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Russia Claims First Coronavirus Vaccine Within Two Weeks; Germany Warns of Spike in COVID-19 Cases; "Unprecedented" Hajj Limited to about 1,000 Pilgrims; Global School Closures; Trump's New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA; Trump Tells Axios He Never Discussed with Putin Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops; Mexicans Travel to U.S. for Coronavirus Treatment; UFC President: Where Are the Critics Now? Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 29, 2020 - 10:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): It's a race for survival quite literally as countries around the world fight to produce a COVID-19

vaccine. Russia claims it is way ahead of the game.

And an image you might recognize but unlike one you have ever seen before. Inside the city of Mecca, it is a very different Hajj pilgrimage.


DR. PATRICIO GONZALEZ ZUNIGA, DUAL U.S.-MEXICAN CITIZEN: It's like a decision of stay and maybe, you know, 50 percent chance that you will die

or just go and get services.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Well, it is a heartwrenching journey no one wants to endure. We take you live to one of the busiest border areas in the




ANDERSON: This hour, we are close to 17 million cases of the coronavirus worldwide. And every single minute of every single day, hundreds of people

are being recorded as newly infected. The true figures likely much higher. We need now more than ever a solution.

I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to our expanded edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

We begin with an CNN exclusive that Russia calls a new Sputnik moment. With superhuman speed, it seems, the country intends to approve a coronavirus

vaccine within weeks. That will make it the world's first by a long shot. But it's so fast, some are worried that it's too fast.

Is it effective and is it even safe?

It puts Russia well ahead of the more than 100 vaccines under development around the world. Only 2 dozen are in phase 3 trials, including one of the

world's largest right here in the United Arab Emirates. Matthew Chance has a closer look.

Matthew, with human trials not yet completed, how is it possible -- even possible -- that Russia will be ready to approve a vaccine by mid August?


And the fact that they say they are and the Russian officials expect the approval to come by August the 10th and possibly before that makes it even

more incredible.

The Russians are pushing ahead in this rapid way to be there first. It's set off all sorts of alarm bells. Not least because the fact that, you

know, human trials, as you say, have not -- well, they have been ignored essentially.

I mean, what we learned yesterday is that the third phase of human trials, which are absolutely crucial in determining the safety and the overall

effectiveness of any vaccine, they won't be taking place until the vaccine has already been approved and administered to various sectors of the

Russian population, starting with the most vulnerable sectors, front line medical workers.

It's something that, you know, Russian officials, you know, they're very aware of. They're under a lot of pressure from the Kremlin. They have been

speaking to us over the course of the last couple of days and weeks, trying to explain why it is that Russia is getting there so far before anyone

else. Take a listen to Alexander Ginsburg, the director, first of all, of the government institute at the bottom -- at the start of this vaccine

research in Russia.


ALEXANDER GINSBURG, DIRECTOR, GAMALEYA INSTITUTE (through translator): It has become a task of unprecedented complexity. In a very short time we have

to create a vaccine against this disease.

CHANCE (voice-over): But that need for speed in Russia means corners may have been cut.

Russian soldiers, all volunteers, according to the defense ministry, were used in the first phase of human trials. And now, allegations denied by the

Kremlin that Russian spies have been hacking U.S., British and Canadian labs to steal their coronavirus secrets.

Allegations also rejected by the head of the organization funding much of Russia's coronavirus research.

CHANCE: Russia desperately needs and wants to develop a vaccine.

Isn't that one reason why the Kremlin would try to get ahead by stealing other nations' vaccine secrets?

KIRILL DMITRIEV, RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND: First of all, we are surprised by the timing of this. Basically it happens the next day after we

announce that we expect approval of our vaccine in August.


CHANCE: So how do you explain that extraordinary speed?

I mean, other countries are working frantically.

Why would Russia be so far ahead?

There are allegations that they're cutting corners when it comes to their research.

DMITRIEV: Our vaccine is based on a proven vaccine platform. It was the vaccine against Ebola, against MERS and now scientists just substituted

Ebola and MERS codes with the spike (ph) of the current virus.


CHANCE: All right. Well, one of the main factors affecting the skepticism and undermining this vaccine is the data that the Russians have so far has

not been made public. Russian officials tell me that will change in the next few days of so, that in early August they're opening it up to peer

review. So it's going to be getting a lot of scrutiny in the days and the weeks ahead. Becky?

ANDERSON: A lot of people comparing this vaccine, this global vaccine race to the space race. You know. A lot of geopolitics at play.

