Quick Take: Vaccine nears but coronavirus still a concern

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and I've got your Quick Take. A lot's going on in the United States and on this planet. I have to feel better about the vaccines. I understand that we are significantly in the middle of this second wave right now, both in the United States and in Europe. Europe starting to flatten out quite a bit, even in the largest countries. Even in France, case levels coming down. But in the United States, we're not there yet.

The next couple of weeks, I'm actually quite concerned in terms of the numbers of cases, the hospitalizations, record levels, deaths, you're going to see a lot more. But the vaccine news is better than pretty much anyone I had spoken to had been daring themselves to hope over the last several months. I've talked to a lot of the world's top epidemiologists, had some of them on the show, no one thought we would have multiple vaccines at a 90%-plus level at this stage in the game, eight, nine months after we find out about this disease.


That's what we're looking at, with tens of millions of doses that will be available as of January. Yeah, you need to take two doses. You need to boost your shot for both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines, but assuming the production is going to continue to spike up, that means that by the time you need your booster, you'll have more production. So, literally, that means the United States and Europe could be looking at 50 million people that will be able to get vaccines, get vaccinated in January. That's a fantastic thing, and by spring, that feels like big pieces of the economy are coming back to normal as the weather's improving. So, finally, we can start to see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Another big thing is that we've politicized, in the United States, so much of coronavirus, wearing a mask, what kind of treatment lockdown, no lockdown, all of this stuff. But the vaccine, I mean, Operation Warp Speed has been run by incredibly capable people, and thank God for that. Both Moderna and Pfizer participated in the Warp Speed effort, and that's credit to the U.S. government, which means that President Trump has this as a win, that he will promote. Certainly, Biden will also promote it.

It is possible that there could be some politics around which states and when, though I don't expect it. I actually think, generally speaking, this is going to be all oars rowing in the same direction to get people back, functional, into the workplace, into the economy, and that's a fantastic piece of news. It really is. Also, some of the other vaccines like AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson look to becoming on-stream in coming weeks with their announcements, also look quite positive.

So, really, the politics of the last year have been so fractious, they've been nothing close to global coordination. So many governments have failed their populations in what needs to be done, the leadership we need to respond, but the private sector has not. In this regard, the fact that human ingenuity, human capital has been applied in a way and at a speed that we have never seen before in the history of humanity, means that in relatively short order, we can actually get back to our lives.

The big problem here is that the global economy coming back doesn't mean that everyone comes back with the global economy. Even as employment levels go up, and even as wages start to return, you're still going to have an awful lot of people that lost their jobs because of the disruption that comes from so many companies going bankrupt, brick and mortar companies doing so poorly, tech and the knowledge economy doing so well.

So, what are we going to do to help all of those people that have been left behind? That is the biggest problem. That's the biggest problem we're going to be experiencing next year, especially because, presuming that the Senate stays Republican, the ability to get any meaningful stimulus passed next year is tiny. That means the average American, hopefully a lot of people get their jobs back, but the six months, the nine months, the wages that are gone, and for all of those people whose jobs don't come back, they're in serious trouble.

What does that mean? That means more people on the streets. That means more mental illness. That means more criminality. That means less opportunity for our country that defined land of opportunity for a lot of our history, and that's not what we want. I mean, the thing that worries me the most, I look at China, not a country that we aspire to be like at all, but a majority of Chinese today believe that the China dream actually applies to them. Not politically, but economically, because as China has grown in the last 50 years, the middle-class has expanded massively.

The United States has been growing massively in the last 50 years too, but the middle-class has been eroding. It's actually been hollowing out, and the benefits in the United States are overwhelmingly to the top 10, top one, top 0.1, top 0.01%, and governance is going to be required to actually start to undo that.

I do believe, I honestly believe that President-elect Biden is the kind of person whose history, whose experience in the Senate, whose personal ideology, whose character will make him want to reach across the aisle and try to deal with this challenge in a way that President Trump certainly has not, in a way that, frankly, President Obama frankly, did not.

But I also think the country is too divided. Governance has eroded too much, has become too de-legitimized, and the political parties themselves, both within the democratic party, within the Republican party, too divided to make that work. So that's a problem. 2021 from a political perspective, looks horrible. From an epidemiological perspective, looks a hell of a lot better.

Where that ends up going is an enormously interesting question, because of course, a lot of incumbents around the world who this year are in trouble because things have gone so badly, next year might look a lot better, precisely ... not because they're governing so well, but because the economy's picking up so much, so maybe that creates more space to engage in the kind of political forms we'd like to see.

Anyway, that's some thoughts for me. But after almost a year of so many people engaging in various types of personal privation and not knowing when the end would come, and how hard that is, I mean, you're running on a treadmill, you have no idea when it's over, you're more likely to collapse. You run a marathon, you only have three miles left, you find that you end up having more gas in the tank.

Finally, we're at that point where we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we actually know when it's coming. That's just great news, and I'm happy for everyone that we're able to announce it. So, God bless, and I'll see everyone real soon, and until those vaccines come, you avoid people. Be good.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Listen: A deep dive down the bottle to examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

More Show less

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

More Show less

American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

More Show less

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

More Show less

700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The history of disasters

GZERO World Clips

How booze helps get diplomacy done

GZERO World Clips
GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal