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Should government force businesses to require vaccine passes?

"Bonjour," you say, "I'd like a pain au chocolat and – hmm, what are these over here – yes two of these."

"Ahem!" says the Parisian woman behind the counter, arching her brows. "Do you have proof of vaccination? May I see your EU Green pass? If not, au revoir!"

Oui, those are the rules now. French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week that starting in August, people over the age of 12 will need proof of vaccination (or prior infection or negative COVID test) in order to enter restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, theme parks, or long distance trains. Businesses that fail to enforce the measure will be subject to fines.

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The Graphic Truth: Where is COVID raging right now?

The COVID delta variant — which first surfaced in India earlier this year — is spreading rampantly throughout every continent, and is now the most dominant strain globally. But low- and middle-income countries, particularly in regions where vaccines have been scarce, are bearing the brunt of the fallout from the more contagious strain. We take a look at the 10 countries now recording the highest number of daily COVID deaths (per 1 million people), and their corresponding vaccination rates.

Merkel's White House visit will have symbolism and substance

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Why is the United Kingdom opening up and what's happening in the rest of Europe?

Well, I mean, my personal view is that there's an element of complacency in Europe and elsewhere. The Delta variant is spreading rather fast. We'll see an increase in infections in a number of countries. Remains to be seen how this will be handled.

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European allies see Biden's visit as a strong beginning

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

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The politics of COVID aid and compassion: India vs Brazil

While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Modi's COVID apocalypse

First it was Europe. Then the US. And later Brazil. Right now, India is the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

India is breaking world records for daily COVID infections (and the real number could be much higher). Hard-hit cities like New Delhi are running out of hospital beds, while the black-market prices of oxygen and (often fake) drug remedies are skyrocketing. Since crematoriums are full, many Indians must burn their dead on the street or in mass pyres.

The country of 1.4 billion, once lauded for its better-than-expected pandemic response, is now losing the battle against a virus that has quickly overwhelmed its fragile health system. Whatever happens next, the crisis is already a major test for India's immensely popular leader.

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Would you get rid of COVID-19 vaccine patents?

Vaccines are the best hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But rich countries are hogging most of the doses, with more than 83 percent of shots administered to date having gone to residents in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Most poor countries will have to wait years to achieve widespread vaccination, according to one study.

To address this inequity some stakeholders are pushing hard for waivers to intellectual-property (IP) rights through World Trade Organization trade rules so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make their own vaccines locally. India and South Africa have been leading the charge, which would essentially mean that deep-pocketed pharma companies like New York-based Pfizer, for instance, would have to hand over the keys to the kingdom, allowing local companies in New Delhi and Johannesberg to make generic versions of their vaccines.

Unsurprisingly, the debate has gotten fiery, with passionate arguments emerging both for and against.

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Podcast: Vaccine nationalism risks prolonging pandemic, according to Chief Scientist, WHO

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

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