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Hard Numbers: Moderna vaccine shines, RCEP inked, Israeli assassins strike in Iran, WHO gets some praise

On November 16, 2020, US biotech company Moderna announced a vaccine against COVID-19 that is 94.5% effective.

95: US drug company Moderna announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective at protecting against the disease. The news follows Pfizer's recent announcement that its own vaccine showed a 90 percent success rate. Cause for optimism to be sure, but the data are still preliminary and the logistics of distributing any successful vaccine remain daunting.

15: After almost a decade of negotiations, 15 countries in the Asia Pacific — including China — signed one of the world's largest free trade agreements, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Experts say that the pact, which covers 2.2 billion people, could help solidify China's role as the world's dominant economic power after the Trump administration pulled out of the rival Trans-Pacific Partnership in 2017.

2: Did Israel assassinate Al Qaeda's number two leader on the streets of Tehran? A New York Times exposé says Israeli agents on motorbikes, acting on US orders, ambushed Abu Muhammad al-Masri and his daughter in the Iranian capital this summer, killing them both. Iran's foreign ministry said the report amounted to a "Hollywood" story fabricated by the "Americans and Zionists."

63: While the World Health Organization (WHO) has been widely criticized for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, a median of 63 percent of adults from 14 countries still believe the WHO has done a "good job" dealing with the COVID crisis. While respondents from the US and UK gave the WHO the lowest rating amongst polled countries, Danes and Australians were the most upbeat.

Dating and debates, music festivals and dance classes, work and education – an increasing amount of our social interactions now take place online. With this shift to virtual venues, ensuring kindness and respect in everyday interactions and encounters is more important than ever.

The digital space has become a fundamental part of the national and international conversation, and has also, at times, become a breeding ground for bullying, trolling and hate speech. There is a clear need for more "digital good" to ensure that online encounters have a constructive impact on everyone involved. To learn more about digital good and what it means, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

As the global vaccination race heats up, the most populous country in the world is trying to do three very hard things at once.

India, grappling with the second highest confirmed COVID caseload in the world, recently embarked on what it called "the world's largest" coronavirus vaccination campaign, seeking to inoculate a sizable swath of its 1.4 billion people.

That alone would be a herculean challenge, but India is also making hundreds of millions of jabs as part of the global COVAX initiative to inoculate low-income countries. And as if those two things weren't enough, Delhi also wants to win hearts and minds by doling out millions more shots directly to other countries in its neighborhood.

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Millions of people leave their home countries each year, fleeing conflict or violence, seeking better work opportunities, or simply to be closer to family. What proportion of those people are women? In many of the countries that are home to the largest migrant populations, a majority, in fact. While many women leave home for the same reasons as men (social instability or economic opportunity) gender-based violence or persecution often play a special role in women's decisions to pick up stakes and move. Here's a look at the gender breakdown of some of the world's largest migrant populations.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

The Biden administration announced its first sanctions. How will it affect US-Russia relations?

Not very much. About as bad as they were under the Trump administration, even though Trump personally wanted to be aligned with Putin, the administration was not. This is the same approach on sanctions as we've seen from the European Union, they could go a lot harder. It's not sector level. It's not major state enterprises. It's a few Russian officials that were involved in the chemical program for Russia. And at the end of the day, the Russians are annoyed, but they're not going to hit back. That's that. Okay.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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