How will we deal with the next pandemic?

While most of the world is still grappling with COVID, some countries — mostly wealthy ones with early access to vaccines — are thinking about preparing for the next pandemic. This sentiment ties into a wider debate about health security that was missing when the virus hit us all early last year.

Indeed, we should aspire to ensure the health security of our population instead of waiting for it to get sick, Flagship Pioneering CEO Noubar Afeyan said on June 9, during a live discussion, Stronger Partnerships for a Healthier World: Mutually Assured Protection — the second in GZERO Media's two-part discussion, Beyond the Pandemic: A Radical New Approach to Health Security, presented in partnership with Flagship Pioneering.


That'll only be possible with a level of global cooperation that remains absent even during the current pandemic, noted Eurasia Group and GZERO Media President Ian Bremmer. Right now, we seem to have learned nothing from COVID, he explained, citing the example of the US, which is more interested in investing on the tech that's on your smartphone to compete with China than in a system to help keep Americans safe from the next virus.

Also, it's too early to really talk about a global recovery when COVID is still ravaging so many parts of the world. For IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, "a two-track pandemic means a two-track recovery" which will hold the entire planet back for years. She called for all countries to focus on vaccines as the cornerstone of their economic policies, and for rich nations to realize that helping poor ones recover is in their economic interest.

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock said that this week's G7 meeting comes at the perfect time for the world's wealthiest democracies, alongside a few like-minded friends, to make strong commitments on procuring vaccines for low-income nations and donating those they don't need right now. That's fine, but "don't commit to what you cannot achieve," remarked Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor at the University of Global Health Equity, who called out rich countries and multilateral organizations like the IMF for often not walking the talk on their pledges to the developing world.

Meanwhile, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel underscored that his goal is to end the pandemic in 2022, not later, and the best hope for that to happen is for governments to help vaccine makers get hold of scarce raw materials instead of demanding patent waivers. It was capital markets and not governments, he added, that Moderna got the money from to conduct the research into mRNA technology to develop COVID jabs in record time.

Other key moments of the program:

  • US Navy Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) on the importance of using military forces to deploy soft power, for instance on vaccine distribution logistics.
  • President of Global Policy & Advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Gargee Ghosh on how even enemy governments can collaborate on health, like the US and the Soviet Union did on a smallpox vaccine at the height of the Cold War.
  • Geoff Martha, chairman and CEO of Medtronic, on whether or not we should nationalize certain parts of global supply chains to better deal with the next public health crisis.
  • Procter & Gamble President of Global Home Care Sundar Raman on how experience in corporate partnerships applies to health security.
  • Junaid Bajwa, chief medical scientist at Microsoft, on the looming shortage of doctors and other medical professionals that'll severely impact our capacity to respond to a public health crisis like a pandemic 10 years from now.
  • Nestlé Health Service CEO Greg Behar on why we need a three-pronged — regulatory, government, and tech — proactive approach on health security partnerships.
  • Amitabh Chandra, Director of Health Policy Research at the Harvard Kennedy School, on imagining a "parallel universe" in which Pfizer and Moderna had started developing COVID vaccines when the pandemic started, and why vaccine patent waivers are a "death sentence."

The first day of the series on June 8, Beyond the Pandemic: A Radical New Approach to Health Security, discussed what we could learn from COVID to prevent the next pandemic.

Learning from COVID to Prevent the Next Pandemic | GZERO Media Live youtu.be

This 2-day event was produced by GZERO Media in partnership with Flagship Pioneering. We thank our event partners, Partnership for a Healthier America and Medtronic.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, shut out from COVAX because of payment problems.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

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In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cyber issues took center stage at the G7 summit. Is there a consensus among world leaders on how to handle cyberweapons?

Well, depending on who is included, there is a growing consensus that the escalations of conflict in cyberspace must stop. And G7 leaders that are now all representing democracies did call on Russia to hold perpetrators of cybercrime that operate from within its borders to account. So, I guess hope dies last because laws in Russia prevents the extradition of suspects to the US, even if Vladimir Putin answered positively when Joe Biden asked for cooperation on that front. And when it comes to limiting the spread of tools that are used for hacking, surveillance and infiltration, the EU has just moved ahead and adopted new dual use regulations which reflect the concerns for human rights violations when journalists are targeted the way that Jamal Khashoggi was. So ending the proliferation of systems that are used to attack would be an urgent but also obvious step for democratic nations to agree on.

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