AstraZeneca vaccine politics may further damage Europe's economy

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on the latest news in global politics on World In :60 - that is, :180.


First. What is going on with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Well, around Europe, we have all of these countries that have suspended giving out AstraZeneca vaccines, because there have been some side effects of people that are taking it. Blood clots, a tiny number of folks, actually fewer side effects for AstraZeneca than we've seen for Pfizer, but it's become this big political show. After a few countries start shutting it down, others do because they can't be left by themselves. I just talked to a major senior official from one country saying, "Yeah, we were under pressure. We want to keep it going." World Health Organization said it's fine. AstraZeneca itself who has done the trials, say it's fine. And this is slowing down an already very slow vaccine rollout in Europe. They were doing a lot of things reasonably well in terms of dealing with the pandemic, but absolutely not this. They're a couple of months behind the United States right now in terms of getting to herd immunity. This is going to slow them down. It's going to hurt their economic growth this year. Okay.



Why are people protesting in Britain?

Well, big demonstrations opposed to the killing of a woman by serving member of the police force. Now there is proposed legislation that would limit demonstrations in the country. The demonstrations have been responded to with fairly aggressive policing, especially in the case of the UK, where police forces not carrying lethal force, the historic idea of the bobbies who are very well behaved and very little violence as a consequence in the UK. Knives are a big problem, but not gun violence. Well, it turns out that this is becoming a much more challenging, and as a consequence, the UK is trying to respond. There were certainly a lot of women that were protesting, were seen pushed down to the ground by police, serving on the same force as the fellow that had killed this woman. It's a challenge in the UK and Boris Johnson who had been doing well the last couple of weeks, has another thing that he's got to deal with.

Okay. And then finally, did you read Jared Kushner's op-ed on the middle East? What is the Biden administration's approach to the region compared to his predecessor?

Yeah, I thought it was a pretty good piece actually. First of all, basically came out and said that he thinks that what Biden is doing in China first and foremost, and in the Middle East, largely speaking, the right thing. They basically agree. Where they disagree is on the Iran deal. Kushner saying it was right of Biden to bring up the JCPOA and then back off, because the Iranians aren't serious. I think the Iranians are serious, but they're posturing because they can't be seen domestically before their own election in just accepting the old JCPOA deal. But I think that by the beginning of next year, that is what they will accept. Kushner doesn't think that's a good idea. He thinks that the US should not accept anything unless it's a broader, tougher deal that includes ballistic missile limitations, includes limiting of funding, for example, for proxies in the region and extremist groups. I think that may be possible over the medium to long-term, but in the near-term, I think both sides will end up accepting almost exactly the old JCPOA, maybe with an extended timeline around it. That means the Iranians will stop with their expanded nuclear capability development and they'll also have about a million more barrels a day of oil being produced, which means prices will go down.


While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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A Green Party-led government for the world's fourth largest economy? That's no longer far-fetched. As Signal's Gabrielle Debinski wrote last month, most current polls now show Germany's Greens in first place in federal elections set for September 26. And for the first time, the Greens have a candidate for chancellor. Annalena Baerbock is vying to replace Angela Merkel, who has led Germany for the past 16 years.

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India and Brazil are currently the world's top two COVID hotspots. But while India's crisis is — at least according to official statistics — a relatively recent one, Brazil's COVID disaster has been an ongoing train wreck. Where India seemed to have kept the pandemic under control until some bad missteps about two months ago, COVID has been wreaking havoc in Brazil almost constantly for over a year now. And President Jair Bolsonaro's macho-posturing and COVID denialism has clearly not helped. We take a look at average daily new cases and deaths in both countries since the pandemic began.

US reverses course on vaccine patents: In a surprise move, the Biden administration will now support waiving international property rights for COVID vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Until now the US had firmly opposed waiving those patents, despite demands from developing countries led by India and South Africa to do so. Biden's about face comes just a week after he moved to free up 60 million of American-bought AstraZeneca jabs — still not approved by US regulators — for nations in need. It's not clear how fast an IP waiver would really help other countries, as the major impediments to ramping up vaccine manufacturing have more to do with logistics and supply chains than with patent protections alone. But if patent waivers do accelerate production over time, then that could accelerate a global return to normal — potentially winning the US a ton of goodwill.

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28: Yair Lapid, leader of Israel's opposition Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, has 28 days to form a new government. President Reuven Rivlin tapped Lapid after incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to cobble together a governing coalition by Tuesday's midnight deadline, further prolonging Israel's political stalemate.

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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:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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India’s COVID crisis hits home

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