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US Vice President Kamala Harris

Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA

What We're Watching: Harris goes to Munich, French troops quit Mali, Japan's soft opening, Africa's mRNA mission

Harris goes back to the future in Bavaria. In recent years, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) – to say nothing of the broader transatlantic alliance – have suffered from a sense of unclear purpose. US President Donald Trump questioned NATO’s value, and French President Emmanuel Macron has called it “brain-dead.” Without the Cold War framework, many have asked whether NATO even has a purpose? But things couldn’t feel more different today, according to Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. “You’re talking about US leadership and an alliance that feels unprecedentedly threatened by the recent escalation in Ukraine from Russia,” said Bremmer from Munich on Thursday. And the face of that US leadership at Munich this year is US Vice President Kamala Harris, who will deliver an important address on Saturday. Harris, who was also tasked with handling the challenge of migration at the US-Mexico border last year, has struggled to shine in her historic role as the first female Veep. A powerful address at Munich, delivered in the thick of a major transatlantic security crisis, could be her moment in the sun.

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Ian Bremmer: COVID Hypocrisy & Misinformation | Quick Take | GZERO Media

COVID hypocrisy & misinformation

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here from sunny Nantucket and going to be here for a little bit. Thought we would talk about the latest on COVID. Certainly, we had hoped we'd be talking less about it at this point, at least in terms of the developed world. A combination of the transmissibility of Delta variant and the extraordinary misinformation around vaccines and COVID treatment means that we are not in the position that many certainly had hoped we would be today.

The United States is the biggest problem on this front. We are awash in vaccines. Operation Warp Speed was an enormous success. The best vaccines in the world, the most effective mRNA, the United States doing everything it can to get secure doses for the entire country quick, more quickly than any other major economy in the world, and now we're having a hard time convincing people to take them. The politics around this are nasty and as divided as the country, absolutely not what you want to see in response to a health crisis.

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A person holds a placard as supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters march to demand a rollout of COVID vaccines, in Pretoria, South Africa.

REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Africa’s COVID crisis and the politics of selfishness

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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What We're Watching: Africa desperate for vaccines, US-EU truce on airplanes, ICC probes Duterte

Africa is running out of vaccines: Africa has received fewer vaccines than any other continent, and the results are now showing. Faced with a third wave of infection, many African countries say that cases are soaring and that vaccine deliveries from the WHO-managed COVAX facility remain sluggish, in large part because of shortages from Indian drug manufacturers. South Africa, Namibia, and Uganda say that their healthcare systems are inundated with COVID cases; ICU beds are scarce, and COVID patients are dying while waiting for hospital beds. To date, just 0.6 percent of Africa's 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, and new variants are spreading, making containment across the continent even harder. (Cases in the South African province of Gauteng, home to the hubs of Johannesburg and Pretoria, where South Africa's more transmissible COVID strain has run rampant, have doubled over the past week, and doctors are bracing for a surge in deaths.) Meanwhile, the G7 countries agreed this week to send 1 billion COVID doses to poor countries, but experts warn that these may not arrive in Africa before most states' supplies run dry.

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What We're Watching: Africa's vaccine shortage, Colombian unrest, Bibi fails to form government

India's COVID crisis hurts Africa: As COVID started to ravage India in March, New Delhi announced a ban on all vaccine exports to prioritize the domestic crisis. This development was a massive blow for the COVAX facility, which is relying on India's Serum Institute manufacturing the AstraZeneca shot for low-income countries. The impact of this export ban is now being felt acutely across Africa, where many countries have received a scarce number of doses. The World Health Organization says that at least seven African countries including Rwanda, Ghana, and Senegal have already exhausted all their vaccine supplies — and because of delays from India, will now need to wait several weeks for more to arrive. COVAX, which has received 90 million fewer doses to date than it was initially promised, says it needs an extra 20 million doses by the end of June to offset shortfalls caused by the worsening crisis in India. It's a worrying trend: while inoculation drives in places like the US, the UK and Israel are allowing their economies to reopen and life to slowly return to normal, many low-income countries will not return to normalcy for years, experts warn. To date, only 2 percent of all doses administered globally have been in Africa, despite the continent accounting for 17 percent of the global population.

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