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What is the real origin of the COVID-19 virus?

A controversial new World Health Organization report on the origins of the coronavirus that suggests it likely originated from a bat but transferred to humans via an intermediary animal. Could the virus have emerged from a Chinese lab, as former CDC Director Robert Redfield recently suggested? That's the least likely scenario, says the WHO's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan. "The betacoronaviruses are very, very common in bats and there's a lot of genetic similarity between the SARS-CoV2 and many of the viruses in the...bat species," Dr. Swaminathan told Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

What We’re Watching: Hong Kong crackdown, Maduro tightens grip in Venezuela, WHO out of Wuhan

China cracks down (again) on Hong Kong democracy: In the largest crackdown since China introduced its Hong Kong security law six months ago, police arrested 53 members of the city's pro-democracy movement. The detainees — who had helped organize an unofficial primary vote for opposition candidates ahead of elections later this year — are accused of trying to overthrow the city's pro-Beijing government. One of those jailed is a US lawyer and American citizen. In the same operation, police also raided the home of Joshua Wong, a prominent activist who is already serving a one-year prison term for standing up to China's takeover of Hong Kong. China says the activists are backed by foreigners who want to use Hong Kong as a base to undermine China's stability and security, while the opposition argues that China is just using the new law to silence legitimate dissent. Now, with most pro-democracy figures behind bars or in exile, the mass street protests that prompted the passage of the security law are unlikely to return, and the future of democracy in the city is bleak.

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Quick Take: On masks & mishandled US response

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Got through the Fourth of July. Pretty rough one for 2020 here in the United States. Still in the thick of it as we see caseload exploding in the United States. But really, the virus is all about developing markets right now. Poor countries around the world very soon, with the exception of the US and the UK, all of the top 10 countries around the world in terms of coronavirus caseload will be poorer countries. Let's keep in mind, these are countries that test a lot less, which means the actual numbers, in the United States the experts are saying probable likelihood of total cases is about 10x what we've actually seen in the US, in emerging markets and most of them, it's more like between 20 and 100. In other words, this is really where the virus now is.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Spain's blame scandal, Wuhan's testing scheme, Nigeria's food crisis

Spain blame game begins – As Spain slowly moves beyond the worst public health phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first big political crisis of the finger-pointing phase has arrived. On Monday, Spain's left-wing government sacked the head of the Guardia Civil police in Madrid. Conservative opponents of the government immediately pointed out that the Madrid police had recently filed a report alleging that the government's decision to approve a massive March 8 rally for women's day contributed to the virus' devastating spread in the weeks afterward. The approval for that rally is currently under investigation by a Spanish court. The government denies that the sacking was related, but the second in command of the national Guardia Civil has already resigned in protest as well. Meanwhile, as Spain's notoriously sluggish and fragmented judicial system comes back online, courts are facing a deluge of cases involving bankruptcies as well as lawsuits alleging that the national government mishandled the crisis. The cases could take years to adjudicate.

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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Navajo Nation's outbreak, Wuhan's testing, Latin America's dual epidemics

Navajo Nation's outbreak: The Navajo Nation, the most populous of the American Indian reservations within the US, is now reporting more COVID-19 cases per capita than any US state, with roughly 1,798 infections per 100,000 people. That surpasses New York, the country's worst-hit state. More than 100 people in the community, located in the American southwest, have died from the virus, including young people. Health professionals say that there are several reasons that the community has been so hard-hit. First, many in the Navajo Nation already suffer from diabetes, making them particularly vulnerable to serious illness if they do contract COVID-19. It's also common for Navajo to live with large families in intergenerational homes, which speeds the virus' spread. Crucially, around 1 in 3 residents lack access to running water, making it all but impossible to stop outbreaks through regular hand-washing. Doctors Without Borders, an NGO accustomed to sending medical and public health professionals to conflict zones, has now dispatched a team to the reservation to help the roughly 170,000 inhabitants deal with the surging outbreak. The Trump administration, for its part, said it will dole out $600 million in aid to help the community weather the storm.

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As US COVID-19 deaths grow, blaming China helps Trump politically

So much news over the weekend, particularly on the US-China story. Let's talk about why. Numbers that we're talking about in the United States are changing. I think everybody heard when Dr. Fauci came out and said, we probably can do under 100,000 total deaths if we all socially distance.

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US vs China: a relationship further strained by coronavirus crisis

Ian Bremmer offers his analysis on how the COVID-19 pandemic has only placed further strain on US/China relations in an already heightened moment of competition and rivalry between the two nations.

American stuck in Wuhan during the coronavirus outbreak tells his story

Meet Mark Wetton, a Kentucky-based businessman who owns a dust-collection factory in Wuhan. He has been there since the beginning of the outbreak, and describes the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak there, life in lockdown, and what things are like today as the city finally begins to reopen its borders and come back to life. He also shares some lessons learned that he hopes Americans will heed.

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