Do you think that is partly what is going on here?

CHANCE: It's a good question. I mean, certainly one of the Russian officials that I spoke to yesterday, you know, coined that phrase, it's a

Sputnik moment comparing with the 1957 launch of the first satellite by the Soviet Union into space.

Nobody was expecting that around the world. The result of, you know, years and years of Soviet research that ended in that sort of successful orbiting

of the Earth by the Sputnik satellite.

And that comparison has been drawn here in Russia. You know, people did not expect Russia to emerge first across the line in this race for a vaccine. I

think to a certain extent, I think what has been termed vaccine nationalism has come into play here.

There's a lot of pressure and a lot of money put on the various research laboratories in the country to come up with this vaccine as soon as

possible. A lot of pressure from the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin has taken a personal interest in this. He sees it as a prestige project for Russia to

be first across the line.

And I think that's certainly one of the factors that has driven the authorities here to, you know, to take short cuts and for instance, on

human trials and in other areas as well in order to satisfy that demand that the Kremlin is putting before them.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance on the story for us. Thank you.

Well, a new study suggests the American developed Moderna vaccine protects monkeys from the virus. Researchers infected the monkeys with the

coronavirus and gave them the vaccine and after two days it appeared to interfere with the spread of the virus in the monkeys.

And the study suggested high doses might prevent the spread of the virus even if people do get infected. The U.S. National Institutes of Health

helped to develop the vaccine. Its researchers say this was the first nonhuman primate test that produced such a rapid response.

Well, we'll discuss this race with Richard Horton from "The Lancet." He will join us in the next hour on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Meanwhile, it could be another year before a vaccine is readily available in Germany. The German research minister says that the public shouldn't

expect a vaccine until some time in the middle of 2021 at the earliest. And it's more urgent than ever as Germany teeters on the brink of a second wave

of the pandemic.

Joining us now is CNN's Fred Pleitgen, live for you in Berlin.

And a warning from Germany on the vaccine front, do not expect, quote, "miracles," Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. On the one hand, a warning coming from the German research minister, you're right. But

the Germans ramping up their support in the efforts to try to get a vaccine developed here in this country.

There's currently three labs that are trying to develop vaccines that are going to get a giant grant, going to get giant grants from a German

government fund, which is worth almost $900 million.

They say essentially what they want to do is try to speed up as much as possible the research going on. But they're investing in the manufacture of

the vaccine. And when they're ready they can manufacture it in the amounts not only Germany needs but of course, the world needs as well.

At the same time, you're right, the research minister is saying there could be setbacks along the way. She says that a vaccine might not be ready for

the general public by 2021. Let's listen in.


GERMAN RESEARCH MINISTER: We cannot expect any miracles at this point. We still have to assume that vaccines will not be available to the general

public until the next year at the earliest.


PLEITGEN: So yes, the German research minister, two of the companies, Becky, that are part of this study and getting this funding, they're quite

well known around the world.

One of them is CureVac, which has been in the news in the early stages, meeting with President Trump, their CEO. And then you have BioNTech, the

lab working together with Pfizer, which is the furthest along in the possible development of a vaccine.

They have moved into phase 3 testing for their possible vaccine and they have said they could have it ready for emergency use by October 2020.

But then once it's -- when it will be available for the general public, that could be a little further along the way. But they said that they have

gotten some very, very promising results and they said they're obviously going to make those public very, very soon as well, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin, where there are concerns about a second wave.

Well, you are looking at live pictures of an arrival in a sacred space. The Muslim faithful making their way to Islam's holiest shrine in its most

revered city. This is the Hajj but not as we know it. Take a look on the images on the right.

That was the Hajj last year. A stark difference from today. Islam's most important pilgrimage has gone from about 2.5 million people to barely

1,000. This is a pilgrimage in the grip of a global pandemic.

Saudi Arabia not taking any chances. The kingdom has the highest number of known COVID-19 infections in the Arab world. That is why it drastically

scaled back the number of people allowed to make the annual journey to Mecca. For the first time in decades international travelers are barred.

Jomana Karadsheh joins us live from Istanbul.

Perhaps a pilgrimage this year like no other, Jomana.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It truly is, Becky. You know, Saudi officials are describing it as an exceptional Hajj this year. I mean, you

referenced those images. It is really incredible, when you look at this year's images compared to previous years, when you would see hundreds of

thousands of people crowded around, where you see that sea of white.

