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- We’re diving deep tonight into the global race toward a coronavirus vaccine.
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Welcome back to Axios World.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Vaccines from the U.K., U.S. and China are sprinting ahead in a global race that involves at least 197 vaccine candidates and is producing geopolitical clashes even as it promises a possible pandemic escape route.
Driving the news: The first two candidates to reach phase three trials — one from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, the other from China — both appear safe and produce immune responses, according to preliminary results published today in The Lancet.
What they're saying: Experts are increasingly confident that it's no longer a question of if but when vaccines will be available.
Pressed on when a vaccine could be approved, Bloom said that while it seemed "utterly crazy seven months ago," January was looking increasingly realistic.
But, but, but: "Getting something approved doesn't protect you from COVID," Emanuel warns.
The global picture is even murkier. Several countries and pharmaceutical companies have committed to "fair and equitable" distribution.
The bottom line: "It's very fragmented, and in some ways that's understandable," Horton says. "But the danger of that is that many countries will lose out and only the strongest country, the country with the most money, will win."
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios
For now, governments are prioritizing their own populations.
The Trump administration is pouring at least $3.5 billion into the development and manufacture of three leading vaccine candidates, with the promise of hundreds of millions of doses should they prove safe and effective.
What to watch: Managing the largest vaccination project in history will clearly require global collaboration — but it's also becoming a competition between rival powers.
Between the lines: Others are less certain Russia will be in that group, though Dmitriev says a vaccine bankrolled by his fund and developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute will move into phase three trials next month.
“Basically other countries will decide, you know, which vaccine to buy ... and who do you trust?”— Kirill Dmitriev
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
There's a clear lack of trust among the competitors.
First look: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy will introduce a bill on Tuesday that would sanction foreign hackers attempting to steal U.S. vaccine research, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Axios' Alayna Treene.
Zoom out: It will be a victory for humanity when the first coronavirus vaccines are approved. But the competition to obtain one early goes beyond national pride.
The bottom line: The race is on, but it won't end when the first vaccine is approved.
Go deeper: Coronavirus treatment is improving
Dua Lipa at the Grammys in January. Photo: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
You may know Dua Lipa as the voice behind “New Rules,” but she has unexpectedly become the controversial face of Albanian nationalism.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
There’s a growing body of evidence from Europe suggesting that schools can operate safely during the pandemic, at least under certain circumstances.
The flipside: No country that closed schools has attempted to reopen them with outbreaks still raging as they are in countries like the U.S. and Brazil. Still, those who are late to open will likely adopt tactics from those who opened first.
Social distancing: Danish class sizes were initially limited to around 12, and arrival times were staggered to avoid crowding.
Masks: Similarly, countries including Austria initially required masks but loosened those restrictions over time.
"Bubbles": When the U.K. fully reopens schools in September, smaller subsets of students will spend classes, lunch and recess together — an approach several other countries have experimented with.
Schedules: Italy is asking schools to open on Saturdays to allow for lower daily attendance.
What to watch: It remains unclear how susceptible children are to the virus, though findings from a hard-hit town in France — which are consistent with other evidence — suggest it spreads significantly less easily among teens than adults, and very little among young children.
Much of the developed world is gradually drifting away from religion, but the opposite is the case in Russia and some other former Eastern Bloc countries, according to data from Pew Research.
The question of whether one's fellow citizens must believe in God to "be moral and have good values" marks a clear dividing line.
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto, and Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images
President Trump has attempted to make his tough-on-China stance a key facet of his campaign (though John Bolton's book has made that a harder sell).
Why it matters: Joe Biden, in Trump's telling, wouldn't have the will or capacity to challenge China as he has.
Tony Blinken, a foreign policy adviser to Biden who will likely get a top job if he wins in November, laid out a counterargument on Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
His bottom line: The U.S. needs to get its own economic and political house in order, repair its alliances and then "engage with China from a position of strength."
Worth noting: This is a much more nuanced argument than the one Biden himself made last May, before changing gears on China:
"[T]hey’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us."
Evening in Barcelona. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images
"Sometimes you have a transfer of prisoners."— China's ambassador to the U.K., struggling to explain a disturbing video from Xinjiang