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Why Italy's third COVID lockdown is different

A year ago, a horrific series of photos of overflowing hospitals in Italy's Lombardy region made many Americans realize that this pandemic was going to have devastating results. And now, over 100,000 deaths later, Italy is entering its third lockdown. But this time is different, says former Prime Minister Enrico Letta, because now a lockdown doesn't mean a total economic shutdown. And there's hope on the horizon, as long as the country can get its act together on the vaccines front.

Letta's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of a new episode of GZERO World, which began airing on US public television stations nationwide on Friday, March 26. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Italy in Europe's spotlight: insights from former PM Enrico Letta

What We're Watching: EU tightens vaccine exports, Kenya to close Somali refugee camps, Mexico-US border "cooperation"

Europe's vaccine war escalates: As the European Union contends with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a disastrous vaccine rollout, the European Commission announced Wednesday a proposal to tighten vaccine exports from the bloc, a move referred to by one diplomat as a "retrograde step." The new measures would ban vaccine doses produced in the EU from being sent abroad to countries that don't "reciprocate" as well as those that have a higher per capita vaccination rate than EU member states (the UK falls under both categories). European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is upping the ante from January, when the EU banned exports by companies that don't first honor their contracts with EU member states. (In practice, only one batch of vaccines from Italy was blocked from being sent to Australia.) This is a massive development within the context of an ongoing row with the UK, which so far has received almost 10 million doses of EU-made jabs, far more than any other country. London also has rolled out a much more successful vaccine drive, having administered vaccines to 45 out of every 100 people, compared to just 13 in the EU. Although EU leaders will discuss the vaccine disaster at a summit later this week, the new proposal will come into force unless most EU members oppose it — an unlikely outcome given that many EU countries are struggling to keep their COVID crises at bay.

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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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Hope for Europe's vaccine rollout;  CDU setback in German elections

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

How is the rollout of vaccines in Europe going?

So-so might be the best answer to that question. The UK is significantly ahead of most of the EU countries. It's being difficult to rollout production or increase production sufficiently fast. But it will get better in the coming months. And I hope that the evils of vaccine-nationalists can be prevented.

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Was the EU’s bungled vaccine rollout inevitable?

"We're still not where we want to be," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this week about the European Union's sluggish vaccine rollout. It was a sort of concession from the EU chief, who's been criticized for overseeing a bungled inoculation rollout in the world's largest trading bloc.

To date, around four percent of the bloc's population has been vaccinated, compared to 13 percent in the US, and 20 percent in the UK.

Why has the EU rollout been so slow, and what does this mean for Europe and its politics?

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