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Quest Means Business
India Cases And Deaths Projected To Double In Next Month; Biden Administration Supports Vaccine Waiver Proposal; Thousands Gather In Pakistan As COVID Cases Surge; Facebook's Oversight Board Upholds Donald Trump Suspension. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired May 05, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: With an hour to go before the closing bell, stocks bounce back from Tuesday's tantrum over rates, and
Janet Yellen as the market has been -- besides of a bit of a wobble in the morning, but it has been up solidly. Half a percent gain of 163 points. The
market is strong across the board.
The market is what it is, and the main events of the day.
Facebook must rethink its indefinite ban on Donald Trump. We'll hear from the Oversight Board that made that decision.
The White House is debating whether to ease restrictions on vaccine patents. We'll hear the pros and the cons.
And Europe's economy showing signs of life despite the double digit recession. I'll have the head of the Euro Group live on this program.
We are indeed live as always from New York, middle of the week, Wednesday, the 5th of May, and I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.
Good evening. Facebook has been told it must decide whether to ban Donald Trump forever. The decision came from its Oversight Board which Mark
Zuckerberg set up last year. You see the members of the Board, the great and the good of law of digital public policy. Well, these people are the
final judges of what violates Facebook's standards.
The Board upheld Facebook's decision to suspend the former President's account. However, it said it was not appropriate to do so indefinitely, not
without various policies. It recommends Facebook adopt clear, necessary, and proportionate policies.
Donie O'Sullivan is in Washington tonight. Well, I read the decision, 35 pages in all and as I -- they basically say, as I get it. Look, you could
do what you could do, but you can't do it for life, not without having better policies in place.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes. I mean, I think Facebook -- Zuckerberg was probably really hoping that this Board, as you say, of
distinguished public intellectuals would come up with just a decision, and that way Facebook could say, well, the Board made the decision, it's not
our problem anymore.
But really what they did was they came back and said, look, you have some rules about suspending people for short periods of time and whatnot, but
really for when it comes to world leaders or somebody like Trump in this situation, you don't have a precedent, you don't have rules and standards
in place to justify keeping him banned off the platform for good.
So, they said, you have six months -- six months from today, Facebook -- Mark Zuckerberg has to come up with some solutions. Either they keep Trump
banned or they bring him back on the platform, and they also have to write some rules to say, well, if this happens again with a different world
leader, this is how it will play out.
So, what we are about to jump into here, Richard, I think is six months of a lot of Democrats and Republicans shouting at Facebook both arguing their
QUEST: Do you think that they had hoped the Oversight Board was going to write those rules for Facebook? Because, as I read their decision, it's
quasi-judicial in nature, they give precedence, they go through the various human rights rules. They give an architecture by which they are making
O'SULLIVAN: Yes. I mean, it's worth having a read of this document, as you mentioned, 35 pages long. Because normally when these decisions are made by
Facebook, by Twitter, all we hear from the company is one or two lines from a press spokesperson saying it violated our rules.
This is really quite an interesting exercise because this Board went into detail the reasons why. They went back and they asked Facebook questions:
why did you take down this post? Why did you leave this up?
So they really investigated as to saying, well, why did this happen, why did you decide to suspend Trump for life? And they found that Facebook
didn't really have any good answers.
I am pretty sure that, you know, Facebook when setting up this Board, I think they would have been very much delighted if the Board would've just
came to a conclusion, particularly given the political environment here in the United States.
This really puts the ball back in Mark Zuckerberg's court, and of course, Richard, it's a huge decision. I mean, do you let the guy back on who used
the platform to help inspire and incite violence in Washington, D.C.? Or do you allow a platform like Facebook to be able to keep potential future
presidential candidates if he runs again off its platform?
O'SULLIVAN: It is of course a private company, but it plays such a fundamentally important role in public and political discourse around the
QUEST: That's the important point, Donie. Thank you.
And taking what Donie's last point about what happens, well, Facebook gave the Oversight Board the final say on the account.
Now, either it was going to be thumbs up for the President to return, which would have pleased his allies or thumbs down to confirm his suspension.
Now, he is being put in sort of a halfway house, which means Facebook executives will be left with the controversial decision over the six
It's the very kind of decision they hoped the Board would make for them.
Dex Hunter-Torricke is the head of communications for the Facebook Oversight Board, joins me now from London via Skype.
The decision is quasi-judicial in its tone, but they didn't decide whether or not Donald Trump even should be reinstated. Why didn't they reinstate
him during this six months of policymaking?