And then you have got the images of this year. You know, the Saudis did consider at one point canceling the Hajj altogether this year because of

the coronavirus pandemic. But they decided to go for this downsized, more of a symbolic Hajj this year.

Earlier today, I spoke to the assistant health minister for Saudi Arabia and he described what it is like trying to put together a Hajj pilgrimage

during a pandemic. Take a listen to what he had to say.


DR. ABDULLAH ASSIRI, SAUDI ARABIAN ASSISTANT DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER: It is one of the largest mass gatherings. This year has been exceptional for the

globe -- for the whole world.

And facing a virus that is easily transmissible, that has committed (ph) so many lives is a real worry for conducting any mass gathering (ph). So it

was imperative that we have to make a balance between allowing people to perform their religious duties and also at the same time keeping them

healthy and safe.


KARADSHEH: So what they have done, Becky, this year as you mentioned, they selected about a thousand people, more than 70 percent of them are foreign

residents in Saudi Arabia. They say they tried to select as many from different countries as they can; 30 percent are Saudi nationals.

They had to go through a really rigorous process. They have to be between the ages of 20 and 50. No underlying medical conditions. Medical tests,

COVID test. They have to quarantine before the Hajj and after the pilgrimage.

And then you have all of the strict measures that the Saudi authorities are putting in place to enforce social distancing as you see in these images.

And they're describing a safety bubble around the pilgrims who are taking part in the Hajj. They are taking no chances.

ANDERSON: They are really taking this seriously. Understandably so because when we consider the pictures that we normally see, I mean, these mass,

mass gatherings around the really important sites. I just wonder whether this might be the new normal.

KARADSHEH: You know, Becky, so many Muslims around the world are wondering the same.

What is going to happen with the Hajj next year and the year that comes after that?

You know, so many people right now are disappointed. They're heartbroken.


KARADSHEH: This is the pilgrimage of a lifetime for so many. One of the key pillars of Islam. People save up their entire lives to go on the

pilgrimage. So the question is what happens next year. And I put this question to Dr. Assiri, asking if they're considering a downsized Hajj

again next year. He said they hope not. Take a listen to our exchange.


KARADSHEH: So do you think Hajj with more than 2 million people like we have seen in the past would be possible without a vaccine or is the vaccine


ASSIRI: Vaccine is a very important component of controlling COVID-19. But it alone simply will not be enough. It will never be enough. So it's a part

of the package, if things go well, I think the world will have a very good chance of controlling the virus before the next Hajj.


KARADSHEH: So he was sounding a bit optimistic, Becky, but saying that we are seeing progress when it comes to the vaccine. But again, that's not the

only thing, that he believes that social distancing measures will have to be enforced for years to come.

So, therefore, he doesn't think we will be seeing the Hajj like we used to in the past. But he doesn't think -- if there is a vaccine he doesn't think

that next year's Hajj will be as strict as this year's Hajj.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Such an important story -- well, I mean, not just particularly for this region but for so many people around the world.

Jomana Karadsheh, thank you.

Well, staying in this region, connecting you to the conflict in Yemen, where we are seeing major developments in what is the chaotic proxy war.

And it is a move that could heal rifts in the Saudi-led anti-Houthi alliance.

The country's leading separatists, the Southern Traditional Council, has abandoned the aspirations for self-rule, agreeing to implement the stalled

peace deals that was brokered by Saudi Arabia.

Implementing the accord builds on a cease-fire, you'll remember, that was signed last month, giving the STC representation in a new Yemeni


Now the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs tweeted after the announcement saying, quote, "We hope that the Yemeni government and the

Southern Transitional Council will prevail over the strategic vision to agree on the narrow tactical gains.

"Restoring confidence requires making concessions. We thank and appreciate the tireless Saudi effort."

Meanwhile, the U.K.'s foreign minister encouraged the spirit of negotiation and compromise, calling this announcement "important progress."

Well, much more ahead this hour. We'll get you on the ground in Washington. Coming up and later on --


WHITE: It was a success in every way you can measure success from, you know, safety, you know and zero positives.


ANDERSON: Well, the show must go on even if it's grown men fighting in an octagon. That's the head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The UFC

records its latest event here in Abu Dhabi a success. We'll have a look at that up next.





ANDERSON: Months into this coronavirus pandemic and still UNESCO estimates that more than 60 percent of the world's students are stuck at home.

This is a map showing which countries have schools closed nationwide. You can see others have localized closures and some have opened back up. Back

in April, 90 percent of the world's students were out of school.

