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The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Omicron On The Rise In U.K.; Leaders Meet About Ukraine; Psychological Effects Of Porn. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired December 15, 2021 - 17:00   ET



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. This is THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Lynda Kinkade, in for Bianca Nobilo.

Tonight, the UK records its highest number of COVID infections since the pandemic began with Omicron now dominating cases in London.

Then, a day of diplomacy. Russia and China's leaders hold a virtual summit, while European leaders meet with Ukraine's prime minister.

And it messed me up. Grammy winner Billie Eilish speaks out about the negative impacts of watching pornography at a young age. Coming up, we'll

unpack those comments with a psychologist.

Well, the most significant threats since the start of the pandemic, the words of Britain's health chief on the omicron variant as her country

recorded its highest daily COVID toll ever. More than 78,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the past 24 hours.

Omicron is playing a major part in that with at least 10,000 cases of the variant now in the U.K. and the number is growing at an alarming pace.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The doubling rate of omicron in some regions is now down to less than two days and I'm afraid, we're also

seeing the inevitable increase in hospitalizations up by 10 percent nationally, week on week.


KINKADE: While those fears over hospitals are being keenly felt in other countries, too. The World Health Organization says omicron is present in

almost 80 nations, and it's spreading at a rate never seen in a variant before. It comes as the EU health agency says time is too short for

vaccination alone to stop the variant, which as a bloc expects to become the most dominant strain in the coming weeks.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER PRESIDENT (through translator): It's very important to be aware, that this large increase in the number of

infections is due almost exclusively to the delta variant and what we're concerned about is we're now seeing omicron on the horizon, which is

apparently even more infectious. If you look at the time it takes for new cases to double in number, it seems to be doubling every two or three days,

and that's massive. We're told by mid-January, we should expect omicron to be the new dominant variant in Europe.


KINKADE: Well, omicron is already the dominant COVID strain in London. People are being urged to get booster shots as soon as possible with more

vaccination centers rolled out across the UK this week.

And its renewed guidance to work from home, even CNN is feeling that impact.

Our Nina Dos Santos has more on what's being advised.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With the omicron variant getting a bigger foothold across the UK and now dominant across the British capital,

authorities increasingly worried, especially when you consider this week the country reached a record number of COVID daily infections.

Well, that means that as of the start of this week, the public health messaging is once again work from home if you can. That means that offices

like these, right across the city of London, including CNN's own big bureau is virtually empty.

Now, although these streets are empty, if you are coming into an office, the important thing is to remember to, if possible, wear a mask, which I

would be wearing if I wasn't talking to you on camera, but clean your hands as frequently as possible and also practice social distancing.

Even though corridors like these may be empty, a lot of people are heeding the public messaging to get boosted as soon as possible and there are long

lines outside vaccination centers where Boris Johnson's message appears to be getting through loud and clear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here for the vaccine for the COVID and I guess we want the numbers to go down and not have to go back into another


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we all got our part to play to try and bring the numbers down. So, it's good to see such a long queue really that a lot

of people have come out to try and get their booster today.

DOS SANTOS: One of the reasons health authorities are so keen to get Londoners vaccinated is because in just a few days times, desks like these

won't just be empty because of people working from home, but people also be on holiday. It is, of course, the festive season and people may be leaving

the British capitol to go to other parts of the country or even abroad to see their loved ones.

And that raises perspective of omicron, which is dominant here across the British Capitol and rising at alarming rate spreading to other parts of the

country or maybe even abroad. So as a result, authorities are remind all eligible over 18-year-olds in the country that they have the right to get

another booster shot straight away, but to deliver good on that pledge, by the end of this month, we'll have to put on herculean effort, perhaps

vaccinating as many as 1 million people across the country every single day.

Back to you.


KINKADE: Our thanks to Nina in London.

Well, to break down what we know and don't know about this variant, I want to welcome our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who's here in



Good to have you with us.

So, the U.K. health chief says omicron is the most significant threat they've seen since the start of the pandemic. Aide saying new data is


Just explain what we now know about how effective these vaccines are against this variant.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this is based on some early data, really looking at the effectiveness of the

vaccines and on two levels, how well does it prevent infection overall? That could be somebody who has no symptoms at all, Lynda. Surprised that

they return a positive test, and looking at symptomatic infection, people developing symptoms all the way to severe illness.

What you find is that against infection, there's a pretty significant drop- off from sort of mid-70 percent protection to sort of low-30 percent protection in terms of actual infection protection. But when it comes to

severe illness, vaccines still hold up pretty well into the 70 percent range. A drop-off there as well as delta compared to omicron, but pretty

significant protection.

