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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

English Channel Migrant Tragedy; Germany's New Political Era; COVID Deaths & Racial Inequality. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired November 24, 2021 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London.

Tonight, tragedy in the English Channel. A record number of migrants died today after their boat capsized.

Then, a new political era for Germany. Olaf Schultz clinches a new deal as Germany faces its worst day of the pandemic so far.

And racial inequality in health care. We unpack the factors behind the stark divide in COVID mortality rates for communities of color.

French officials say at least 31 people have died in the English Channel, the worst migrant tragedy ever recorded in that crossing. They were crammed

on a dinghy crossing from Calais, France, when it capsized in the freezing waters.

Among the dead, five women and a little girl. Two people have survived and search operations are ongoing for one person who is still missing.

France's president says they cannot let the channel become a graveyard with tens of thousands of people already having taken that risk of the journey

this year.

Emmanuel Macron blasted traffickers and smugglers saying they have no regard for human life.

Britain's prime minister agrees.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I say to our partners across the channel, now is the time for us all to step up, to work together, to do

everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder.


NOBILO: CNN correspondent Cyril Vanier joins me now from Paris.

Cyril, this is obviously, a tragic and developing situation. What are you learning?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we speak, two of the migrants were on that boat, Bianca, are fighting for their lives.

Yes, they are alive, but they are suffering from hypothermia, and, you know, that stands to reason. It's cold right now in France, even colder in

northern France, and those waters in the English Channel must be freezing at the moment.

So, we don't know per the interior minister saying that to us this evening, we don't know whether they will make it. One person is also still missing,

and so the rescue operations are still going on. We'll continue according to the interior minister in the early hours tomorrow morning.

Thirty-four people got on that ill-fated inflatable boat, according to the minister, Bianca, and by the time the rescue ships got to the boat, it was

totally deflated, and you know, this tragedy, yes, it is the worst that we have seen thus far, but it was predictable, because the number of crossings

has surged, 47,000 attempted crossings since the beginning of the year, according to Emmanuel Macron, and French authorities are involved in rescue

operations, if not daily, at least weekly.

In fact, you know what, Bianca, in the last few hours since this tragedy, French warships have been involved in rescuing 106 migrants in another

similar attempted crossing.

NOBILO: Wow. Truly is a crisis.

Cyril Vanier, thank you for reporting. We'll check back in with you tomorrow.

Sweden made history Wednesday by choosing its first ever female prime minister but less than 12 hours after parliament appointed Magdalena

Andersson she resigned. The Social Democrat leader said she didn't want her legitimacy questioned after a coalition partner quit following a

legislative defeat. Andersson hopes to be appointed again as head of a single party government.

Despite long championing gender equality, Sweden was the last Nordic country to elect a female leader. Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway all

came before it.

Now, Angela Merkel is the only chancellor many young Germans have ever known. After 16 years in office her leadership of Europe's largest economy

is coming to an end. On Wednesday, three parties announced deals to form a new governing coalition that could be sworn in early next month.

The leader of the center left Social Democrats Olaf Scholz is said to replace Mrs. Merkel. Earlier, she presided over what could be her final

cabinet meeting. Mrs. Merkel leaves big shoes to fill and Scholz will be put to the test on day one, taking office amid a worsening crisis over


He's proposing a tough new measure as Germany records its highest single day surge in cases yet.



OLAF SCHOLZ (through translator): Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we should introduce compulsory vaccinations in places where

particularly vulnerable people are cared for. We are currently investigating extending existing regulation on this.


NOBILO: That's one of the many changes we could see in the post-Merkel era.

Anna Stewart is here with more.

Anna, my question to you is two-pronged. Firstly, how much of a departure is Scholz is going to be politically in terms of Germany domestically. And,

of course, Germany is the biggest economy in the E.U. and a very influential country. How is it going to change E.U. leadership?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: I mean, this is going to be significant. Obviously going to be change. Angela Merkel has been there for 16 years.

In terms of policies, they are different, we're talking about a much more left-leaning but still centrist government here, compared to Angela Merkel

but some consistently right, because Olaf Scholz has been a finance minister in the government since 2018, so there is some continuity.

Now, it was all smiles from the party leaders on the way to their big press conference. This will not have been an easy coalition negotiation. It's

taken two months and that's because they are not really easy bedfellows here. You got three parties that are not natural allies, the FDP leaning

much more towards the conservatives rather than the left-leaning, SDP and the Green Party, and yet they have actually managed to agree on some


For instance, phasing out coal by 2030. That's eight years earlier than originally planned, great victory for the Greens. They're going to

introduce 15 million new all electric cars on the road by 2030. It seems like a bit for the greens, it's not. It's not as ambitious as the greens

wanted going into this. They wanted to ban the internal combustion engines in new cars by that date.

Interesting announcements include legalizing cannabis in shops in Germany with licensed stores, that was eye-catching and sadly, this idea they might

consider actually making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory, and that's because right now, looking at the situation they're in, with this great, terrible,

sort of fourth wave of coronavirus cases, the highest daily surge in infections, that is what they have to deal with.

So, despite being elected on a variety of campaign policies they want to put forward, they have to focus on the crisis at hand -- COVID, the

economy, because it's weighing it down, and also you've got supply chain crisis issues. You've got high gas prices. There's a lot there.

And then as you mentioned, Germany's position on the European stage. Angela Merkel was a deft hand at E.U. diplomacy. She did it for 16 years. This

will be a departure from that. Can Olaf Scholz have the gravitas, can he steer Europe out of this crisis, the economic recovery and of course all

the issues like the migrant crisis, so much for him to tackle on day one.

NOBILO: Just briefly, is he popular within Germany?

STEWART: He's incredibly popular. Mr. Scholz has been in politics for decades and much loved. He's very straight talking.

NOBILO: I look forward to hearing some of that. Anna Stewart, thank you so much.

Now, the U.S. embassy in Kiev is raising the alarm over unusual Russian military activity along Russia's border with Ukraine as well as in Crimea.

We're also keeping an eye on Ukraine's border with Belarus. Ukraine says it's launched a special operation there aimed at keeping Belarus from

sending migrants across the frontier. Similar to that crisis erupted between Belarus and Poland.

Australia has declared Hezbollah and a neo-Nazi organization The Base as terrorist organizations. Anyone convicted of being associated with those

groups could face up to 25 years in prison. Australia is on high alert after a number of lone wolf attacks in recent years.

The home affairs minister says the move is essential to protect Australian society.


KAREN ANDREWS, AUSTRALIAN HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER: We are in Australia a nation of a very rich and diverse cultural background. Our community is

built on a very broad fabric of many and varied experiences and cultures, and our nation's character is better off for this.

The views of violent extremist groups such as these are a stain on the rich cultural fabric that we have here in Australia. There is no place in

Australia for the hateful ideologies.


NOBILO: Hezbollah is not known to be active in Australia. It was originally listed as a terrorist organization in 2003. The listing has now

been expanded to include the group's political, social and military components.

The Base, however, is thought to be developing cells in the country, described as violent and racist, the group was formed in the U.S. and been

attempting to recruit members in hopes of stoking a race war. It's known to have links also with other neo-Nazi organizations.

Now, let's take a look at the other key stories making international impact today.

Moammar Gadhafi's son has been disqualified from running in a Libyan presidential election. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi was among a group of would-be

candidates authorities said did not meet the eligibility criteria. He has 48 hours to appeal the ruling.

Iran's foreign minister says he's reached an agreement on continuing cooperation with the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, this comes hours

after the IAEA chief said there was a standoff on access to key nuclear sites. Next week, talks are set to resume between Iran and world powers

over restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

The EU is now demanding independent and verifiable proof of Peng Shuai's whereabouts and safety. China has attempted to show the tennis star is safe

with several video clips and photos, but questions have been raised about their legitimacy. Peng has not been seen publicly in weeks since she

accused a former vice premier of sexual assault.

The Tanzanian government will allow teenage mothers to return to school after giving birth. They've been banned for doing so for several years. The

country's education minister says the new policy applies to any student who drops out of school and later wishes to continue their studies.

The British parliament is reviewing its rules about children in the workplace after a lawmaker was scolded for bringing her baby into a House

of Commons debate. Labor MP Stella Creasy shared an email from an official telling her she should not have her 3-month-old son with her. She says she

was surprised given she brought him and her older daughter into the chamber before as have other MPs.