Experts say school closures are exacerbating the inequality gap between rich and poor. Students from poorer families may not have the technology or

the space to work at home. Or they may not even be safe at home.

Well, in China some 40 percent of the population doesn't have access to the Internet. That's according to 2019 government figures. Back in February, a

girl from a small village after she couldn't access a smartphone for her classes. Her story went viral in Chinese social media.

In the Horn of Africa, online learning isn't even possible. Many of them are now even at greater risk of abuse and exploitation.

Even in the richest countries in the world, school closures are posing serious hurdles. More than half of the biggest school districts in the U.S.

are starting the year completely online. The nation's top infectious disease expert acknowledges that students are in a tough spot.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In many respects, unfortunately, although this may sound a little scary and

harsh, I don't mean it to be that way, is that you're going to be part of the experiment of the learning curve of what we need to know.


ANDERSON: A somewhat disturbing thought there. Joining me now is the executive director of the American School Superintendents Association,

Daniel Domenech.

It was interesting to listen to Dr. Fauci there, suggesting that students will be part of the larger experiment. I wonder whether you agree with his


DANIEL DOMENECH, AMERICAN SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION: Well, I certainly agree with the sentiments. I don't particularly like the term

experiment. We don't want to experiment on our children. We want to make sure that we keep them safe.

But there's no doubt that there's a major concern and you see that reflected, as you mentioned earlier, that a good number of school districts

now throughout America have made the decision to begin their new school year online.

And the attempt here, frankly, is to adhere to the guidelines that had been proposed in the past by the CDC and Dr. Fauci. And those guidelines

basically suggest that there should be a two-week period of decline in the infection rate and that it should be low enough for children to be brought

back to school.

And even then, by adhering to social spacing guidelines, wearing masks, sanitizing the building and all of those other conditions that are now well

known to schools, that they must maintain, again, to ensure that the children and the staffing of those buildings are safe.

ANDERSON: This is the position, certainly in the past couple of days, of the American president, who quite frankly wants kids back in school and he

wants to get schools back to it. Have a listen.


TRUMP: Thirty million American students rely on schools for free and reduced meals. Over 70 percent of the students who receive mental health

services do so through their schools. We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school, harming their physical and

emotional development.


ANDERSON: Surely, you know, he has a point here.

I mean, schools provide essential services, sir, don't they?

DOMENECH: They absolutely do and he certainly has a point. But what we would like to see the president do is to provide the guidance and

guidelines that would prevent the infection rate in the United States going sky high and continuing to go sky high.


DOMENECH: There's been no reduction in that infection rate and, according to the very guidelines that were published by the White House and the CDC

earlier, it's not safe to open schools. It's not on the way down. It's not a two-week decline in infection rates as has been suggested by Dr. Fauci,

the CDC and others.

So his plea to open schools and disregard the guidelines is ill conceived. As you can see from the decisions that are being made by school districts

around the country, it's not being followed.

ANDERSON: It was interesting to listen to Dr. Fauci talk about the spread of this virus in youngsters. Right at the beginning of the pandemic, of

course, the sort of, you know, the argument was, you know, kids are going to be OK, youngsters will be OK.

But it seemed like they certainly were not, you know, a high risk category. This is what Dr. Fauci (sic) said recently.


DR. WILLIAM HASELTINE, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: There is very little difference between the way the virus spreads in young baseball players,

many who are just barely into their 20s, and how it's going to spread in high schools. It's literally happening in Florida right now.

They may not get infected at the same rate but the moment they're all in school together, they will get infected. They will infect their families

and their families will infect others and we're bound to have a disaster on top of a disaster.


ANDERSON: That, of course, was William Haseltine, apologies, not Dr. Fauci.

What do you understand to be the sort of received wisdom at this point through research about how this virus spreads amongst youngsters and kids

and how at risk they are, sir, by returning to school?

DOMENECH: Well, here, again, there's still a lot of uncertainty. We know that. Yes, perhaps younger children, we saw from the South Korean study

that children younger than 10 may not be as susceptible as children older than 10.

But the key point is that the infection will spread. Even if it may not infect children as harshly as it would adults, what about the staff of the


Let me put it this way. We are already facing in the United States a shortage of teachers. Because of the economic conditions, we see that

hundreds of thousands of teachers have already been laid off.

The surveys that have been taken of teachers show that more than half of them do not want to return to school in person. They're willing to do it

remote but not in person.

So staffing is going to be a major issue and if the children don't get sick the staff certainly will.

And then who is going to teach those classes?

