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Omicron will be home for Christmas

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Happy Monday, and yeah, I think I'm still talking to you about the pandemic. I was hoping I would be talking a lot less about the pandemic these days, but we are in the midst of very significant learning on the omicron variant, and I thought I would share what we know and what we really don't know, because the headlines obscure that.

What we know: Big news is that the vaccines don't work very well at all to prevent spread. And that's even true for the mRNA vaccines, the best vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, that if you've taken two shots, which means that you're considered fully vaccinated and you've got your app, or you've got your vaccine passport, you really aren't protected from getting infected from omicron. Pfizer showing after two vaccine jabs something like 23% effectiveness, which is not effective at all. And the non-mRNA vaccines look like they're even worse, which means that a very, very transmissible strain is not being prevented by the vaccines. That's the bad news, and it's bad news.

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Africa’s vaccine cloning gamble

Less than a year after the world started putting COVID vaccines into people's arms, most regions have immunized at least half their populations, but Africa still lags behind. With industrialized nations hoarding jabs and the COVAX facility faltering, barely five percent of the African population is fully vaccinated.

Some enterprising South African scientists are now making a bold bid to change that, with an experiment that could benefit not only Africa's 54 nations and billion people, but the entire world: Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, a Cape Town-based startup, has developed a plan to reverse-engineer Moderna's mRNA shot and manufacture it for priority distribution on the continent.

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The race to vaccinate: Dr. Atul Gawande provides perspective

Can the US vaccinate enough of its population to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths before new and more contagious COVID-19 variants take hold? And will these vaccines even be effective against more adaptable mutations of the virus? Surgeon and public health expert Dr. Atul Gawande, most recently of the Biden/Harris COVID-19 Transition Task Force, joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to discuss the latest in the global effort to vaccinate our way out of this pandemic. He also explains why people should get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if offered the chance, despite its lower overall efficacy rate compared to the mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Podcast: The Race to Vaccinate: Dr. Atul Gawande Provides Perspective

Listen: Can the United States vaccinate enough of its population to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths before new and more contagious COVID-19 variants take hold? And will these vaccines even be effective against more adaptable mutations of the virus? Surgeon and public health expert Dr. Atul Gawande, most recently of the Biden/Harris COVID-19 Transition Task Force, joins the podcast to discuss the latest in the global effort to vaccinate our way out of this pandemic. He also explains why people should get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine if offered the chance, despite its lower overall efficacy rate compared to the mRNA-based vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

A shot in the arm: Moderna’s co-founder on the COVID-19 vaccine

The pandemic's US death toll shows no signs of abating and the holiday season's spike will likely dwarf any surge that came before it. But in the midst of this dark winter there are glimmers of hope, as the first of the COVID-19 vaccines have nearly arrived (or, depending on when you read this, already have). On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer interviews Noubar Afeyan, the co-founder of a leading vaccine developer Moderna. They'll discuss distribution plans, the revolutionary science behind Moderna's vaccine, and how a company younger than Twitter became a frontrunner in the race to end the pandemic.

Podcast: COVID Vaccine in Record Time - What Now? Moderna Co-Founder Noubar Afeyan

Listen: The pandemic's US death toll shows no signs of abating and the holiday season's spike will likely dwarf any surge that came before it. But in the midst of this dark winter there are glimmers of hope, as the first of the COVID-19 vaccines have nearly arrived (or, depending on when you read this, already have). On the GZERO World podcast, Ian Bremmer interviews Noubar Afeyan, the co-founder of a leading vaccine developer Moderna. They'll discuss distribution plans, the revolutionary science behind Moderna's vaccine, and how a company younger than Twitter became a frontrunner in the race to end the pandemic.

How the Moderna vaccine works, why it’s effective, and how it’ll be distributed

"What we're trying to do is to educate the immune system to see the protein before it's seen the virus." In a race for a COVID vaccine, Moderna, a 10-year old company with no products previously on the market, developed a vaccine in 10-months, by using revolutionary new mRNA technology. Now the focus shifts to how to distribute and safely administer this vaccine. Moderna co-founder and chairman Noubar Afeyan explains.

His conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World, which began airing nationally in the US on public television Friday, December 11th. Check local listings.

Watch the GZERO World episode: A Shot in the Arm: Moderna's Co-Founder on the COVID-19 Vaccine

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