Weekly Round-Up


1. Early trials indicate new malaria vaccine has 77% efficacy.


A University of Oxford led effort to develop a malaria vaccine has posted results indicating an efficacy of 77%. The results are being hailed as a significant step forward in the battle against the mosquito borne disease, which has a yearly death rate of approximately 400,000 – mostly children in sub-Saharan Africa.


The Oxford team trialled the vaccine on 450 children in Burkina Faso, with results pointing to sustained resistance over a 12 month period. The 77% efficacy of the Oxford malaria jab is a marked improvement on the current most effective, which has only a 55% efficacy.



2. New report disputes IS propaganda over its involvement in Cabo Delgado conflict.


A report released this week by ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project) questions the strength of the widely reported relationship between the so-called Islamic State and the insurgents ravaging Mozambique. Following the recent insurgent attack on the strategically located town of Palma, IS shared what it claimed to be photos of the assault on its social media channels. However, investigation has revealed that the photos were actually taken earlier, in Mocimboa da Praia and not in Palma. Experts argue that this is further demonstration of a pattern whereby official IS channels are misinformed about the reality of the situation on the ground in Mozambique. As a result, many believe that whilst the insurgents, known locally as Al-Shabaab, are cooperating with IS to spread propaganda, the wider terrorist organisation is not involved in planning or carrying out attacks in Mozambique.


Since the military defeat of IS in Syria and Iraq in 2018 the terrorist outfit has sought association with numerous jihadist insurgencies and attacks across the globe. Such associations confer on these loose proxies IS’s reputation for terror and memories of early victories against the standing Armies of Syria and Iraq. In turn IS benefits from perceptions of its vicarious command as it seeks to exist beyond the digital realm.



3. Explosion at Pakistan hotel hosting Chinese ambassador kills four and injures eleven others.


Four people have been killed and eleven others injured after a bomb was detonated at an upmarket hotel where the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan was staying, in the city of Quetta. The Chinese ambassador, Mr. Nong Rong, was not at the hotel at the time, but many have speculated that he was the target of the attack. The Pakistani Taliban have since claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities are yet to comment on the veracity of the claim. Provincial government spokesperson, Liaquat Shahwani, noted that “those who don't want to see progress and prosperity in the Baluchistan province are responsible for this act of terrorism."



4. India suffers highest daily death toll yet in battle against Covid-19


A steep spike in the incidence of Covid-19 in India has seen the global giant record the highest daily death toll yet. India, which had seen a sharp decline in cases at the beginning of the year, has been hit by a number of new variants which have contributed to drive cases skywards.


The cruel irony of India’s plight is that it has been a leading player in the export of Covid-19 vaccines, equipment, and therapies to countries hitherto more impacted, and to others under the COVAX scheme.



5. Australia cancels ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives with China citing security concerns and the national interest


Australia has cancelled a pair of state level agreements with China that were part of the latter’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative on the basis that the deals threaten Australia’s security and national interests. The Australian federal government cancelled the accords between China and Victoria state because they were out of kilter with central government foreign policy, which increasingly views the Belt and Road initiative as a threat to freedom in the Indo-Pacific. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that "We will always act in Australia's national interest to protect Australia, but to also ensure we can advance our national interest in a free and open Indo Pacific and a world that seeks a balance in favour of freedom."