While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.
Although the United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, until recently the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks have been vastly different, with the EU seeming to have kept the pandemic mostly in check during the summer months. The US has now surpassed twelve million total infections as most states, particularly in the Midwest, are fighting massive outbreaks. But now Europe is doing even worse: states across the continent are seeing an uptick in average infection and mortality rates that dwarf those of the US, leading several European countries to implement fresh national lockdowns. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.
On Sunday, 15 Asia-Pacific countries inked the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, considered the biggest regional trade agreement ever signed. The RCEP includes China, which was left out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another mega regional trade deal pushed by the Obama administration in the US... until President Trump walked out of it on his first day in office in 2017. While the RCEP is a much wider agreement, covering more countries and around 2.2 billion consumers, it lacks the depth of the TPP, which carried strong protections for labor, the environment, and intellectual property. With the US, it would also have accounted for a larger share of global GDP than today's RCEP. Here we compare the RCEP to the current TPP, and to what the TPP would look like if the US had stayed in it.
Does a disputed US election feel familiar? Twenty years ago, Americans waited more than a month to know if Al Gore or George W. Bush had won the presidential election. Bush finally prevailed after a Supreme Court ruling stopped a recount in Florida that many believe would have given the state (and overall victory) to Gore, who won the popular vote. But the 2000 election dispute was over just one state, where the margin of votes was minuscule, and Gore graciously conceded when it was all over. In 2020, the situation is very different: President Trump — who has lost according to the major news organizations that traditionally call the race — is suing over mostly baseless claims of electoral fraud in multiple states with much larger margins in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, whom Trump trails in the popular vote by more than 5 million ballots. We take a look back and compare the numbers in both of the disputed US elections.
US pharmaceutical company Pfizer says that a preliminary analysis shows that its COVID-19 vaccine is 90 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus, far exceeding the expectations of the US Food and Drug Administration. While it usually takes many years to develop and widely distribute vaccines, scientists have been trying to get one ready within an unprecedented timeframe as COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the world. Of the hundreds of candidates in development, only 12 have progressed to Phase III of the clinical trial process, when they are being tested on thousands of people and the results are compared with those who receive a placebo drug. Phase III is the final stage before approval. Who's gotten there so far?
Although the United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, until recently the trajectories of their COVID-19 outbreaks have been vastly different. The US just surpassed nine million total infections as most states are fighting a third wave of the coronavirus. But now Europe is doing worse: the continent is fighting a full-blown "second wave" that has seen its latest average infection and mortality rates surpass those of the US, and led France, Germany and the UK to implement fresh national lockdowns. The current situation is a sharp contrast to the disparity seen over the summer, when US cases were spiking while Europe seemed to have kept the pandemic (mostly) in check due to stricter adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing. Here's a look at the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases, and three-day rolling averages of new deaths and new deaths per capita in the EU vs the US since March.
Less than a week before the US election, President Donald Trump is repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of the vote (if he doesn't win) over largely unsubstantiated claims of potential fraud in universal mail-in voting. But with absentee ballots coming in all-time highs in all states due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans worry that the system itself may not be able to handle such an influx of ballots, including those already cast by a record number of early voters. Whether or not you agree, Gallup data show that US citizens are now less confident that the election will be conducted accurately — and more concerned about election irregularities and voter suppression — than they were four years ago. We take a look at how Americans' views on these electoral integrity issues have changed from 2016 to 2020.
Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.