Tag Archives: COVID-19

Despite Slow COVID Vaccine Rollout, Europe Exports Vaccines – Why?

When I learned about the EU exporting COVID vaccines, I got angry (I’m still waiting to be vaccinated!) and then I investigated the question: It turns out that the issue is far more complex than expected. So here is the opening of the article I wrote about it, just published on Impakter magazine: 

Why Europe Engages in COVID Vaccine Exports Despite Slow Roll-out in Vaccination

by Claude Forthomme – Senior Editor

On 10 March, the New York Times, basing itself on “closely-held” European Commission documents they were “able to access” in Brussels, made the shocking revelations that, despite the slow roll-out of vaccination, Europe engages in COVID vaccine exports, fully 34 million doses last month. Within hours of the New York Times revelations, the European Commission, far from denying the numbers, proudly announced that the EU “continues to be the leading provider of vaccines around the world” and will be extending the measure which allows for such vaccine exports till the end of June. 

Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Since the measure was introduced, shipments were authorized to more than 30 countries. This confirms that even during a very critical health situation, the EU has made a considerable effort to be a reliable and responsible trading partner.”  The statement can be viewed as a direct answer to WHO accusations in January that the EU had introduced vaccine export control measures, setting off a “worrying trend” in “vaccine nationalism”. The EU of course defends its position, pointing out that the measures simply give power to the EU to deny authorization for COVID vaccine exports if the company making them (and whose facilities are based in the EU) has not honored existing contracts with the EU.

Read the rest on Impakter, click here. And let me know what you think! Are you as angry as I am (was)?

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The World After COVID: Back to Capitalism as We Know it or Something New?

 Last week I reviewed two amazing books that propose a new world after COVID, doing away with capitalism as we know it but using radically different means to achieve this goal. Both my reviews were published on Impakter. Here’s the opening of my article:

Post-COVID: Blueprints to End Capitalism As We Know It

Capitalism as we know it is morphing into an “awful kind of techno feudalism” that only deserves to die, says Yanis Varoufakis. A radical statement but coming from the former finance minister of Greece who famously battled the European Troika for the Greek cause at the height of the debt crisis in 2015, it is no surprise.

Can activists in their battle against shareholder capitalism use financial engineering to bring Wall Street to its knees? That is the scenario Varoufakis proposes in his latest book Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present (published in September 2020 by Vintage), arguing that finance is the Achilles heel of capitalism.  And here’s the other must-read book I reviewed:

How To Reform Capitalism – Mariana Mazzucato’s Moonshots

The Trojan horse comes from another economist, an Italo-American, a woman, Mariana Mazzucato who has already shaken up the academic world of economics with her bestselling The Entrepreneurial State, published in 2015 with the subtitle: “Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths”. 

Her solution for post-Covid reconstruction? Work from inside the system

Give back to the state the role it played back in the 1960s when America, engaged in a space race with the Soviet Union, unleashed the power of the Federal Government.

She lays it out in her new book, just out, January 28, 2021: Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (published by Penguin).

Mazzucato is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL) where she is also Founder and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. And her ideas have already been adopted both by the European Commission and the Scottish government. 

Both are highly recommended reads! Curious? Take a look at my article, click here.

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Filed under Book review, climate change, Digital Revolution, Economics, Environment, non-fiction, politics, Sociology

Christmas in Palestine at the time of COVID-19

 My latest article, just published on Impakter:

Christmas in Bethlehem: The COVID-19 Experience of the Holy Family Hospital

What is Christmas like in Palestine at the time of COVID-19? There is no better place to find out about the challenges brought on by the COVID emergency than in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. And in a hospital like the Holy Family Hospital run by the Order of Malta where most of the children in Bethlehem are born: It is both a center and a mirror of life in the region.

Until March 2020, life was normal in this sunny city of 25,000 people, six miles south of Jerusalem. Administered by the Palestinian Authority (PNA), people lived off tourism. And at Christmas, there was a peak of presence as pilgrims visited the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2012. In 2019, the Church was even removed from the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in Danger because it had been so well-restored. And people flocked there for Christmas, as always. 

Not this year. 

When COVID-19 hit, Bethlehem was the first city to go under curfew, closing hotels, tourist shops, and all economic activities. Later on, COVID-19 spread to the surrounding district and also to the other districts in Palestine. As most families in Bethlehem depend on tourism for their income, the pain was immediate and long-lasting. 

The movement of people was drastically curtailed, except for medical personnel allowed to reach the medical centers. And I wondered how hospitals in the region addressed the COVID-19 emergency.

Read the rest on Impakter: click here.

Have a Happy Holiday!

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