For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.
As the world's richest nations struggle with vaccine rollout, a more daunting question looms: When will the world's poorest nations get the COVID-19 vaccine? Of course, some vaccines have already reached the developing world, but World Bank President David Malpass says it may not be until the second half of 2021, or even well into 2022, that distribution becomes widespread. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 15th. Check local listings.
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COVID-19 vaccine nationalism has overshadowed an ambitious cross-border initiative to fight a virus that knows no borders: the COVAX Facility, which aims to ensure that no country gets left behind in the vaccine race. As some developed nations have already started rolling out vaccines, citizens of other countries — especially billions throughout the developing world — wonder when it'll be their turn to roll up their sleeves. The answer depends largely on the long-term fate of COVAX, which in turn rests on resolving three major issues.
What We're Watching: Australia-China row escalates, COVAX falling behind, Mexico's crackdown on "foreign agents"
Australia takes China to the WTO: Amid a deepening diplomatic and trade dispute with China, Australia has upped the ante by taking its case to the World Trade Organization to probe what it calls China's "discriminatory [trade] actions." The complaint relates to Beijing's decision to slap an 80 percent tariff on Australian barley, which has been pummeling Australian growers and producers. (China accuses Australia of "dumping" barley at a discounted rate; Australia says that's nonsense.) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sparred with Beijing over a range of issues, such as human rights, national security, and telecommunications. But what irked the Chinese the most was when Australia led the charge in calling for a global investigation into China's handling of the pandemic earlier this year, which prompted Beijing to slap tariffs on a host of Australian goods including wine, beef, barley, and coal that threaten about $20 billion worth of Australian exports. While the WTO filing is mostly symbolic, and the dispute could take years to adjudicate, the move is a significant escalation — and a risky one for Australia, which relies on China for 30 percent of its annual exports.
We are now about to enter year two of the coronavirus pandemic, a saga that's been lingering far longer than many people first anticipated. As we near this grim milestone, it's worth reflecting on how the once-in-a-generation public health crisis is currently unfolding.
State of play. In many parts of the world, the situation is dire. Countries in the Americas and Europe, are dealing with raging second (or third) waves of infection that are dwarfing the numbers seen this past spring and summer.