But that's the real issue, is this an indicator of more waning ahead? When you look at the boosters specifically, you do see a restoring of a lot of

that protection as well, so that's sort of data that's informing the recommendations right now.

KINKADE: And, Sanjay, I got my booster shot earlier this week and I understand Pfizer is now working to manufacture a vaccine specific to this

omicron variant, but at this stage, Dr. Fauci is saying we don't need a variant-specific booster.

Can you explain?

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, and I should point out as well, Lynda, you know, that each time we see a significant variant, the pharmaceutical companies,

Pfizer, and others have gone to work on building a variant-specific booster. There was a variant-specific booster for delta as well that didn't

end up needing to be administered.

What they're finding is that, again, there is a waning of protection from these vaccines over time so in the first, you know, few months, there's

really high protection against both delta and omicron, but when it comes to delta, what we have more data for, you do see a waning over several weeks

and months but what they find is that with both delta and omicron, the existing vaccines, when you use the existing vaccines to boost, you do get

a return of that antibody sort of protection.

Now, how long does that last? They were looking at this two weeks after the booster. We know that's sort of the highest period of antibodies at least,

how long does it last into the future? That's not clear right now, but it does appear the existing booster does return that protection.

Also I'll say, Linda, just in terms of looking at this issue a little more broadly, there are vaccines out there that are simply, you know, three or

four shot vaccines, period. They're not necessarily like the flu shot you have to administer every year.

There are many people who say, with these vaccines, perhaps it would have been better to always think of them as a three shot vaccine. So we'll see,

maybe it will be three shots and that will provide good protection for omicron and just for, you know, this pandemic overall. We don't know the

answer to that yet, but that's I think where a lot of people's heads are at on this.

KINKADE: Yeah, still learning a lot about how this is playing out, but I have to ask you how infection-acquired immunity is, compares right now to

immunity from vaccination.

GUPTA: Well, you know, as a general rule, infection-acquired community can be quite strong. People may develop a strong inflammatory response to the

infection and as a result create lots of antibodies, create lots of memory cells that can help fight the infection in the future.

There's a couple of caveats with this particular virus. I mean, it's a novel virus so may behave in different ways. One is, that if you had an

infection with one of the earlier strains, the ancestral strain, or alpha or something like that, the protection against the current delta or omicron

appears to be far less. So, the virus seems to have changed enough than previous infection, infection acquired immunity may not provide that much


Second of all, not everyone is the same, so if you're somebody with mild symptoms, you may not have as much protection or as many antibodies

generated as if you had severe symptoms. Older people may not generate as many antibodies either so you have to look at the context, who is the

person who got infected, how significant was the infection, it's hard to parse that out, which is why the vaccine offers a more consistent message


I think one thing we saw in South Africa, I think is very interesting, I know you've been paying attention as well is there was these waves in the

largely unvaccinated population. You saw alpha then it kind of came down, because people had a lot of infection required immunity, but then another

big surge with beta, delta the same thing, and I think that's the concern, that there's only a few months of protection from infection-acquired



KINKADE: Well, it's been a while since we've chatted.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, good to speak with you. Thank you very much.

GUPTA: You, too. Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, police in Germany say they have uncovered a plot to the murder of the governor of Saxony and they say the anti-vaccine activists

were planning to kill him. This is yet more proof that some members of the anti-vaccination movement there are being radicalized and become a huge

challenge for Germany's new government. Take a listen.


SABINE WYLEGALLA, DRESDEN PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: A total of six properties in the greater Dresden area were searched.

Several items were seized, among the seized objects were two crossbows. These however could be classified as sports equipment and do not fall under

the weapons act. A further crossbow is examined to see whether it is an object which falls under the Weapons Act. Other weapons and other evidence

were also found.


KINKADE: Well, the governor has been calling for a hard lockdown in his state. Saxony has the second highest infection rate in the country and

lowest vaccination rate.

I want to take a look at other key COVID stories making international news today.

Chinese officials are encouraging people in COVID-hit regions to stay at home for the New Year holiday on January 31st. The country reported 15 new

coronavirus cases on Thursday, trying to contain any outbreaks ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which is set to begin in February 4.

Health officials in Australia's largest state are reporting highest number of new COVID cases in three months. New South Wales found more than 1,300

new infections on Wednesday, including 110 new omicron cases. It comes as local governments across the country continue to relax travel restrictions.

The U.S. secretary of state is cutting his trip to Asia short after a member of the traveling press tested positive for COVID. Anthony Blinken

was planning to visit Thailand tomorrow morning but now will make his way back to the United States. He's invited the Thai foreign minister to visit

Washington at the earliest opportunity.

