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Taliban Meets With UN Security Council in Oslo; Pfizer and BioNTech Start Clinical Trials for Omicron Variant Booster Shot; Bernard-Henri Levy: Killers Fear One Thing, 'A Witness'. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired January 26, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: That's your dash to the bell. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @AlisonKosik. And the closing bell is ringing
on Wall Street. Amanpour starts now.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNNI HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Amanpour. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be enormous consequences worldwide.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): With pressure building on Ukraine's border I asked Norway's prime minister if there's still space for the diplomacy to dial
down the tension. Then.
ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: We are trying to stay ahead of the virus.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): As Pfizer launches clinical trials of an Omicron- specific vaccine, Walter Isaacson speaks with CEO Albert Bourla. Also.
UNKNOWN: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Do you want to be macheted? I told you to go!
AMANPOUR (voice-over): In his new movie, The Will to See, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy documents the world's forgotten conflicts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (on camera): Welcome to the program, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in New York. As tension builds on Ukraine's borders European
leaders say that a threat against Ukraine is a threat against Europe and they promise severe and massive consequences. Meanwhile, efforts to de-
Today the U.S. ambassador in Moscow has delivered the administrations written response to Russia's demands. Their proposal lays out possible
areas of cooperation on arms control, and risk reduction across Europe. But the U.S. and its allies remain steadfast against Putin's demand that
Ukraine be barred from NATO.
And tough public talk continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I certainly would not rule out the possibility that we could be putting additional forces on
heightened alert in the coming days and weeks.
And maybe even moving troops around Europe that are already there to bolster and to reassure some of our allies on the ground in the -- on the
SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): If there won't be any constructive response and the west will continue its
aggressive line then as the president has said multiple times, Moscow will take appropriate response measures.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now Norway is a key and founding member of the NATO Alliance. Prime Minster Jonas Gahr Store is at the United Nations right now. He's
discussing this crisis and the one in Afghanistan. And he is joining us live. Prime Minister, welcome to the program.
As you hear, and as you know, the U.S. has delivered its written response to Russia's demands. Europe has said and put Moscow on warning that massive
retaliation would take place. May I know from your perspective, Norway's perspective, what are you willing to do to deter or respond to a Russian
JONAS GAHR STORE, PRIME MINISTER, NORWAY: Well, normally the issues that have been raised from Russia can be solved and addressed by military
aggression and invasion of another country. And there's no way you can see the long-term logic of that.
I think the path we have to pursue and the toolbox Europe has at its disposal is a political channel of addressing these key issues. And I
believe the line that the U.S. is taking in its letter, which I've not seen in detail, just heard the reports.
This argument (ph), confidence building securing that one state should not be in fear of a neighboring state. All of that has to be done politically
in the communication and in the negotiation, not in an invasion. And I believe there is a very common position on that in the -- in the NATO
AMANPOUR: Can you tell me what Norway assesses to be the level of preparedness or readiness? What intelligence can you share about whether
Russia is in a position to move? And whether you've detected any intelligence that it may be ready to move against Ukraine in any form or
GAHR STORE: Well, I think the build-up in and around Ukraine is pretty much according to the textbook of signaling that an invasion is possible. And I
think part of what the Russian president is doing here is to deliberately keep the world guessing. It's part of the political communication so to
Now, speaking for Norway we are neighbors with Russia. And let me just say we have been at peace with Russia for 1,000 years and we have a neighbor
where we have managed to keep low tension in the high north.
We have observed that there have been naval dispositions moved towards the Mediterranean, towards the Black Sea. That's the navy part and you can also
see the troops in the media. So all of that is signaling that option.
But that option is not going to deliver any of the major concerns that the Russians have and it's going to be, you know, a major bad decision if that
were to come. So we have to pursue the political track, U.S./Russia, NATO/Russia, and in all the different settings that Europe has at its
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, the question is maybe not what you do but what President Putin kind of assesses to be serious or not. So I want to ask you
about what appear to be some divisions within the alliance.
Yes, on the whole, it looks like it's a united front but when it comes to sending or promising to send either troops to the region or lethal weaponry
to Ukraine. Certainly, the Germans have said that they are not going to do that, the German chancellor said that he would not do that. Is that a
Is that a division that can be exploited by Russia?
GAHR STORE: Well, first of all, I don't think, you know, more shipments of arms is going to, again, solve this issue. But Ukraine is not a member of
NATO. NATO -- solidarity among NATO members is leading to, you know, we have a support -- mutual support to NATO countries.
Norway is supporting Lithuania as part of a NATO setup. Norway will have NATO exercises in Norway, winter training as we have every year, that is
regular. Our message our Ukraine is that, you know, Ukraine is not a part of NATO, not part of our collective defense.
