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GZERO Summit: Fighting COVID-19

Almost one year since the coronavirus upended the world, what's the current state of play on ending the pandemic, and what challenges we face towards vaccinating everyone in 2021.

Fortunately, as the virus has grown exponentially, so has science, Dr. Larry Brilliant, CEO of Pandefense and one of the world's most highly regarded epidemiologists, said during the panel discussion on fighting COVID-19 at the 2020 GZERO Summit in Japan.

Science, he explained, has accomplished the audacity of developing successful vaccines in record time. That's why he's optimistic about ending the pandemic next year in many parts of the world, even if the next 2-3 months will be very bad mainly in Western countries.

Part of the reason for his optimism is the great news about the efficacy of vaccines like the one developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech, which the UK started administering to its citizens on Tuesday.

For Angela Hwang, president of Pfizer's biopharmaceuticals group, developing the vaccine is just the start. Now enough people need to get vaccinated to achieve the herd immunity necessary to stop the virus in its tracks.

To build sufficient trust in the drug to achieve that goal, she said, everyone needs to be on board. It'll take not only the private and public sectors working together but all of society committed to making everyone understand that vaccines work, and that you must get inoculated at a moment of extreme resistance in some countries.

Also, mass vaccination means it must happen across the developing world at the same level as in developing countries. The world is just too interconnected to leave anyone behind, noted Gargee Ghosh, president for global advocacy and programs at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Even where many people are suspicious of vaccines, she added, ultimately the clear benefits of restarting economies will hopefully convince those who fear rolling up their arms.

Vaccinations likely won't be a problem in Japan, where Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister, in charge of economic revitalization, underscored how the majority of the population has heeded their advice to practice social distance, wear masks, stay at home and shut down businesses despite no mandatory orders to do so.

Watch the above video to learn more insights from our panelists.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

World Bank President David Malpass was as horrified at what he saw during the January 6th pro-Trump riots on the Capitol as millions of other Americans. But he was concerned for another reason as well: "From the standpoint of world development, it distracts attention at a time when we need to help countries actually develop and get beyond COVID and get back to growth path." He joined Ian Bremmer to talk about how the civil unrest on Washington was distracting from the urgent development work of the World Bank during a pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

14,000: Cash-strapped Venezuela has sent enough oxygen to fill 14,000 individual canisters to its more prosperous neighbor Brazil, which is suffering a shortage of oxygen supplies for COVID patients in hard-hit Amazonas state. In response, right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolás Maduro should be dispatching emergency supplies to needy Venezuelans.

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Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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