Former UK PM Gordon Brown on the Extraordinary COVID Response We Need
By Elizabeth Njambi
Max and Nabil welcome former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Oxfam EQUALS podcast for an incisive interview.
The pandemic is far from over. Vaccine inequality rages on. We ask Gordon what he would do if he was leading the G20 today – and how to rally the world’s leaders to act, as he did in response to the global financial crash.
Gordon Brown is the World Health Organization’s Ambassador for Global Health Financing, and a member of Club de Madrid forum – the world’s largest forum of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers.
[0:13] Max: Welcome, everyone. This is EQUALS. And this is Max.
[0:17] Nabil: Welcome everyone to EQUALS. This is Nabil. Today we interview the leader who probably more than any other in our time, knows how to get the world's most powerful countries together to act in a crisis. It's a great honour to speak to Gordon Brown, the former UK Prime Minister, who today is trying to get the world's leaders to respond in the way they really need to, to this extraordinary pandemic.
[0:37] Max: Yeah, it was a fantastic opportunity to interview Gordon. He's been a hero of mine for a long time. My first big campaigning was around cancelling debt back in the early 2000s and he was such a driving force behind that. (He) made such a difference to so many countries. (Jokingly) I'm not sure if you remember that, Nabil. It was around about 2005 ...it was like a big campaign. Do you remember?
[1:03] Nabil: (Laughs) Gordon Brown's premiership and his Chancellorship, was obviously very memorable. I think I was probably just finishing sixth form at school around 2005.
[1:12] Max: You don't remember it, do you?
Is the Pandemic Over?
[1:13] Nabil: But yeah, let's not play the old age game here (chuckles). But Max, it does strike me going into this interview, that there's a sense, isn't there, in many parts of the world that this crisis is over, but it's really not?
[1:27] Max: Yeah, and you can understand that, you know, in rich countries where people have got triple boosted and desperate to move on, that they want to talk about the pandemic being over. But it could not be further from the truth because it's so infectious, Omicron, that they reckon ... half of humanity, over 3 billion people are going to get sick by the end of March. So, although it's quite mild, the sheer number of cases and the sheer number of deaths – because so many people are going to get it – this thing is not over. And for most people in developing countries who are lucky if they've got even one vaccine, this is a really scary moment. So yeah, we need to do everything we can to fight this pandemic.
[2:09] Nabil: Absolutely. And this is our chance to talk about what's needed with Gordon Brown, but also to really deep dive into the politics of the response. And I do think Max, it says a lot about despite Gordon Brown's achievements, he's not waltzing the banks of the world, is he today, to make millions of dollars, but instead going flat out to get vaccines to the poorest people in the world. We know him for being the former UK Prime Minister. Today he's also the World Health Organization's Ambassador for Global Health Financing. We'll hear about that in the interview. He's a member of Club de Madrid, which is the biggest forum of democratically elected former heads of state and government. They're putting a huge amount of effort behind strengthening democracy pushing for fairness on issues like this of the vaccines.
EQUALS – Hope and Inequality
[2:48] Max: Yeah, Club de Madrid are amazing, fantastic ally, and particularly on the people's vaccine. And it's such a privilege to do this podcast. To do EQUALS and be able to speak to these amazing people. EQUALS is a podcast about hope, and about the fight against inequality. I'm really excited about this interview.
[3:07] Nabil: You're selling it well, Max, and friends out there if this is your first time tuning into EQUALS, please do subscribe. Do listen to our past episodes. We've had an array of great guests from bestselling authors like Anand Giridharadas, asking him if we should abolish billionaires; to the leading Indian thinker, Jayati Ghosh, on feminist economics; to musicians like PilAto, who are inspiring social movements across Africa.
[3:29] Max: Yeah, we really have got it covered. We've had activists on the show, risking their lives on the frontline; getting shot; taking on police violence, all the way through to the Head of the IMF, talking about her childhood growing up in the former Soviet Union. So really, really interesting. And also, all mercifully short at 30 minutes, thanks to our amazing producer, Elizabeth. So do leave us a review, do have a listen. And I think perhaps we should stop plugging now and maybe get on with the interview. What do you think?
[4:01] Nabil: Let's do that. Let's do that.
