GZERO Media logo

Hard Numbers: US' unthinkable COVID milestone, Iran's COVAX dilemma, Ghana's contested election, Canada comes in third

Healthcare personnel prepare to rotate a patient who is on a ventilator inside a room for patients with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a hospital in Hutchinson, Kansas, U.S., November 20, 2020.

3,000: The US reached another grim milestone this week when more than 3,000 people died from COVID-19 on a single day, the highest toll since the pandemic began. As cases and hospitalizations surge around the country, the New York Times found that at least one third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are facing acute intensive care bed shortages.

16.8 million: Iran has pre-ordered 16.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX global network, enough to inoculate only 10 percent of its population. However, Iranian officials say that crippling US sanctions are preventing Tehran from accessing foreign reserves and paying for the much-needed drug. At least 50,000 Iranians have died from COVID-19, though analysts say that's likely an undercount.

51.59: Ghana's current president Nana Akufo-Addo won a second term this week, scraping through with 51.59 percent of the vote. His rival John Mahama claims that the incumbent used the military to sway the election result and that he would appeal the outcome.

3: Canada became the third country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine this week, after the UK and Bahrain started rolling out the drug. Canadian officials say they anticipate 249,000 doses will be on hand by year's end (two doses are needed to inoculate each person).

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

More Show less

Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.

More Show less

Now that Joe Biden is officially US president, leaders from around the world would like a word with him — but where will he make his first international trip?

After a tumultuous four years, many countries are now clamoring for a face-to-face with President Biden. That includes allies who felt abandoned by Trump's "America First" presidency, as well as adversaries with thorny issues on the agenda. We check in on who's pitching him hardest on a near-term state visit.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal