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The 2020 pandemic was hardly “unprecedented,” says historian Niall Ferguson

"We've been dealing with pandemics from the earliest recorded history. Thucydides writes about a pandemic in the history of the Peloponnesian War. So the last thing 2020 was, was unprecedented," Stanford historian Niall Ferguson told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Ferguson, whose new book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," believes that the world should have been better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic based on the numerous health crises of the 20th century, from the 1918 Spanish flu to influenza and HIV/AIDS. He provides perspective on how the COVID crisis stacks up compared to other pandemics throughout history.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Biden-Putin summit: US wants predictability; G7's strong COVID response

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

What topics will be in focus at the G7 summit?

Well, most importantly is the collective response to coronavirus. 1 billion vaccines, repurposed, and tens of billions of dollars in financing from the G7 to lower income economies around the world. It is by far the most significant show of leadership displayed since the pandemic started and it's coming from the United States and its allies. That is meaningful, especially given the direction that the world has been heading, this G-Zero world over the course of the past decades. It's nice to see. Lots of other issues being discussed. It's only 60 seconds. I can't go that far.

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What We’re Watching: WhatsApp sues India, US to (re)probe COVID origins, mob boss vs Turkish president

WhatsApp sues India: First it was TikTok. Then Facebook and Twitter. Now WhatsApp is the latest target of India's crackdown on online free speech. The social media messaging app, used by hundreds of millions of Indians daily, has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government to stop a new law that would require WhatsApp to trace users' encrypted messages. The law grants Delhi sweeping powers to block or remove any content that threatens national security, public order, or whatever the Indian government considers to be decency or morality. WhatsApp argues this would violate privacy rights, and is willing to fight it out in court. So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in stifling online criticism of his government, especially over its handling of the country's ongoing COVID crisis. But WhatsApp's immense popularity among Indians gives the Facebook-owned tech firm considerable leverage, and at a moment when his approval rating has already hit all-time lows, Modi may fear a backlash if the messaging app suddenly goes offline.

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The Graphic Truth: How COVID is hitting Southeast Asia

In January 2020, Thailand became the first nation outside of China to record a case of COVID-19. But along with neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand managed to keep the coronavirus mostly at bay last year by swiftly enforcing lockdowns and other public health measures. However, having barely rolled out COVID vaccines, in 2021 many Southeast Asian nations are now grappling with massive new outbreaks of disease. Cambodia's caseload is surging, leading Prime Minister Hun Sen to say that his country was on "the brink of death." Meanwhile, Malaysian officials struggled to enforce domestic travel restrictions during Ramadan, causing cases to skyrocket in recent weeks. We take a look at COVID-19 caseloads in Southeast Asian countries with the highest daily caseloads this year.

What We're Watching: White House backs Gaza ceasefire, Southeast Asia's COVID spike, Iran's heavyweight contenders weigh in

Will there be a ceasefire in Gaza? Fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas/Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip has now entered its second week. Over the weekend, Israel intensified its bombing of the Gaza Strip, which included targeting a building that houses Al-Jazeera and AP, two foreign media outlets, causing their reporters to hastily flee the premises (Israel has so far not substantiated its claim that Hamas intelligence operatives were working in the building.) At least 42 Gazans were killed in a single Israeli strike Sunday, bringing the Palestinian death toll above 200. Meanwhile, Hamas continued to fire rockets at southern and central Israel, resulting in several casualties. On Monday, for the first time since the violent outbreak, US President Joe Biden voiced support for a ceasefire driven by the Egyptians and others. However, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has said that the operation will "take time," and a truce is off the table until Hamas' military capabilities are significantly degraded. Civilians on both sides continue to suffer.

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How one Indian-American couple raised over $500k to send oxygen equipment to Delhi

An Indian-American family in California decided to take action after acquaintances, friends, relatives and finally their own parents in Delhi became sick from COVID as the city was overwhelmed by the outbreak. In just a few days, they organized a massive logistical and fundraising effort to send critical oxygen equipment to Delhi. "We came across oxygen concentrators as one of the major needs in Delhi, as oxygen supplies were low, and agencies, hospitals, and nursing facilities were running out of oxygen and putting out SOS messages." The couple explains how they have partnered with SaveLIFE Foundation, an organization out of Delhi working directly with the local government. "India needs all the help that it can at this point in time."

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The Graphic Truth: COVID's "real" death toll

COVID has officially killed almost 3.5 million people around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. But some public health experts believe that the real number could be more than twice as high, because of challenges to accurately reporting the death toll in many countries around the world. A new study from the University of Washington contends, for example, that actual deaths are nearly 60 percent higher than reported in the US, almost triple as high in India, more than five time as high in Russia... and a staggering ten times higher than the official tally in Japan. Here's a look at how official figures compare to actual estimated deaths in the 20 countries where COVID has claimed the most lives.

India’s COVID crisis hits home

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.

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