How well is the vaccine drive really going?

How well is the vaccine drive really going?

The most ambitious global vaccination drive in history is in motion. Over the past three months, more than 213 million COVID-19 shots have been administered across 95 countries, and the vaccination rate is slowly increasing. At the current rate, around 6.11 million doses are being administered daily.

It's a rare bit of hopeful news after 15 months of collective misery. So where do things stand at the moment, and what's keeping the world from getting to herd immunity faster?

Vaccines for the neediest. The COVAX facility, formed last summer to ensure cash-strapped countries get their hands on vaccines, shipped the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines to the West African country of Ghana on Wednesday. Neighboring Ivory Coast will be next in line, and could start vaccinating its 26 million people as soon as next week.

The COVAX rollout is a big deal given that so far, 75 percent of all shots worldwide have been administered in just 10 wealthy countries. But there are still massive shortfalls in the program. For one thing, the facility's commitment to provide 2 billion vaccines to 92 low-income countries covers shots for only 20 percent of the population in those states, far below the herd immunity threshold of about 70 percent. For another, the vaccines are arriving slowly: Ghana, for instance, has received only 600,000 doses, covering 1 percent of its population.

So far, COVAX's ability to reach its goal remains precarious, in part because of funding shortfalls as well as global supply issues — drugs simply aren't being made fast enough to cover people spanning the 54 countries waiting on jabs through the scheme.

Early stars of the vaccine show. Several countries are doing a top-notch job at getting needles into arms.

When South America became a COVID hotspot last summer, Chile emerged as an epicenter within an epicenter, recording one of the world's fastest growing caseloads. Now, Chile is overseeing one of the world's most efficient vaccine rollouts, having vaccinated over 16 percent of its population already, the fifth highest in the world. Santiago succeeded by diversifying its procurement efforts (buying doses from China's Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech, as well as through COVAX), and turning any public space into a mass vaccination site.

Israel has now vaccinated over 88 percent of its population of 9 million, leading the global vaccination race by a long shot. Analysts say that Israel's digitized universal health-care infrastructure has made it easier to monitor the vaccination drive and quickly identify groups of eligible people. But for all its successes, Israel has not ensured equitable access to Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, many of whom regularly cross into Israel. At the same time, the government plans on sending up to 100,000 doses to far-flung places like Honduras, Chad, and the Czech Republic in exchange for their diplomatic backing.

Lastly, after the UK bungled its pandemic containment effort (it has one of the world's highest per capita death tolls) Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed course to manage one of the most efficient vaccine drives in the world. Having inoculated a third of all British adults (with at least one dose), British authorities now say that all adults should get a first COVID shot by July 31, more than a month earlier than originally planned.

Queue jumping and inequality. Still, access to vaccines remains deeply unequal within many countries.

The World Bank this week threatened to cut off funding for cash-strapped Lebanon's vaccine program after Lebanese politicians bypassed eligibility rules to secure vaccines for themselves and their cronies. This took place mere weeks after the country experienced a surge in COVID cases, overwhelming hospitals. The revelation sparked outrage among many Lebanese already disillusioned by the corruption plaguing the country's ruling elite.

A similar scandal has gripped Peru, where some 500 former and current government officials admitted to skipping vaccine queues to snatch jabs intended for healthcare workers.

Lastly, inequality of access isn't just a problem at the global scale — it's happening even within some of the wealthier countries that have had easy access to vaccines — like the US. While America's piecemeal vaccine drive has ramped up after a shaky start, access for Black and Latino communities still lags in many parts of the country. California Governor Gavin Newsom came under fire when it emerged that of the 7.3 million doses administered in the state, only 2.9 percent have gone to Black residents, who make up 6.5 percent of the population, and 16 percent to Latinos (who account for 38 percent). Similar trends have been detected in New York.

Meet Zoe Marshall, grandmother, fishmonger, and thriving business owner.;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=

When Zoe Marshall decided to switch careers in her forties and become a fishmonger, she was scared. After leaving her job of 23 years, Zoe was forced to pivot in order to keep her family's home. Despite challenges, she forged ahead, opening Sea-Licious. Accepting Visa payments in her fishmonger shop, this access to commerce helps Zoe provide convenience to her customers and confidence in their transactions. Though she's one of the only women in the fish market each morning, her business and its place in the local community are flourishing with Visa's help.

Learn more about Zoe and her story.

Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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