Coronavirus Politics Daily: Macron warns EU, Brazil health minister sacked, Africa faces a tough trade-off

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Macron warns EU, Brazil health minister sacked, Africa faces a tough trade-off

Macron's stern warning to the EU: As coronavirus lockdowns push Europe towards its sharpest economic downturn since World War II, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that the EU has an important decision to make: It can unify and implement a bloc-wide economic response to the crisis, or prepare for the EU to crumble. Macron told the Financial Times that if Europe fails to agree on a common strategy for giving financial relief to hard hit countries like Italy, Spain, and France, it will end up fatally empowering Euroskeptic forces that are already hammering the EU's bumbling response to the economic crisis. But despite several attempts to broker a bloc-wide economic response to the crisis, the EU has so far come up short. Macron is pushing for a bloc-wide "rescue fund" that would provide economic relief based on countries' current needs, rather than the size of their economies – a proposal that Germany and the Netherlands have so far rebuffed. The French leader echoed the gloomy sentiment expressed by the Italian prime minister that the future of the EU project depends on the Union's willingness to cough up more cash – and fast.


Brazil health minister sacked: It was only a matter of time before Brazil's firebrand president Jair Bolsonaro, an avowed social distancing skeptic, fired his popular health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who has supported strong measures by Brazil's state governors to contain the expanding COVID-19 epidemic in Brazil. That time was Thursday afternoon, when Mandetta announced his own dismissal. Clashes over social distancing may not have been the only reason Mandetta was let go — the charismatic and politically savvy doctor-in-chief was surging in popularity polls, ringing up an approval rating of 76 percent against just 30 percent for Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly scoffed at the seriousness of COVID-19. In fact, more than 80 percent of Bolsonaro's own supporters approved of Mandetta's work. But that's all water over the dam now — the new health minister, sworn in Friday, is an oncologist with a business background named Nelson Teich. He has advocated an approach that pays greater attention to the economic implications of massive lockdowns. So far, Brazil has registered about 2,000 deaths, out of a population of 211 million. What happens to that trajectory next is largely in Teich's hands, with Bolsonaro at his back.

Africa faces a grim trade-off: African countries have so far avoided the worst of the coronavirus pandemic — they show some of the lowest COVID-19 death rates per 1,000 people in the world — but things could get soon get ugly. A new report from the UN warns that because of weak health systems, urban crowding, and the impossibility of social distancing for vast informal economies, as many as 3.3 million of the continent's 1.2 billion people could die of the disease unless stricter measures are taken to prevent its spread. If those measures are taken, the report says, it could save 3 million lives but here's the catch: they could also cost some 20 million jobs, plunging as many as 30 million people into poverty.

In a year unlike any other, Walmart made meaningful change by placing nature and humanity at the center of our business. We invested in our workforce by hiring more than 500,000 associates, including people displaced by the pandemic. And through education, training and upskilling, we promoted more than 300,000 U.S. associates to jobs with greater responsibility and higher pay. Read more in our 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance report.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here from sunny Nantucket and going to be here for a little bit. Thought we would talk about the latest on COVID. Certainly, we had hoped we'd be talking less about it at this point, at least in terms of the developed world. A combination of the transmissibility of Delta variant and the extraordinary misinformation around vaccines and COVID treatment means that we are not in the position that many certainly had hoped we would be today.

The United States is the biggest problem on this front. We are awash in vaccines. Operation Warp Speed was an enormous success. The best vaccines in the world, the most effective mRNA, the United States doing everything it can to get secure doses for the entire country quick, more quickly than any other major economy in the world, and now we're having a hard time convincing people to take them. The politics around this are nasty and as divided as the country, absolutely not what you want to see in response to a health crisis.

More Show less

If your country had suffered decades of crippling corruption, wouldn't you want to prosecute those responsible? Of course you would. On Sunday, almost 98 percent of Mexicans who voted in a national referendum on this subject said, in so many words: "Yes, please prosecute the last five presidents for corruption!"

The catch is that turnout was a dismal 7 percent, meaning the plebiscite fell way short of the 40 percent turnout threshold required for its result to be binding.

More Show less

The COVID delta variant — which first surfaced in India earlier this year — is spreading rampantly throughout every continent, and is now the most dominant strain globally. But low- and middle-income countries, particularly in regions where vaccines have been scarce, are bearing the brunt of the fallout from the more contagious strain. We take a look at the 10 countries now recording the highest number of daily COVID deaths (per 1 million people), and their corresponding vaccination rates.

China tackles delta: China is the latest country to express serious concern over the highly contagious delta variant, after recording 300 cases in 10 days. Authorities there are trying to trace some 70,000 people who may have attended a theatre in Zhangjiajie, a city in China's Hunan province, which is now thought to have been a delta hotspot. Making matters worse, a busy domestic travel season in China saw millions recently on the move to visit friends and family just as delta infections spiked in more than a dozen provinces. Authorities have enforced new travel restrictions in many places, including in central Hunan province, where more than 1.2 million people have been told to stay in their homes for three days while authorities roll out a mass testing scheme. The outbreak has reached Beijing, too, with authorities limiting entrance to the capital to "essential travelers" only. Indeed, the outbreak has raised fresh concerns about Chinese vaccines' protection against delta, though many experts say they are still at least 55 percent effective in preventing serious illness.

More Show less

It was a weird series of events. Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya took to Instagram to lament that her country's Olympic Committee had registered her for the 4x400 relay event at the eleventh hour (because a fellow participant had failed to pass drug screenings) despite not having trained.

More Show less

100: A scorching heat wave has caused more than 100 wildfires across Turkey's Mediterranean and Aegean coastline in recent days. Scientists say that dry conditions induced by climate change have helped spread the fires, which have already killed eight people and caused mass evacuations from tourist hotspots.

More Show less

Alcohol. It's a dangerous drug that has ruined countless lives and derailed many a global summit. But it's also humanity's oldest social lubricant, a magical elixir that can fuel diplomatic breakthroughs, well into the wee hours of the night. As Winston Churchill once quipped, "I've taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." On GZERO World, we take a deep dive down the bottle and examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Also: since alcohol isn't the only social drug, a look at the state of marijuana legalization across the US and around the world.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal