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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Pfizer CEO Speaks To CNN, UK Imposes New Restrictions, Instagram CEO Testifies. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 08, 2021 - 17:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I am Paula Newton in New York, in for Bianca Nobilo.

Tonight, cautious hope in the fight against the Omicron variant. Pfizer CEO tells CNN why early data shows boosters may be effective.

Then, the U.K. announces new COVID restrictions as the prime minister comes under fire for an alleged Christmas party scandal last year. We are live

outside Downing Street.

And Instagram CEO appears in front of Congress. We'll tell you why shortly.

Today, we're getting cautious, and I want to say cautious optimism from Pfizer about how well the vaccines work against the omicron variant. Now,

they say preliminary data shows two doses alone may not stop people from being infected. That is essentially the bad news, though it may protect

against serious illness and death, the good news.

However, they also say people who get boosters show what they describe as robust antibody response, and that third doses now, so-called booster

doses, provide significant protection.

I want everyone to keep in mind, this is preliminary data, it hasn't even been published or peer reviewed. This is all going on in the lab but

Pfizer's chief scientific officer says it is enough to give us reason to hope. Listen.


DR. MIKAEL DOLSTEN, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, PFIZER: Two doses is, on the weekend, against this new variant, T-cells may help you protect against

severe disease, hospitalization, but it's really time to get the sort of news and you should be very encouraged by this morning's news.


NEWTON: OK. Very encouraged.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, I know you have been speaking, in fact, to the southern African researchers. What did they tell you about what they learned?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They feel very relieved, Paula, they were concerned Omicron would pose a serious, serious

challenge to the vaccine. It had so many mutations, they were afraid when testing in the lab it wouldn't work well at all but it turns out it does

work. Not as well as it had against previous strains, not as well as it did against -- or has against delta, or strains before that, but it still does

have a significant effect.

So let's take a look at what the South African scientist learned and also what Pfizer learned. It is very similar. What both of them have basically

found is two doses of the Pfizer vaccine may not provide sufficient protection against infection with Omicron. In other words, you could have

your two Pfizer vaccines and still get infected, but you may not get very sick which leads us to our second point, which is that two doses may still

give significant protection against severe disease.

That's what both of these studies, the one by Pfizer and by this South African scientist found, is that it looks like two doses should still give

you significant protection against severe disease. Significant is the word Dr. Alex Sigal, who is the South African scientist used.

But Pfizer says third dose would give even more robust protection. So really, after all of this, the advice remains the same. Get vaccinated,

that's the most important step, and if you have access to booster and enough time has passed since the original vaccination, get yourself a


Now, this has caused many people to think, hmm, maybe the vaccine should be three doses to start with, it's working better against Omicron, really that

it works best against delta and the other variants.

Our colleague Kate Bolduan interviewed Dr. Fauci earlier today and asked him if this turns out to be a 3-dose vaccine. The definition of fully

vaccinated will be three doses. Let's take a listen to what Dr. Fauci told her.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLELRGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I don't see that changing tomorrow or next week, but certainly,

if you want to talk about what optimal protection is, I don't think anybody would argue that optimal protection is going to be with a third shot.

Whether or not it officially gets changed in the definition, I think that's going to be considered literally on a daily basis. That's always on the


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: I'm kind of stuck with, is it a matter now of when, not if the definition of fully vaccinated changes?

FAUCI: You know, my own personal opinion, Kate, is what you said is correct. It's going to be a matter of when, not if.



COHEN: So, while we wait for public health officials to decide if two doses or three is officially full vaccination. In a way, it doesn't really

matter, as Dr. Fauci said, the evidence seems pretty clear at this point. Two doses, absolutely essential, and that third dose really is optimal if

you have access to it, get it -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, especially, obviously, given the new variant.

Unfortunately Elizabeth, cold comfort for those who can't get their first dose of mRNA vaccine. But we will follow that on CNN as well.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for taking us through that.

Now, in England, meantime, it is responding to new coronavirus cases and the threat from Omicron by going into what has been described as "Plan B"


OK. Starting Monday, the government will reintroduce guidance to work from home. That's right. People will be advised if they can, to work from home.

What else? People required to wear masks in most public, indoor venues.

And, of course, passes proving vaccination or recent recovery will be mandatory for entering places with large crowds like nightclubs and music

venues. I will note they are not closing though, prime minister explains why all this is happening now.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Omicron is growing much faster than the previous Delta variant and it's spreading rapidly all around the world,

568 cases confirmed through genomic sequencing across every region of the UK and the true number is certain to be much higher. Most worryingly, there

is evidence that the doubling time of Omicron in the UK could currently be between two and three days.