Alerting the World’s Conscience
[4:09] Max: Gordon, welcome to EQUALS. …
[4:39] Gordon Brown: Thank you. And thank you for the work that Oxfam does and that Club de Madrid does. I think the important issue today is that people have become complacent about COVID; that the global funds are running out of money and that vaccine equity is not narrowing. It's actually getting worse - inequity. I think we've got to focus on these issues to alert the conscience of the world to them.
What would You Do if You were Leading the G20 Today?
[5:05] Nabil: Thank you, Gordon. And we remember well as Prime Minister when you led the G20, and the global response to the financial crash, and here we are a decade later facing this crisis, a very present crisis of enormous proportions. Say you were leading the G20 today from 10 Downing Street. What would be your priority?
[5:24] Gordon Brown: To bring it together to deal urgently with the problems that we face; to coordinate activity on the part of the richest countries to make sure that we dealt with this really terrible issue that's going to haunt us for decades to come: That when the moment came, when we had a vaccine, we decided that the richest countries would vaccinate themselves, and so 75% of adults are vaccinated in the richest countries. And that we failed to vaccinate Africa. ... around 11% vaccinated; in low-income countries (only) 5% vaccinated. Countries like Nigeria are at 2%. Like DRC, Burundi 1%. And the scale of this inequality is so great, that I'm not sure that the world will ever forgive us for failing to deliver the equity and vaccine distribution that should be possible.
You've got to remember ... 12 billion vaccines have been manufactured. And that's enough to vaccinate every adult in the world twice over. But your chances of being vaccinated in a poor country are 100 times less than your chances of being vaccinated in a rich country. And when it comes to testing, you have exactly the same problem.
So what I'd be doing is bringing the world leaders together and saying that it was actually in our enlightened self interest to take action on this because we would prevent the disease spreading and prevent new variants developing if we help vaccinate the rest of the world. But it's also a moral issue. It's about our duties and our obligations to the poorest people . And (it’s about doing) justice in the way we had to deal with debt relief, and then deal with the global financial crisis by taking extraordinary measures to try to overcome these challenges. We have to do this even now.
And my fear is that there's a complacency developing, which is not justified by the number of cases, which are growing very fast. And we've seen about 100 million cases in the last five or six weeks. And that we are not reckoning on what I think people will understand when they think about it is going to be the biggest problem that new variants will emerge. We don't know whether they'll be more lethal or less lethal. So we've got to be prepared for them being more lethal. And we failed to build the infrastructure that is necessary so far, to prevent disease spreading, and to make sure that we give people the best chance of surviving this pandemic.
[7:40] Max: I would completely agree. I mean, our allies around the world, they're all saying that, you know, if anything, Omicron is shaping up to be the deadliest variant in terms of the sheer number of cases and particularly amongst the unvaccinated. Can I just ask you Gordon, particularly on the issue of financing and financing the global response? I mean, if you brought the G20 together, and they're acting in concert, what money do we need and who needs the money right now, to deliver vaccine equity?
[8:08] Gordon Brown: Well we need immediate money to go to ACT-A which is the coordinating organization for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. They are calling for 16 billion dollars urgently, and that's to fund Gavi, the vaccine fund. It's also to fund the Global Fund for Health, which is getting diagnostics and therapeutics out to people. It's also of course, the fund the WHO itself, the World Health Organization. And what I'd be saying to these countries is we've got to agree a burden sharing formula that is fair to every country, but means that the richest countries will pay more because they've got the capacity to pay more. And when we fund United Nations peacekeeping, we do it on a basis of assessed contributions. And so the wealthiest and the most powerful countries pay most. When we fund the IMF and the World Bank, the two global international financial institutions, we do it on the basis of quarters. So countries have a quarter that is set based on their income, but also based on their country's capacity as an economy. When we fund some of the World Health Organization, the first billion is done by assessed contributions, but it's not the rest, and therefore, they're totally dependent on voluntary contributions, which is unfair. In the 1960s, when we tried to eliminate smallpox, what I think some people forget, is that was done on the basis of a burden sharing formula where each country was asked to pay a certain amount based on its capacity to pay and its wealth. And that funded the first phase of the latter stages of the smallpox. They didn't get enough in but Sweden and other countries but particularly Sweden gave money to do the last mile, so to speak. So there is a history of burden sharing, but it is not applying