Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off and retooling to relaunch in a new format early 2024.

EP12: Left Jab (w/ Garth Mullins of CRACKDOWN)

As the pandemic drifts into its one-year anniversary, all eyes are on the end of the thing. Whenever that may be. Discovering, producing, and shipping vaccines is the big plank in the world’s plan to move beyond the coronavirus, but there’s more to it than that. We live in an era of distrust — of corporations, of governments, of experts, of science itself. We also live in an era of inequality. So, getting the vaccines out the door is one thing. Getting people to take them, including in communities that have traditionally been marginalized, is another.

But often these stories are told in a particular kind of way: distrustful people are dummies, and they simply have to be educated. If that doesn’t work, disciplined. We think that’s not going to work. Plus, it’s mostly punching down. Instead, Darts and Letters punches up. This episode looks at government miscommunication, political hypocrisy, journalistic obsequiousness, and industry profiteering. When you understand all that, distrust makes a lot more sense. But we still need that vaccine. So what to do about it?

  • First, (@14:24) Garth Mullins is the host of Crackdown, a podcast about the drug war covered by drug users (co-owned and produced by Cited Media, the parent company of Darts and Letters). He warns that there’s no real, clear vaccine plan that can  build trust  in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and with other marginalized communities. But Crackdown has some ideas. .
  • Then, (@38:32) Srinivas Murthy is a clinician with British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and Health Research Foundation of Innovative Medicines Canada Chair in Pandemic Preparedness Research. He takes us into the world of vaccine production and procurement, the public funding and private profit, and the inequities that this produces time and time again.
  • Finally, (@55:22) Linsey McGoey is Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex and a critic of Big Philanthropy. She argues that free gifts come at a cost — often a high cost. While the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation are reaping accolades for funding vaccine research, there’s far more to the matter than what you read in the headlines.


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Darts and Letters’ is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn, and our chase producer is Marc Apollonio. We had research and support from Addye Susnick, Polly Leger, and David Moscrop. We also had consulting from Professors Joel Lexchin and Sergio Sismundo. Our theme song was created by Mike Barber. Our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

This episode received support by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research, which provided us a research grant to look at the concept of “public intellectualism.” Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia is the lead academic advisor. It was also part of a wider project, with Cited Podcast, looking at the politics of pharmaceutical research and policy. Professors Joel Lexchin and Sergio Sismundo are the academic advisors on that project.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. It is also produced in Vancouver, BC, which is on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

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