What We’re Watching: COVAX falls short, UK returns migrant boats to France, Guinea coup memes
COVAX comes up short. Who's to blame? The World Health Organization revealed Wednesday that the COVAX scheme would fall half a billion doses short of its target to deliver 1.9 billion COVID vaccine doses to low- and middle-income ex countries by the end of 2021. Several factors have contributed to this shortfall, including India's decision to halt vaccine exports earlier this year amid a catastrophic COVID outbreak, and mixed messaging from the WHO and national governments about the safety and scaling of certain vaccines that disrupted COVAX's supply chain. The WHO has long taken aim at rich countries rolling out booster shots before developing states dole out first and second shots to their populations. But US President Joe Biden hit back in recent days saying that the argument of boosters vs donating shots is "a false choice," saying the US can, and has, done both. So far, COVAX has delivered 245 million doses, but just 0.4 percent of all jabs administered globally have been in low-income states.
UK clashes with France over migrant boats: Every summer, thousands of migrants trying to get to the UK cross the English Channel from France in rickety little dinghies. Amid particularly high numbers this year, British authorities have now approved plans to turn them away entirely. Stopping those migrants is now the "number one priority" for UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, whose boss, PM Boris Johnson, got to where he is in part by taking a hard line on immigration. But France says forcing people back out to sea without assistance would violate maritime law, while migrant-support groups worry that the practice could put migrants' lives at risk. The UK helps to fund French efforts to intercept departures, but London is now also threatening — somewhat puzzlingly — to withhold that money entirely unless Paris does a better job.Guinea's deposed president goes viral: If getting ousted in a military coup wasn't bad enough, Guinea's toppled President Alpha Condé is now being mocked online. Hours after seizing power, soldiers posted an image of the 83-year-old Condé splayed out on a couch, barefoot and wearing jeans and an unbuttoned shirt, looking curiously chill while surrounded by heavily armed men in masks. Enter the meme: that picture has now inspired the Twitter-trending #alphacondechallenge, in which users all across West Africa are making and sharing hilarious parodies of the shot. A South African newspaper says the photoshopped images are a tribute to the African proverb: "If we don't laugh, we will surely cry". We're not sure if Condé himself is aware of his unwitting contribution to meme culture, but we do hope he has a smartphone to kill time while he's in the custody of Guinea's new junta.