What is going on between the WHO, the US and China?

What is going on between the WHO, the US and China?

We need someone to blame for this virus crisis, right? Trump will be elected or not in November on the back of well over 100,000 deaths, horrible economic performance and unemployment. No real bounce seen before November. Probably a second wave just before elections, given the seasonality of the virus. Which means you've got to blame China, the World Health Organization. And that means the Americans threatening to pull out of the organization as a whole, saying that they're doing lifting for China and also demanding investigation, as are other countries, of China for how they handled the initial outbreak of the disease. I am much more sympathetic to calls about Chinese responsibility because it's clear they did mishandle and did cover up the early days of this virus. The Chinese are saying they're only prepared to accept an investigation after the crisis is over. The WHO is saying that's three to five years from now. I agree on the time frame. Don't agree that that would be an appropriate way to handling it. A lot of countries around the world, particularly allies of the United States, are increasingly putting pressure on China. Big trade dust-up between the Chinese and the Australians as a consequence. Not directed by the United States, which is interesting. Australia did that all by themselves.


Secondly, how are lockdown measures affecting Turkey during Ramadan?

Erdogan, the president who was trying to reopen the economy understands if they allow fully people to come to mass prayers and the rest during Ramadan, would lead to much more significant outbreaks. They have gotten their testing regime up significantly. Their economy is in real trouble. They're keeping it locked down while Ramadan is going on. That is a smart move. Certainly, one of the economies out there that I am most concerned about. They're going to need to go someplace for international aid, most likely that the IMF and Erdogan wants no part of it. He said publicly, absolutely not, a horrible organization, they force all sorts of unacceptable reforms, put you under their thumb. But if it's not them, I don't see money for them. The potential for a really messy exit, capital controls, default, seems reasonably high in the coming year in Turkey.

How is Vladimir Putin and Russia handling the pandemic?

Pretty badly. Doctors keep getting thrown out of windows in Russia. We don't like to see that. Doctors that are dealing with the coronavirus, they've been not upfront around how many people were getting this disease in the early days, as well as how many people have been dying from it. Russia now has the second highest number of cases in the world that they're reporting. Though the death toll is still pretty low, quite low, because if people die from other illnesses, even if they have coronavirus, they usually will put the other illness. A lot of doctors are saying this is being mishandled. Putin presently at 59% approval ratings. That's the worst approval rating of his entire presidency. Keep in mind that also, that's on the back of $30 oil. A big fight that was mistimed with the Saudis on that front. And, of course, economic contraction. Putin has no opposition to speak of in the country. He's not under any pressure to leave. It's not under any pressure to go anywhere, even after this term is over. He's changing the constitution, over time. He's going to be president for life. But he's not governing well, and his economy and his country is in severe decline. And that's obvious in the what they can and can't do in other parts of the world.

Finally, another health minister gone. Where is Brazil and its coronavirus response?

Pretty much the worst of any major democracy around the world. Two health ministers, both capable, fired within four weeks. Not something you normally want, but really not during a pandemic. In Brazil, they're saying that everyone should be taking the miracle drug, chloroquine. We now have President Trump saying he's taking hydroxychloroquine himself, even with the FDA saying you shouldn't. But he hasn't gotten rid of Fauci or a second head of the infectious disease response. Bolsonaro, by a strong head and shoulders, deserves the accolade for most incompetent response of a democracy to coronavirus.

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Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

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750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

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In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

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Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Andean aftermath: Two big weekend elections in South America produced two stunning results. In Ecuador's presidential runoff, the center-right former banker Guillermo Lasso upset early frontrunner Andrés Arauz, a leftist handpicked by former president Rafael Correa. Lasso will take power amid the social and economic devastation of the pandemic and will have to reckon with the rising political power of Ecuador's indigenous population: the Pachakutik party, which focuses on environmental issues and indigenous rights, is now the second-largest party in parliament. Meanwhile, in a big surprise next door in Perú, far-left union leader Pedro Castillo tallied up the most votes in the first round of that country's highly fragmented presidential election. As of Monday evening it's not clear whom he'll face in the June runoff, but three figures are in the running as votes are counted: prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, rightwing businessman Rafael López Aliaga, and conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Meanwhile, in the congressional ballot, at least 10 parties reached the threshold to win seats, but there is no clear majority or obvious coalition in sight.

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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

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