In Case You Didn’t Follow the News — Here’s What Happened During the 4th Week of September
UNGA 2020 and COVID-19
On the 4th week of September 2020, the world was focused on the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which opened on the 15th of September and will run until the 30th. For the first time, due to COVID-19, the assembly took place mostly online – and truth be told, coronavirus was a big part of the discussion as well. Kimiro Ishane, for example, talked about the geopolitical consequences of Japan’s response to the pandemic. Christine Lagarde also talked about unexpectedly positive, albeit uncertain, fiscal response for the European Union.
A Unified Response?
As expected, several speakers stressed the need for global cooperation, during this difficult time. Nonetheless, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had some serious contrasts about COVID-19. Trump accused China of “unleashing this plague into the world” and Xi Jinping pointed the finger back at him for spreading a “political virus”.
The lack of a unified response to the virus is even more evident when looking at global approaches to social events. As Rio, in the middle of the world’s second-deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, halts the planning for next year’s carnival, Japan’s Prime Minister announced that the Tokyo Olympics will take place next year, regardless of the pandemic. The new date for the start of the Olympic torch relay has been decided and everything has been set in motion. For Japan, hosting the Olympics next year has become a matter of sending a message of victory against COVID-19.
The Global Picture
The global picture, however, seems to suggest that we may still be far from a complete victory. Even after having instituted a lockdown, Israel reported its highest daily spike to date amongst popular protests against Netanyahu, and Iran is bracing itself for a third wave. Europe is facing a difficult situation as well, with France, the UK, and Spain reporting record numbers of contagion. Greece, as well, has just had their first COVID-19-related refugee death. Pacific Asia, however, is the hardest-hit area, amongst natural disasters. India is still struggling, both in terms of contagion rate and economy. China, as well, is facing a possible rebound with a new tourism wave, after importing 21 new cases last week.
On the bright side, some countries seem to have good news. Britain has finally launched its long-awaited contact-tracing app and has guaranteed PPE to healthcare workers. Australia has also contained their major hotspot in Victoria, where cases have drastically fallen after a second wave caused by a hotel quarantine failure. Finally, a particular exercise in that global cooperation that UNGA and the WHO called for was exercised by India, which offered their vaccine capacity “to all humanity”.
India, however, is not the only country invested in vaccine development and distribution. In the US, a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine is currently being tested, and a vaccine from China has entered the human trial stage in Indonesia. The UK, moreover, is planning on hosting “human challenge” trials, injecting volunteers with the virus to test vaccine effectiveness.