at the moment in the crisis that we're dealing with. And therefore, Norway and South Africa have asked people to fund the 16 billion on the basis that the European Union would pay about 25%, America just over 25%, the rest of the G20. And the oil Gulf States would pay their share, and we'd reach the 16 billion. Now, very few countries have actually signed up to this burden sharing formula. About six paid it last year. And it's time to remind them that unless this money comes in - and the quickest and best way to do it is by sharing the burden fairly on this basis - we will not be able to fund the next stage of vaccinations, we will not be able to fund the treatments, we will not be able to fund the testing and will not be able to fund even the medical oxygen and the PPE, the equipment that is needed - aprons and everything else - by nurses and doctors. All this has got to be funded over the next few months. And we're well into the financial year for Act-A. And still only 600 million has been raised. And we have got to raise 16 billion. And that's a huge sum of money that has got to be raised almost in the next few weeks. In addition, we've got to raise money for capacity building to enable countries to actually have the in-house capacity to be able to administer vaccines and to be able to run a healthcare system. And at the same time, we've got to invest a lot in pandemic preparedness, so that we're not left as we were at the beginning, without the reserves or supplies or without the infrastructure to deal with a future pandemic. Now, all these things have got to be done. And that's why funding is a huge issue. And it's the main issue that we've got to address in the next few weeks. If we're going to deal with a vaccine and other inequities that exist, we need money to overcome these problems.
[11:37] Max: 16 billion is a lot of money. But also, if we can compare that to some of the other fiscal responses from rich nations, I mean, it's dwarfed and also the economic cost of this pandemic. So, it seems so obvious that rich countries should come up with this money because it's so inefficient, this continuing vaccine inequality, even for their economies surely.
[11:59] Gordon Brown: Well, it's an ethical issue. And it's an epidemiological issue, that rich countries who probably will lose about 5 trillion according to the IMF in the next five years if we don't deal with these problems, are being asked to pay something that is 300 times less, which is 16 billion for this particular project. As I said there is more to be paid for global pandemic preparedness in the future and more to be paid for in-country infrastructure improvements in health care. But these are small summons compared with the loss of money as a result of the lack of trade; the loss of economic activity; the companies that have gone under; the jobs that have been lost; the people that have been made redundant. All these are massive economic costs that are being paid across the world. And it's very short sighted, to take up such a narrow view of your national self-interest that you only think that the thing you've got to do is vaccinate your own population. And you don't realize that nobody is safe until everybody is safe in every part of the world. Because otherwise, without you acting in the other parts of the world, the disease will continue to spread or mutate and will come back to haunt even the fully vaccinated who may feel safe, because they think they've been vaccinated in their own country but are not safe, as long as the disease can spread and mutate, and come back to hit and bite back even those countries where they have a big vaccination program.
[13:21] Nabil: Gordon, the presence of your leadership has been felt here in Africa. I'm joining you here from Nairobi in Kenya. And I wanted to just dive deeper into this issue of financing the most urgent issue - vaccines. The issues of financing and vaccine monopolies are closely connected, aren't they? And you've been a voice in challenging both. But you know, we've got companies like Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, they're dictating the pricing of vaccines making $1,000 profit a second. And they're also driving up the cost of vaccines, by some estimates, by 5 times. Are these companies, these big pharma monopolies, making your life harder to be able to fund this response?
[13:56] Gordon Brown: Well of course, we should have a patent waiver. I've been championing that for some time, as I know Oxfam has done. And of course, we need a transfer of technology to Africa. And look, what's happened to Africa is as bad as what happened under colonial rule, because Africa has been deprived of vaccines. But it's also been deprived of the ability to manufacture its own vaccines because they don't have the patents to do so. And then, as you know, in the summer months, it was unconscionable that the European Union was insisting on taking vaccines that were manufactured in South Africa and bringing them to the European Union at a time when the European Union was more than 60% vaccinated. I think they were asking African manufacturing facilities to provide for Europe when Africa was only 2% or 3% vaccinated and this was quite unconscionable and cannot be defended at all. So you need the technology transfer, you need to have licensing agreements of some sort, you need a patent waiver, which the WTO, the World Trade Organization, should have agreed a long time ago. And that is very important.
