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Dr. Carlos del Rio is Interviewed about Vaccines; Ex-Detective Exposes Uyghur Torture; Laundrie's Sister Holds Interview. Aired 9:30- 10a

Aired October 05, 2021 - 09:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: OK. I want to look at some new data here that relates specifically to the Pfizer vaccine, which is, of course, the one that most -- the vast majority of Americans who have gotten. And it shows two things. Good and bad. We'll put it up on the screen.

Hospitalization after five, six months remains -- the protection, I should say, against hospitalization remains very strong. But the protection against infection wains over time to below 50 percent, 47 percent six months after the second dose.

For folks at home who may have been vaccinated, like myself with Pfizer, should they look at these numbers at all with concern or perhaps focus on that hospitalization number there?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY: Jim, I really think we need to focus on the hospitalization number. We have to remember these vaccines were really not designed and never intended to prevent infection. It's pretty hard to get vaccines to be, you know, that effective and prevent the infection. Fifty to 60 percent is actually really good.

So I think preventing severe disease, preventing hospitalizations and death is the outcome we need to expect from these vaccines. If we bring transmission down, it would also help reduce -- reduce infections. But the reality is, these vaccines are not going to be 100 percent effective in preventing infection and that's why we need to continue thinking about other measures to prevent infection as long as we have significant transmission, like we have right now in our country.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Does that also further the case for boosters for all?


DEL RIO: Yes, I really think so. I really think it, again, emphasizes that boosters may help. But, again, we don't know for how long those boosters are going to continue providing that level of protection. The data from Israel suggests that after you get a booster, you've got about 11 point decrease in the risk of infection. So that may be helpful. But it may go away after a couple of months again. You know, we don't know what's going to happen six months after you get your booster.

SCIUTTO: OK, I like to talk big picture with you as often as we can. And, big picture, you have Dr. Fauci saying over the weekend, you know, that we seem to be turning the corner on this latest delta surge. And those numbers that are on our screen there, you know, the number of deaths, down 12 percent. We're also seeing number of infections further down.

Do you think folks at home watching now should take some comfort in those numbers?

DEL RIO: Well, we're coming down, but I think, you know, we're coming down from a very high peak, Jim. And the reality is we still have a lot of cases, a lot of hospitalizations, a lot of deaths. I would like to see daily cases in the, you know, 10,000 to 20,000 new cases. I would like to see deaths down to about 100 deaths a day. We were almost there in late June, early July. And if we get down there, I would take total comfort.

At this point in time, I think there's still a lot of transmission, particularly in many states, for example, here in the southern U.S.

HILL: You know, there's, you know, 18 months and everybody, though, is looking for some sense of, you know, pre-pandemic normalcy.


HILL: Whether we ever get back there I think is a separate issue.

But as we're looking for that, I'm just curious your take on this holiday guidance that the CDC now says was posted in error. We were talking yesterday, this all felt very 2020.


HILL: It didn't seem -- it seemed to be really out of touch with where we are as a country right now. That misstep by the CDC, what's your -- what's your take on that and what it does overall, right, to how much people are going to consider any further recommendations when we do get closer to the holidays?


DEL RIO: Well, you know, my advice to people to prepare for the holidays is, get everybody vaccinated. Your number one, two, and three thing you need to do is vaccinate everybody in your household. If you have people under the age of 12, you may not be able to do that. But, on the other hand, you've got to remember that this coming week the FDA's meeting to talk about vaccines for kids five to 11 years old and -- for Pfizer. And if that gets approved, then vaccinate your kids down to -- to the age of five because if everybody's vaccinated in the household, I would say you can meet very safely.

And my advice is, if you have doubts about it, you can also use rapid testing. I think using testing before you all get together is actually a very good strategy. The CDC also talks about opening (ph) windows. I like meeting outside. You know, I like meeting outside if it's possible. But there are some areas of the country where simply that's not possible, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, listen to the doctor. Get vaccinated if you're not yet.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, thanks very much.

Coming up next, a whistleblower is exposing the torture of up to 2 million minorities in China's western Xinjiang region. The result of CNN's nearly three-year long investigation. It is amazing this is happening in the 21st century. That's next.



SCIUTTO: Folks, you want to watch this story because it's remarkable and alarming. For nearly three year, CNN has been investigating allegations of just gross human rights violations, seemingly taken from another century. A modern-day system of internment camps in China's Xinjiang region. We should note that China denies accusations from the U.S. State Department and others that Beijing has detained up to 2 million ethnic Uyghurs, as well as members of other minorities in those camps.

