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When hopes for vaccines develop, poorer international locations come final

Here is today's foreign policy mandate: Hopes for a second promise are rising Coronavirus vaccination Candidate, Hong KongThe pro-democracy opposition resigns and Russia Eyes a Sudan Naval base.

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Will Trump Find Recognition For Vaccination Breakthroughs?

Just as news of a possible breakthrough coronavirus vaccine rocketed stock markets earlier in the week, a second vaccine candidate could release similar results.

A vaccine trial by Moderna in the USA has now reached the threshold number of infections that allow a preliminary analysis to be carried out. And just like the Pfizer / BioNtech study, the rising number of coronavirus infections means Moderna likely has more cases to test than originally planned.

Will it work? While it is not yet known whether the study's results will match the promising Pfizer / BioNtech results, there is reason to believe that it will. This is because Moderna's vaccine candidate uses the same delivery mechanism: messenger RNA (mRNA). Drew Weissman, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg that he expected "similar results" from the Moderna study. "It's hard to imagine how it would be otherwise," he added.

If the preliminary results bring good news, the Trump administration may have a stronger case for borrowing. Unlike Pfizer, Moderna is much more closely tied to Operation Warp Speed, the White House's public-private partnership, which was formed to find a suitable vaccine.

Hoard vaccine. If either or both vaccines prove effective, it will be good news for the rich countries, but a fearful wait for the poorer ones. A study by researchers at Duke University's Global Health Innovation Center found that the European Union and five other countries have already purchased 2.2 billion doses of potential vaccines. Canada, for example, has bought enough doses of vaccine to cover its population more than five times. Given that some vaccines may require two doses, that means some poorer countries may wait until 2024 before receiving a vaccine.

How cold can you go Prosperity is not the only driving force behind vaccine delivery. Competence is also important. As Laurie Garrett wrote on Nov. 10, even a wealthy country like the United States could have difficulty distributing a vaccine, especially when combined with the unusual storage requirements of an mRNA-based vaccine, where temperatures of -103 degrees to stay Fahrenheit required are stable. And that's before considering how strong the public opposition will be to a government-approved vaccine when it becomes available.

What we are following today

The Biden transition. President-elect Joe Biden has named Ron Klain as his chief of staff in his new administration. As a longtime activist of the Democratic Party, Klain was an advisor in the election campaign in Biden. Most recently he was President Barack Obama's Ebola epidemic coordinator. Foreign policy has grouped the likely candidates for the best foreign policy jobs in a future Biden cabinet.

Hong Kong democracy push. The pro-democracy faction in the Hong Kong Legislative Council has resigned en masse after four of its counterparts were overthrown as a result of Beijing-enacted new laws that allow the removal of lawmakers deemed disloyal to the mainland. In addition to the four representatives, a total of 15 elected officials resigned in protest. In response to the news, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said the United States would "continue to identify and sanction those responsible for wiping out Hong Kong's freedom". In FP's weekly China Letter, James Palmer writes that the move means "the Hong Kong government is more than ever a puppet of Beijing".

The Ivory Coast leaders begin to speak. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara met with opposition leader Henri Konan Bedié to calm tensions over the outcome of the October 31 election. Bedié, himself a former president, said he would continue to meet with Ouattara "so that the country becomes the way it was before". An important demand from Bedié and his staff is that the Outtara government drop criminal charges against opposition members for forming a parallel government. Ivory Coast experienced sporadic violence both before and after the vote, in which at least 85 people were killed.

Russia in Africa. Russia plans to build a naval base in Sudan according to a draft agreement between the two countries. The base would provide logistical support, perform repairs on ships, and accommodate up to four warships. If the deal is agreed, the base would give Russia a major stop in the Red Sea and Bab el-Mandeb Strait, where other military powers have already started building bases.

Asia's largest trade deal. After eight years of negotiations, countries that represent around 30 percent of the global economy will sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement on Sunday to lower tariffs and establish rules for e-commerce and intellectual property in the Asia-Pacific region. The 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam will sign on Sunday along with China, Japan, South Korea and Australia and New Zealand. Keith Johnson of FP wrote last November about what (beyond its size) makes the RCEP a big deal.

Yemen's hunger risk. United Nations officials have called for more funds to support relief efforts in Yemen or to risk famine. Mark Lowcock, head of U.N. aid, told the United States Security Council on Wednesday that only half of the US $ 3 billion humanitarian aid budget required in Yemen has so far been reached. "When I think about what a famine would mean, I can't understand why more is not being done to prevent it," Lowcock said. "It is a terrible, agonizing and humiliating death … Yemenis do not starve. They are starved."

The Japanese city of Takikawa on the north island of Hokkaido has found a new solution to their growing bear problem: wolf robots. More like mechanized scarecrows, the fake wolves are equipped with speakers that produce wolf howls as soon as bears are within range. Bear sightings in Japan are at their highest level in five years, and in 2020 there have been two deadly bear attacks. Takikawa officials say they have not seen any bears since the lupine guards started working.

That's it for today.

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Photo credit: Chandan Khanna / Getty Images

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