The issue of mixing motherhood and politics is not new. We've seen incidence in both Germany and Denmark, where politicians were asked to

leave for bringing babies to work, but it's not discouraged everywhere. In 2017, an Australian senator made history breast feeding her baby in

parliament. The following year, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought her newborn to the U.N. General Assembly.

Boris Johnson famously decried the doomsters and gloomsters in his first speech as prime minister and he built his pretty popular and robust

political brand being a buoyant, cheerful optimist. But his premiership has been dominated now by the worst public health crisis in living memory,

while the traits which won him popularity in the first place will be tone deaf, requiring him to pull from an unused political tool kit.

The past few weeks have been especially rough, scandals, U-turns and Peppa Pig flubs, the opposition leader mocked him over that earlier.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: His back benches say it's embarrassing, your words. Your words. Your words.

And senior people in Downing Street tell the BBC it's just not working.

Is everything okay, prime minister? Mr. Speaker, I think he's lost his place in his notes again.


NOBILO: Now, a new poll from Savanta ComRes shows his favorability rating has dropped to its lowest level ever and shows Labour taking the lead among


John Rentoul is chief commentator at "The Independent" and says Johnson is bound to be worried.


JOHN RENTOUL, CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, "THE INDEPENDENT": It is significant because for all this time of the coronavirus pandemic and

especially this last year, Boris Johnson has been relatively popular, especially because the vaccine program has gone extremely well in the UK,

and certainly in relation to other European countries, people feel that we were the first to get the vaccines, and that we are going to be the first

to come out of the other side of the pandemic. And so the prime minister's got a lot of credit for that.

But we're now entering a period of more normal politics, where a number of mistakes have been made by Boris Johnson, and he's beginning to pay the

price. I think prime ministers are always more worried about their position than we think they are, and I think the prime minister does have to worry

about the fact that his relationship with his own MPs is so bad, that they really only voted for him because they thought he could win elections. As

soon as they start he can't win the next election for them, that's why the opinion polls are so important, they'll turn on him.


NOBILO: In many countries, coronavirus has disproportionately affected minority communities. Now a new study is revealing just how dramatic that

disparity is. We take a look at the impact of racial inequality after the break.



NOBILO: Throughout the pandemic, we've often spoken about COVID divides, the global south versus the global north, vaccinated versus unvaccinated,

rich versus poor, but what's less addressed is the stark racial inequality when it comes to COVID mortality rates.

New data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that if all racial and ethnic communities saw the same mortality rate from

COVID-19 as college educated white people, these communities would have seen deaths reduce by 71 percent.

The study points to racial inequalities, education, the criminal justice system as key factors in this clear divide.

Justin Feldman is an epidemiologist of social inequality and author of that study. He told us earlier that the divide is not just seen within the

pandemic, but plays a wider part in the distrust towards medical institutions by people of color.


JUSTIN FELDMAN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY: In the United States, and in many other countries there are racial inequalities in health

outcomes, in the U.S. some of the major ones we see are high rates of heart disease among the black population, high rates of diabetes among certain

American Indian groups.

However, the magnitude of racial inequalities we're seeing with COVID-19 is much larger than with any other major cause of death, and I think it's

really compounding the inequalities that already exist in realty care, in living and work environments and preexisting disease status.


NOBILO: Researchers advised further study into the topic to understand the disparities and impacts on pandemic responses, after Britain calls for

international action regarding the racial bias of some medical devices.

The UK health secretary said he had commissioned a review after learning that oximeters which measure blood oxygen levels give less accurate

readings to patients with darker skin. These devices are obviously key to assessing COVID patients.

Head of equality for the British Medical Association told us earlier about other key medical disparities he believed needed to be addressed.


ANIL JAIN, HEAD OF EQUALITY, BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: I think this is clearly vital that this takes place should also look at in my view the

adequacy of PPE and appropriate PPE, because people weren't given the right kind of PPE, people with a turban or people with beard and the field

testing, et cetera, it wasn't clear tested for the different races gender inequalities, female face is smaller. These things weren't adjusted.


NOBILO: I want to bring in CNN's health reporter Jacqueline Howard to further explore this issue.


Jacqueline, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

First of all, could you walk us through the data in that U.S. study that I mentioned?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Absolutely. And, Bianca, I believe that this study really does highlight the significant impact COVID-19 has

had on communities of color, specifically here in the United States. Now, what the researchers did. They took a close look at COVID-19 death rates

throughout different ethnic and racial groups here in the U.S. and here are the numbers that they found.