But were there to be a major invasion in a European country, Ukraine, it will have major political and economic consequences for the invader. And I
believe it's really taking us down the path that is not going to serve Russia, it's going to be a disaster for Ukraine, a humanitarian disaster.
And it's simply something that we have to warn against very seriously.
AMANPOUR: You know, you said it would be a major, you know, problem for the invader. The Kremlin today has said, you know, these measures could be
politically destructive but will be painless for those upon whom they are. For instance, sanctions and other stuff.
They're basically saying your sanctions are not going to affect us. So I want to ask you about the potential weaponization of natural gas. It seems
that Europe is worried about that.
The U.S., obviously, is concerned about that. And is considering, and I believe along with Norway, and with Qatar and others some way to develop a
contingency plan to make sure there's enough natural gas for Europe should Russia cut it off with the Nord Stream and whatever other way it does it.
Can you talk to me about that?
GAHR STORE: Well, Norway is providing about 20 percent of Europe's natural gas. One-third of the gas going to Germany, one-third of the gas going to
France. And we produce at maximum -- we do so also as a part of a big environmental transition towards the renewable.
We are going to export gas, we're going to capture C02, we're going to provide a new great opportunity for hydrogen, which is part of the climate
change process we need to go through. Now, on Russia, I mean, we observe that Russia is basically respecting its already established deals of
delivering gas. But it could deliver more.
As the director general of the IEA recently stated, Russia is playing the gas card in the sense that they are not providing what they could provide.
So that is, of course, a great challenge for the European countries dependant on gas coming from outside.
From the Norwegian perspective, I think we are saying or we are saying here is a democratic state that has delivered gas for 30/40 years to Europe, we
are stable, we are going to deliver at the maximum of our potential.
We're not going to be able to replace Russia's gas but I think we have to count on the fact that it is in a mutual interest of the one who sells gas,
and the one who buys gas that we continue to trade gas. So I don't think this is an easy option for Russia either to play a gas card of not selling
gas to Europe. I don't think that is a viable path.
AMANPOUR: Can I move on to Afghanistan because you are there at the Security Council, Norway holds the presidency of the Security Council for
the rest of -- well, for the month of January.
And in Norway you have hosted -- your government has hosted the first-ever Taliban delegation to come to the west since it took over in Afghanistan.
What have you told the United Nations community about Afghanistan today in the -- in the meetings that you've been sharing at the UN?
GAHR STORE: Well, I've been sharing some of the impressions from those Oslo meetings. You know, they were first and foremost meetings between the
Taliban and civil society in Afghanistan. You may ask why you need to go to Norway to meet among Afghans, well, that is the situation.
Taliban since it took power in the middle of August has not moved on creating a more inclusive government, bringing girls back to school,
bringing fundamental human rights. So it was absolutely necessary to bring the Taliban, de facto leadership of Afghanistan (ph) face-to-face with
Afghan civil society. That happened in Norway on Sunday.
And then the Taliban met with Western delegation - American, French, Norwegan, British, and aid organizations. So this was not a negotiation, it
was not about signing an agreement. But it was a first step of holding the Taliban accountable, of avoiding and preventing what is about to happen, a
major humanitarian disaster (ph) in Afghanistan.
A million children who may starve, 9 to 10 million people dependent directly on humanitarian aid not to starve, and the more fundamental
issues. You know, getting girls back to school, getting a more inclusive government. We need to see that it is moving in that direction in order to
envisage down the road some kind of normalization with those who rule Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: Which is basically diplomatees (ph) for working with the Taliban. One of the things you've said, and one of the things the -
certainly the Western world believes is that women's rights are nonnegotiable. Here is what one of the civil society members who is a
women's right activist in Afghanistan said in Oslo about these meetings, and about the conditions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHBOUBA SERAJ, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We told them about how we feel, what we need, what should be done, what the country needs. So that
conversation took place, which is pretty amazing. But as far as the actual action, for that we have to wait (ph), because none of that was really
talked about. But they acknowledged us and they heard us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So what do you really think, Prime Minister? I mean, she also didn't say that we told them about women's rights and they said OK. She
said, they acknowledged us, they heard us, but there were no responses. One of the spokespeople yesterday from the Taliban delegation said that yes,
women this, that, and the other - but according to our, you know, religious and cultural norms.
Tell me, Norway is so good at conflict resolution and diplomacy. You're one of the biggest donors in the world to humanitarian aid. Can you insist
upon, for want of a better way, a feminist foreign policy? In other words they must understand that how they treat women will depend - you know, will
determine whether the world works with them or not?
GAHR STORE: Well, I think it's pretty clear, you know, I don't - I don't envisage that, you know, Afghanistan will be another Nordic country, it's
not a goal, nobody has a right to expect that. But we have the right to expect that people are treated in accordance with fundamental human rights
and international law.
And I think that if Afghanistan is going to be anywhere near integrated in the international community, receiving aid, support - you know, whatever it
takes, it has to let girls go back to school. It has to acknowledge, you know, equal rights for men and women, respecting that there are different
cultural traditions. But these - you know, the Taliban said in the `90s when they governed last time that girls were about to get back to school -
they never did.
This time around, I think this is one of the key things to measure and that we can observe in March of the breaks, they have to demonstrate that
schools again are open for girls above 12 years of age, and they have to demonstrate - and I assume that's going to be hard - that that government
has to be more inclusive, more representative.
And that has to happen - and for Afghanistan to receive support, and aid, and the de-freezing of funds. Some of these tangible measures have to be
delivered upon, and I think also meeting made that very clear. And I know for sure that they acknowledged that they heard it, now we need to see that
they deliver on those facts.
AMANPOUR: Because up until now they've said that they acknowledged, that they hear it. Ever since August they've been doing one thing after the
other to make the lives of women much harder, and to take away one right after the next.
So, given that that's a fact, given that the humanitarian crisis is a fact. As you've outlined more than a million children might die this winter, what
is the West's moral obligation now as one U.S. official - former U.S. official said the West must learn now to swallow a bitter pill, you're
going to have to work with the Taliban government and funnel the money through the government so that this immediate emergency can be averted. Are
you prepared to do that? Because no amount of humanitarian aid or working around the Taliban, apparently, is going to fill this desperate need right
GAHR STORE: Well, let me share two perspectives on that. First of all, do we have (ph) in the West, Norway, U.S., any other country that was engaged
militarily. Do we have a moral obligation? Yes or no? As Prime Minister of Norway, I said you know, yes we have.
You know, we were engaged trying to secure something - another kind of governance, Afghan's ruling of Afghanistan down a different path. It ended
in August, and I believe we have moral obligations to look after and support people in the situation they're in (ph). Is there a broader
perspective? Yes, I believe there is.
You know, Afghanistan could again provide a mass migration crisis. First and foremost for neighboring countries - Iran, Pakistan. But also for
broader international community, you know, there could be a pressure on Europe and on other countries, and more human suffering.
Could Afghanistan, again, become a breeding ground for international terrorism? Yes, it could. Because terrorism breeds out of misery, and
Afghanistan is on this road to misery. So in light of self-interest, I believe we have to move down the line.
You may call it a bitter pill. It should not be something where we - we don't go in with expectation and demands, and very clear requests of what
we want to see. But I believe we need to engage them.
Secretary General Guterres today said that, you know, Afghanistan today is freezing hell - freezing hell, that is the reality of millions. And
instability in that country, in the middle of that region, could extend far beyond Afghanistan, and I think we should do what we can to prevent that.
AMANPOUR: Let me just take you back to 2008 when you were Foreign Minister. Because everything you're saying is quite remarkable when you
consider that you were in the Serena Hotel in Kabul then, and a Taliban attack took place in which a bomb went off and one of our colleagues, one
of your country people - a Norwegian journalist was killed. And yet, you still say we need to talk to these people. Tell me about that moment, and
how it informs your view.
STORE: Well, it was an experience that lives with me, and all of us concerned, you know, here at the U.N. I met the journalists who were also
at the Serena. One of the security people who had been looking after that delegation from Afghanistan was my security person at the Serena Hotel. So
you know, this is coming back and we have to - to address this in the rational way.
I admit that seeing a Taliban delegation in Norway is a - it's a pretty big thing, you know, it makes an impression on me. Then the question is, should
that impression and that reluctance prevent me for saying, you know, what can we do about Afghanistan?
Is the right way to approach this is to say let's forget about them? Close the door, you know? Let them fair how they fair? I believe that is bad
policy, and it's really bad for the future of the people there, but far beyond Afghanistan. So you know, Norway, that - in some moments can play a
role, and the reason why we can play a role is that we cannot force anybody - we don't have a big hammer to force people to a table.
But we have trust (ph) across a few dividing lines that we can bring together people - facilitate process that may point in the right direction.
Does that guarantee success? No. Does it provide an opportunity for moving forward? Yes. And I'm - you know, I'm in politics because I believe we
should seize those kind of opportunities.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's hope the hand you extend is - you know, is shaken by the other side.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, thank you so much for joining us from the U.N. this evening.
Now, an important development on the COVID wars. Pfizer has started clinical trials of an Omicron based vaccine to help address the current and
future mutations of coronavirus. CEO Albert Bourla has recently been awarded the Genius Prize, or rather the Genesis Prize in recognition of his
professional achievements and his contribution to humanity. And he's joining Walter Isaacson to discuss vaccine development and global health.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNNINT CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Christiane. And Dr. Albert Bourla, welcome to the show.
ALBERT BOURLA, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PFIZER: Thank you very much, Mr. Isaacson. And it's a great honor and great pleasure to talk
ISAACSON: Your company, Pfizer along with your partner BioNTech this week have started clinical trials on a booster shot that's aimed directly at the
Omicron variant. How soon do you think we'll have them?
BOURLA: I hope in March as we had said before. You know, this not the first time that we are making a tailor (ph) to a variant vaccine against
COVID. We have one made for Alpha, for Beta, and for Delta - we never used them because we didn't know.
But what was the (inaudible) was that we designed the process that we would be able to make something like that in 100 days, or less than 100 days.
And now, it is the fourth time. Now things look a bit more serious as regards - the need of something different.
Also, the protection of three doses against cosocialization [ph] and against Omicron is very, very high. All data indicated is on the 80s. But
still, infections is way lower so maybe there is a place for a specific vaccine against Omicron.
ISAACSON: Do you see any future variant on the horizon that you're already working on?
BOURLA: No. I think what - we are monitoring all of them. And, for example, there is now some new variants of Omicron (inaudible), so there are
children of Omicron right now. And the most likely scenario is that the future variants will be children of Omicron because now it's dominant all
over the world.
But we are monitoring all of them, but only when we see that if (ph) something - what escapes or has the potential to escape the new protection
for our vaccine, this is when we jump and make new one just in case.
ISAACSON: And this new variant of the vaccine you're doing, do you think it'll be effective against these children of Omicron as you -
BOURLA: It should be. It should be effective against those children, it should be very effective. Keep in mind that we had so many variants so far
that were children of the original strain, and that the vaccines were extremely effective against all of them. The first one that was not
responding (ph), now Omicron, has replaced almost everywhere the preexisting variants, predominately Delta.
So it is original we presume that new variants will be children of Omicron, although it is not certain. And by the way, what we are trying to do is to
develop a vaccine that is not only going to be effective against Omicron, but also will cover the previous variants because that will be the ideal
ISAACSON: When you develop a new vaccine, you use messenger RNA technology. In fact, you were the first one out with this new technology. And simply
put, that tells the cells of our body to make a particular type of protein, like the spike protein on a coronavirus, so that if we get hit with that
virus, our immune system is primed. Does that make it real fast to make new variants where you can just recode this molecule and say okay, go after
this new variant?
BOURLA: I would say, first of all, you described it extremely well how the mRNA works, and you're absolutely right. One of the big benefits, it is
that you can do in weeks what you did months in other technologies. So this is why we can have within three months, for example, starting in the
December and hold - target in March, a fully tested and manufactured ready vaccine.
RNA technology allows you just to change one part of the code in the whole vaccine process, everything else remains completely identical. You just
reprogram your RNA and then you have completely new version.
ISAACSON: And does the clinical trial process go much faster?
BOURLA: No. The clinical trial process is almost the - exactly the same. We have discussed with regulators all over the world, particularly the high -
highly regarded FDA, the main Europe (ph), Japanese, Israelis what exactly they want to see in clinical trials packets. And they basically - they want
to see the whole thing as they should, I think. And we are going to do the whole thing.
ISAACSON: The holy grail of vaccines would be one that would take on any coronavirus, a pan-coronavirus vaccine. Are you working on that, and is
messenger RNA technology a good platform for that?
BOURLA: I think it is a very good platform for that. The messenger RNA technology is not the holy grail and it's not good for everything, but
particularly for COVID or for a vaccine that you need a small number of antigens and (inaudible), for example, like the COVID coronavirus, I think
We are trying to stay ahead of the virus, and it's a little challenging to say a pan-corona. Keep in mind that the current vaccine, until the
appearance of Omicron, was a pan-corona vaccine because we had 12 variants but it was very - it was very effective against all of them. Now, we are
trying to tweak it and make it against also Omicron, which provides - would provide us with the protection against the old and the new.
And clearly, we are working also on new tech - on - on a new kind of targeting through mRNA, but maybe could give us even more durable or more
effective vaccines. But right now, I think we have a very, very good one.
ISAACSON: It's been about four or five months since I've had my booster shot like many people my age. When should I start thinking about getting
BOURLA: You know, this is a question that everybody is asking, and there is not always - the health authorities want to see data. The first time that
we saw data, and they are still trying to understand them, are coming from Israel where they did a massive - they did a massive relatively campaign of
Looks like they are very successful, but we haven't seen - I haven't seen the full set of data. They did 600,000 people, and they have a very, very
good data record keeping system, all electronic, so that allow us to know every single detail of every single individual of these 600,000 people, not
us, them, the ministry of health, and we are waiting to see their data.
ISAACSON: When do you think kids under five will know whether they should get the Pfizer vaccine or one of these vaccines?
BOURLA: You know, we are continuing to study in this population and try to understand the protections that a lower dose of mRNA because we are using
very low dose in those kids. Almost - almost 1/10 of the dose that we are using to adults is used in these kids less than 5 years of age.
I'm encouraged with - that we will soon have good data to make public. And soon, I hope, let's say within a month, we should be able to have some more
concrete either to file with FDA or at least to discuss.
ISAACSON: What do you say to people who are vaccine hesitant, not the people who are way out there and think it's some strange conspiracy but
people who just kind of feel like I don't know, this hasn't been tested enough. How would you convince my aunt to get this vaccine?
BOURLA: It's - it's not easy because they are afraid, most people. And they're afraid from the vaccine. And fear is not something that you can
affine (ph) with rational arguments, it's an emotion. So you need to fight it with an emotion that's even stronger, and there is only one emotion that
is stronger than fear in human beings, love.
So what I try to say to those people, it is the decision to affect the decision to vaccinate or not, it won't affect only your health. It's going
to affect predominantly the health of others and predominately the health of people that you love the most.
It's going to be your grandfather, your grandmother, your mother, your kids, vulnerable population. And so think it twice, try to believe in the
science and what the majority of people are doing and conquer your fears by using the love for the people that are close to you.
ISAACSON: Vaccines are only one part of a defense against a great virus. The other is treatments, the ability like Pfizer has with paxlovid to have
a treatment, a pill, if we get the virus to make it so it's not so bad. How long will it be before your viral treatments are available to anybody who
just wants to go to the drug store with a prescription?
BOURLA: It is a question of - of quantities. And right now, we have it in all states in the U.S., so people that are getting sick should speak to
their physician, if it is appropriate for them, and then they can find it in every state.
Of course, it's not in every single pharmacy so they need to - there are specific pharmacies in every state because we don't have the quantities yet
this month. But the quantities will become greater the month after and even more in March. And then since then, after that, I think we will have enough
quantities, not only for the U.S. but for the world, to say that we will be - we would be - we will be, let's say, available more widely.
ISAACSON: When do you think we'll be able to treat this just like a common cold or flu rather than something we have to be so afraid of?
BOURLA: I hope if we have that (inaudible), as you said, if we are using, not (inaudible), but we are going to have those available in the timeframe
that you said, would say for next spring. If we use these tools, we should be able to go back to normal soon in most of the states in the U.S. and in
most of the places that we have used those technologies in the world.
ISAACSON: How does Pfizer and its partner BioNTech make sure that the vaccinations will be equitably distributed around the world?
BOURLA: Look, there were three things that we've had to - to make super clear and sure, the first one was to make a vaccine, to have a vaccine so
we can make it available. Now it's considered given, but keep in mind that a year ago, nobody thought that this would be the case.
The second is to give it at a cost, that isn't prohibited to anyone. And we did that from the early days, you can know that the Pfizer is giving the
vaccines, a cost of a takeaway meal, for the high income countries zone, for the middle income countries, we are charging half of that. And for the
low income countries, we are giving it as cost.
And in addition to that, we have agreement with the U.S. government that they purchase from us, it costs 1 billion doses. And then they are giving
them now this 1 billion doses to the poorest countries of the world, completely free. And the third condition, of course, was to have enough for
all. Now, the first part of last year, we didn't have enough for all, and it is true that most of the deliveries went to the high income countries
that was not related with the fact that they had higher income. It was related with the fact that they had better provisions, they -- all of them
placed orders, binding orders well ahead of time but that was result because we increase our manufacturing to 3 billion dose.
So last year, we deliver to the world 2.6 billion dose. We manufacture 3, and we deliver 2.6 billion. From this 2.6 billion, 1 billion went to middle
and low income countries, 38 percent. But it's only in the second half. Now we are in the situation, that in most African countries, for example, we
have enough supply, but they cannot absorb the supply. A lot of them have asked us to pose segments. There is a certainty of lacking infrastructure.
And this is where all of us, we should aim our efforts now, to answer your question what needs to be done, we should also help but it is also the work
of WHO, Doctors Without Borders, I can name a lot of organizations that they need to help on that so that you can pick vaccination center, they
They have a cold chain distribution system they don't have. And also to fight the hesitancy, because in these countries, the anti-vaxxers, let's
say, those that they are reluctant to take a vaccine is way, way higher as a percentage than in their high income countries. So educational campaigns
infrastructure is now extends the way.
ISAACSON: some people say that in order to get the vaccine distributed more widely and equitably, we should take away the patents or take away some of
the intellectual property that the big drug companies shouldn't be able to patent these things. What do you say to people who say we should take away
the intellectual property?
BOURLA: I think they are wrong. I think if there is a message that the Americans from this pandemic, very strong message, is how valuable for
society, it is a thriving private life sciences sector. It was the private sector that deliver the diagnostics, it was the private sector who deliver
the vaccines, it was the private sectors who deliver the treatments, it was not the CDC or WHO. And this is what meant to be. And this is why we are
having what we have so far.
So without intellectual property, there is no private sector because unfortunately, it's not only good will that give us cure of cancer, it is
tremendous investments of people that are willing to invest their money 100 times before they see one project succeed, because that's the chances in
science. So I think they are wrong. And in any case, even in a pandemic will not offer anything, because as I said, the issue right now is not
neither price, nor availability. Issues are infrastructure, but we need to all to work to support those countries.
ISAACSON: You just won the Genesis Prize this month. That's a big international prize. Congratulations.
BOURLA: Thank you.
ISAACSON: And it's about having values, both Jewish values and values of taking risk like you've done. Tell me about your own background. I think
you grew up in Thessalonica in Greece, as the son of Holocaust survivors, very few Holocaust survivors in Greece at the time, very few Jewish
families left, how did that affect your values and what you've done since then?
BOURLA: Look, everybody's values are affected by the family, one way or another, positive or negative, but this is true. And this happened to me as
well. My parents escaped the Holocaust at the last moment, particularly my mother was placed after or actually the teenager in front of the firing
squad. And the last moment they withdraw her from the line, because a Christian uncle had paid bribes to my aunties. And this is how her life was
spared, and she was leaving the execution place and through her, the machine guns killing everybody else.
So when you have an experience like that in your life, and you're willing to talk to your children, because most corporate survivors didn't talk
about the pains that they injure, but my parents did. That's a very strong lesson for a child. And the way that my parents spoke to me was never about
revenge. It was never about we must shade or paid back to those that they did that to us to our family. It was always, they completely ignored them.
Like if they didn't, they were not part of the equation, the message they were giving us. Life is miraculous. There is nothing that you can do. And
nothing is impossible.
And I still remember when I was a child telling my mom, I don't know, I have this difficulty at school. Her waving her finger say, don't tell me
it's difficult. I was in front of her parish club and I made it. Go ahead and do it. I think that made me who I am.
ISAACSON: Dr. Albert Bourla. Thank you so much for joining us.
BOURLA: No, thank you. Thank you for letting me be here and share my story.
AMANPOUR: And what a dramatic story I'm sure a few people have that kind of experience. And when top issues like COVID, Ukraine, and Afghanistan
dominate the headlines, some critical human stories just get lost. The French philosopher and public intellectual, Bernard-Henri Levy, continues
his mission to change that. In a new movie called "The Will to See," Levy says his dispatches from conflict zones around the world. Refusing to
ignore those places where suffering is most profound. Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Bernard-Henri Levy joins me now from New York. And I was just -- I just had my glasses on, Bernard, to check out that that imagery that you,
you know, you sent there. I mean, just that first image that we see there of you being chased by a man with a machete, I think in Nigeria, what did
that refer to? What was that story?
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, DIRECTOR, "THE WILL TO SEE": I was in the middle belt in Nigeria, a place where Christians are murdered, slaughtered every day by
Boko Haram affiliates called the Fulanis. And I were there to report -- put to report about that. And I was with a Christian community of a village and
these group of Fulani appeared and did not want. In these sorts of situations, the killers fear one thing, which is witness, witnesses are the
real thing which does not have to happen in situations of mass murderers, slaughter or genocide.
And in Nigeria, you have a situation of mass murder, which is very earn -- which is very poorly documented. And I went on there for that. And it is
the beginning of my movie. With the terrible story of a young lady called Roma Victor (ph), who is now dead, and who was butchered. Her arm was cut
piece after piece by your group of Fulani led by an Islamist jihadist army, and the film begins with her story.
AMANPOUR: And just to say before we continue about the big picture of your movie, it's quite rare that we get stories about the persecution of
Christians. We do pay a lot of attention to, you know, to Islam, to anti- semitism to what happens in in many other, you know, very difficult situations that we must pay attention to. But there's a lot going on in
terms of life and death in many parts of the world, persecuting and killing Christians. Why didn't you decide to focus on that?
LEVY: I decided to focus on that because I received the information from Nigerian Christian people, by the way here in New York, which astonished me
at the beginning. I could not believe what I was told. And I decided to go and see. And you are right, there is a cliche of the Christians being on
the side of the dominance of the powerful and we have a certain difficulty to imagine Christians being also victims. Alas, it happens in the Middle
East, in the Nineveh plain, in the Mosul, where they were the main target of ISIS. And it happens in Nigeria.
And as a human rights fighter, as a French, and as a Jew, and as a Jew, I feel that it is my responsibility when Christian are targeted because they
are Christians to defend them and to go and see and report. As a Jew, it is my responsibility to focus on massacre of Christians where they happen.
AMANPOUR: You know, it's really interesting, you put it as a Jew, it's your responsibility. I don't know whether you just heard the interview that
Walter Isaacson did with Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer.
LEVY: Yes, I did.
AMANPOUR: Oh my goodness, the story he says about his mother and about the lesson that she taught him, I mean she was in front of a firing squad. And
just because somebody had been bribed, she was lucky to be removed from that. And she heard the machine guns, killing those who remain, it's -- I
just can't even imagine living with that. But it's so important to remember those. And you do put these on all of our radars. And I just find it just
what you think about how you assess the current state of anti-semitism in the world. I mean, you saw what happened in a Texas synagogue, just a week
or so ago.
LEVY: Anti-semitism is on the rise, for sure in Texas, in France. In France since 10 years, 12 years since the Toulouse attack, they kill Jews in the
streets, which did not even happen in the 30s or the 20th century. So for sure, anti-semitism is on the rise all over the world and alas, also in the
free world. So we have to combat that. I combat that with all my strength, whatever is the color of anti-semitism, sometimes it comes from the right.
Often it comes from the left, and we have to combat it. But what I've been told is that being a Jew, means also to embrace the cause of the afflicted
of the oppressed, of the homeless, of the have, not wherever they are.
This is why I engage myself in the adventure of this movie in the middle of the COVID crisis, when it was apparently impossible to travel. I decided to
spend my time in refugee camps in Lesbos, in Afghanistan, with those women, young ladies who could not believe that they were being to be betrayed by
America, in Syria, in Iraq, and so on. For me, my, yes, my humanism means that.
AMANPOUR: Yes, so I was going to refer to some of these points you've just brought because we've got some video from your film. And I wanted to go
actually, to the ones I think you're mentioning them the Kurdish fighters, the female fighters, who you visited, and we're just going to play this
clip from the movie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So there you are visiting, shaking hands and talking to them. And of course, this is the Syrian Kurdish fighters. And of course, they fought
very valiantly with the U.S. against ISIS. I wonder what you discovered about their situation now that, you know, the foreign forces U.S. has
pulled back and in a sense, you know, Assad has won, he's still there rebuilding his position?
LEVY: Alas, Assad has won. And alas, these young ladies whom you address so probably lost. They are heroes valiant. They deserve a real life. Instead
of that they fight, they did fight for us and for themselves, ISIS. And by the way, Erdogan, and we dropped them flat. We betrayed them. You know, in
many wars the west or whoever has, you have always blood on your hands. Generally, the blood you have on your hands in a war is the blood of your
In the case of the Kurdistan, we Westerners, we Americans and French have on our hands, the blood of our allies. We have the blood of some of those
young ladies brave, valiant, which we betrayed and let be butchered by the proxies of Erdogan or the proxies of Bashar al-Assad, and these for the
West is a shame. It is a state on the consciousness of our generations.
AMANPOUR: When you when you visited them. I mean, did they understand what was happening? I mean, sadly, the history of the Kurds have been one
betrayal after the other by the U.S. and by the West. And it is very sad. There's a clip in your movie where you are dialing up President Macron when
you're with these forces, what were you doing? What were you saying? And what is the message to those Syrians who stood by the West when they needed
them as allies?
LEVY: The message which I tried to deliver them is that they were not completely alone. As you know, there is a saying, among the Kurdish people,
which is that they have no other friends than the mountains. For me to go there, to spend time with these young ladies and girls, is in order to tell
them, you have not only them, you have also a few friends in the West. And it is true that I showed that in the movie, I put in connection, the
General Kobani who is the general-in-chief of the Kurdi forces, and my president, President Macron.
And it was such a moving moment. It brought tears to the eyes of everyone in this bunker. We were in the bunker in Syria, the bunker was hunted by
drones of Assad, drones of Erdogan, and so on. And suddenly, the voice of President Macron of a young Democratic leader appeared in this bunker. It
was like a moment of relief. It was like a ray of hope for this gentleman, General Kobani, and for the ladies and gentlemen around him. So they are
betrayed. They are alone. But thanks God, not completely.
AMANPOUR: And then a conflict that's brewing right now, well, I mean more than brewing. It's right on the edge right now between Russia and Ukraine.