DEX HUNTER-TORRICKE, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR THE FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD: Well, Richard, Facebook has a responsibility to make the decision
here. They have rules. They interpreted them in a way that the board found was not correct.
We have told Facebook very clearly in the next six months, they need to go back and apply a penalty to Mr. Trump that is consistent with their rules,
and the indefinite suspension is not something that is supported by their rules. It's something that doesn't have clear criteria for when it's
imposed or lifted, and it is entirely to Facebook's discretion.
That's not acceptable from the board's point of view as we are looking to defend freedom of expression.
QUEST: The public -- the vox populi's view on what the Board did is you punted it, you punted it back to Facebook. You had the opportunity to say
indefinite bans yes, indefinite bans no. Political players -- but you didn't.
HUNTER-TORRICKE: Yes. Well, the Board was asked the question, which was, is Facebook's indefinite suspension appropriate? We've told them clearly it's
Facebook has a responsibility to act here, right? They can't simply offload their hard problems to the Board or anyone else. As a company which makes
the rules and builds the technology, they have a responsibility to act first and to act fast. We've told them to go back and make another
QUEST: Now, in that case, you said just then, is it appropriate? It's not appropriate to have the indefinite ban. If that is the case and therefore
the indefinite nature of the ban is inappropriate, would it not have been correct to reinstate Mr. Trump while a final decision on the wider issue is
made? In pretty much the way that many Appeals Courts would do it. They would release somebody pending their final decision.
HUNTER-TORRICKE: Not in this case, no. So the Board found also very clearly that Donald Trump deserved to be suspended on January 7th. The President
encouraged and legitimized violence that cost lives in Washington.
The Board has said to Facebook, before you restore any influential user, including political leaders and heads of state, you need to test whether
that decision is likely to harm users. So we've asked Facebook in the next six months to go back and test that before they make any action to restore
QUEST: And in terms of the wider issue for the Board, essentially, these decisions that the Board makes, and there are five or six of them, several
of them, where -- on postings you upheld or they didn't uphold. Their decisions, because they have great reasoning within the decision are
precedence that will be used in the future.
As I said in my earlier interview, they are quasi-legal as regards Facebook.
HUNTER-TORRICKE: You're absolutely right, Richard. The Board is going to be operating for years, we hope, and over that time, over the long term, we're
going to illuminate more and more of these systemic problems that we have with Facebook and that should serve as a guide not just for Facebook, but
for everyone on the outside who is scrutinizing the company, wondering about the power that this company holds.
It will help us guide, hopefully, all of digital society towards better and fairer rules that serve users.
QUEST: Dex, I can't decide after reading the decision did the Board show great courage in saying we're independent, and you haven't done your job,
go back and do it properly? Or did it show great cowardice in that, oh, we're not touching this with a 10-foot pole?
HUNTER-TORRICKE: Well, you know, anything involving free expression of human rights will have folks who think there are easy decisions to be made.
These issues are incredibly challenging. They set huge precedence for how folks around the world are going to be treated, and many communities are
just struggling through transitions to democracy. It's really important that we act carefully here.
And the Board has not lurched into the temptation to make a crowd-pleasing decision, we've made a decision that we think upholds free expression of
QUEST: Good to talk to you, Dex. We will talk more. I have a feeling this Board is going with us for many years and there will be much discussion.
Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Out of London tonight.
HUNTER-TORRICKE: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: After reports of major delays in sending out foreign aid, now, India is defending its distribution.
And freeing the vaccine: the World Trade Organization is being asked how developing nations can get vaccines quicker. And does that mean overriding
private patents? In a moment, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: India is confirming that foreign aids are being sent to hospitals despite reports that there are delays of several days with distribution.
So, shipments of ventilators, oxygen supplies, and antiretroviral drugs have been stuck at New Delhi airport and the Indian Health officials say
the aid is getting out, although it has taken a week to figure out the logistics and customs documentations and the way to do it.
India has reported more than 380,000 new cases of the virus on Wednesday. The country's Institute of Science says total cases could approach 50
million by June.
The same report says case numbers and deaths are set to double over the next month.
Vedika Sud is our correspondent in New Delhi and had sent this dispatch.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Richard, a projection model from the Indian Institute of Science estimates nearly 50 million confirmed cases of COVID-
19 and over 400,000 COVID-19 deaths could be recorded by June 11 this year. This means India could see more than two times the cases it currently has
and almost double the fatalities.
According to a study, a 15-day lockdown could bring down the numbers.
