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.

We believe in access for everyone.

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;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=?
Visa: We believe in access for everyone. Image of a small, diverse group of people, smiling

Gaps in economic opportunities have made it hard for all individuals to take part in the global payments ecosystem. To address those gaps, society needs public policies to empower citizens, small businesses, and economies. That’s why, in 2021, the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) started conducting research and publishing reports about fostering digital equity and inclusion, unlocking growth through trade, and imagining an open future for payments. In 2022, we hope you’ll visit the VEEI for insights and data on the future of inclusive economic policies. See our newest stories here.

A year of Biden

Joe Biden’s first year as US president included two major historic accomplishments and a series of (often bitter) disappointments that has his party headed toward likely defeat in November’s midterm elections. Biden’s own political future is increasingly uncertain.

More Show less
Two children and a robot. We have to control AI before it controls us, warns former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Listen: Tech companies set the rules for the digital world through algorithms powered by artificial intelligence. But does Big Tech really understand AI? Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells Ian Bremmer that we need to control AI before it controls us.

What's troubling about AI, he says, is that it’s still very new, and AI is learning by doing. Schmidt, co-author of “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future,” worries that AI exacerbates problems like anxiety, driving a human addiction cycle that leads to depression.

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.

COVID has accelerated our embrace of the digital world. The thing is, we don't always know who’s running it.

Instead of governments, Ian Bremmer says, so far a handful of Big Tech companies are writing the rules of digital space — through computer algorithms powered by artificial intelligence.

The problem is that tech companies have set something in motion they don't fully understand, nor control.

More Show less

If omicron makes cases explode in China, the country's leaders will have to choose between weathering short-term or long-term pain.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that sticking to the zero-COVID approach at all costs will hurt the Chinese and global economy. In his view, learning to live with the virus is the way to go.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: How do US presidents do in their first year?

Joe Biden's approval rating has taken a big hit during his first year as US president. Biden is now just slightly more popular than his predecessor Donald Trump at the same point in his presidency. While Biden has made a series of policy and political blunders that might be reflected in polling, this is also a sign of the times: US politics are now so polarized that presidential approval has a low ceiling. We compare the approval ratings of the last five US presidents in their first year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow, Russia January 19, 2022.

Iran and Russia heart each other. The presidents of Iran and Russia have little in common personally, but they share many geopolitical interests, including in Afghanistan and Syria. They also have a common resolve in countering "the West.” These issues are all on the agenda as Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi held their first in-person meeting in Moscow. Raisi is a hardline cleric who leads a theocracy with nuclear ambitions. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is a wily autocrat who enjoys provoking America and Europe, and has ambitions to return to the glory days of the territorially expansive Soviet Union — as seen with the Kremlin's recent provocations on the Ukrainian border. With the Iran nuclear talks on life support and Joe Biden already bracing for Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, Tehran and Moscow now have even more reasons to scheme and cooperate. Indeed, Moscow and Tehran have increasingly been cooperating on energy and security issues (Iran might be buying Russian military technology) as their respective relations with the West deteriorate.

More Show less
Namibian citizen Phillip Luhl holds one of his twin daughters as he speaks to his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado via Zoom meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 13, 2021

2: Namibia’s High Court ruled against two gay couples seeking legal recognition of their marriages. The judge said she agreed with the couples, who are seeking residency or work authorizations for foreign-born spouses, but is bound by a Supreme Court ruling that deems same-sex relationships illegitimate.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

A year of Biden

Signal

Can we control AI before it controls us?

GZERO World Clips

Should China learn to live with COVID?

GZERO World Clips

China vs COVID in 2022

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal