abundance of caution” type of move.


Dr. Ashish Jha: Yeah, I think this is tricky business because a lot of these countries are also seeing a horrible surge of cases right now and are going into lockdown, and one of the best things they can be doing is vaccinating people. So failing to vaccinate people or suspending vaccination, is certainly not without cost. And so if I were advising them, I’d have a pretty high bar for suspending the AstraZeneca vaccination.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I was also asking him about what this kind of move actually does to public confidence. And he said that he’s hoping the process could actually lead to more trust if regulators are able to reconfirm safety here. But of course, it also adds to the toolkit that anti-vaxxers have, as if they needed to hear anything else to believe what they believe and they have for a long time. This vaccine still has to finish up trials for the U.S., so a lot more we’ll get into on this all soon but let’s turn to another continuing story: the trial of Derek Chauvin. What is with this new round of requests from Chauvin’s team?


Erin Ryan: Yeah. So to back up, Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney is now asking a judge to redo the part of the jury selection process that they’ve already completed. And he’s also asking, again, that the whole trial be moved out of Hennepin County. The legal team is claiming that the 27 million dollars awarded to George Floyd’s family by the city of Minneapolis last week could taint prospective jurors for a couple of reasons. First, the settlement, which is the biggest in the history of Minnesota, is tantamount to the city endorsing a guilty verdict in the criminal trial. Second, they’re claiming that the settlement being a news item means that it would no longer be possible for Chauvin to get a fair trial in the county where Floyd was actually killed.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think that this has been a news item for as long as it has happened.


Erin Ryan: Yeah, murder, murder often makes the news, especially if it occurs on camera.


Gideon Resnick: Yes, I think, yes. So reading between the lines, it does seem like Chauvin lawyers want to put this off for as long as possible and move it as far from Minneapolis as possible. I have a personal theory about why they would want to do that, but I would love to hear your thoughts.


Erin Ryan: Yeah, I mean, Gideon if you were innocent and positive that a jury would acquit you based on the evidence available, would you want your lawyer to delay your trial?


Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm.


Erin Ryan: I, I would not. I guess Chauvin’s team is hoping that people will be less mad or remember less clearly what happened if more time passes between Chauvin killing a man and going on trial for killing a man. And as far as moving the venue from Hennepin County, which contains Minneapolis and is 13% Black to another part of Minnesota, which outside of Hennepin County is less than 7$ Black, I can’t quite put my finger on why they’d want to do that.


Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. I see what you did there. And that is historical precedents too of, you know, moving venues to try to get the verdict that you want. So what are the chances that Chauvin’s lawyers will get their way here?


Erin Ryan: So based on what the judge has already said, pretty low, but not zero. It looks like the request to physically move the trial is the one least likely to be fulfilled. The judge, who has already denied the lawyer’s request to move the trial, has resisted this latest attempt, although the judge acknowledged that the timing of the settlement was, quote “unfortunate”. Judge Peter Cahill, who is overseeing the trial, has said that he wishes that city officials would, quote “stop talking about the case so much” but that he didn’t think they were talking about the case publicly with the intention of tainting the jury. And speaking of the jury, seven jurors have already been selected and they will be called back in to answer some questions about the Floyd family’s settlement. One juror was dismissed yesterday when she said she, quote “almost gasped at the size of the settlement.” Of the remaining jurors, one is Black, one is mixed race and one is Hispanic. The rest are white. The court is looking to seat 12 total with two alternates. We’ll put a link in our show notes so you can read more on this case. But that’s the latest for now.


Gideon Resnick: It is Tuesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we are talking about those little gold statues that everyone says are a lot heavier than they expected. Yesterday, the 2021 Academy Award nominations were announced and there was plenty to be excited or, at least groan finally about. Among the highlights, Chloe Zhao and Emerald Fennell became the first two women to be nominated simultaneously for best director. Judas and the Black Messiah became the first best picture nominees to have an all Black team of producers, while Minari was the first Asian-American produced, directed, and cast film to be nominated for Best Picture. So, Erin, how are you feeling after seeing this whole list?


Erin Ryan: Well, Gideon, I am feeling like I really can’t wait to go to a movie theater and see a movie on a big screen again. I am really excited for enough people to be vaccinated, for me to be vaccinated, that it is safe to gather indoors and watch movies. That’s one of my favorite things to do. Haven’t watched as many of the movies this year as I normally do. And I think part of it is because I didn’t have like the theater experience available to me, but Judas and the Black Messiah contains some incredible performances, it’s great filmmaking.  Promising Young Woman I haven’t seen yet, but I’ve been like saving it because everyone I know that seen it has been like: you have to see it! I’m excited to watch No Man’s Land because I love, I love traveling in like the western part of the U.S. and I guess there’s a lot of really beautiful footage. I like Frances McDormand a lot. And I want to give a special shout out to Borat, Subsequent Movie Film, which, despite being like a goofy movie, is one of the low key, most feminist subversive films I’ve seen in a while. How about you?