While India is in the midst of its second wave, India's Health Ministry, Wednesday said the country should prepare for a third wave, which they say
The Indian government has strongly denied media reports of delaying distribution of global aid to the country. The government says it has
installed a streamlined mechanism for allocating aid, nearly four million donated items have been distributed to 38 healthcare facilities according
to the Health Ministry.
SUD: Indian Health officials on Wednesday reiterated that foreign aid to help tackle the country's brutal second wave is being sent to hospitals
with an immediate need. Several hospitals across India's national capital region are still sending out emergency messages on social media for oxygen
supplies -- Richard.
QUEST: Vedika Sud in India. The W.T.O. -- the World Trade Organization is now discussing whether to allow patents to be lifted on COVID vaccines.
That would let other manufacturers develop and manufacture without fear of legal liability.
In London at the G-7, the Foreign Ministers pledged to work with drug and pharmaceutical companies to expand the production of affordable vaccines.
However, they stopped short of calling for the lifting, what's known as a waiver on patent rights.
Back in March, the new head of the W.T.O. told me finding a solution on waivers was her main objective.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION: So the top priority is how to get vaccines to those countries that don't have them
quickly and affordably. That is the top focus.
So my focus is, whilst we are discussing the issue of a waiver of TRIPS -- intellectual property for developing countries, can we work with
manufacturers to find many more sites within emerging markets and developing countries that have the capacity to manufacture more vaccines?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The issue now rests with the Biden administration, which is divided over the question of whether or not to support the waiver on patent
Kaitlan Collins is at the White House. It's really very straightforward, isn't it? On the one hand, you've got the vaccines and the need for them
and the manufacturer. On the other hand, you've got the powerful pharmaceutical lobby that doesn't want the patents lifted, claiming a
precedent. Which way is the President going to go?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, we actually just found out the answer to that question because we just got a
statement from President Biden's Trade Representative -- this is Katherine Tai -- who has been involved in those discussions with the W.T.O. She says
yes, the Biden administration does support a waiver for these intellectual property restrictions -- protections -- excuse me -- on these COVID-19
She said, quote: "This is a global health crisis and the extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures." And she says that they, "
... believe strongly in intellectual property protections," but in service of ending this pandemic, Katherine Tai, President Biden's Trade
Representative says they do support the waiver of these protections for the COVID-19 vaccine.
So that is where they come down on it. This is a position that we had a hint that President Biden was going to take given that he was talking about
this just last summer, saying that he would not stand in the way of making sure that people actually could get these vaccines, mass produce them for
other companies, for other countries.
And so, now his Trade Representative after going through those talks, those policy discussions they say that they are having, says yes, they do support
this vaccine waiver.
QUEST: I'm seeing the e-mail now from the USTR's Office. This is interesting because this is a decision that really flows from what the
President has said, anything else than doing this would've left the President open to hypocrisy.
COLLINS: Well, it would have. And the White House, we were trying to kind of really get at that today, the briefing of where does President Biden
still stand on this? And they were saying that he does still maintain what he believed last summer.
But there was -- now, he is President, now, he has to actually go through these discussions. There are a lot of factors at play here, of course. It
is not just a U.S. decision.
These companies have a stake in this as well, but I think also what's interesting here about this is the way you're seeing it play out after
they've gone through these discussions is that we also heard from part of this and a lot of health officials have said they're not sure if this is
actually going to help right now because they're saying it is so complicated to make these vaccines, they involve so many different
ingredients, so many different things that go into it, such fine technology, complicated technology that they were saying, even if they do
have this waiver for these patents on these vaccines that it's still going to take some time for these countries to actually make them.
They were saying that maybe there's an idea of selling them at cost, essentially donating them to other countries. That it could be more
advantageous to actually getting people in other countries, places like India and others that needs this -- Brazil, as well -- sooner.
So how that actually plays out, what this looks like, remains to be seen, Richard. But of course, we know a lot of these companies, companies like
Pfizer were not in favor of the administration supporting this waiver.
QUEST: And, indeed, the stocks sharply lower on both of the major stocks, Kaitlan. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you.
Let me update you with what the stocks are doing. Moderna has been hit the hardest. Forgive me if I look away. Moderna is down some 7.25 percent. It's
off $12.00 at $160.00. There you see on your screen, too.
QUEST: Pfizer is off at 1.3 percent. I'm guessing the reason is, Pfizer has many more irons in the fire. It is currently selling its vaccine at cost,
and really, the profitability for Pfizer in the future because it's the more difficult to manufacture and to store. It's not as great as Moderna.