So we have a major concern here that it's not reflected in what is apparently a push on the administration's part to open schools at all

costs. Really not because of the education of the children and certainly not for the welfare of the children but simply to revive the economy.

If you want to revive the economy, make the necessary steps to reduce the infection rate throughout communities in America, throughout the whole

country, and stop trying to push kids into buildings that's going to create a disaster, as our last person spoke.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, the Republican stimulus bill could offer up with $105 billion in back to school funds.

Is that enough?

How much more should be made available at this point?

DOMENECH: Well, our association, as well as every other education association, has been pushing for a package at least $200 billion to

provide not just the safety measures but also the technology that was mentioned earlier in your program, that many children in America still do

not have the laptop and still do not have access at home, knowing full well that remote learning is going to be the way that most districts are going

to start.

And probably during the course of the year, even when children do come back into school there will be closures every time there's an infection. So we

have asked for $200 billion. There are packages, the Senate proposal, for example, suggests $175 billion. That's much closer to what we want.

But we're concerned, when is it going to happen?

Because we're talking about schools opening next month. And without the dollars to do so safely, it's not going to happen.

ANDERSON: Thank you, sir.

DOMENECH: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Fascinating insight. We'll be right back.





ANDERSON: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Half past 6:00 here in the UAE. I'm Becky Anderson.

To the top story. The high hopes that a vaccine could soon save us from the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia says it's moving ahead to approve the

experimental vaccine by August 10th and start vaccinating health workers after that.

One researcher said it was a Sputnik moment. Russia hasn't released any scientific data and CNN cannot verify the claims of safety and

effectiveness but several other companies are moving ahead. On Tuesday two U.S. based companies announced they had started advanced testing.

Well, the U.S. president approached the growing U.S. death toll from the coronavirus with a strange mix of debunked cures and conspiracy theories.

Tuesday was the deadliest day of the summer so far, with more than 1,200 fatalities in the States and the total number of deaths will soon hit


The number of cases rising in more than half the U.S. states, including California, Texas, Florida and Arizona. Yet, when the U.S. president went

before cameras to speak about the pandemic, he falsely claimed that large parts of the nation are corona free.

And on a more bizarre note, he heaped phrase on a physician, who claims that masks are unnecessary to combat COVID-19 and who also believes in

alien DNA and space demons.


DR. STELLA IMMANUEL, PHYSICIAN: It's what we call astral sex. That means this person is not really a demon or Nephilim, it's just a human that's a

witch. And they astral project and sleep with people.


ANDERSON: Well, the president and his allies have tweeted videos of Dr. Immanuel to tens of millions of their followers. She also claims that

hydroxychloroquine is a cure for the virus. And when pressed by CNN on the debunked claims, Mr. Trump abruptly left the news conference.


TRUMP: I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came, I don't know which country she comes from. But she said that she's

had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice. But I know nothing about her.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Last week you said masks - - last week --

TRUMP: OK, thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.



ANDERSON: Kaitlan Collins doing her job but the U.S. president walked off.

White House correspondent John Harwood with more now on this strange event.

And you would have been forgiven for thinking the world had gone a bit COVID crazy when a doctor retweeted by the president is talking about demon

sex. But, no, this is for real, sir.

What do we know about this doctor and Donald Trump's affinity for her cures, as it were?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Becky, I'm not sure it's the world gone COVID crazy but perhaps the president of the United States.

Look, the context for this is the president's unsuccessful handling of the virus from the beginning.

Remember, he first tried to play it down because he was concerned that it would disturb economic activity as he was running for re-election. He then

bowed to the reality of the pandemic when it got really bad.

And then as soon as there was some good economic -- good news on the virus, cases were tamped down, he then pushed to open up as soon as possible. And

part of justifying the reopening was his claim that hydroxychloroquine, which is not effective as Anthony Fauci has told us, against coronavirus,

was out there.

And he was offering that as a hope for people and a reason to open up. Now that the pandemic has resurged and thrown economic resurgence in jeopardy,

the president has doubled down on this idea, tried to justify what he did.

And yesterday, he was using this crackpot to justify what he's said. Here's some more of what she had to say. Take a listen.


IMMANUEL: We had a lady right here. She was sitting right there. She had been fantasizing about one of the movie stars. When she came to deliverance

ground, during prayer, she started screaming.

Her stomach was full, she was pregnant. She started screaming, she was tearing off her clothes. She was screaming and screaming like she was in

labor. And she said this thing came out of me. Her stomach deflated right here. Real life.