HILL: But, for the first time, CNN has interviewed a former member of the Chinese security forces who says he was ordered to routinely arrest and torture Uyghur detainees. And a warning to all of you, this report does contain graphic descriptions of violence and also sexual assault. Here's CNN's Ivan Watson with more.


ABDUWELI AYUP, FORMER DETAINEE IN XINJIANG: They would push the electric stick here. And it's just like burning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the story of a victim and a self-confessed torturer.

WATSON (on camera): Did the police officers use electric batons to shock prisoners?


"JIANG", FORMER CHINESE DETECTIVE: (through translator): Yes, everyone uses different methods.

WATSON (voice over): For years, stories of arbitrary arrests, unspeakable cruelty and mass internment camps have been trickling out of China's Xinjiang region. Testimonies from people like Abduweli Ayup.

WATSON (on camera): When you were detained in 2013, what was your main job?

AYUP: A kindergarten teacher.

WATSON (voice over): Abduweli says police took him from his Uyghur language kindergarten.

AYUP: Put black hood on my face and they put me in a -- this is their interrogation room and inside iron cage there is a tiger (ph) chair, your like wrists shackled there and your like feet are also shackled.

WATSON: He said police accused him of espionage, plotting against the Chinese government and the crime of separatism and they demanded a confession.

AYUP: We just confess. We just admit what you have done. It's good for you.

WATSON: Now, for the very first time, CNN has spoken to a former Chinese police officer who claims his job was to arrest and extract confessions from ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

JIANG: Some cops would play the good cops and some would play the bad cops. After we beat them, we'd offer them a cigarette.

WATSON (on camera): Did you have to be the bad cop sometimes?

JIANG: Of course.

WATSON (voice over): The man, who asks to be called Jiang, says he worked more than ten years as a cop before fleeing China after growing disillusioned with the ruling communist party. I met him in a European country. He wore his police uniform to authenticate his story but does not want to be identified to protect himself and relatives who are still in China.

WATSON (on camera): To prove that he was a Chinese police officer, Jiang is showing me many photos of different police badges, training certificates, even portraits of his graduating class at police academy, images that we cannot show on television because they would reveal his identity.

WATSON (voice over): Jiang says he was sent from his home province to work in Xinjiang at least three times during which he was ordered to arrest hundreds of suspects, all of them ethnic Uyghurs.

WATSON (on camera): How were the interrogations being conducted?

JIANG: Beat them, kick them, beat them bruised and swollen, knock their heads on the radiator, police would step on the suspect's face and tell him to confess.

WATSON (voice over): Jiang says some suspects were as young as 14, and all of the detainees were beaten.

WATSON (on camera): Were the suspects all men?

JIANG: Men and women.

WATSON: Did you witness women being beaten?


WATSON (voice over): CNN cannot independently confirm Jiang's allegations, nor those of Abduweli, the kindergarten teacher who says in addition to beatings, he was raped on his first night of detention by Chinese prisoners who followed the orders of prison guards.

AYUP: It's very bad.

WATSON (on camera): This was prisoners who sexually assaulted you?

AYUP: Yes, prisoners.

WATSON: More than one?

AYUP: More than one. It's, you know, like, just, first of all, they surrounded me and the police there ordered me to -- to like take off my underwear and like me -- like this.

WATSON: And bend over.

AYUP: And bend over.

Don't do this. Don't do this, I cried. Please don't do this. And then, like, one of -- I don't know -- just, hold my hand, like this.

WATSON (voice over): Jiang, the police officer who fled China, describes in graphic detail methods of sexual torture that he says police officers used.

JIANG: If you want people to confess, you use the electric baton. We would tie two electrical wires on the tips and set the wires on their genitals while the person is tied up. The result is better.

WATSON: He also says police sometimes ordered prisoners to sexually assault detainees.

JIANG: We call it an in prison investigation.

WATSON: The Chinese government insists it is battling violent extremism in Xinjiang. Beijing also denies any human rights abuses whatsoever are being committed there.

ZHAO LIJIAN, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): I want to reiterate that the so-called genocide in Xinjiang is nothing but a rumor backed by ulterior motives and an outright lie.

WATSON: But Jiang, the whistleblower cop, says he got double his normal salary to join tens of thousands of other police sent to Xinjiang as part of the government crackdown.

WATSON (on camera): How many of the people that you arrested in Xinjiang do you think were actually violent extremists?

JIANG: None.



JIANG: Xinjiang is not a war zone. And those people are our fellow citizens, not foreign enemies.

WATSON: If you didn't carry out the arrests, what would happen to you?

JIANG: Then I would be arrested as well, because that means I too am a part of a terrorist organization. I'd become their enemy.

