Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

The EU’s key drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, has backed down against doubts about the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Emer Cooke, the agency’s head, said regulators are still investigating concerns about the possibility of rare side effects, but that there is “no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions” and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The disruption of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine by major European governments weakens the already shaky implementation. No country in the EU is on track to achieve its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of its population by September.

Thailand, Australia and India are still using the AstraZeneca vaccine as investigations continue into concerns about possible rare side effects such as blood clots and abnormal bleeding.

Analysis: The suspensions have as much to do with political considerations as scientific ones. After Germany took a break, pressure increased on other governments to follow suit and avoid accusations of carelessness.

Grieve the little things: It’s OK – even healthy – to mourn a canceled prom or a lost vacation, say mental health experts.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has made extensive efforts to interfere in the U.S. election to harm Joe Biden’s chances, including operations to influence people close to Donald Trump, according to a newly declassified intelligence report.

The report did not name Russia’s targets, but apparently referred to Rudolph Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, who raised the allegations of corruption over Mr. Biden and his family involving Ukraine relentlessly drifted. China considered its own efforts, but concluded that such an operation would fail, the report found.

The US intelligence community has also determined that Iran’s Mr. Biden tried to help in the last days of the election by distributing emails falsely claiming to be from the far-right group the Proud Boys. Unlike in 2016, there were no attempts by Russia or other countries to change the actual ballots.


Across Europe, more students and young people are facing food insecurity as the pandemic begins its second year and the reduction of jobs in their families takes a greater toll and deepens the disparities for the most vulnerable populations.

In France, Europe’s second largest economy, half of young adults now have limited or insecure access to food. According to le Cercle des Économistes, a French economic research center that advises the government, almost a quarter regularly skips at least one meal a day.

“I have no money for food,” said Amandine Chéreau, a French university student whose father was away from work for 20 years in August. By October, she had decided to eat one meal a day, saying she had lost 20 pounds.

Reaction: President Emmanuel Macron has announced a rapid relief plan, which includes daily 1-euro meals at university cafeterias, psychological support and a review of financial aid for those experiencing a “lasting and significant decline in family income”.

America has never accepted responsibility for spraying Agent Orange, a herbicide with one of the most toxic substances ever created, over Laos during the Vietnam War. But generations of ethnic minorities have endured the consequences. The Times Magazine looked at one of the last countless stories of the American war in Southeast Asia.

In most of the European Union, vaccine deployment was slow and new cases were on the rise. Europe – the first place where the coronavirus caused widespread death – is set to be one of the last places out of its grasp.

Why did Europe do so badly? There are three main reasons.

Too much bureaucracy

While the US and other countries were in a hurry to sign agreements with vaccine manufacturers, the EU first tried to make sure that all 27 of its member states agreed on how to proceed with the negotiations.

The result was the slower approval of the vaccines and delayed agreements to buy doses, forces Europe to wait in line behind countries that moved faster.

2. Penny wise and pound fool

Europe has placed great emphasis on negotiating a low price for vaccine doses. Israeli officials, on the other hand, were willing to pay a premium to receive doses quickly. Israel paid about $ 25 per dose of Pfizer, and the US paid about $ 20 per dose. The EU pays $ 15 to $ 19.

The discounted price becomes another reason why Europe had to wait behind other countries. Even in purely economic terms, the compromise is likely to be bad: every $ 1 saved per vaccine dose could end up being $ 1 billion – a rounding error in a trading bloc with nearly $ 20 billion in annual economic output. A single additional exclusion, such as the one announced by Italy this week, could eliminate savings.

3. Vaccination skepticism

“Europe is the world center of vaccine skepticism,” Jillian Deutsch and Sarah Wheaton of Politico Europe write. That skepticism was before Covid, and now its consequences are becoming clear.

In a survey published in the journal Nature Medicine, residents of 19 countries were asked if they would take a Covid vaccine that has been proven ‘safe and effective’. In China, 89 percent of the people said yes. In the US, 75 percent did so. Shares were lower in most of Europe: 68 percent in Germany, 65 percent in Sweden, 59 percent in France and 56 percent in Poland.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and a clue: Take the wheel (five letters).

You can find all our riddles here.


This is it for today’s briefing. Thank you for joining me. – Natasha

PS David Leonhardt wrote today’s Arts and Ideas. Our correspondent Matina Stevis-Gridneff joined “The GlobalistTo unpack the political drama surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about American conservatives divided over wind energy.

You can join Natasha and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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