You will also in eastern Ukraine, and we have some image of you in the trenches and you're going to assess the situation there at the border. What
did you learn from those people who you met there? What is their state of affairs in terms of the heightened tensions with Russia? What do they
resign themselves to in Eastern Ukraine?
LEVY: I learned two things. First thing is that today the Ukrainian army exists and they're stronger. A few years ago, it was not true. When Russia
invaded Crimea, there was no real Ukrainian army. Today, I had, I spent time with the Ukrainian army. I spent time embedded with the Ukrainian
fighter. They are strong. They are determined and they will fight. Which means that if Putin makes the huge mistake to invade, and if we,
Westerners, let him invade, if we don't block Putin, it will be a very dirty war, it will not be a promenade or something, it will not just be a
walking in the area, it will be a terrible war, because the Ukrainians, they are patriots, they have the feeling that they defend a real conception
of the world.
They defend Europe. They defend up in the society. They defend humanistic values. And they will not certainly, this will certainly not withdraw
without fighting. So I cross fingers, I pray or I would pray if I could pray that the war does not happen, that the world does not burst because it
would be a terrible war against Ukraine and in Europe, and in Europe. Mr. Putin was very clear, last December 17th, he addressed a double ultimatum
to Europe. The ultimatum was addressed to all of us. It was an act of blackmail. It was an act of in political terrorism from Vladimir Putin,
threatening us, Europeans, of a real war. This is what would happen if we continue to be mild, and to be sweet, and to be compromising with Putin.
AMANPOUR: And in fact, today, the European Council President said that an attack by Russia on Ukraine would be an attack on Europe, and that it would
carry with it terrible consequences for Russia. But can I just ask you to just pull back a little bit and tell us how you managed to make all these
trips right in the middle of COVID? You started just before, but then it happened and you kept going. How did you do that, with the virus spreading
all over the world and with such travel restrictions?
LEVY: I followed the rules. I was a good citizen of my country. But I did all my best. I used every human possibility in order to be able to go to
share the life of the Ukrainian soldiers in the trenches or to go to Mogadishu in Somalia. Inside the rules I did or what is possible, I will
not give you details here. But you must just know that for me, in this world, where we did, we were putting a mask, not only on our mouth, but
only on our eyes, we had masks on our eyes. For me, it was a duty, it was a must. It was a moral obligation to continue more than ever to go and see on
the other side, what happens, what is happening on the other side of the world, in the side of the world where it is midnight at every moment of the
day. For me it was a moral obligation, whatever it cost.
AMANPOUR: And last, and lastly, Bernard, we got one minute left. In your own country, presidential election coming up, you just spoken about
President Macron, he has this guy Eric Zemmour on his very far right, who has been, you know, convicted of hate speech and other such things. And yet
in 2021 is a presidential candidate. Tell us how this can happen in France today.
LEVY: It is a very sad story. It is not glorious for France, to have such a candidate. I hope it will not be a date in the history of the French Jewish
community. I hope we will very soon forget this political buffoon who is Mr. Zemmour. He preaches hate. He preaches cruelty against others. I hope
this episode will be very soon behind us.
AMANPOUR: All right, Bernard-Henri Levy and "The Will to See," thank you for joining us with your film, really, really fascinating.
LEVY: Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
LEVY: Thank you, my dear.
AMANPOUR: And now quickly a correction on yesterday's program where we showed pictures of the Russian military exercises in the Voronezh region of
Russia, but incorrectly labeled the location as Kharkiv, which is in fact in Ukraine.
And finally, with news tonight that the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, plans to retire, we look back at my recent conversation with him.
He told me then that he didn't want to die on the bench. I also asked him about reforming the court in these partisan times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Would you like to see any reforms currently in the selection process or the makeup or what the Supreme Court looks like? You know,
there's so many --
JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Yes, of course, I would like to see. So I mean of course I would like to see. I would like to see less
controversy in the political world. I would like to see less division in this country. And when I worked in the Senate, and begin to think that was
many years ago, but I worked on the staff of Senator Kennedy. And one thing I came away with was when the public that elects the senators and the
congressmen comes to the conclusion that they want to see less fighting and more agreement that will happen, that the senators and members of Congress
ask the questions and take the actions that they think by and large their constituents want.
And so when I'm talking to the college students, I say my friends, I learned from Senator Kennedy, one thing that I think is important, and
maybe more but at least one, and that is listened to people who disagree with you. And if you're listening long enough you'll find on something they
agree with you. And then when you get that, you say let's work with that, let's work with it and you work with it and try to produce something
positive, something that maybe gives you 30 percent of what you want, but better 30 percent than 100 percent of nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And what wise, wise counsel that is, especially in these times.
That's it for us for now, remember, you can always catch us online, on our podcasts and across social media. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from