Johnson & Johnson's stock is down just a third of a percent. But that's arguably because it's got its own problems, but it is down.
Moderna is the one that's being beaten up the most because it's the one that stands to lose the most if its patent were to be infringed or waived
and then copied.
The White House, yesterday we told you, President Biden wants 70 percent of the U.S. population to be vaccinated, at least one dose, by July the 4th
Now, as the White House tries to get more people vaccinated, some U.S. businesses are making it a requirement at the workplace, mandating you get
vaccinated or you don't work and that's a problem when some workers are reluctant to get the shot. Vanessa Yurkevich with this report.
PETER FORTENBAUGH, CEO, BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF THE PENINSULA: We have chosen to mandate vaccines.
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER (voice over): This year, the summer program at the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Bay Area has a
new requirement, all 225 staff members must get the COVID-19 vaccine.
FORTENBAUGH: It is a very simple decision, the vaccines have been proven to be safe, they're effective, and we have to do what's best for our students
YURKEVICH (voice over): The organization plans to welcome 1,000 students in June. In December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced
companies can legally mandate employees and new hires be vaccinated with two exceptions.
JOHNNY C. TAYLOR, CEO, SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCES: One under Title VII, there's an exception for religious accommodation. Secondly, under the ADA,
if someone has a disability and with that disability actually taking the shot might in fact put their lives at risk, then there is also an
YURKEVICH (voice over): Almost half of all Americans support requiring vaccines for employees returning to work. But as of now, 26 percent of
adults in a CNN poll said they don't plan to get the vaccine.
FORTENBAUGH: We have had a handful of staff, a very small number who have hesitancies. So we're giving them time, but we are drawing a hard line in
the sand that if you want to be present with students, you have to have a vaccine.
YURKEVICH (voice over): Time is what Bonnie Jacobson says she needed. She was a server at Red Hook Tavern in Brooklyn. The restaurant mandated the
vaccine in February, but Jacobson told her manager she wanted to do more research about its effects on fertility before getting the shot.
BONNIE JACOBSON, FIRED FOR NOT GETTING VACCINATED: I feel like I am allowed to have hesitations. I feel like I should be allowed the time to do the
research that I need and want to do.
YURKEVICH (voice over): Two days later, Red Hook Tavern fired her for not getting vaccinated, according to e-mails she shared with CNN. The
restaurant did not return CNN's request for comment but told the "New York Times" in February they have since revised their vaccine exemption policy.
TAYLOR: The employer can terminate you for any reason or no reason at all. The reason in this instance could be you're not taking the vaccination
that's been available to you, and therefore you can't work here any longer.
YURKEVICH (voice over): Jacobson works in two new restaurants and says she is now fully vaccinated after seeing studies that COVID-19 vaccines do not
affect fertility. But she says she still doesn't think employers should mandate the vaccine.
JACOBSON: I always wanted to get vaccinated, I needed to just make sure that I was a hundred percent comfortable with it.
YURKEVICH (voice over): Over 70 percent of current or recent CEOs at major companies said they are open to requiring vaccines. But many like American
Airlines, Amtrak and Publix are offering incentives like extra time off or bonuses instead.
Many smaller companies say they can't afford to make vaccines optional.
TAYLOR: Just think about it. One employee gets sick, you have 10 employees, you could end up having to shut your entire business down. They feel like
there's more pressure on them to ensure that they have a safe workplace for all employees.
YURKEVICH (voice over): Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.
QUEST: Now to Colombia now where protesters are back on the streets despite calls for calm from the international community. It started with rallies
against a planned tax increase. It then turned into a broader movement.
The tax plans, for instance, have been withdrawn. However, the unions are still calling for fresh demonstrations. Dozens of people were injured on
Tuesday night, and Colombia's President says this violence is unacceptable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Nothing justifies the fact that there are armed people who are protected by the
legitimate desire of the citizenry to hold civic marches, go out and shoot defenseless citizens and cruelly attack our policemen.
We, Colombians are better than this. We reject violence and respect the laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Stefano Pozzebon is in the Colombian capital in Bogota joins me now. So what are they protesting about generally? I mean, besides the usual
range of issues, the tax plan has been withdrawn, so what's the latest protest about?
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, exactly, Richard, the Tax Plan has been withdrawn, but people here on the streets, and you see that most of the
marches have already started to clear in the square because a thunderstorm has engulfed Bogota about 20 minutes ago.