For every 100,000 people in the communities, there were about 116 COVID-19 deaths among the white community. When you look at the Black community, 238

deaths per 100,000 and Latinx/Hispanic 265. And then you see here, when you look at the Native American, Alaska native and Hawaiian Pacific islander in

the communities, you're in the 300s per 100,000.

These are stark differences to begin with, Bianca, and the researchers analyzed these numbers and that's how they came to that finding that you

mentioned earlier where they make the conclusion that if everyone had the same COVID-19 death rates as college educated white people in America,

there would have been 48 percent fewer deaths among adults ages 25 and older, including 71 percent fewer among communities of color.

Specifically black and indigenous people of color, and the researchers pointed out socioeconomic factors, those factors had somewhat influence but

not as much as one would expect. And so, the researchers wrote in their study that this warrants further investigation.

What they say, quote, one of our key findings that the magnitude of racial inequities was only slightly attenuated on average when stratifying by

educational attainment categories. That warrants further explanation and ultimately more exploration in future research.

So, in a nutshell, Bianca, this study again highlights the racial disparities that we tend to see in medicine and it's highlighted here with

COVID-19 and the study looked at the first year of the pandemic, but we can make the argument these disparities are continuing.

NOBILO: I mean, this is clearly a massive and deadly problems.

So, let's talk about what's behind the disparities. You mentioned socioeconomic factors and small impact. I mentioned the UK health secretary

commissioned a review regarding the racial bias of certain medical devices not working well on darker skin.

So, talk about the different factors contributing to the stark divide in COVID mortality.

HOWARD: Yeah, Bianca, I believe that there are several factors at play here. What the researchers wrote in their paper, specifically looking at

COVID-19 death rates, again, they say that this warrants further research so they're calling for more study to look into the factors to help answer

that why, why is this happening.

They also point out different socioeconomic factors. They say here that people of color, specifically in the United States, already tend to be more

contact with others. So, you might work in a place where you had face-to- face interactions with people, so it can lead to more exposure. More exposure can lead to obviously more hospitalizations and deaths. So, that's

one factor there.

Also, if you have, you know, different generations living in your household, older family members and younger family members and younger

family members could bring the virus in, that would be a risk to those who are older. That's one factor at play here.

So, these are just again socio factors that tend to come in play but also keep in mind that here in the United States and other nations as well when

you see these disparities play out, there are other factors called social determinants of health. That refers to the day-to-day stress someone might

experience, no matter their income, no matter their educational background.

That stress can play a role. That can also include how much access you have to health care. If you live in a community that does not have the same

access to care another community has, that can play a role in your risk of hospitalization and death.

So, all of these factors play a role and I think that we have to take a close look and investigate the role the factors play in the pandemic today

and the history behind them, how to change that. I believe that's what the researchers are calling for, more investigation.

NOBILO: Jacqueline, we're up against the clock a little bit. But just very briefly, how does this play into the bigger picture of racial inequality in

health care systems generally? Obviously, COVID puts (ph) it into sharp relief.

HOWARD: Right. I mean, very quickly, this is just one example of the disparities that we tend to see in medicine. Here are three other examples

that I can tell you.


Number one, the CDC says in the United States, racial and ethnic minorities and, again, I believe this is in other nations as well, they tend to have

higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma and heart disease.

Again, this can be back to social determinants of health, again the stress that you face on a day-to-day basis.

Number two, when it comes to maternal health, black and indigenous women of color are about three times more likely to die during pregnancy or in


Number three, another example during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, hospitalization rates of Blacks and Hispanic two to three times higher,

similar to what we're seeing now with COVID -- Bianca.

NOBILO: I wish we had longer to talk.

Jacqueline Howard, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your analysis of the research. Appreciate it.

HOWARD: Absolutely.

NOBILO: You're watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back after this.


NOBILO: In the social media age, brand ambassadors promote everything, from teeth whitening to travel. But what about cannabis?

Cue the former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. He became an entrepreneur after hanging up his gloves, investing heavily in the weed

business and now, a media reports say Malawi's agricultural minister has invited Tyson to become the ambassador for Malawi's cannabis industry. He

hopes that Tyson's backing will bring in new investors and buyers.

It's always great to end the show on a high note. I think so anyway. Thanks for joining us. Good night.