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Cover: HarperCollins

A new book, "The Wake-Up Call" — by Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait and The Economist political editor Adrian Wooldridge — warns the West about what can happen to great powers that mishandle a pandemic.

Axios talked to Micklethwait on Friday night, on his ride from Bloomberg's tower in London to the English countryside:

It's really important whether we find a vaccine. It's really important what happens to the economy. But in 20 years' time, if a historian looks back at this year and they say, "Wow, 2020 was the year when Asia clearly began to get ahead of the West," that will be a much bigger deal. 
The aim of our book is to say to the West: "Wake up." Most of the things Asia are doing are things we can copy — not anything to do with autocracy, just simple things like improving schools and so on.

Micklethwait told me the West's decline isn't inevitable:

If you look at bits of the West, they are still massively superior. You look at all the brains and talent in Silicon Valley, that's not really comparative in places like China. The challenge for the next American president is to try and reunite a wider version of the West, which brings in all the democracies of the world. ...
America has to wake up when it comes to the public sector side. What COVID showed is merely having a very dynamic private sector is not enough. Unless people start to think about how to reform American government, America will fall behind. ...
I do very strongly believe in the power of American regeneration.

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Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated Dec 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Newly elected Louisiana GOP Rep. Luke Letlow, 41, dies from coronavirus

The late Louisiana Republican Rep. Luke Letlow. Photo: Luke Letlow/Facebook

Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-La.) died in a Louisiana hospital intensive care unit on Tuesday night "due to complications from COVID-19," his spokesperson Andrew Bautsch confirmed. He was 41.

The big picture: Letlow was due to be sworn into Congress this Sunday. He announced on Dec. 18 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to the Ochsner LSU Health ICU in Shreveport on Dec. 23.

Dec 29, 2020 - Health

Stay-at-home order extended for Southern California, San Joaquin Valley

A nurse tightens her gown in the ICU at Providence St. Jude Medical Center Christmas Day in Fullerton, California. Photo: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California's regional stay-at-home order has been extended for Southern California and San Joaquin Valley, officials announced Tuesday.

Driving the news: The expected move came as the ICU capacity in both regions remained at 0%, the state health department said. Southern California and San Joaquin Valley have been under the order since Dec. 6.