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Coronavirus Pandemic; Tigray Conflict; North Korea Missile Test; Kidnapped In Haiti; Trade Deal; Company Rebrand. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 21, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, I'm John Vause. Coming up this hour on CNN Newsroom, Europe's COVID crisis the only region in the world where new infections are surging, bringing back nationwide lockdowns, mask mandates and warnings healthcare systems are once again under pressure.

Brazil Senate dropped the homicide accusation against the president, but insists his failed pandemic response amounts to a crime against humanity. Jair Bolsonaro says he is guilty of absolutely nothing.

And a social media behemoth by any other name is still toxic and dangerous if all it does is change its name. Details on plans to rebrand Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN Center, this sis CNN Newsroom with John Vause.

VAUSE: For the third week now, new COVID infections are rising in Europe more than a million confirmed cases reported last week. Some countries hospital admissions and deaths are also slowly rising as well. According to the WHO, everywhere else around the world, COVID numbers have either plateaued or declining.

The uptick in the spread of the coronavirus across Europe is driven in part by falling vaccination rates and an end to mitigation efforts, which are now being reintroduced in some countries.

A month long nationwide lockdown now in effect in Latvia. A rising death toll Romania has caused a shortage of coffins at funeral homes. Russia's president has offered workplaces to shut down for a week. And even though Moscow claimed to develop the world's first COVID vaccine, the government is struggling to convince many reluctant Russians to get vaccinated.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Unfortunately, we see the dangerous consequences of the low level of vaccination in our country. I repeat once again, the vaccine really reduces the risks of illness or serious complications after an illness and the threat of death. Therefore, of course, I support the proposals made by the government and draw the attention of the heads of the regions to the need to increase the rate of vaccination ratio.


VAUSE: In UK despite dire warnings from health professionals of a looming winter crisis, the British government has no plans to reimpose restrictions. The government says it's ramping up the vaccination program as the country reports sore in cases. CNN Fred Pleitgen has our report from London.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The United Kingdom will not be implementing any more strict measures to try and combat the Coronavirus then that's despite the fact that the numbers of daily cases have been skyrocketing here in this country.

Now, the UK has been above 40,000 daily new infections for the past seven days running. And in fact, the country's health secretary said on Wednesday at a press conference that he believes that that number could go up to 100,000 cases per day, as the winter really kicks in.

He also said at that same press conference that right now the UK is close to 1,000 hospitalizations per day, and that the pandemic in this country is far from over. Nevertheless, the government says at this point in time, it will not enact any stricter measures, or what they call the Plan B here.

SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: We're looking closely at the data. And we won't be implementing our plan B of contingency measures at this point. But we'll be staying vigilant, preparing for all eventualities while strengthening our vital defenses that can help us fight back against this virus.

PLEITGEN: Instead, what the government London wants to do is they want to try and give a boost to the vaccination campaign here in the United Kingdom. Of course, when the vaccination campaign started here, it really was one of the most successful in the world. However, it's been stuttering a little bit as of recently, and there's really three points that the health Secretary made today. He said on the one hand, they obviously want to get as many people who are not vaccinated, get vaccinated as fast as possible. They also want to offer booster shots to people who are eligible as fast as possible, and then also offer single jabs to children as young as 12 as well.

And the reason why this is such a hot topic here in this country right now is of course on the one hand because the situation is so concerning, but also because some senior members of the NHS, the National Health Service here have sounded the alarm bells. They said that the NHS is already strained, and that if something isn't done quickly in this country could face as they put it a winter of crisis. They said that plan B should in fact be enacted as fast as possible. And that could involve things like for instance, mask mandates but also social distancing mandates as well. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.



VAUSE: Dr. Scott Miscovich is a national consultant in the United States for COVID-19 testing, and president of Hawaii's Premier Medical Group. Welcome back. It's been a while.


