AstraZeneca US trial; EU-Russia ties; Facebook's hate speech trouble

In today's episode, we discuss more setbacks for AstraZeneca as US health officials question the company’s vaccine trial results at a time it faces constant rebukes from the EU for production shortfalls, look at the 27-member blocs deteriorating relationship with Russia in light of Russian minister Sergei Lavrov’s comments stating that the country has no relationship with the EU, and explore a fresh lawsuit against Facebook in France over its hate speech policies.
Today on The Leaders' Brief -
  • In what could be a major setback for Anglo-Swedish firm, AstraZeneca, US health officials said last week that results from a US trial of company’s Covid-19 vaccine may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data. The US National Institute of Health has urged AstraZeneca to “review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.” Several countries in Europe had temporarily paused the administration of its vaccines over concerns of blood clot formations as a side-effect. However, after assurance from the European Medical Agency, most of the countries resumed administering the AstraZeneca shots. 

  • Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, recently stated that presently, the Kremlin does not have any relationship with the EU. The 27-member bloc has been at loggerheads with Russia since the arrest of kremlin critic Alexei Navalny leading to a flurry of sanctions against Russian officials. However, speaking at a press conference alongside his Chinese counterpart last week, Mr Lavrov said that Russia is still willing to resume cooperation with the EU if Brussels agrees. Notably, the development comes at a time the EU has found itself in a fresh conflict with Beijing, it’s largest trade partner for 2020, sanctioning several Chinese officials over the treatment of Uighur Muslims. 

  • US social media giant is facing a lawsuit in France for failing to provide a safe environment for users. Media advocacy group, Reporters Without Borders has sued the company accusing it of engaging in "deceptive commercial practices" by allowing disinformation and threats to flourish despite promising users that it will "exercise professional diligence" to create "a safe, secure and error-free environment. Presently, the lawsuit has been filed in France with RWB considering similar lawsuits in other countries.

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