NEWTON: Now, picture yourself back a year ago. I know, most of us don't want to do that, but think about this. You were in London, at the time,

about to enter the so-called tier three restrictions which banned any indoor socializing, not with your parents, not with your brothers and

sisters, friends, no one.

After months of lockdowns, you'd have to scrap your Christmas and New Year's plans, shattering so many peoples' hopes to finally see those loved

ones so in a recent news report alleged Downing Street staffers, the staffers, held a Christmas party when others could not, it just left many

people absolutely outraged.

For days, the government was denying any party took place, but then this video, from a year ago, of a mock press conference in Downing Street, and

it was leaked. Listen.


ED OLDFIELD: Reports, it was a Downing Street Christmas party Friday night. You recognize --


OLDFIELD: Would the prime minister condone having a Christmas party?

STRATTON: What's the answer?

OLDFIELD: I don't know.

DOWNING STREET EMPLOYEE: It wasn't a party. It was a cheese and wine.

STRATTON: Is cheese and wine alright? It was a business meeting.


STRATTON: This is recorded.

This fictional party was a business meeting, and it was not socially distanced.


NEWTON: The woman you see at the podium is Allegra Stratton, then Boris's Johnson's press secretary.

A few hours ago, the prime minister apologized in parliament.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I understand how frustrating it must be that the people setting the rules were not following the rules, Mr.

Speaker, because I was also furious to see that clip.


NEWTON: Salma Abdelaziz is in Downing Street for us tonight. Now, we don't want to downplay the health measures announced. We will get to those.

This political scandal though, it is really outraging people, and the visceral reaction has been incredibly difficult to ignore.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, I mean millions have seen that video you just played out and as you outlined, everyone in this

country remembers exactly where they were because that was the week you called your parents, you called your loved ones, you told them you'd be

home-alone on Christmas because there were variants sweeping through this country, because you were afraid of the thousands of people flooding into

ICUs across the country, because hundreds of people were dying a day of COVID-19. You can imagine the outrage.

And this is not first time this administration has been embroiled in a scandal around COVID-19 restrictions. Remember, this is the prime minister

that ended up in ICU at the beginning of the pandemic after he admitted to shaking hands of COVID patients. So this is truly a watershed moment of

this administration and you'll see the prime minister now, fight for his survival, fight to hold the office, fight to hold his own party and fight

to win back public confidence.

But I can tell you in the court of public opinion, he's already losing hearts and minds. I wanted to find out from a bereaved family member, a

person who lost a loved one to COVID-19 how she felt when she saw this video.


Her name is Safiah and her father died in that period, that Christmas period where this alleged incident took place.

I want you to take a listen to what she told me.


SAFIAH NGAH, COVID-19 BEREVEAD FAMILIES FOR JUSTICE: The first time I saw it was last night and to be honest, I didn't, I couldn't really believe

what I was watching while I was watching it. It was really shocking.

I think the bewilderment is the word I'd use. To see government officials talking so callously about something that, you know, took my dad's life

away but also the lives of over 150,000 people in this country, so it was really quite shocking and really strange, really cynical.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, I asked Safiah who you hold responsible and she said the buck stops with the prime minister and I don't think she is alone in that


Now, of course, new COVID restrictions rolled out today, prime minister saying these are proportionate to the Omicron variant, but he now has that

very tough challenge, Paula, of convincing the public to follow rules that his very own staff are alleged to have violated

NEWTON: And it doesn't even hurt his political career, I mean, at this point. It hurts public health. It actually hurts his cause to try to make

this a safer Christmas this time around.

Salma, thank you for that update, appreciate it.

Meantime, Neil Coyle, the MP opposition Labour Party personally affected by the labor restrictions at the time says the alleged rule-breaking is part

of what he says, a broader pattern for Boris Johnson.


NEIL COYLE, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY MP: This is a prime minister that routinely thinks his team and advisers are somehow exempt from the rules

the rest of us follow. And, you know, like me, I had constituents say they didn't see loved ones last Christmas who are no longer. My -- I didn't see

my dad last Christmas, passed away early this year. My daughter is only 5, I don't think she remember my dad. That breaks my heart, yet this is a

government that says we don't care about that, too busy toasting on our wine and nibbles in Downing Street where the rest of the country are making

significant sacrifices.