HARWOOD: And that is the lunacy that was being promoted on the Twitter feed of the president of the United States with 84 million followers. It is

not an auspicious sign for his potential to manage this pandemic going forward.

ANDERSON: And here's the president, who wants to know why his approval ratings on the COVID response aren't as high as the administration's top

infectious disease expert -- John.

HARWOOD: That's right, Becky. And, you know, this was another demonstration of the president's psychological frailty as he's dealing with


He began complaining that Anthony Fauci, who is the leading infectious disease expert in the United States government, had a positive approval

rating from the American public and he does not. Listen to how he explained that.


TRUMP: And he's got this high approval rating. So why don't I have a high approval rating with respect -- and the administration -- with respect to

the virus?

We should have a very high, because what we have done in terms of -- we're just reading off about the masks and the gowns and the ventilators and

numbers that nobody has seen.

And the testing at 55 million tests, we tested more than anybody in the world. I have a graph that I'd love to show you, perhaps you have seen it.

We're up here and the rest of the world is down at a level -- it's just a tiny fraction of what we have done in terms of testing.

So it sort of is curious. A man works for us, with us, very closely, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx also highly thought of. And yet they're highly thought

of but nobody likes me. It can only be my personality. That's all.


HARWOOD: Becky, the president acting as if that was a mystery. It's not a mystery at all. The American people know, the polls tell us that, that

Anthony Fauci knows what he's talking about. They do not believe what the president says.

And the president has very often discarded the advice from Anthony Fauci and we can all see the results, 4 million cases of coronavirus in the

United States, 150,000 Americans have lost their lives.

And this is why Donald Trump is in such a deep hole for his re-election. The American people are judging him, based on this unsuccessful coronavirus


ANDERSON: And I'm wondering why, quote, "nobody likes me."

Moving away from the response by the administration to COVID-19, John.


ANDERSON: Donald Trump says he never raised Russian bounties with President Putin. He says that they never discussed U.S. intelligence that

alleged Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

What do we know about this?

HARWOOD: What we know is that, in the Axios interview, very skillfully done by our colleague, Jonathan Swan, the president displayed an

indifference to the prospect that Russia had been offering bounties on the heads of U.S. troops.

And the context for this, of course, is, before Donald Trump became president, Russia and Russians were his financial benefactors. Then in

2016, we know from Robert Mueller's report that Russia actively attempted to assist his re-election.

The president welcomed that help and, since becoming president, he has advanced the Russian objective of weakening NATO, weakening the Western

alliance and casting the United States as the moral equivalent of Russia.

He did this very early on when a FOX interviewer asked him about Vladimir Putin being a killer.

And he said, you think our country is so innocent, too?

Similarly when Jonathan Swan pressed him on the idea that Russia was offering bounties and was assisting the Taliban, the president said, well,

we assisted Taliban when Russia was occupying Afghanistan.

The president is not standing up for the interests of Americans' national security or the American soldiers under his command.

Let's just have a listen to part of that conversation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had a phone call with Vladimir Putin on July 23rd.

Did you bring this up issue?

TRUMP: No, that was a phone call to discuss other things and frankly, that's an issue that many people said was fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who said it the fake news?

TRUMP: I think a lot of people. If you look at some of the wonderful folks from the Bush administration, some of them -- not any friends of mine were

saying that it's a fake issue. But a lot of people said it's a fake issue.


TRUMP: We had a call -- we had a call talking about nuclear proliferation, which is a very big subject, where they would like to do something and so

would I. We discussed numerous things. We did not discuss that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you never discussed it with him?

TRUMP: I have never discussed it with him, no. I would. I would have no problem with it.


ANDERSON: The images we remember most of Donald Trump with President Putin were, of course, in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. Goodness, that was

two years ago. How time flies, John. John Harwood, as always, a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed.

As the coronavirus hits Mexico hard, some people are crossing the border, hoping for better care in the United States. We'll have a live report on

that up next.





ANDERSON: Well, coronavirus cases now surpassing the 400,000 mark in Mexico. Parts of the country are seeing death rates of around 20 percent.

That is sending some Mexicans across the border to seek treatment in the United States. CNN's Matt Rivers is joining us live from Tijuana in Mexico,

right on the border with the U.S., close to California.

What are you finding there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Becky, what happened here in Tijuana, the state of Baja, California, in Mexico, this is one of the areas of the

country hit the hardest the first in terms of feeling the effects of this outbreak in this country.