But, Richard, there are two main issues at stake in these protests. The first is the inequality, chronic inequality that has been a characteristic
of Latin America for decades, and that COVID-19 has only exacerbated.
The second issue is many of the protesters say is the police brutality. The fact that in dealing with the protesters last week and at the beginning of
this week, so far, the Colombian Police has used a heavy hand. There are allegations of excessive use of force and police abuse from the police
Let's remember, Richard that we are in the middle of a COVID-19 wave. So, Bogota, for example, is under lockdown orders. But, still, these are the
two main issues, the fact that the chronic inequality is being made worse from COVID-19 and the fact that the police have used heavy hands in dealing
with the protesters, and very much like what happened last year in the United States with the Black Lives Matter marches, that has become a key
issue of the protest -- Richard.
QUEST: So, I'm looking at a graph, Stefano, of the current situation. And the number of cases is just about where it was back in January. It does
look like it's waning slightly. Is there a feeling the government has this under control, this latest surge?
POZZEBON: The latest surge has put Colombia with their back against the wall. Colombia has begun vaccinating, for example, Richard, but the
vaccination campaign does not have nearly the pace, the rhythm that it needs to have to put a break on the virus, to curb the spread of the virus.
Right now here in Bogota, for example, this morning, the occupancy rate for intensive care units is over 94 percent. That's one of the reasons why the
government and local authorities are urging people to test and if they need to, because they have got their rights to protect these perspectives, but,
at the same time, to try and avoid gatherings and to try to maintain social distancing as much as possible.
It is a dramatic double-edged sword that has already impacted Colombia with the impact in the health emergency of COVID-19 and the economic impact of
COVID-19, the economy here in this country collapsed eight-point percentage last year, and now, these wave of protests that is really putting the
government under intense scrutiny -- Richard.
QUEST: Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota. We'll let you get out of the thunderstorm, which sounds quite sharp and violent. Thank you, sir.
And in just a moment, the decision about banning Donald Trump from Facebook, we'll be talking to Carole Cadwalladr, she founded an independent
Oversight Board, not the formal Oversight Board, but an independent one into Facebook policies.
Does she support what happened? In a moment.
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in just a moment. A member of the group that call itself the real Facebook oversight
board will be with me to respond to today's decision on Donald Trump and the Euro group president Paschal Donohoe is with me. I'll be talking to
him, as Europe hopes to turn its economy around.
Before any of it. I need to update you with the news because this is CNN and here the news and the facts always come first.
The Biden administration says it would support easing patent rules on coronavirus vaccines. U.S. Trade Representative says that it's taking that
stance in order to help end the pandemic. Drug companies are fiercely opposed easing the PAP rules. Shares in Moderna are off more than five
percent on the news.
India's Foreign Minister attended this -- attending this week's G7 meetings from his hotel. A virtual session after some members of his traveling party
tested positive for the virus. G7 foreign ministers are in London this week, where they discussed India's coronavirus outbreak, amongst other
In Pakistan, Thousands of people have ignored federal ban on mass gatherings to attend a religious procession in Quetta. Many people in the
dense crowd were not wearing masks. COVID cases are on the rise in Pakistan amid a small fraction of the population has been vaccinated.
Israel's opposition leader has been tasked with forming a new coalition government now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has missed his
deadline to do so. The country's president has given Yair Lapid four weeks to put together a majority in Parliament. If he fails, Israel could face
yet another election this summer.
Let's head to our top story and the fate of Donald Trump and his permanent ban on Facebook. The Facebook official oversight board says the company
can't punt every decision its way. Speaking to me on this program, the board's head of communications said it's Facebook's responsibility to act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEX HUNTER-TORRICKE, HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS, FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD: The board was asked the question which was is Facebook's indefinite suspension
appropriate? We've told them clearly it's not. Facebook has a responsibility to act here, right? They can't simply offload their hard
problems to the board or anyone else that as a company which makes the rules and builds the technology.
They have a responsibility to act first and to act fast. We've told them to go back and make another decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: An independent group that calls itself the real Facebook oversight board says the official one is trying to have it both ways. Its cofounders
Carole Cadwalladr, she joins me now from London via Skype. Carole, it is good to see you. The -- they say no, no, we're not having it both ways. You
know, Facebook has its job to do, we have ours. We've -- you just heard the disposal say there.
The indefinite ban is inappropriate. And now Facebook needs to come up with proper policies upon which you can justify such a decision.
