WES Sunday brings you a quick-fire rundown of your biggest weekly stories. Read the recap every Sunday - from ground-breaking headline events to underreported perspectives on the issues that matter.
This week's roundup:
Promising announcements by Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna may encourage Downing Street to give Christmas the green light.
New trade deal in Asia-Pacific, no agreement over COVID-19 relief package in the EU.
Two lights at the end of the tunnel - but which vaccine is “brighter”?
Pfizer and BioNTech keep on making progress with their covid-19 vaccines - the most recent report showed 95% efficacy, also among the most vulnerable age group above 65 years old. It challenged 94.5% score announced by Moderna, an American biotech firm earlier during the week.
The two alternatives differ in terms of storing conditions - Moderna has an advantage of requiring the temperature of 2°C-8°C, compared to the problematic -70°C and one week expiry date after refrigeration - needed for Pfizer and BioNTech’s one.
However, the matter of costs brings understandable concerns - both companies estimate the double dose worth to be $40-$60.
Are there winners in RCEP?
13 Asian countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The deal serves as a consolidation of existing free-trade deals among members - and brings new ones, too.
India did not join, facing the fear of being overpowered by Chinese imports. Japan and South Korea, on the other hand, are predicted to raise their real income by 1% by 2030 thanks to newly initiated deals with the Asian giant.
The agreement is expected to generate substantial profits, projected at a $186 billion increase in global GDP by 2030.
Poland and Hungary, partners in rebellion
The newly proposed EU spending budget set at €1.82 trillion over the next 7 years, including a special COVID-19 recovery package, did not get the chance to mark its place in EU history.
Two countries considered it not worth abiding by EU standards on the rule of law and independent jurisdiction institutions. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki implied that new conditions for funding may eventually lead to “a break-up of the EU”, with Brussels acting “like the communists”.
The package will be voted once again by the end of the year, when the current budget expires. Even if delayed, it still gives hope for relief in struggles with the effects of the pandemic.
Christmas in a larger family circle is not off the table
Reports claim that UK families may mix over the Christmas period this year.
Health Secretary Matt Hannock admitted that the plan will include rules “that keep people safe” and “allow them to see their loved ones”.
Details could be announced as early as this week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. New measures will depend on how citizens abide by current regulations.
by Natalia Tronina