World roundup: December 1 2021
Stories from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Barbados, and more
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
The dreaded (I guess?) Omicron strain of SARS-CoV2 has apparently reached the United States. I’m sure we’ll handle it with the calm efficiency that’s marked our full response to COVID. Sure, let’s go with that.
Speaking of Omicron, the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the travel bans that Western nations have erected against travelers from several African (of course) countries over the new variant are having a detrimental effect on efforts to study it. That’s the downside, sure, but on the other hand those bans have also been completely ineffective at stopping Omicron’s spread. You have to consider the pluses and minuses, you know.
The WHO also said on Wednesday that it intends to begin negotiations on an international pandemic treaty that would, in theory, reduce the chances that humanity will completely botch future COVID-like situations as badly as we’ve botched the response to COVID itself. I would expect the international community to come to an accord on this right after we agree to stop burning coal, which I’m sure will happen any day now. Right?
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday revised its global economic growth prediction for 2021 to 5.6 percent, down slightly from its previous 5.7 percent estimate. Omicron’s emergence, and the severe vaccine inequality that likely allowed it to develop, factored in the lowered forecast. The OECD is predicting 4.5 percent global growth in 2022, but that depends to a great deal on how the pandemic goes over the next 12 months.
Among the Saudi military’s targets in its Yemeni airstrikes on Tuesday was a site in Sanaa that’s allegedly being used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It’s unclear exactly what the Saudis believe the IRGC has been doing at that site but the allegation itself is worth noting in the context of efforts to diplomatically resolve both this war and the regional tensions between the Saudis and the Iranians. Houthi media, meanwhile, claims that three Saudi airstrikes hit Sanaa airport and a fourth struck a park in the city.