A person holds a vial of a vaccine dose wearing blue gloves

EU moves toward stricter export controls for COVID-19 vaccines

In today's Top of the World: EU moves toward stricter export controls for COVID-19 vaccines; A massive ship get stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking the vital route; Israeli election results show a razor-sharp margin for Netanyahu, who lacks the 61-seat majority to clinch it.

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

The European Union’s executive body said Wednesday that it has a plan to guarantee that more COVID-19 vaccines produced within the EU are available for its own citizens before they are marked for exports. The issue will be at the center of the agenda of Thursday’s virtual summit of EU countries.

The move toward export controls, which aims to boost the bloc’s crawling vaccine drive, stems from a rift with the United Kingdom, which has received about 10 million vaccine doses from EU plants, while EU leaders say nothing has come from Britain.

The EU is also increasingly frustrated with AstraZeneca for not meeting its vaccine delivery targets to Europe — while the company has complied with targets for the UK. Some of the AstraZeneca vaccines used in the UK are coming from production plants in the EU, but the UK placed its order for the shots earlier than the EU.

US President Joe Biden will attend the summit, and US export policy is also likely to be a talking point.

What the world is following

A massive container ship has become wedged across Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking all traffic in the vital waterway and threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal through which 10% of the world’s trade passes. Some officials are blaming a strong wind. Experts said this has never happened in the canal's 150-year history. It could take at least two days for the Suez Canal to reopen.

And in Israel’s fourth election in two years, results have left a razor-thin margin between a right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a diverse array of parties bent on ousting him. Both lack the 61-seat majority to clinch the election. This means an Arab Islamist could choose Israel's next prime minister, an odd predicament for Netanyahu considering his past anti-Arab rhetoric. Israelis vote for party lists rather than individual candidates. Each side is now looking to the United Arab List to join them in order to form a government and avoid yet another round of elections.

From The World

Brazil saw its first COVID-19 death a year ago. Today the death toll nears 300,000.

A health worker inoculates a woman at a COVID-19 vaccination point for priority elderly persons in the Ceilandia neighborhood, on the outskirts of Brasilia, Brazil, March 22, 2021.

A health worker inoculates a woman at a COVID-19 vaccination point for priority elderly persons in the Ceilandia neighborhood, on the outskirts of Brasilia, Brazil, March 22, 2021.


Eraldo Peres/AP

Brazil reported more than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths in a single day for the first time on Tuesday. With a highly contagious variant spreading around the country and a slow vaccine rollout, there seems to be little light at the end of the tunnel. Reporter Michael Fox looks back at a year of the pandemic in Brazil.

Czech Republic may offer justice, compensation to thousands of sterilized Roma women

A woman with a black and white striped shirt sits outside with younger children surrounding her.

Azime Ali Topchu, 48, a Bulgarian Roma woman, pauses during an interview with The Associated Press in a village on the outskirts of Burgas, Bulgaria, Sept. 28, 2020. 


Vadim Ghirda/AP

Thousands of Roma women were involuntarily sterilized in former Czechoslovakia. Now, a bill offering compensation to those women is under consideration in the Czech Parliament. Roma women and activist groups say just reaching this stage is a huge milestone.

Bright Spot

A Banksy painting titled “Game Changer,” honoring Britain’s health workers in the coronavirus pandemic, sold for 16.8 million pounds ($23.2 million) — a record price for the artist. Part of the proceeds from the auction will be used to fund health organizations and charities across the UK.

The work first appeared on a wall at Southampton General Hospital in southern England in May with a note saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.”

In case you missed it

From The World

US faces second mass shooting in under a week

A police officer is shown wearing a face mask amidst broken glass and other remnants of a shooting with Boulder Police baracades in the nearground.

Police work on the scene outside of a King Soopers grocery store where authorities say multiple people were killed in a shooting in Boulder, Colorado, March 22, 2021.


Joe Mahoney/AP

Another city, another tragic shooting in the United States, this time in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday. The shooter killed 10 people in a horrific mass shooting, again capturing the global spotlight less than a week after a shooting in Atlanta left eight dead. And, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has withdrawn his country from a treaty protecting women from gender-based violence. Also, The World remembers Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist, writer, doctor and activist who passed away on Sunday.

Don't forget to subscribe to The World's Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.