VAUSE: I'm well, thank you, sir. Well, the Russia is not alone in dealing with this surging rate of infection of COVID infection. What we're seeing in the Czech Republic mandates are back for face masks in public as well as other restrictions. After daily infections that doubled in the past week, a number of hospital admissions and deaths also increased. Latvia that once the success story, now the first country in Europe about to head into a lockdown for a month, and here's why listen to the health minister.


DANIELS PAVLUTS, LAVTIAN HEALTH MINISTER (through translator): Latvia is in first place in the world with this infection rate, we stand on the edge of the cliff. Also on the edge of the cliff stands our hospital system. If we don't do anything, or do not do enough, then shortly this would grow rapidly. Hundreds if not thousands of people would get ill and hospitalized.


VAUSE: It just all sounds very familiar. But is it fair to say the concern here, it's also much due to the rising rate of infection, but the increase in the number of hospital admissions and the increase in the number of people dying, like what we're seeing in the Czech Republic?

MISCOVICH: Yes, John. I would say congratulations to Latvia for bold leadership, which is what needs to be done to be done. And then you have Russia, which is kind of just putting his toe in the water to see if it's warm, which as you know, I believe on the 30th. They're going to have a partial shutdown for non-essential workers. And they are in the midst of a massive surge right now.

This is a problem that has happened across the world, by leaders that do not understand where they are, when you have a surge, especially with a contagious variant like Delta.

What you're dealing with right now the mortality rate is out there for 24 to 40 -- 27 days after you've been diagnosed. So we're already projecting what the next month will look like in those countries. The only way you can solve that is to shut it down now and Latvia did the right thing. Russia is going to have a very challenging next month to six months unless they do something a lot more bold. VAUSE: Yes, it seems five days at home with pay is not going to cut it at this point. The UK is also seeing rising daily infections. And here's the Health Minister on where this outbreak could be heading. Listen to this.

MISCOVICH: Well, you know --


JAVID: Cases arising. And yesterday we reported 43,738 new cases across the UK, up 16 percent from the previous week. And they could go yet as high as 100,000 a day.


VAUSE: Could be 100,000 a day. And yet the government they said no need to reimpose mitigation efforts right now. They'll remain vigilant, which is good for Harry Potter, constant vigilance, but crossing your fingers and hoping it doesn't get worse seems to be a winning strategy for, you know, to make sure that it gets worse.

MISCOVICH: Yes, and again, just what we just stated with Latvia, who made a bold decision. You know, the other problem we're having with the UK is they're starting to have a little rise of a modification of the Delta variant, which is the AY.4.2. It's the Delta variant that is now pushed up to be another 20 percent more infectious. And right now it's closing on 10 percent.

So from our perspective, right now, the group gatherings, the mask enforcement, all of the things that the countries have been doing that are successful need to be instituted now in the UK, not waiting a week or two weeks, or a month, because again, we're going to have the same issue, the trend is up. If you don't put any mitigation in play, you're only going to see that arrow gets steeper and the deaths and the infections get higher.

VAUSE: The reasons why have changed to some degree, but the story that's pandemic hasn't really changed. Every time there is some kind of relaxation or mitigation efforts. So you're easing off of restrictions. This virus finds a way back.

MISCOVICH: Yes, exactly. And, you know, I look at this as we're into this 18 months. There's only one way you're going to solve this disease which is wearing masks effectively, social distancing, doing effective contact tracing, and having people stay away from indoor spaces.

So what is Russia looking at right now I checked today the temperature is you know, in the 40s to 50s. Winter is coming. People are going to be going indoors, same things happening in the UK and other areas in the Northern Hemisphere. We are going to see the disease spreading and look at Russia right now, what, a third of the population is vaccinated. They can have a very challenging winter.

I think most of us look at the UK and say it's a little bit perplexing because the vaccination rates are fairly reasonable. But what we do believe is the mitigation lasers (ph) are not being followed. And that's what the people of the United Kingdom have to do. Remember, masks indoors. And remember mitigation helps.


VAUSE: Yes, it's a one-two deal, right? You're going to have the vaccination, you got to have the mitigation otherwise this thing is just going to continue. Dr. Scott Miscovich, it's good to see. It's been a while Thank you very much.

