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China, Electric Vehicles and More at the DealBook Online Summit

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Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, said it was time for America to guarantee paid family leave for all workers. She said she had been calling members of Congress to press the issue, which may be part of President Biden’s sweeping climate and social policy spending bill. “It is not just about the mom,” she said. “It takes strong men, modern men, to really understand they benefit from it as well.”

Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, who joined Meghan virtually at the summit (pictured above), discussed the limitations of diversity efforts in the workplace. “The No. 1 beneficiary of diversity initiatives in this country has been white women,” Hobson said. “I think the problem is that there is this scenario that is created, and it is a zero-sum game — and it is not.”

The actor and author Matthew McConaughey may or may not be running for governor of Texas, he said. He isn’t sure he is the person for the job, despite riding high in the polls, but he is examining his “mind, heart and spirit” as he considers it. McConaughey said he knows what he is for and against — opportunities over obligations, choice over legislation and joy over happiness.

He also said he was wary of coronavirus vaccine mandates for children 5 to 11. The actor is vaccinated, as are his wife, mother and older child, but he said he would wait to inoculate his two younger children, who recently became eligible for shots. “I couldn’t mandate having to vaccinate the younger kids,” he said. “I still want to find out more information.” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. surgeon general, later weighed in, telling CNN that the vaccines are effective and “remarkably safe” for young children.

Albert Bourla, the C.E.O. of Pfizer, said that for a certain share of the population, the push to overcome vaccine hesitancy may never be won. “They are wrong, and I would urge them to get the vaccine,” he said, but “it’s very hard to change their mind.”

That’s why Bourla says he believes that antiviral drugs, like Pfizer’s Paxlovid, could be a “game changer.” Pfizer’s trial data showed that its pill not only reduces deaths but also cuts how many people end up in the hospital. He rebutted criticism that antivirals, which can cost about $700 per treatment, are a more expensive way to combat the coronavirus than vaccines (and therefore more profitable for drug companies). A course of antivirals is still less expensive to health care systems than someone going to the hospital, Bourla said.

Ken Chenault, formerly of American Express, and Ken Frazier, previously of Merck, said their efforts to organize their fellow business leaders against state voting-rights bills was a moral duty. “It was not a hard decision” to take, Chenault said. He called the legislation, which critics said would limit the ability of historically marginalized communities to vote, “a fundamental assault on our democracy.”

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