CAROLE CADWALLADR, CO-FOUNDER, REAL FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD (via Skype): Well, Richard, thanks ever so much for having me. I mean -- I mean, it's
just -- I kind of -- I can't -- it's sort of a total farce isn't said.
I mean, what we're seeing here is sort of political theater really playing out and that Facebook has said, right, we're setting up this body. We don't
want to make these decisions. We're going to hand over our very hard decision to it so that somebody else takes responsibility for it.
And then this board which it's set up is created, it's funded, it's picked all the people on it, it set the terms of reference, it's turned around and
said, no, actually, it's your problem, Facebook.
CADWALLADR: So, is this kind of beloved -- bizarre game of tennis going on? But it's really, you know, I think the casualty here is actually what
Facebook is doing in the rest of the world, the harms, which are being perpetrated on its platform right now, whilst this kind of P.R. spectacle
QUEST: Well, no. Hang on a second, Carole. Carole, you say this P.R. spectacle, but surely what's playing out is policy being made. Now, you can
argue whether it's in transparency or not, but what the board has decided and sent back to Facebook to come up with a policy that over the long term
can be used as a yardstick?
CADWALLADR: Well, the thing is that Facebook has policies already and Donald Trump is clearly in breach of them. I mean, I -- that couldn't be
more simple and straightforward. And Facebook is a private company, this idea about first amendment rights is ridiculous. It has terms of Service,
it's up to it to, you know, it made those terms, it's up to it to enforce them. The idea that it has to spend 130 million, buying up these really
eminent legal law professors and so on to adjudicate on this is just a red herring. And --
QUEST: But aren't you -- hand on. Aren't you trying to have it both ways, Carole, at one level? Let me put it this way. On the one hand, you've just
told me that Facebook is a private company and can do what it likes. But on the other hand, you're one of those who say look, Facebook is an incredibly
important institution that does have an effect in society. And we can't leave it to Facebook just to go it's own away.
CADWALLADR: Exactly. We absolutely can't. This is a company which has far, far, far too much power. But the answer to that is not setting up a pseudo
judicial, not independent body, which has been formulated by Facebook, that is not the answer. The answer is to break it up. The answer is antitrust
legislation. The answer is for it to be a significantly less powerful company in the world. And that is what this body has no way of doing.
And it has no way of even -- it has no way of interrogating even really basic things. But what are Facebook's algorithms and what were they doing
to Donald Trump's posts? And what was really significant was that Facebook wouldn't even answer the questions which this body that it set up, asked
it. I mean, and this is -- this is I mean, I think -- I think, you know, if not -- that's -- it's in -- I mean, no way -- I mean, no way criticizing
any of the individuals on this board.
And in many ways, I think it was a really clever response. But it does turn the tables back onto Facebook, which is really important. But as I say,
this sort of distraction device which does not go to the heart or the nub of what the real, real harms and dangers of Facebook are right now.
QUEST: Carole, I love it to have you on the program. The one thing -- I think of one thing we can both agree we will talk more about this. You'll
help us understand it. Carole joining us from London. Good night.
CADWALLADR: Thanks, Richard.
QUEST: Thank you. Now Europe is stuck in a double dip recession. It's vaccine rollout. Maybe the only way out. I'll speak to the head of the
Eurogroup after this break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. Good evening to you.
QUEST: You know if your market rebounded from Tuesday's losses, the way the numbers are looking the footsie actually was above 7000. It's the first
time it's been over 7000 since April, mid-April. The DAX up two percent, not quite recovering from yesterday's tech sell off but still an impressive
performance. And there are signs -- new signs, welcome signs that the eurozone growth is taking place.
The final composite PMI. Not a number, we're not often talked about in any great detail, but it did take up to 53.8 and that means manufacturing has
now expanded for two months in a row. It shows the private sector growing at its fastest pace since last July. Even though Europe officially fell
into recession during Q1 a double dip. Paschal Donohoe is the Eurogroup president and Ireland's finance minister. He joins me now from Dublin.
Minister, before we get into the Eurogroup and the eurozone economics. Tonight, the White House has said it does support the lifting of the waiver
for the patents on vaccine which of course has been opposed by pharmaceuticals. What's your position? What's the position of the Irish
government? Do you support a waiver so that the vaccine patent can be lifted?
PASCHAL DONOHOE, EUROGROUP PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Richard, and it's great to be on your program. Up to this point, the view of the European Union and
the Irish government has supported this year is that what we have to do is rapidly increase the global supply of vaccines.
In order to rapidly increase the global supply. It is important to allow innovation, an innovation to take place in which a degree of reward does go
back to the company to the people who do the innovation.