But I want to say that the most immediate issue of vaccinating the world cannot be solved this month or next month by the patient waiver. It's got to be solved by funding, vaccinations, testing, treatments, ventilators, PPE, medical oxygen that has got to get to countries and people as a matter of immediacy. So I'm dealing, as the World Health Organization is, with an immediate issue that people are dying now. And they're dying now, because we can't get this equipment to them, because we don't have the funding necessary to make that happen quickly enough. Now, the patent waiver can help us over the longer term, but it's not going to solve the problem now. We've got to solve the problem now and that requires proper funding. And that requires us to bridge this gap. You know, only 1% of vaccines have gone to low income countries. Only a half a percent of tests or testing equipment have gone to the low income countries of the world. And that's why of course, the vaccination rate in Burundi is 1%. And in Nigeria, it's 2%. And in Yemen, it's 1%, and so on and so forth. So we've got to solve these problems immediately and yes, we've got to deal with the patent waiver, and I continue to press for that. But we've got to get the funding in now.
[16:30] Nabil: Yeah, absolutely. Gordon, I really appreciate your framing there. And it feels all urgent. I can only imagine where we'd be today if the patent waiver was agreed when South Africa and India initially proposed it. But you mentioned the European Union here and, it's about them, and it's about other rich country governments. Can I just ask about this question of leadership from them. Leaders like Ursula von der Leyen. Originally she said a vaccine should be a global public good. Why has it been so hard to get these rich country leaders to overcome these monopolies, and to provide the necessary financing? What's gone wrong at the level of leadership?
[17:04] Gordon Brown: Well, I think the one thing that I’m pretty sure about is you can’t blame COVAX, the vaccine distributing organization. You can’t blame Act-A , because they've been trying to raise funds to coordinate the delivery of treatments and therapeutics and diagnostics. And you can't blame the World Health Organization, which has been trying against all the odds to get the funds that are necessary to do the work to save lives. What you've got to blame is the failure of the most powerful countries to come together to coordinate their activities. Because what's actually happened in the last few months. And this is why I've been urging the G20 to coordinate the work to get vaccines to people who need them, is that the richest countries had almost a monopoly of the original supply of vaccines. They - the G20 - got about 90% of the original vaccines. Even now, when they've vaccinated most of their populations, they've got about 70% of all the vaccines are still coming to the G20 countries. And that means that the other 175 countries are losing out. COVAX and Act-A can't really operate without these richer countries releasing their contracts for delivery and releasing the surplus vaccines. So we're in this terrible position where 60 million vaccines have already had to be destroyed in Canada, America, the UK and the European Union. Airfinity, which is a really good research organization on these matters, has said that 250 million vaccines may have to be destroyed by the Easter because they will pass the use-by date or they will be so near to the use-by date that it makes no sense to get them out to countries where it will take a week or two to get them to the people who need them. And so we're in this terrible situation where through the lack of coordination, and that is the lack of leadership, that we are not able to get the vaccines out to people quickly enough, even though 12 billion vaccines have been manufactured. And we're manufacturing at least a billion vaccines every month. And from a time when China, you know, we're responsible for the manufacturing of about 50% of the vaccines. It's now only 25%. So 75% of the vaccines have been manufacturing in countries where we have a strong relationship with them. India, it has got some of them because Europe and America are the biggest (manufacturers). And these are vaccines that we could properly coordinate and get out to the rest of the world. Now what's lacking is not the ability of COVAX and the other organizations to do it. What's lacking is both the funding and the coordination that is necessary to get it done.
[19:44] Max: Yeah, I mean, we would agree. We're looking at numbers again, from Airfinity, looking at, you know, the exports from Europe to Africa are vaccines and it's just, I would say criminally low. I mean just 1% of vaccines exported from Germany going to Africa. So we really need to see these kind of European-manufactured vaccines going to the right places surely, in the next few months. And I just don't quite understand why these leaders don't feel more pressure to do that. Gordon, given all you know, from all these years of working with so many world leaders, why does this current set of leaders feel so not up to the task that's in front of them? It just so frustrating.
[20:26] Gordon Brown: Since the vaccine summit that was held by President Biden, we've now had about a billion vaccines donated by America, Europe, and other countries, and China has got its own system of distributing its vaccine donations. So a billion vaccines have been provided. But clearly, when you've only got 5% of people in low income countries vaccinated, and only 11% of people in Africa vaccinated, it's simply not enough. And last year at the G7, they promised that they would vaccinate the world by the summer. And that was in the communique. It was also in what was stated by Boris Johnson. And they said they had elaborate plans to do so. And it's these plans that have not been delivered in the way that they should have been.