And that quickly overwhelmed hospitals in this part of the world. We have been speaking to doctors and nurses for months in public hospitals, who say

they're undersupplied and overwhelmed and, as a result, those who are legally able have crossed that border and have sought care in the U.S.


RIVERS (voice-over): Among those waiting outside public hospitals in Tijuana, Mexico, death is a constant companion.

(INAUDIBLE) Lopez did not get a chance to say goodbye to her father in law before COVID-19 took him.

She says, "Imagine a family member suddenly gets hospitalized and you just never see them again."

Tijuana and its state of Baja, California, are among Mexico's hardest hit regions. For months health care workers have told us about overwhelmed

hospitals plagued by a lack of supplies. Roughly 20 percent of those diagnosed here with COVID have died.

This nurse says, "We were not prepared for the magnitude of what was and is the pandemic."

RIVERS: Tijuana sits just across that border there from the U.S. state of California and though it's closed to all nonessential travel, if you are

legally allowed to be in the U.S., be it as a citizen, permanent resident or otherwise, you can still cross and, if you want to, seek treatment at a

U.S. hospital.

RIVERS (voice-over): Which is exactly what Dr. Patricio Gonzalez Zuniga did when her husband got the virus. The couple are dual U.S.-Mexico

citizens but live in Tijuana, where Dr. Gonzales Zuniga has worked for decades, treating the city's poor.

She says the public health system is broken. So when her husband got really sick, going to the U.S. for care was an easy choice.


GONZALEZ ZUNIGA: It's like a decision of stay and maybe, you know, 50 percent chance that you will die or just go and get services.


RIVERS (voice-over): At nearby Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, we learn her story is not unique. The hospital has been at or

near capacity for months, in part because of patients from across the border.

In July alone, it has admitted more than 50 COVID patients who recently came from Mexico. The hospital says the vast majority of patients who

traveled from Mexico test positive.

DR. JUAN MANUEL TOVAR, SCRIPPS MERCY HOSPITAL CHULA VISTA: It does create stress in the system and we have to deal with it.

Dr. Jose (sic) Manuel Tovar says, at its peak 50 percent of all COVID patients at the hospital had been south of the border. But the number has

gone down as new cases in Baja, California, have slowed.

But cases in California have spiked recently so his fear is if the same happens in Mexico, a tough situation could get even worse but he says this

is the border and everything is shared, culture, commerce and COVID care.

TOVAR: This is one region. I have no qualms about seeing patients from Mexico.

RIVERS (voice-over): Dr. Gonzales Zuniga, for one, is extremely grateful for that fact. Her husband spent 14 days in a California ICU, nearly

intubated several times. But he lived.

RIVERS: What do you think would have happened if he was in a public hospital in Mexico?

GONZALES ZUNIGA: He would not be with me now. He would be dead.

RIVERS (voice-over): She calls herself lucky and, compared to the Lopez family, she is. They couldn't get care in the U.S.

"Maybe we could have gotten him better care over there, more opportunity."

But now, after the death of her father in law, that is nothing more than a hypothetical question.


RIVERS: And we reached out several times to the Mexican government for a response, they did not reply both at the state and the federal levels. They

said in the past though they believe their care inside the hospitals is adequate.

But, Becky, moving forward, this becomes an issue of what happens here in Mexico. We have been in Tijuana for the last week and we haven't seen a lot

of social distancing and if the cases go up here, how does that affect California?

Because this is one region that all feels the effects of COVID at the same time.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Matt.

Let's get you up to speed on the other stories that are on our radar. Bolivia has declared a state of public calamity over the economic impact of

COVID-19. The decree allows the government to ask for a loan from Bolivia's central bank and to release more funds to fight the pandemic. Total cases

in the country surpassed 72,000 this week.


ANDERSON: Well, more than 2,500 new coronavirus cases were reported in Iran in just the last 24 hours. And that brings that country's total to

nearly 300,000. Health officials confirmed Iran's death toll now surpasses 16,000.

Well, India's been watching the steady increase in coronavirus cases. And now the country has recorded more than 1.5 million infections in total.

Over six months, India had recorded its first million cases and only took 12 days to add another half a million.

With the coronavirus cases surging in the United States, professional sports were locked down.

But UFC was determined to keep going and they made it happen here in the Middle East. In fact, right here in the UAE. It's Fight Island in Abu

Dhabi. Up next, the UFC president tells us how they did it.


DANA WHITE, UFC PRESIDENT: It was a success in every way you can measure success from, you know, safety. You know, in Fight Island, zero positives

on the island.