MISCOVICH: Good to see you, John. Take care.

VAUSE: Brazil's President has denied accusations he recklessly mismanaged the pandemic response, as detailed in a nearly 1,200-page Senate report, which recommended the president face criminal charges.

Last week, Jair Bolsonaro said he was bored with questions about the pandemic. He was equally dismissive of the Senate commission, but some on that panel want the president to stand trial before the International Criminal Court. Details down from CNN's Shasta Darlington.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Brazilian senators have recommended president Jair Bolsonaro be charged with 10 crimes including crimes against humanity, alleging it was his reckless mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Brazilians.

A Senate commission investigating the president officially presented their report on Wednesday. It accuses him of an epidemic resulting in death, charlatanism and crimes against humanity among other crimes. More than 600,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, the second highest death toll in the world.

After the report came out, Bolsonaro told a crowd of supporters that he wasn't guilty of any crimes and said the report produced nothing but hatred and resentment. He said, we know we did the right thing from the first moment.

The document produced after six months of testimonies and allegations also recommends charging another 65 people of crimes including current and former health ministers and three of Bolsonaro sons.

It's not clear that the recommendation will actually lead to any criminal charges. However, the Commission senators are expected to vote on the final report next week and if approved, the document will go to the Attorney General who's considered an ally of Bolsonaro.

Nonetheless, the inquiry has already taken a heavy toll on Bolsonaro. Live television coverage of the testimonies and accusations was watched closely by Brazilians who tuned into a daily as if it were a soap opera. The investigation contributed to a sharp drop in Bolsonaro's approval rating, making his bid for reelection next year look increasingly difficult. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo. (END VIDEO TAPE)

VAUSE: The conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region appears to be escalating after another day of airstrikes on Wednesday. Black smoke blanketed parts of the regional capital Mekelle where officials say the targets were weapon sites used by the Tigray People's Liberation Front, but the TPLF claims residential areas were hit and civilians were hurt.

Reuters reports a second airstrike about 80 kilometers away. According to a government spokesman the target was a military training center as well as artillery depot.

We are this just into CNN what appears to have been a gas explosion in north eastern China has killed at least one person and injured 33 others. The blast was recorded by dashcam video as it happened at a restaurant in a mixed use residential and commercial building. Search crews and more than 100 firefighters are on scene looking through debris for survivors. So far, the exact cause remains under investigation.

North Korea is accusing the US and the UN of tampering with a dangerous time bomb after a Security Council meeting Wednesday discuss Pyongyang's latest submarine-launched missile test. Ireland, Estonia and France, all calling for strict enforcement of existing sanctions. But the US ambassador to the UN says Washington has not given up on diplomacy.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: These are unlawful activities. They are in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, and they are unacceptable. Each new advancement of the DPRK's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs destabilizes the region and threatens international peace and security.


VAUSE: This latest missile tests are seen as a step forward by the North Koreans but Pyongyang's fleet of aging submarines will need serious upgrades before the SLBM is considered an immediate threat. CNN's Will Ripley explains why.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Somewhere in North Korea, a missile rises from the water. The images deliberately menacing and deliberately vague. State media shows a submarine part of an aging fleet, the same vessel used in 2016 to test North Korea's first submarine launched ballistic missile.

ADAM MOUNT, SENIOR FELLOW, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN STUDIES: Their submarine technology lags far behind us capabilities but also South Korean capabilities. So, in order for this system to be a real operational threat, they have to demonstrate the ability to keep those submarines safe.

RIPLEY: Keep them safe for more advanced militaries with state of the art submarines more than a match for the North's noisy diesel electric fleet.


MOUNT: These platforms have to survive until they're able to launch and where the U.S. and South Korea have extremely capable anti- submarine warfare capabilities with our own submarines, with aircraft.

RIPLEY: The test triggering an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. There's not much the council can do, experts say. North Korea is already smothered in sanctions over its nuclear program.