Gideon Resnick: It’s awesome.


Erin Ryan: How, how are you feeling?


Gideon Resnick: Oh, man, this is, you know, the funny thing is the instinctual thing with all of these award things is always like anger, like I need to be like furious about something. And this, like I wasn’t really, I think the funniest stand out was Glenn Close and Hillbilly Elegy, which is a movie I will not see.


Erin Ryan: No, that’s, it’s the Crash of 2021.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Yeah. That’s not gonna happen.


Erin Ryan: Except for it again. We’re not going to fall for Crash again.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So the fact that there was only like one I was like huh, I think is a good thing. Yeah. There’s a lot, there’s a lot to be like really excited about in this. I had even forgotten that, you know, you’re probably going to see a posthumous Oscar for Chadwick Boseman. That was like and, you know, in a performance that I think is the best that he has done, by far. I think that there was like a lot of—to your point about movie theaters, I think the, the benefit of like how these ones came to be these nominations is there were better opportunities to have people focus on smaller movies. Right? So like something like Sound of Metal, which like got tons of nominations, is a kind of thing like I could see totally skating by people in any other year. Like Minari is another one that I think could totally have been like: uh that was pleasant. And not recognized for like what those movies are actually doing. So I hope, like, that is a feature of this, sticks around where those are the kinds of movies and the nominees that we get in addition to or perhaps instead of the Gary Oldmans and the Anthony Hopkins. All due respect, you are more like the typical Oscar dudes, you know. Like it, it’s sad that we’re like: two women best directors, my heavens. Like, no, there’s, how would it not be that if you have five nominations, it’s not two, three, four or five? Four? Yeah.


Erin Ryan: Yeah, I think that that is maybe one, like one eventual positive thing that happened in this one specific small segment of society as a result of COVID, because there were a lot of movies that were going to be released or in production in 2020, and everything kind of shut down and things that were supposed to have bigger openings were held. So there are movies that didn’t get released that maybe would have upstaged like these smaller films like you’re talking about. And I totally agree with you. It’s so good to see things like, it’s so good to see Emerald Fennell get a chance to take center stage like this. Chloe Zhao—it’s so cool that they are like not being upstaged by the people who would normally upstage them.


Gideon Resnick: But just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe. Watch some of these movies, they’re good. You have my stamp of approval, if that means anything. And we’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Erin Ryan: Tens of thousands of people across Australia came out yesterday to protest sexual violence and discrimination against women. Marches in at least 40 cities across the country were fueled by public outrage over the government’s recent handling of two rape allegations against government officials. Earlier this month, Attorney General Christian Porter was revealed to have been accused of rape in 1988, which he denies. Protesters criticized Prime Minister Scott Morrison for standing by Porter and refusing to address the crowd, or meet with organizers. In a separate case, Brittany Higgins, a former political adviser, came forward with allegations that she was raped in parliament in 2019. She spoke to protesters on Monday, saying these cases demonstrate a horrible societal acceptance of sexual violence against women in Australia. And by the way, on Hysteria this week, we will be talking about this, and other global watershed moments of women standing up for their rights and standing up against violence. So definitely check that out.


Gideon Resnick: I will indeed. In other news, turns out the hat and the Groucho Marx glasses are not fooling anyone. Google is set to face a class-action lawsuit claiming that the site still tracks their users even when they’re in so-called incognito mode. The suit, filed by three users last June, says the site’s failure to stop tracking people in private browsing mode is a violation of federal wiretap laws. They’re seeking at least five billion dollars or $5,000 per violation for potentially millions of people. Google tried to get the case thrown out, arguing they already warned users that their activity might be visible when they make a new incognito window. For people that have a computer with them right now, at this very moment, it’s a text that shows up under the site’s privacy mascot with the glasses and bowler hat. A district judge last Friday ruled that text did not warn users that their data was allegedly still being collected by Google so the suit still stands. So all of you, be careful out there when you’re on incognito mode, checking your, um, emails.


