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Why CIA director Bill Burns met with the Taliban

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on the CIA director's secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban, the G7 emergency meeting on Afghanistan, and the future of vaccine mandates following the FDA's approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine.

CIA director Bill Burns held a secret meeting with the leader of the Taliban. How will it impact the ongoing evacuations?

Well, at the very least, you have to think that America's top priority, ensuring that all Americans get out of Afghanistan, given that the US controls nothing on the ground but Kabul Airport, will be facilitated. I would think that that was the reason for him to be there, absolute top priority. That has been successful. If it was a failure, we would've heard something about it by now, and the situation on the ground would be quite different. That is very different though than what happens after August 31st, and whether or not all of the Afghan nationals working with the Americans and in physical danger are going to be let out. So far, I haven't heard that from the Taliban. Certainly that will be a big piece of the negotiations. But better that he's there than not.

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Let's learn from COVID to prevent the next pandemic

Days before G7 leaders meet in the UK to talk about how to "build back better" after the pandemic, experts are warning them that they should not lose sight of the opportunity to learn from the experience of COVID to be more prepared when the next public crisis hits. Below are a few insights from a livestream discussion between political leaders, policy makers, health experts and scientists, entitled Beyond the Pandemic: A Radical New Approach to Health Security, hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Flagship Pioneering.

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Watch our live event: global health beyond the pandemic

Could the biggest health crisis of our lifetimes actually lead to a healthier world? Watch the second part of our live event series about what public health will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic, presented in partnership with Flagship Pioneering, the bio-platform company that founded Moderna and dozens of other life sciences firms.

Days before world leaders G7 meeting, we will bring political leaders and policy makers together with health experts and scientists to discuss lessons learned from and the latest innovations to preempt both COVID-19 variants and future infectious disease pandemics.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Please register to attend.

The virtual event will be hosted by Noubar Afeyan, founder & CEO of Flagship Pioneering, and Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media.

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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.

What We're Watching: Indian farmer revolt, EU vs vaccine makers, Myanmar saber-rattling, Maduro's miracles

Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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How development of the COVID-19 vaccine shattered records

They said it couldn't be done: a vaccine developed in record time. In 1967, Merck had a license for a mumps vaccine, less than five years for work that normally takes decades. But that record is now being shattered as the COVID-19 vaccine reaches the market in less than a year. It's an unprecedented scientific development in a whirlwind year of crisis.

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

UK vaccine rollout a key chance to learn; Brexit trade deal is razor close

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

COVID vaccine rollout has begun in the UK. What's next?

Well, I was so pleased to see that the second person to get the vaccine in the UK is William Shakespeare. Some 86-year-old guy living in the UK. Of course, of course he is. It's also nice for the UK, finally have some good news about something. It's been all Brexit and economic disaster and Boris Johnson, bad news on coronavirus. First, it's herd immunity, then it's not. It's lockdown, it's not. But the first advanced industrial democracy to start getting vaccines out there and capping off an extraordinary year in terms of vaccine development. Really Moore's law for vaccines. It's very, very, very exciting. What happens next is we learn a lot. One of the big mistakes that we made in the United States is we had a couple of weeks when the virus was exploding in Europe and we were twiddling our thumbs in the United States. We weren't prepping, we weren't watching what was happening in Italy and making sure that we understood the type of coordination we needed, the type of testing we needed, the type of contact tracing we needed. As a consequence, some critical time was wasted. We need to be watching very carefully what problems the UK has, challenges in rolling out this vaccine. First vaccine we see right now from Pfizer, that's the one that's most challenging from an infrastructure perspective. It's the one that needs the proprietary cold chain capability, super low temperatures, South Pole type temperatures. It needs labor on site that can dilute the vaccine right before it is administered. Those are things you can do easily in good hospitals. It's not an easy thing to roll out across a countryside.

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