ANDERSON: Well, Major League Baseball's regular season returned less than a week ago in the United States. But there are already serious concerns

after 17 people tested positive for the coronavirus on one team in the last few days. More than half of the cases are players. Don Riddell joins us.

The league has postponed all Miami Marlins games since Sunday.

How worried is the league, do you think?

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said this is not a nightmare scenario, he says the

league's new health protocols are working and no other team has yet reported any positive tests. With the Marlins out of action for the rest of

the week, they will re-evaluate in a few days time.

The NBA is back very soon, tomorrow. Thursday. So we're now going to see how sport can work in a country with more than 4 million confirmed cases.

After canceling a few fights in the early days of the pandemic, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC, has been staging events in Abu Dhabi

and their president, Dana White, told me that he thinks a bubble, which the NBA is doing and which baseball is not, is the only way to keep the

athletes safe.


WHITE: It was a success in every way you can measure success from, you know, safety, you know, in Fight Island. Zero positives on the island. Zero

positives, 12,500 tests, 100 athletes, four title fights. Then you get into the numbers that we pulled while we were over there. And the list just goes

on and on. It was a success in every way that success can be measured.

RIDDELL: Everything was starting to shut down in March. You were at the time determined to carry on. And you caught a lot of flak for that.

WHITE: Where are they now?

Where are they now?

Why aren't they writing the stories that they were wrong?

And we could do this and we did pull it off and it has been safe. I don't see any of those stories getting written. I never listen to the media ever.

RIDDELL: So what are you going to have to do to make sure these Vegas fights can happen?

Because the situation in the United States has deteriorated quite significantly since March.


RIDDELL: Presumably it will be harder to get the fights on here and keep them safe.

WHITE: I don't disagree with you and it's something I worry about every day and I'm already trying to think ahead in case something like that would

happen, what we'll do and how we'll handle that.

But the reality is, if -- whether it's the governor or however this plays out in Las Vegas, everything that we have done has been successful. It's

been safe. I think that we have now proven ourselves, that we can do this and we can pull this off, because I'm not afraid to spend the money.

RIDDELL: So the NBA is coming back soon in a matter of days. Major League Baseball is back but already encountering problems. The NFL is bullish

about what they're hoping to do.

Have you had any conversations with any of those leagues?

WHITE: I have not, I have not talked to any of them. I think that they're all -- you know, they know what they need to do on their side. But one

thing I can tell everybody. This isn't going to work outside of a bubble.

You have to have the bubble. You have to -- you have to put people in lockdown. People can't be sneaking out. People can't go home.

RIDDELL: So the big fight this summer was supposed to involve Khabib, a huge star in UFC. But his father, who was his trainer and his mentor,

actually got COVID-19 and died from it.

What's going to happen with that bout now?

WHITE: It's going to happen. Tell you right here, right now. That fight is going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje, October 24th.

RIDDELL: How has he handled what has happened in his personal life?

WHITE: It's been very rough on him. You know, everybody is -- you know, is close to their parents but this guy -- his father was a hero to him. He

loved his father. They had a very, very close relationship. And it was very hard on him.

RIDDELL: So Conor McGregor announced his retirement again.

Have you spoken to him, what is his future?

WHITE: We have talked in little spurts but just about life and family and stuff like that, not about fighting. Conor McGregor is retired.

RIDDELL: For sure this time, what do you think?

WHITE: You never know. You never know. Listen, it makes a lot of sense for him to come back at the right time. I don't know when the right time is

yet. Like I said, listen, man, I'm trying to get to January 1st. That's my goal this year, is to get to Jan 1 without any -- anything blowing up

anymore this year in 2020.

I can't wait for 2020 to be gone. This will go down as the worst year in history ever.


RIDDELL: Dana White there. I think if you lived through either of the two world wars you might disagree with him. But Becky, he's not alone in

expressing those sentiments. For many of us, the end of 2020 cannot come soon enough.

ANDERSON: Yes. I don't doubt many of our viewers around the world would agree with you.

Don, Fight Island certainly has a ring to it, doesn't it?

It is so close to where I live here in Abu Dhabi. You can paddleboard there. So the next time that you are here in Abu Dhabi, I'm going to race

you to Fight Island on a paddleboard, all right?

ANDERSON: You're up to that?

RIDDELL: I need to learn how to paddleboard first but you're on.


ANDERSON: I'll teach you, no problem, mate. Thank you. Don Riddell in the house.

We are taking a very short break. Back with CONNECT THE WORLD after this.