Russia has hand-delivered a list of security proposals to a senior U.S. diplomat and says it's ready to begin negotiations immediately. It wants

legally binding garn guarantees that NATO will not expand eastwards or deploy certain weapons systems in Ukraine. The assistant secretary of state

received the proposals in Moscow today insist the U.S. will share them with allies.

The West is demanding Russia end its troop build-up in the Ukraine, fearing it plans to invade. European Union warning of dire consequences if Russia

does attack. The Ukraine doesn't want to leave anything to chance, urging powerful sanctions now as a deterrent.

The leaders of France and Germany met with Ukraine's president today, on the sidelines of an E.U. Summit.

CNN's Cyril Vanier is following developments from Paris.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The French foreign minister on Wednesday warned of, quote, massive strategic consequences for Moscow should there be

a new attack on Ukraine's territorial integrity. The number one priority for Europeans at the moment is deterring Russia from invading Ukraine, a

threat that they take very seriously given the size of the military build up on the Ukrainian border.

The French president estimates tens of thousands of Russian troops are currently massed there. France and Germany particularly diplomatic on the

front on this. President Macron of France has met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, and on Tuesday, he spoke to Russian

President Vladimir Putin. On both occasions, the message was the same, strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and a push to get back to the

negotiating table.

For its part, Russia says it wants urgent negotiations with NATO and legal guarantees that the military alliance will not expand eastward toward


Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


KINKADE: Well as the West puts pressure on Russia and China, those two nations are drawing closer, bonding over their shared adversaries and

President Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping had a virtual summit on Wednesday. And we'll from Melissa Bell in Moscow any moment.

But, first, take a listen to Selina Wang. She's reporting tonight for us from Tokyo.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: During the virtual meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, the Chinese leader praised the country's

relationship as a model of cooperation for the 21st century.

This meeting was a show of solidarity, especially towards Washington, at a time when both countries are facing increasing diplomatic pressure from the

West. China under pressure over trade, technology, human rights. Russia under pressure over a build-up of troops near the border with Ukraine.

Xi Jinping in this meeting referred to Putin as a, quote, old friend, adding that they met 37 times since 2013. Ties between Russia and China are

deepening across sectors. They're working together to build a lunar space station, striking energy deals.


They're also strengthening military cooperation. In October, Russian and Chinese warships teamed up to circle around Japan. Putin will also be

attending the Beijing Winter Olympics at a time when the United States and several other Western countries have announced diplomatic boycotts of the

games. Xi Jinping told Putin at this meeting that he was looking forward to meeting Putin face to face at the games and, quote, would like to join

hands with you together for the future.

And as Melissa is going to unpack, the Kremlin has called this meeting, quote, very positive.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESONDENT: This was a meeting as Selina was just saying very much about furthering the cooperation that's already

strengthened these last few years between Beijing and Moscow. But given the timing of the call, given its context, it was also very much about the two

leaders presenting a united front against the Western pressure that's been brought to bear not only against Russia but also against China, each leader

speaking to the other's grievances and with Xi Jinping very much backing Vladimir Putin's idea, then what Russia now needs are guarantees as to its


Now, that call for guarantees was also the heart of the discussions here in Moscow today between the U.S. envoy to Europe, Karen Donfried, and

officials from the Kremlin and foreign affairs ministry. They handed to her their proposals for those security guarantees, what Moscow is looking for

is legal guarantees and essentially, a guarantee that NATO will not be seeking eastward expansion, that very much at the heart of those proposals.

Karen Donfried will now be leaving Moscow and heading to Brussels to discuss them with America's allies in Europe.


KINKADE: Our thanks to Melissa Bell and Selina Wang there.

Well, the star singer says she's still suffering the effects of watching pornography when she was young. We'll go in depth with a psychologist on

Billie Eilish's comments when we come back.

Stay with us.


KINKADE: Welcome back.

Billie Eilish speaking to how an addiction to pornography at a young age messed her up. The Grammy-winning singer spoke on "Howard Stern Show",

calling pornography a disgrace. Eilish who turns 20 on Saturday said she started watching porn at 11 years old and says at the time, made her feel

cool. But now she says it destroyed her brain and that she suffered nightmares from the often violent content. The singer says it gave her

certain expectations when she entered a relationship.

Well, a 2019 survey from the British board film classifications saw that some children who are film watching pornography from a startlingly early

age, in some cases as young as seven years old. The report also looked into the effects of pornography on young people, with over 40 percent saying it

made them less respectful of the opposite sex.

