US donates vaccines to India; Macron v Le Pen; EU tourism

Ian Bremmer answers this week's questions on the biggest stories in global politics:

The United States says it will now donate 60 million COVID doses. Who are they going to?

Well, they're not COVID doses, because we don't want to give people coronavirus. They're vaccines. It's AstraZeneca, which we don't need in the United States. We haven't even approved yet. They are somewhat less effective than Moderna and Pfizer, but they're damned effective and you should take them, and they're going almost exclusively to India. And that is fully appropriate because India, we know about 350,000 cases a day. In reality, if you look at the positivity rates and level of disclosure, it's probably five to 10x that. This is by far the largest epicenter of the coronavirus crisis to date in the world. But they're not going to be getting these doses until probably June. And meanwhile, they're under very serious trouble right now. And there's a lot of recrimination, central government, local governments. The US has been slow. We should've made this announcement frankly a month ago, but I'm glad we're doing it.


Should Macron be concerned about the rise of the right a year out from election in France?

He should be a little concerned because his approval ratings are horrible on the back of the gilets jaunes crisis, and now you've got the coronavirus crisis and yeah, he's not doing well. But that doesn't mean that he's going to lose. He is behind in polls right now to Marine Le Pen a little bit, but in the second round, everyone that isn't pro Le Pen is against Le Pen, and he gets all of those votes and Le Pen gets the core Le Pen votes and she loses. And that is almost certainly what is going to happen. So I wouldn't be all that worried, even though the far right in France, on the back of a lot of Islamic extremism and recent attacks, a lot more than the United States, is a problem.

Is the EU ready to welcome American tourists back? What will that look like?Well, I mean, they're ready to start opening borders to American tourists. There will be vaccine passports certainly, will require that you show that you've had a vaccine, at the very least, that you have a negative test, and Americans will be able to travel to Europe. And I think that's a big deal. About 80% of the countries in the world right now the US is not recommending travel to, and the developing world, much of it around the world is going to take a lot longer to roll out effective vaccines, and never mind herd immunity, just get to the point that you don't have these massive spikes in cases, South America, South Asia, Southeast Asia, India, as I already mentioned. Europe is about two to three months behind the United States. They need the tourism, they need the money. They're going to open the borders, and Americans will be able to travel, showing that they are either immune through vaccine or have taken a negative test. And so we'll get there, and hopefully we'll get a little closer as a consequence.

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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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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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