WATSON (voice over): Abduweli says after 15 months in detention, he confessed to illegal fundraising and was released. He later fled China. Since then, he said several of his relatives have been detained, including his niece, Mehra (ph).

WATSON (on camera): Where was your niece held?

AYUP: The same detention facility I stayed. I don't know how she died. I don't even know. She is the -- she is the first one I hold. She is the first baby I hold in my life. She is just like my daughter.

WATSON (voice over): In response to written questions from CNN, the Xinjiang government denies that Mehra died in detention. Saying the 30-year-old woman instead died of organ failure due to severe anemia after being treated in a hospital after suffering from an unknown illness.

The Chinese government did not respond to written questions concerning allegations made by the former police officer.

Abduweli now lives in Norway with his family and publishes children's books written in Uyghur. He insists he can forgive the men who jailed and tortured him.

AYUP: I don't hate them because all of them victim of that system.

WATSON (on camera): If you met one of these prisoners, what would you say to them?

JIANG: I'm scared. I would leave immediately.


JIANG: How do I face these people? You'd feel guilty, even if you're just a soldier. You're still responsible for what happened. Yes, you need to execute orders, but so many people did this thing together. We are responsible for this.


WATSON: Now, Erica and Jim, when this police detective was first deployed from his province in mainland China to Xinjiang, he was an enthusiastic are volunteer. He thought he was doing his patriotic duty, he told me, to defend his country against what he was told were violent extremists and it didn't hurt that he was going to get double his salary and promotions dangled to him. But things turned when he saw the level of the violence there.

There is one unusual similarity between him and the dozens of survivors of the internment camps that I've interviewed and the expatriate Uyghurs who haven't been able to talk to their loved ones for years who have disappeared into the internment camp system, and that is that all of these people share deep trauma. The police detective, the survivors, none of them can sleep at night because of this trauma they're carrying in their hearts.

Erica and Jim.

HILL: Just so horrific. Such incredible, important reporting, Ivan, thank you.

SCIUTTO: No question. I mean the fact that you're seeing this, it's a -- it's a World War II-like concentration camp in the 21st century. Amazing.

HILL: Just ahead, there are new details this morning in the search for Brian Laundrie, the man who mysteriously disappeared just before his fiance was found dead. What his sister is now saying about the investigation. That's next.



SCIUTTO: Brian Laundrie's sister is making some public comments now about the case. In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," Cassie Laundrie insists she has no idea where her brother is.

HILL: Authorities, of course, have been trying to locate Brian Laundrie for three weeks now following the death of his fiance, Gabby Petito.

CNN national correspondent Athena Jones joining us.

So there are, look, so many unanswered questions at this point, Athena. I'm not sure, is Cassie answering any of them? What is she saying about her brother?


Well, she is answering some questions. She had a pretty extensive interview with ABC. And she -- remember, Cassie Laundrie is the only member of the Laundrie family who has spoken publicly. But we haven't heard from her -- we heard from her in a very brief interview earlies on. We haven't heard from her since Brian Laundrie -- since Gabby Petito's body was found and since Brian Laundrie went missing and since a federal arrest warrant was put out for him for use of debit cards and a pin that he didn't -- that didn't belong to him. So it's significant to be hearing from her.

She says she hasn't talked to him or seen her brother since September 6th.

Here's more of what she said.



I really wish he had come to me first that day with the van because I don't think we'd be here.

I worry about him. I hope he's OK. And then I'm angry. And I don't know what to think.

I would tell my brother to just come forward and get us out of this horrible mess.

The last time I physically saw and the last time I physically spoke to my brother was on the 6th.

I've tried to get in touch with him. Phone went to voice mail.


JONES: And so she's talking there about joining her family. Brian Laundrie went with his parents to a campground about 75 miles north of their home in North Port, Florida, from September 6th to September 8th. Cassie Laundrie says she joined the family for a few hours on that camping trip. They -- they made smores. She said everything seemed normal. She didn't see anything that was out of the ordinary.

Another important thing that she said when asked to respond to this police incident in Moab, Utah, on August 12th, this -- when they were pulled over, Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie pulled over because a caller had thought they'd seen a domestic dispute.


Cassie Laundrie telling ABC that she had never seen any evidence of domestic violence from either of them and that that video, that police bodycam, was painful to watch.

Erica. Jim.

SCIUTTO: Making smores days after her disappearance.

Athena Jones, thanks for following the story.

In just minutes, a Facebook whistleblower will testify before a Senate panel about really alarming allegations that Facebook knowingly pushes disinformation on its site to make a profit and tried to hide the findings of its own studies. We're going to bring it to you live.