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A mother holds her daughter's arm as a healthcare worker administers the child with Pfizer-BNT covid-19 vaccine in Taiwan.

Jui Kun Weng / SOPA Images/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

COVID vaccine rollout: Taking stock 3 years on

It’s been almost three years since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Since then, we have gone from the fear of greeting one another in public to the horrors of overcrowded ERs and morgues — to the remarkably fast development of a vaccine and its uneven rollout. Nearly 7 million people have died worldwide, and while the virus is still out there, most countries now have access to effective jabs.

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Whatever happened to equitable distribution? Live townhall today at 11 am ET

Today at 11 am ET, GZERO Media and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will convene leading experts in public health, research, development, and philanthropy to discuss the uneven state of recovery from health and economic perspectives.

As the world marks the two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, most regions are still in the throes of outbreaks, and global vaccination rates are inconsistent – high in high-income countries, low in low-income countries.

How did this happen and why? Despite words of solidarity and a commitment to equity in the early days of the pandemic, the world has not seen that promise fulfilled. Can the gap be rectified to end the acute phase of this pandemic? And what has to be done to solve this for the future?

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The Graphic Truth: Who relies on India's COVID vaccines?

Five months after halting vaccine exports amid a catastrophic COVID wave, India now plans to resume vaccine exports next month, vowing to produce some 300 million vaccine doses in October alone. Until then, India had exported more than 66 million doses, which were sold, given as grants or snapped up by COVAX, the UN-backed initiative to vaccinate low- and middle-income countries. COVAX had been relying on Indian manufacturers to deliver the bulk of its supply, and the export ban has been a massive blow to the program, which is well behind its target. We take a look at which countries have gotten the most shots from India to date, and their respective vaccination rates.

In this photo illustration a medical syringe seen displayed in front of the Covax Facility vaccine logo.

Thiago Prudencio / SOPA Images

What We’re Watching: COVAX falls short, UK returns migrant boats to France, Guinea coup memes

COVAX comes up short. Who's to blame? The World Health Organization revealed Wednesday that the COVAX scheme would fall half a billion doses short of its target to deliver 1.9 billion COVID vaccine doses to low- and middle-income ex countries by the end of 2021. Several factors have contributed to this shortfall, including India's decision to halt vaccine exports earlier this year amid a catastrophic COVID outbreak, and mixed messaging from the WHO and national governments about the safety and scaling of certain vaccines that disrupted COVAX's supply chain. The WHO has long taken aim at rich countries rolling out booster shots before developing states dole out first and second shots to their populations. But US President Joe Biden hit back in recent days saying that the argument of boosters vs donating shots is "a false choice," saying the US can, and has, done both. So far, COVAX has delivered 245 million doses, but just 0.4 percent of all jabs administered globally have been in low-income states.

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Belarus human rights abuses stacking up; Beirut blast one year later
Belarus Human Rights Abuses Stacking Up | Beirut Blast One Year Later | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Belarus human rights abuses stacking up; Beirut blast one year later

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Delta variant woes, and Lebanon one year after the Beirut blast.

An Olympian refuses to return home to Belarus and an anti-Lukashenko activist has been found dead in Ukraine. What's going on?

Yeah. That anti-Lukashenko activist was found hanged in a park in Kiev. Once again, not exactly likely a suicide. These anti-Lukashenko activists have a way of turning up injured or dead. It's a horrible regime. Their friends are limited largely to the Russians. That's about it. The economic pressure is growing from Europe, from the United States, very coordinated. But the problem is a very hard to do much to Lukashenko when he has not only support of his military, but also the support of most of the workers in the country who aren't prepared to strike because they want to ensure they still have jobs. I expect this is going to continue, but human rights abuses are stacking up. It is nice to see that the Americans and the Europeans are coordinating policy as well as they have been.

Answer is very little has changed. The investigation is going nowhere. One of the few things that various factions around the government can agree with is that they don't want to be tried for corruption by independent investigators so they've been slow rolling it. Economic collapse, not much international support. Emmanuel Macron, you'll remember the French president, went down said we're going to help these people. There's been very little international aid and no new conference trying to raise that support for Lebanon. They are close to becoming a failed state and maybe not a surprise given how bad both COVID and the financial crisis has hit a country that was already among the most poorly governed in the region and the world.

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COVID hypocrisy & misinformation
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'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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