NEWTON: We will continue to follow that issue in the UK.

Meantime, switching here, in Canada has just become the latest country to announce its diplomats and other officials will boycott the 2022 Winter

Games in Beijing.

Now, it joins a growing list of Western nations making similar announcements to protest China's human rights record. Canadian Prime

Minister Justin Trudeau said China should have expected this.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: I don't think the decision by Canada or many other countries to not send diplomatic representation to the

Beijing Olympics and Paralympics is going to come as a surprise to China. We have been very clear over the past many years of our deep concerns

around human rights violations and this is a continuation of us expressing our deep concerns for human rights violations.


NEWTON: So Trudeau's announcement there came hours after the UK and Australia join the U.S. with diplomatic boycott of their owns. China's

officials say many individuals from the countries weren't invited anyway.

But as Ivan Watson tells us from Hong Kong, China may be more worried what others might say once they get to Beijing. Take a listen.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The day U.S. government said it would announce boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter

Olympics, U.K. and Australia announced that they too would follow suit, allowing their athletes to go and compete in the games but withholding

government delegations who would participate in the activities.

The Australian prime minister said some of the grounds for this measure were to punish China for its human rights record and for its massive

government crack down in the Xinjiang region.

Not much surprise, the Chinese government is unhappy with these boycotts and the response boils down to a couple points, basically, Chinese

government officials arguing, well, we didn't invite these Western delegations in the first place. They're accusing the U.S. and its Western

allies of politicizing sports and asserting that the Winter Olympics will be a success and also threatening some kind of countermeasures, not sure

what they might be.

Los Angeles is due to host the summer Olympics in 2028.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


NEWTON: We're going to take a look now at some other key stories making international impact today.

India's air force confirms the country's top military chief, General Bipin Rawat, was among those killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday. It says

13 people were killed and only one person aboard the military helicopter survived.

Chile's president to sign a measure to pass same-sex marriage. Now, the bill has been passed by both houses in the Chilean Congress. It will grant

full marital and adoption rights to same-sex couples. Chile would become the eighth Latin American country to approve same-sex marriage nationwide.

France is acknowledging a case of mistaken identity in the hunt for the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, authorities have released a

Saudi man detained Tuesday at Charles de Gaulle Airport. They say he was not part of the hit squad that murdered Khashoggi in 2018 as they initially


Now, there appears no respite in South Sudan, from that epic flooding brought on by the climate crisis which has wiped out cross, displaced tens

of thousands of people.

Clarissa Ward reports from one of the affected areas.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: South Sudan is a country that has been mired in a vicious civil war for so many years. It

ended just a few years ago, development was put on pause here for such a long time and aid agencies and, you know, the government, here, had just

started the process of rebuilding some of these schools, opening 50 schools in the last couple of years. And now all of that has been once again, put

on pause. Take a look.

It's pretty deep in here.

Teacher Kolgani (ph) shows us what remains of the local school.

What were you teaching in here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm teaching English.

WARD: The classrooms are all deserted now, overrun by the fetid, stagnant waters.

Is the water getting any lower?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's still increasing, the water.

WARD: But this water is also filthy. It's dangerous, there's disease in it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, there's diseases. Also, we are drinking inside this water, also.

WARD: This is where most of his students have fled to. A narrow strip of dry land now home to some 6,000 people. Books are brought in by canoe.

Classes are taught under a white tarp.

According to UNICEF, more than 500 schools have been hit by the floods, and there are real fears that the next generation of this conflict-scarred

nation may be lost.

The countries like South Sudan simply hasn't been contributing to even a fraction of global emissions. There's roughly 125 miles of paved road in

this country and yet according to the U.N., it's countries particularly in the African continent are disproportionally paying such a high price.

And it is only going to get to be higher and higher price if more action isn't taken, particularly in terms of the infrastructure, the pumps that

are needed, the diggers to help try to build up those dikes to fortify those dikes, and to really help South Sudan strengthen the defenses against

the effects of climate change.


NEWTON: That was our Clarissa Ward, and we thank her for her report from Ding Ding, in South Sudan.

Still ahead here for us, U.S. lawmakers blasted for an addictive product that exploits children's securities. We see how the head of Instagram is

answering those accusations in his first testimony on Capitol Hill.

Plus, Olaf Scholz now officially taking over from Angela Merkel as German chancellor. The opening of a new era.



