Welcome back to Axios World.
- We're spending most of tonight's edition (1,575 words, 6 minutes) in the Americas, looking at vaccine supplies from China and Russia.
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Welcome back to Axios World.
Several countries in the Americas have received their first vaccine shipments over the past few weeks — not from the regional superpower or from Western pharmaceutical giants, but from China, Russia, and in some cases India.
Why it matters: North and South America have been battered by the pandemic and recorded several of the world’s highest death tolls. Few countries other than the U.S. have the capacity to manufacture vaccines at scale, and most lack the resources to buy their way to the front of the line for imports. That’s led to a scramble for whatever supply is available.
Driving the news: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — who has railed against vaccine “hoarding” by rich countries — was expected to ask President Biden in their virtual meeting tonight to share a portion of the U.S. vaccine supply with Mexico.
The state of play: Other global powers have begun shipping doses to the region. At least 10 Latin American countries have obtained Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine or expect to soon, while 10 more are expecting doses from China’s Sinovac or Sinopharm.
Zoom in: While Bolivia was negotiating the purchase of 5.2 million Sputnik doses in December, at $10 per shot, the government was also in talks with Western pharmaceutical companies who “told us developing countries that we had to wait until June,” Trade Minister Benjamin Blanco told Reuters.
Vaccines arriving from Russia and China are often received with great fanfare, with political leaders and TV cameras on hand.
Yes, but: The shipments are often quite small.
However, deals to produce the Sinovac and Sputnik vaccines in Brazil and Sputnik in Argentina should boost supplies. Crucially, the vaccines don't require ultra-cold temperatures.
What to watch: By this summer, the U.S. and other rich countries will likely be prepared to share doses internationally, significantly shifting the vaccine diplomacy picture.
The bottom line: Moscow and Beijing may have gained lasting goodwill and influence in the region by stepping in when vaccines were at their most scarce.
Lining up to be vaccinated, in Montevideo. Photo: Ana Ferreira/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Uruguay became the last country in South America to begin its vaccine rollout today after receiving 200,000 doses from China's Sinovac, writes Martin Aguirre, editor of Uruguay's El Pais newspaper:
How it happened: Since the pandemic was handled relatively well in Uruguay, the government didn't feel the need to be too proactive last year in negotiating private agreements with vaccine makers.
The state of play: Uruguay is relying solely on Sinovac until Pfizer shipments begin later this month. Still, with its small population (3.5 million) and strong health care system, it could be the first on the continent to reach herd immunity — if the supply holds up, that is.
The big picture: There have been several lessons learned for the region, including that too much faith was put in the multilateral COVAX mechanism, which has yet to provide any doses, and in Western companies and governments.
What to watch: The result of all this will be felt in the years to come. After the Sinovac doses arrived on Friday, El Pais received and published a letter from the Chinese ambassador. "Good friends show up in really hard times," it said.
Vaccine hesitancy is fading, according to a poll of six countries shared with Axios by strategic consulting firm Kekst CNC.
Zoom in: Brits have embraced the national vaccination mission, with a whopping 89% willing to be vaccinated.
The flipside: People in all six countries believe the pandemic is far from over, with just 25% of Americans believing their country won’t face another wave of the virus and 9–16% agreeing in the other five.
Protests today in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
1. Protesters gathered today outside of a Hong Kong court where 47 pro-democracy politicians and activists faced charges under Beijing’s draconian national security law.
2. President Nayib Bukele’s party won a sweeping victory in El Salvador’s parliamentary elections on Sunday.
3. Forces allied with the Ethiopian government are carrying out ethnic cleansing in the Tigray region, according to a U.S. government report seen by the NY Times.
4. Iran has rejected a proposal for nuclear talks with the U.S., for now at least. Go deeper.
5. The president of the Dominican Republic has announced plans for a border fence with Haiti to reduce crime and illegal immigration.
Protesting in Yangon. Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images
Protesters returned to the streets of Myanmar's cities a day after at least 18 were killed during peaceful demonstrations on Sunday, according to the UN.
Monks take part in a chanting ceremony to mark Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok. Photo: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images
"We still need strongest possible action from the international community to immediately end the military coup."— Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, on Friday at the UN. He was quickly fired by the military junta.