J&J vaccine review will cause hesitancy; Blinken warns China on Taiwan

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.


Secretary of State Blinken recently warned that China interfering with Taiwan would be a "serious mistake". What would an interference it look like?

It could be anything from cyberattack against Taiwan assets to shutdowns or constraints on Taiwanese businessmen and women who make so much of their money in mainland China. You could imagine that you could see some arrests on national security bases of some Taiwanese operating in the United States, general harassment, right? And then, most significantly would be interference with Taiwan's military capabilities. We've already seen a lot more military exercises in contested territory of mainland China, in and around Taiwanese airspace and naval space, water space. So all of this is looking more challenging, the Americans standing up for Taiwan. But Secretary of State Blinken saying very pointedly, the US will help the Taiwanese defend themselves. Did not say the US would come to Taiwan's defense. That is not part of the agreement with the United States. Chinese very aware of that.

Why is Japan dumping contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean?

Well, because they're running out of space to store it, because they've done decontamination around it, but it's still radioactive. Apparently, levels of tritium, as well as other radioactive elements still in the water. It is quite controversial as to whether this is safe or not. The original plan the Japanese government put out was approved by the International Energy Agency about a year ago. There is radioactive wastewater that is disposed of, also evaporating into the atmosphere from other nuclear plants around the world. The Japanese incredibly risk-averse population around this stuff so they're going to be very focused on whether or not this is all being done in a way that is completely unproblematic to the population at large, marine life, you name it. Anyway, I don't think we have the final word from science on this, but clearly something that the Japanese government is going to have to deal with. And by the way, they could continue to store it. They just would have to build additional storage capacity, which is going to cost them money. So, that's the question here. It's all about economics.

Optional kicker question. Where in the world is Darius, the "World's Longest Rabbit"?

Who's into this stuff? So a rabbit, it's a pet, but it's barely a pet. It's apparently the longest rabbit in the world. It's four feet long. It was in England, and it was abducted from the house of the owner. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Darius is the longest rabbit in the world. That's if Darius is still alive. We'll see. Stay tuned. Next week or not. I probably won't to talk about it again.

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