Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Harris avoids optics of vaccine-for-immigration quid pro quo with Mexico

Vice President Kamala Harris headed back to the U.S. after two days of high-level meetings in Guatemala and Mexico about corruption, human trafficking and migration, but one subject was only briefly touched upon: coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border remain near 20-year highs. Harris is charged with trying to resolve the root causes for people leaving Central America, issues oftentimes exacerbated by COVID-19 in recent months.

  • Nonetheless, the administration has been careful to avoid the appearance of a vaccine quid pro quo that critics suggest is being used by China, Russia and other vaccine producers.
  • "It's important to mention here that when we're talking about vaccine distribution, it is something that has been done by the public health professionals, and it's not being done in exchange for some sort of political agreement," Mazin Alfaqih, special adviser to the vice president for the Northern Triangle, told reporters traveling with Harris.

A former Trump administration official who worked in the region told Axios it's a missed opportunity. Vaccines could be hugely effective in leveraging cooperation, he argued.

  • "If you're serious about stopping migration, they should give these countries vaccines to allow their people to go back to work," said Carlos Trujillo, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States.
  • In his conversations with Mexican and Central American officials, they most often complain about the need for vaccines, Trujillo said.

What they're saying: President Biden announced last week his administration would dole out 25 million vaccine doses to South and Central America, Asia, Africa and other countries before the end of the month.

  • Three quarters will be distributed through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, while the remainder will be shared through direct, bilateral arrangements.
  • During her trip, Harris mentioned 500,000 doses being provided to Guatemala.
  • Her spokesperson, Symone Sanders, also told reporters “vaccines are on the table for discussion" before the vice president met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, a pool report said.

Between the lines: While the administration has tried to avoid appearing to use vaccine distribution to coerce cooperation on migration, cause and effect can be hard to discern.

  • Shortly after the U.S. announced in March it would provide 2.5 million vaccine doses to Mexico, additional Mexican troops were sent to its southern border and the country to stem the flow of illegal migrants.
  • Mexican officials also announced Friday they would use 1 million vaccine doses provided by the U.S. for people at the country's northern border "with the aim of getting border transportation back to normal."

In some cases in which the U.S. has been slow to provide vaccines, China has stepped in.

  • The president of El Salvador publicly thanked China for supplying doses in April.
  • Last month, despite his country's ties to Taiwan, the president of Honduras said he would consider opening a trade office in China to get coronavirus shots, Reuters reported.
  • Nearly every country in Latin America has already ordered doses from Russia, China or both. Only now are doses from the United States starting to become available.

GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden administration buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna says the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

Keep reading... Show less

Live updates: Biden and Putin land in Geneva ahead of summit

President Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders are expected to take a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the meeting begins.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden-Putin summit: What to expect when you're not expecting much

After a bitter blast from Putin and tough talk from Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

Keep reading... Show less

Florida's early reopening could make it a business travel mecca

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

Keep reading... Show less

There isn’t a worker shortage in the U.S. — there’s been a worker awakening

Many politicians, pundits and business owners have said pandemic-era enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping would-be workers at home. But that's a much too simplistic explanation of today's employment situation.

The big picture: Many hard-hit sectors are rebounding faster than anecdotal evidence would suggest. And when jobs are hard to fill, a broader worker awakening over the past year is part of the reason.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden's surprise pick for FTC chair, a leading tech critic, is already rocking boats

By naming tech critic Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, the White House made clear it is dead serious about antitrust enforcement and other measures to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The intrigue: By naming Khan FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her appointment as one of five commissioners at the agency, the White House took both the industry and many D.C. insiders by surprise.

Keep reading... Show less

MedPAC says higher prices drove up Medicare drug spending

The amount Medicare spent on drugs that are dispensed at pharmacies increased 26% from 2013 through 2018, members of the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission wrote in their new annual report.

Why it matters: MedPAC members put the spotlight on pharmaceutical companies, attributing "nearly all of the growth ... to higher prices rather than an increase in the number of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries."

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories