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What We’re Watching: Andean elections, AstraZeneca’s hell week, former Aussie PM is designated driver

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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A perfect AstraZeneca storm is brewing in Europe

"The fact that you made worse decisions in the past shouldn't be an excuse to make bad decisions in the present." — Sanhita Baruah, a poet and author.

How else can one process the mess now unfolding in Europe, which has already been struggling with the mission of the moment: getting COVID vaccines into arms. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, one of Europe's main lifelines, has made headlines in recent days, though it can be hard to discern "whether it's a real signal or whether it's just noise."

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AstraZeneca vaccine politics may further damage Europe's economy

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on the latest news in global politics on World In :60 - that is, :180.


First. What is going on with the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Well, around Europe, we have all of these countries that have suspended giving out AstraZeneca vaccines, because there have been some side effects of people that are taking it. Blood clots, a tiny number of folks, actually fewer side effects for AstraZeneca than we've seen for Pfizer, but it's become this big political show. After a few countries start shutting it down, others do because they can't be left by themselves. I just talked to a major senior official from one country saying, "Yeah, we were under pressure. We want to keep it going." World Health Organization said it's fine. AstraZeneca itself who has done the trials, say it's fine. And this is slowing down an already very slow vaccine rollout in Europe. They were doing a lot of things reasonably well in terms of dealing with the pandemic, but absolutely not this. They're a couple of months behind the United States right now in terms of getting to herd immunity. This is going to slow them down. It's going to hurt their economic growth this year. Okay.

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The race to vaccinate: Dr. Atul Gawande provides perspective

Can the US vaccinate enough of its population to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths before new and more contagious COVID-19 variants take hold? And will these vaccines even be effective against more adaptable mutations of the virus? Surgeon and public health expert Dr. Atul Gawande, most recently of the Biden/Harris COVID-19 Transition Task Force, joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to discuss the latest in the global effort to vaccinate our way out of this pandemic. He also explains why people should get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if offered the chance, despite its lower overall efficacy rate compared to the mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

What We're Watching: Indian farmer revolt, EU vs vaccine makers, Myanmar saber-rattling, Maduro's miracles

Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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US bet on Pfizer and Moderna may lead to earlier COVID vaccine rollout

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

With COVID vaccine near, what will the distribution look like across the world?

Well, yeah, it is quite near. I mean, we're talking about approvals coming just in the next few days for the first in the United States and indeed in other countries around the world. That means that within weeks, you're going to know people that have actually gotten vaccines, and that's pretty exciting, especially with Moderna and Pfizer showing 95% effectiveness. I guess there are a few things that I would say. The first, hearing from the coronavirus task force that everyone in the United States gets the vaccine that wants to take it by June. I think that's right. I mean, there could be infrastructure and delivery hiccups. I hope there won't be. Everyone is going to be rowing in more or less the same direction on this because everyone understands how important it is to get it done.

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Quick Take: Latest vaccine news may be a light at the end of the tunnel

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, happy Monday, Thanksgiving week. Things starting to look increasingly normal in terms of outlook, in terms of having all of these vaccines. I understand that the next few months in the United States are going to be incredibly challenging, but so much easier when you see that there's light at the end of the tunnel and you know where that's coming. Most recently, the AstraZeneca announcement, which for me, in some ways is a bigger deal globally, even than what we've seen from Moderna and Pfizer, because it doesn't require freezing, it's just refrigeration, which means that countries around the world that don't have the infrastructure to deal with this cold chain requirements of these vaccines will be able to use another set of vaccines with different technology. That's not just AstraZeneca, it will be Johnson and Johnson. It's the Russians. It's the Chinese.

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