And what we have supported is the proposal that has come forward from the WTO to look at how that technology can be shared to licensing agreements.
But obviously this is an important intervention from the American government earlier on today.
I'm sure it will be discussed within the WTO and the European Union and our -- the Irish government will engage on us because the key thing we have to
do is share this vaccine all over the world because none of us are safe and everybody is safe.
QUEST: Turning to the economy, the double dip that took place arguably technical perhaps in nature, in the sense of it will be reversed. But I
wonder that the fundamental strength of the eurozone economy to recover and reach potential, it's inextricably linked to vaccines and to policy, what
more needs to be done?
DONOHOE: Well, your analysis is very fair, it is linked to where we are with vaccines and it is a link to where we are with economic policy. And
the fundamentals are strong with regard to both of those. From a vaccine point of view, 25 percent of the population of the European Union has now
That figure will grow to 70 percent by the summer. And from an economic policy point of view we are seeing government by government across the
European Union strengthen their economic response or extends in response to the development of the disease.
And then we have the recovery and resilience fund coming in the second half of this year, which is the big E.U.-wide response to invest in our future.
I believe the significance of the double dip recession has been over status. And I believe as we go through the year, you'll see the growth
forecasts for the euro area and the European Union begin to strengthen.
QUEST: Minister, you're sort of -- you're new into this new role. Besides vaccines, besides all the other things that you've got to deal with, in
terms of the crisis to draw. During your time, as you're a group president, what's the one thing you see as being your number one priority away from
pandemic recovery and those other things. The bigger issue that you have to deal with?
DONOHOE: Well, the bigger issue which is linked to where we are with the pandemic because there's little in the future of our economy, so and the
future of our societies that isn't linked to the pandemic at the moment has been the crafting of a budget policy within the euro area that is right for
the European Union and will allow our recovery to take place both economically and for our societies.
We've put a huge amount of work over the last year into maintaining consensus on what the right budget policy is for the euro area. This has
been hugely important in maintaining the right level of economic support during the pandemic.
And what we have to look to now is the future of that budgetary policy, and how we can craft a budgetary policy that gets the balance right, between
leading our societies out of this economic crisis and then getting ourselves to a more sustainable place in the future. And that is the work
of the next part of my mandate as president of the Eurogroup.
QUEST: And we'll talk hopefully, sir, as we have with your predecessors, many times over the course of your mandate and we're treating the pleasure
to surge over the next few years. Thank you, sir. Now --
DONOHOE: Thank you.
QUEST: The British supermarket chain Tesco says it will offer more healthy food options in response to shareholder pressure. Its chairman of Tesco is
about Britain's reopening is also part of the COVID recovery commission. The chair of that after the break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS Good evening to
QUEST: The British supermarket group Tesco says it will increase its selection of healthy foods in response to shareholder demands. It was a
landmark shareholder resolution, the first based around the question of health of the U.K. listed company.
It was filed before Tesco made the call. The supermarkets spend more than $70 billion boosting healthier eating options. John Allan is the chairman
of Tesco and chairman of the COVID recovery commission.
He joins me now from London. John, the -- you sort of -- you did the deed before they actually went all the way, didn't you? In the sense of the --
you decided to you to increase the healthy options. So there was no need. And the protest group was withdrawn. What was the deciding factor?
JOHN ALLAN, CHAIRMAN, TESCO: Well, this is a strategy we've been pursuing for several years, Richard. And by the way, it's a pleasure to be on your
show. When share action table this solution, we met them, we explained what we were doing, how serious our commitments were. And, you know, after a
certain amount of dialogue, they went off and thought about it and decided to withdraw their resolution.
They're now very supportive of what we're trying to do. And we're delighted that they've made that to public.
QUEST: Turning to your work as with the commission, with the COVID recovery commission. Two long papers have been produced. It's a very eminent group
of U.K. leaders. Is anybody listening to you?
ALLAN: Well, we think so. We've been at work for nine months, we published our final report, third report last week. If we call, we've called it
really a national prosperity plan, because that's what we think the country needs. And it's been very well received, both by government and by
Now, we don't expect anyone to literally take up every recommendation we've made. We will be disappointed if some of the recommendations we've made are
not incorporated in the plans of government going forward. I'm pretty optimistic about that.
QUEST: Reopening is about to take place in the U.K. over the next few weeks. And if all goes according to plan, it'll be a good summer all
around. Now with both hats on, with the Tesco hat because you've got 27 percent of the high street. And with your commission hat on, what do you
think is the one thing that needs to happen during reopening? Where does the focus need to be?