Look, every country's leaders are responsible to their national electorates. And they obviously will pursue their national self-interest. But only a narrow view of national self-interest leads you to vaccine nationalism and to medical protectionism. Because an enlightened view of self-interest would tell you that if you don't vaccinate the rest of the world, then people who are infected in Africa or in low income countries, as the disease spreads and mutates, these mutations will come back to hit you. So it's about countries seeing and having a more enlightened view of the self interest, as well as having some ethical obligation in my view, which is also essential for solidarity and for cooperation and for empathy with people in greatest needs. And what it needs is the leaders of the world to be persuaded that they've got to step up the activity.
I think what's happened in the last few weeks is that people have become complacent. Because Omicron has not seemed to be as lethal as Delta and previous variants. And people have thought that, if you like, it's nearly all over. In fact, the number of cases has risen dramatically. And the WHO are still predicting a high number of deaths over the course of the next year. And I think we've got to awaken the conscience of the world now to the fact that if we do not fund the global health initiatives that are now on the table, and lacking the funds, and therefore cannot do the things they want to do, then we will be ill prepared for the next variant. We will see us finding other people who are already vaccinated and may already have had COVID, getting COVID again. And of course, the other thing that is clear is we have not taken the time to build up the infrastructure. So we don't have the reserves of supplies that we need, if there was to be a future pandemic, or even a very serious variant emerging. And we need to invest in pandemic preparedness, as had been recommended by a series of reports to the World Health Organization (and) the G20. Now all these things have got to be done. But it needs a commitment and the will to do it that will provide both the funding and the energy to coordinate the world to get these things out to people who need them.
[23:38] Nabil: Gordon on that, and as a final question, we're going to kind of have to ask for a bit of a favor from you, for the inside track on how to convince these leaders to do the right thing. Now, you mentioned solidarity and awakening the conscience of the world. And you are a politician but also a lifelong campaigner for social justice. What's your advice, Gordon, if I may ask to all our listeners out there who are fighting for this people's vaccine, fighting for the financing? How can we win? How can we persuade leaders to do the right thing?
[24:09] Gordon Brown: Well, you will have your own ideas. And I've thought about this when I was writing this book, Seven Ways to Change the World, that was published a few months ago. And I take the view that social movements are really important. And those people who dismiss pressure group activity and a desire to change the world that comes from the grassroots are wrong. But I do think our social movements have got to see the big picture. And this is the big picture about lives being saved. And we've got to come together in these campaigns rather than fight individualistic campaigns. We've got to build on what's best in people. So we got to appeal to people's better instincts and better angels. As Abraham Lincoln would have said, "We've got to expose the lies". And it's very important that we get out there to expose the anti-vaxxers and what they're trying to tell people which is both risky and is causing lives to be put at risk. And we need to realize that social media does matter. So we've got to get our message across in all the different forums, not just on television or in newspapers, but through social media. So we need activists and campaigners to get these messages across.
But most of all, I think, and this is what's gone wrong in the last few years, we've got to give people hope. We've got to give people a sense that we can change things. You know, optimism is thinking that things can be done. Wishful thinking is thinking things might be done. But hope is actually a determination that things will be done. And I believe that hope is the greatest attribute that people who want to see change have because to persuade people, that there is a bridgehead of hope: that life can be different, that the world can be better, that people can change things by their activities, is really, really important. And if you look back at the great social movements of our times, and before, from the anti slavery movements, to women's rights movements, to colonial liberation movements, and you look at the movements of gay rights, and you look at all these campaigns for equality, whether it's for people who are disabled, or for other reasons, all these campaigns depend on persuading people, that if you can work for change, and hope that the world can be a better place, you can actually persuade people to join you and be part of that campaign. So I would stress the importance of organization, of course and education and agitation. But I will stress the importance of persuading people, that the world can be a better place through engendering hope in a better future.
[26:50] Max: What an amazing answer. Bridgehead of hope. I'm gonna remember that for a long time.
[26:55] Gordon Brown: Bridgehead of hope, by the way, is from Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, when he actually was a pessimist, and he actually said, but at least there is a bridgehead of hope. He said that ... the good and evil didn't run through countries or ideologies. It ran through the human heart. But in every human heart, there was a bridgehead of hope. So even a pessimist like Solzhenitsyn believed that there was something important to hope, so there you are.