Well, we're joined now by Dr. Jeff Gardere who is here to speak more about the psychology of addiction and the lasting effect pornography can have on

young children.


Good to have you with us.

DR. JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: It's great to be with you. Thank you, Lynda.

KINKADE: I want to first get your reaction to Billie Eilish's comment. She says she started watching porn at the age of 11. What do you make her

admission that she was fixated on porn from such a young age, so much so it caused her to have night terrors?

GARDERE: Well, I think it's startling she would come out and be able to admit to that addiction. Of course, I ask the question how did this happen

to an 11-year-old? But her courage is absolutely amazing because it is pointing a spotlight as to a huge problem.

We know research has shown that adults, and especially young people are harmed by pornography and certainly can cause post-traumatic stress

disorder and other mental health issues. And so, I understand when she says in some way she feels it destroyed her brain. She engaged in practices very

young -- at a very young age, that she shouldn't have had -- that she shouldn't have done, with regard to sexuality. So we know that it can

really, really harm children and it certainly did harm her according to what she's saying and I believe her.

KINKADE: And it seems that, you raised an interesting point when you said I wonder how this could possibly happen just 11 years old. But there was an

interesting survey last year from British board film classification found 68 percent of children age 11 to 13 reported having seen pornography, said

it was largely unintentional.

What advice do you have to parents and to protect children?

GARDERE: Well, it's the age-old advice that we have been giving, to make sure that there are parental controls on the devices children watch.

Certainly, they should know everything they are looking at and make sure that when they're engaged in watching devices or playing with devices, that

parents should be in the general area to hear what's going on.

But the other thing is parents need to be careful as to what it is that they're a clicking on to and then if those kids get a hold of those

devices, there can be R-rated advertising, certain types of images that now are able to be introduced into those devices. So if parents talk the talk,

they have to walk the walk, too.

KINKADE: And I was reading about, Dr. Jocelyn Monsma Selby from University of Calgary who leads this global collaboration to address damage created

from exposure to online pornography. She says millions of children are exposed to quite violent depictions of sex sometimes before they've even

had their first kiss, and it can lead to a raft of issues like illegal acts and pedophilia.

How do you start a conversation with a child about online pornography?

GARDERE: Well, certainly, we have to let them know that it is something they are not prepared for, because it can really objectify bodies. It can

cause children to get involved in unwanted acts even as they get older, coercion into unwanted sexual acts, body shaming, reduces intimacy. So

letting them know what the dangers are, number one.

Number two, what it is that they're watching is really, in many ways, a sexual script that provides models of behavior that are absolutely

inaccurate and really does enforce sexual expectations that are completely unrealistic.

And the other important thing researchers are saying, Lynda, is we have to begin in the schools, teaching children about sexual education and, as part

of that sexual education --


GARDERE: -- better idea of what sexuality should be about and, as well, keeps them away from pornography since they will know the dangers.

KINKADE: Yeah, you make a good point, because I did want to ask about the education issue, because Billie Eilish did say when she was watching these

violent sex video, she thought she was learning about sex. You know, she thought that was the norm.

So it real stems back to education, as well, right?

GARDERE: Absolutely, and we find, pornographic images, find that boys who grow up now become more dominant and engaged in degrading practices against

girls, and the girls when they grow up become women, become involve in submissive practices that at many times are unwanted.

KINKADE: And very quickly, at what age should parents talk to their kids about sex?


GARDERE: As soon as a child is on an IT device and can begin to understand what it is they're seeing or can be vulnerable to having some of these

images actually now populated their devices.

KINKADE: Dr. Jeff Gardere, good to you on the program. Thanks so much.

GARDERE: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, you are watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. We'll be right back.


KINKADE: Welcome back.

If you're hoping to break the record for the world's largest Christmas ornament collection, you better get going now, because you have to buy a

whole lot of extra decorations. Sylvia Pope, is the Wales grandmother better known as Nana Baubles. She's just broken the Guinness World with

1,760 of them. I mean, it's absolutely incredible.

Take a look.


SYLVIA POPE, OWNER OF THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS: When my children brought their children here and they saw what I've done to the

ceiling, they were -- oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Every year, they can't wait for them to go up. They know that it's coming toward Christmas. It's a few

more than to add to this year's collection.


KINKADE: That's one dedicated grandmother.

Well, another Brit has also broken a record this holiday season. This time, it's the title for the largest festive brooch collection on earth, with

nearly 8,000. I wonder how long it took her to collect all those.

Well, thanks so much for watching THE GLOBAL BRIEF. I'm Lynda Kincade in Atlanta. "WORLD SPORT" is next.