ALLAN: Well, I think the challenge is not reopening, I think the economy will get a bounce from reopening on a broad basis, people have been saving
money, they're going to come out and spend it. The real challenge, I think, is to get our economy pointed in the right direction for the next decade,
the next 10 to 15 years.
And that's what the COVID recovery commission focused on. Not short-term stimulus but a long-term prosperity plan to not only grow the economy, but
also to ensure that the fruits of that growth were spread a bit more evenly across the population because one of the sad facts of COVID is that
inequality has increased quite dramatically.
QUEST: Can the -- can that goal be reached as long as the remaining trade difficulties exists, because of Brexit? Whether it's sending things across
the RSC or buying things from Europe, and from the E.U. into the U.K. It's almost become a dirty secret that nobody talks about in any great detail.
But exporters, importers are still having tremendous difficulties.
ALLAN: Well, they are and we hope those difficulties will be -- will be worked out. But they will not impede I think our national ability to
implement this sort of plan if there is the will to do so. There's much of what we need to do can be done and should be done actually within the U.K.
And if I can give you an example, there's an extraordinary consensus about the need to get to net zero.
And getting to net zero could be enormously beneficial to the economy and stimulate thousands of businesses to be formed, tens of thousands of jobs.
And these -- and to create skills and products that are exportable as well. So I'm optimistic. I mean, Brexit is a short term -- is creating short term
hassle for a number of businesses. It's not, I think, a long-term threat.
QUEST: And finally, briefly, the refurb scandal over the Prime Minister's flat, look, I'm not asking your views on who's right or wrong. But I am
asking, is it -- as it got legs, is it -- is it damaging? Are you concerned about it?
ALLAN: Well look, I think you need to talk to your political counterparts about that. I think he's mildly amusing for quite a lot of the U.K.
population, but people are focused on much more important long-term issues.
QUEST: You're quite right. John Allan. Lovely to have you with us. Thank you, sir. As they -- as we move -- as we move forward throughout the course
of the year, we'd hope to talk to you again about these bigger issues of things like the commission and Tesco. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
Now, the last few minutes of Wall Street, the Dow is trying to hold on to those triple -- well, there it's gone. Sorry. I had -- I started reading
before I saw the number. If I'd seen the number, I wouldn't have set it. The triple stack shows the S&P is far slightly, the NASDAQ has slipped into
the red. So it's three days down for the NASDAQ but by no means anything like the horror of yesterday. But the two major blue chips are both high.
QUEST: Down Chevron now once again at the top of the Dow. J&J shares a slightly lower, obviously on the Biden administration just announced its
supports waivers for vaccine patents. And that's downward pressure on. And Boeing is also down. Boeing is also around 2-1/2 percent, 737 problems all
sorts of issues are on. Now that's the way the markets are looking at the moment.
Banks are doing well today. Goldman is up. JPMorgan, American Express, Travelers, all the financials are doing well. But I think you get the best
mood of the day when Verizon is slap bang wall up in the middle, half up, half down. When you get a bellwether like horizon where it is, it tells you
all you need to know. We will have a profitable moment after the short break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment, the United States tonight giving its heft to the idea of waiving the vaccine patents. And that has great
implications because of course, the U.S. is home to Pfizer and to Johnson & Johnson. And the U.S. lending its support to lifting the waiver on the
patents could be the push needed to get the WTO at its meeting to allow for the trade restrictions and protocols.
The trips, as it's known, passed forward. It's been done before. It was done in the 1980s and 90s with HIV medications during the worst of the HIV
crisis, when certain countries in Africa and in Central and Latin America did override patterns, but it's a risky one. Now the pharmaceutical
companies say if you override our patents, then it removes the risk -- it removes our ability to worry about whether we're going to make money on
And worse, it creates a precedent so that every time there's a crisis, somebody will want to remove our patterns. They also say it will make no
difference that it won't increase production. Because there are other ways that you can increase vaccine production without raising the patents. But
I'm afraid it's not an argument that will find favor for one simple reason. There's a crisis that's global, and people are dying.
And to some extent they're dying in more immediate numbers than they did in HIV. And the crisis is more on our doorstep. And so, I think the waiver
will go through and the pharmaceutical companies will put it in a box and claim that's just what happened. It's a one off and not to be repeated. And
that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York.
QUEST: Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, ah, the bell is ringing. I do hope it's profitable. The Dow is up just (ph) --