[27:21] Nabil: Incredible.
[27:21] Max: Gordon, thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us today. We know you're an incredibly busy man. So we really appreciate it. And thank you so much.
[27:31] Nabil: Thank you so much, Gordon.
[27:32] Gordon Brown: Okay, guys, best of luck.
[27:41] Max: That was quite an incredible interview, wasn't it? I mean, my mind's a bit blown to be honest.
[27:46] Nabil: I just got a real sense of what leadership looks like. The clarity from Gordon, the urgency, the ability to bring together the immediate solutions - for example, the cash on the financing - as well as tackle those structural issues, on patents, for example. I also felt, you know, to be honest, what's missing in the world today at the level of leadership.
One thing I think we could have talked about a little bit more is, you know, dare I say, the villain, on this issue, Big Pharma. Their influence, their corporate power, their lobbying against the solutions that we need to get vaccines to the world. Despite 20 million people dead now, according to The Economist, we still have rich countries backing their monopolies. It's insane, isn't it?
[28:26] Max: It is insane. And I think pharmaceuticals are obscenely powerful in this story. But they have always been powerful. I mean, they were powerful at the time of the HIV/AIDS crisis. But yet you saw Republican President George Bush, overrule them and insist on generic medicines being used. So I think there is also this incredible inadequacy of leadership. The idea that Joe Biden, the most powerful man on earth, can't call up the head of Moderna, let alone Pfizer, and just tell them what to do, tell them to share that recipe with the world. I think that's appalling. And the Europeans are just as bad. I mean, hiding behind their monopolies. Hiding behind BioNTech. You know, the German Chancellor says he's a socialist, but he's more interested in corporate profits. So I do think there's a real crisis of leadership. And maybe, you know, neoliberalism is almost worse now than it was 20 years ago that they think that they have to put profit ahead of people's lives. 20 million lives lost! I mean, it's just staggering.
[29:30] Nabil: And I think that inability and that lack of leadership, that weak leadership is clear both in terms of standing up to corporate power, but also in terms of being able to just dig into their pockets for the money that's needed to finance this response. That came across very clearly in the interview as well.
[29:47] Max: I mean, honestly, the amounts we're talking about are kind of a rounding error for the richest economies. And, you know, contrast it with the financial crisis that Gordon Brown spent such an incredible amount of time leading on. We had these amazing national responses. You had the unthought-of at the time, amounts of money spent, for instance, here in the UK, supporting our economy. But these leaders led by him, they also found the space and the time to meet and talk about the global response and find additional money to support the poorest countries and recognizing that unless we were going to head into an economic depression, we had to act together. If you contrast that with now... I mean, no one can blame national leaders in the face of a pandemic for wanting to keep their own people safe. But what I blame them for is not having the imagination to look beyond their borders and come together and fix this problem for good. I mean, it's just a mistake and error of historic proportions, isn't it?
[30:49] Nabil: It really is and I really appreciate that Gordon left us with bit of advice on what we need to do. How to bring people together on this issue. But also, he left us with a bit of a dose of hope. Usually we ask each of our guests on EQUALS what gives them hope. We didn’t need to today.
[31:07] Max: Oh his answer on hope was amazing! I think it’s probably the best we’ve had over the years and truly inspiring. This idea from Solzhenitsyn that there is this good in everyone and we can do the right thing as humanity. But I mean, man, are we doing the wrong thing right now! We’re going to have to fight hard if we want to end this pandemic and address all the many other crises that humanity faces. It’s not going to be easy, is it?
[31:38] Nabil: No, it’s not. But we do have a movement. We have the People’s Vaccine Alliance. We have many others coming together on this issue.
Thank you everyone for joining us today for EQUALS. Please do subscribe. Please do share it with your friends. Leave us a good review. Thanks for joining!
[31:53] Max: Yeah, thanks everyone. See you next time!
If you’re joining us on EQUALS for the first time, tune in to our earlier interviews – from talking with the award-winning journalist Gary Younge on what we can learn from Martin Luther King Jr to fight inequality, to rebel feminist economist Jayati Ghosh, best-selling author Anand Giridharadas on whether we need billionaires, and the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva on what communism has to do with today’s pandemic.