NEWTON: Self-policing depends on trust and the trust is gone. That was the message of one U.S. lawmaker to the head of Instagram during a hearing on

how to protect children from the harmful effects of social media. Now, Senate committee grilled Adam Mosseri for hours today. A common theme was

frustration, over how long it has taken Instagram and parent company, Meta, to address concerns on their platform on teens' mental health.

Mosseri proposed a creation of an industry body to oversee efforts to keep children safe.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is following the story from New York.

I should say, you've been following this story for years, right, Donie, and I think at this point, people want to see change. In terms of what can be

done going forward, in terms of regulation, and I realize that, you know, this executive himself is saying, yeah, we need regulation but what would

actually work at this point?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Paula, I mean, that is the big question. We've heard a lot of noise from lawmakers who were saying they're

going to crack down on these companies, and we're still waiting to see legislation that could lead to regulation. I would say however, these

senators today, their questions were quite impressive and it seems there is a bipartisan agreement, a rare thing in Washington these days, on cracking

down on platforms like Instagram particularly when it comes to child safety.

I want to play one question asked by Senator Richard Blumenthal, mentioning even when parents come across concerning content against Instagram's rules

when they bring it to Instagram's attention they don't do anything about it. Have a listen.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Shouldn't children and parents have the right to report dangerous material and get a response? Get some action.

Because we've heard harrowing stories from parents who tried to report and have heard no response. My office made a report and got no response until

CNN made a report to press relations. Shouldn't there be an obligation that Instagram will respond?

ADAM MOSSERI, CEO, INSTAGRAM: Senator, yes, I believe we try and respond to all reports and if we ever fail to do so, that is a mistake that we

should correct.


O'SULLIVAN: And that CNN report there the senator mentioned was about pages on Instagram that were promoting eating disorders to young teenage

girls. That's supposed to be against Instagram's rules but the company didn't do anything about these accounts. It didn't detect them number one,

and two, didn't respond to reports from regular users about those accounts until it was brought to their attention by CNN.

So we see this across the board, whether it's conspiracy theories, about hate speech, the content dangerous to children, Instagram and Facebook,

despite having billions and billions of dollars seem to keep missing it -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yeah, and I know how many times you've brought this to their attention so we'll continue to follow whether or not there is legislation

to come.

Donie, thanks so much for setting that up for us. Appreciate it.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

NEWTON: Now, Germany now has a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz. Angela Merkel formally handed over the chancery to him a few hours ago, wishing him,

quote, all the best. She's retiring after serving as the country's first female head of government. She was there for 16 years.

Fred Pleitgen is in Berlin for us.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Paula. Well, it certainly is the end of a political era here in this

country. After 16 years, Angela Merkel stepping aside and the new man, the chancellor, Olaf Scholz, he really has his work cut out for him. On the one

hand, of course, modernizing Germany's economy is a tall task.

Germany also really, right now, dealing with a really, really bad outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of daily new infections but also the

death toll rising as well. But the most interesting thing or one of the most interesting things has been Olaf Scholz's statements about foreign

policy and seems he does value transatlantic relations. He's praised President Joe Biden over the past couple of days. He's also said that he

really values that President Biden brought the multilateralism back into the way the U.S. deals with its allies, especially right now with the

situation in eastern Ukraine.


Of course, Russia massing forces in that area. Olaf Scholz says that he was very fond of the fact that President Biden spoke with his European NATO

allies both before speaking with Vladimir Putin and after speaking with Vladimir Putin as well.

Another key figure to look at in the foreign cabinet is the Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green Party, because she is very tough on

Russia and very critical of the Nord Stream 2 pipe line -- Paula.


NEWTON: And thank you, Fred.

We will be back with more of THE BRIEF in a moment.


NEWTON: A Japanese billionaire has embarked upon the first self-funded tourism to space this decade. Yusaku Maezawa joins the growing list of

billionaire visiting space starting his 12-day journey aboard the International Space Station. You see him there. The fashion mogul took off

in Kazakhstan, alongside Russian astronauts and his videographer ahead of the journey.

In a Russian-built Soyuz capsule, he, in fact, had to train three months in Russia. He had planned a variety of activities for his flight, though, and

that includes, I want to see this, playing golf. But this is just the start. He already bought all the seats on Elon Musk's first mission to the

move, tentatively scheduled for 2023.

I'd settle for a little time on the beach myself, but oh well.

Thanks, everyone for watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be back again tomorrow, with more. Until then, stay with CNN. "WORLD SPORT" is up next.