Erin Ryan: OK, Gideon, I use incognito mode because I love doing, I love like rabbit-holing. So I find something about: oh, there’s a weird cult that members of the UK military were involved in, I want to read every single thing online about that. So I like will go down these crazy rabbit holes about like bizarre like diseases that happen when people eat human brains—just really, really macabre stuff. And I use it in incognito mode because I’m like, I don’t want to end up on a list. But now it turns out I’m probably already on a list and there’s some poor sap at the NSA who is just like watching me go about my boring life of like reading fiction books written by women and eating cheese late at night. And I’m sorry to whatever NSA person has been assigned to monitor me that I’m not up to more shenanigans, because I feel like my browsing history in incognito mode indicates that I should be OK.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Erin Ryan: Beware the vibes of March. Oh man. Spring break is somehow already upon us again. And the same weirdos as last time have already made their seasonal migration to the most annoying beach communities. Mayor of Miami Beach, Florida, Dan Gelber said in an interview Monday that hundreds, yes, hundreds of people in South Florida had been arrested this past weekend for ignoring coronavirus guidelines, blocking intersections and causing general mayhem. The Mayor of Miami Beach blamed the surge of spring breakers on the confluence of other destinations being shut down, people being cold, and plane fares being cheap. Look, I get it. Who doesn’t love free shots? But I, I actually don’t. Unless they’re like the type that will give me COVID antibodies. I don’t want any type of shot, but I personally will be waiting to take mine in the arm from a medical professional, but not off a stranger’s navel in southern Florida. Oh, that is a gross sentence and I feel like I’m going to throw up.


Gideon Resnick: You know, we don’t know if this strangers’ navel belongs to a medical professional because they are a stranger. And if we got to know them, perhaps they could lead us to the right shot, is all I’m saying. It’s worth it. It’s worth a try.


Erin Ryan: Why don’t you just put, why don’t they just put the medicine in Jello shots? You get get all the spring breakers vaccinated because those are the ones going around spreading germs everywhere anyway.


Gideon Resnick: Now we’re talking, now we’re cooking with gas. Even the chimps are bored of monkeying around in lock down. A zoo in the Czech Republic is trying out a new way to entertain their chimpanzees following its closure to the public in December. The safari park in the northern Czech Republic installed a large monitor this week to show the animals a live stream of chimpanzees from a zoo in the southern part of the country. After a week, they’ll evaluate whether or not to continue to digitally link between the zoos, but some chimps are already showing interest in watching what those other guys are up to. Talk about a Zooooooom meeting.


Erin Ryan: Oh. Ugh.


Gideon Resnick: The silence there, the silence killed me. I am dead. I’m dead.


Erin Ryan: Would you prefer, like, a groan of anguish over silence?


Gideon Resnick: No, no. Applause is what I’m looking for all the time. I’m sorry to break it to you monkeys, but we have been doing this for months and you are not missing out on much. On behalf of humans everywhere, we’re very sorry we never invited you to our Zoom birthdays, Zoom weddings and Zoom Brises. I guess there must have been a missing link.


Erin Ryan: Oh. You brought it home Gideon. You brought it home with that kicker.


Gideon Resnick: That’s, that’s what it’s about. I didn’t do it, but you know. We can take credit. And those are the headlines. One last thing before we go, Crooked’s new sports podcast, Takeline, premieres today. It is smart. It is funny. It is thoughtful and it is so very good. It’s hosted by Emmy winner Jason Concepcion and WNBA champion turned team owner Renee Montgomery, who talks through all the ways that sports, culture, and politics intersect on and off the court take. Takeline’s first guest is Jeremy Lin. Lin-sanity is back.


Erin Ryan: Whaaaat?!


Gideon Resnick: It never went away. But it’s definitely back.


Erin Ryan: That’s awesome.


Gideon Resnick: Subscribe to Takeline on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. That is all for today. Special thanks to Jossi Kauffman this week for making us sound funny. That’s where the bris line came from. If I take credit for it and it wasn’t me, I will go straight to hell. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, video chat your favorite chimpanzee, and tell your friends listen.


Erin Ryan: And if you are into reading, and not just tutorials on how to completely scrub your browsing history like me—hey, I’m in this photo and I don’t like it—What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Erin Ryan.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And stay out of Miami Beach!


Gideon Resnick: Look, I’m anti-panhandle. I just, I feel it’s time—


Erin Ryan: Miami Beach isn’t in the panhandle. The panhandle is like, Pensacola.


Gideon Resnick: The state is a panhandle.


Erin Ryan: No. The state is a pan. The handle is like, Pensacola.


Gideon Resnick: Consider me anti-pan then, OK?


Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.


Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.


Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.


Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.


Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.