BONG YOUNG-SHIK, RESEARCH FEOLLOW, YONSEI UNIV. INSTITUTE OF NORTH KOREAN STUDIES: North Korea can maintain high leverage upon Biden administration in any potential negotiations on denuclearization.

RIPLEY: The Biden team continues to offer talks without preconditions. North Korea continues to reject the so called lies of its archenemy.

Former President Trump's diplomatic efforts failed just like all the previous presidents who tried. Biden faces perhaps the most dangerous North Korea ever. North Korea fired this missile in 2019 from an underwater platform. If the North now has a ballistic missile capable sub, and that's a big if experts say, it could bypass missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan, making the North Korean military a bigger threat. A goal of Kim Jong Hoon, who gave this speech in January.

KIM JONG UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): We must further strengthen the nuclear war deterrence while doing our best to build up the most powerful military strength.

RIPLEY: Last month, North Korea claimed to test a hypersonic missile that could theoretically fly from Pyongyang to Washington in less than two hours, likely still in the early stages, experts warned it could eventually make modern missile defenses obsolete.

YOUNG-SHIK: Now the targets are not mainly the United States but South Korea and Japan and U.S. forces are stationing in those nation allies as main targets for North Korea short range nuclear missile threats.

RIPLEY: And now perhaps a new weapon in Kim's growing arsenal. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


VAUSE: In Haiti, negotiations over the fate of 17 kidnap missionaries will continue into another day. The criminal gang 400 Mawozo is demanding $17 million to release the hostages that were taken on Saturday as they left an orphanage. A Catholic priest who's helped with other kidnapping cases in Haiti is warning against paying this ransom. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FATHER RICK FRECHETTE, FOUNDER, ST. LUKE FOUNDATION OF HAITI: If there's big ransom paid for these people, you can kiss all of us goodbye because there's not going to be hope for anybody. An eight- month-old child is in their hands, a three-year-old child is in their head. So, it's different and it's taking on a whole symbolic. It's taking on a symbolic nature that the individual cases haven't had.


VAUSE: 400 Mawozo is notorious for group kidnappings and in April abducted five priests and two nuns, who related freed after a ransom was paid.

Well, the European Union looks to Russia as the economy faces natural gas shortages ahead of winter. But is Moscow really able to help? Does it even really want to help? That's coming up.

Also, Facebook appears to be in the market for a new name. But the potential brand shifting can shed light on you cross platform endeavor (ph).



VAUSE: 16 months in negotiations between the UK and New Zealand have ended with a free trade agreement. Part of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's attempt to move the UK's economic focus away from the EU in the post-Brexit world. The deal eliminates tariffs on goods between both countries and the Prime Minister's of Britain and New Zealand and just praise each other. Listen to this.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It's part of our vision in the UK, as you know, descender to deepen our ties with the Indo-Pacific region, particularly with New Zealand. Our whole Indo-Pacific tilt is in your direction. And we see this deal as a big, big part of that.

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: So, I believe this is an agreement that we can both be rightly proud of, unlike a rugby match, I think we can literally both come off the field feeling like winners in this occasion.


VAUSE: Trade between the two countries they did $3 billion last year, and this new deal should see it continue to grow.

Well, in a global energy crunch Europe, which is facing a shortage of natural gas is looking to Russia for a possible lifeline. But there are questions about whether Europeans can really depend on Moscow. Richard Quest has our report.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN FOREMOST INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winter is just about here. And as the mercury drops, so Russia has a decision to make. The cold weather means Europe is in need of natural gas. And that's something with which Moscow may be able to help. The question is whether Russia can and will do the job.

HELIMA CROFT, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS: Russia, the main supplier of gas into Europe, they have struggled to meet the demand in Europe as well. If you have a very cold winter, you could see this power crisis accelerate and real pressure on consumers.

QUEST: The IAE, the International Energy Agency, once Russia to send more gas and prove themselves to be a reliable supplier. President Vladimir Putin says that it's Europe who needs to get their house in order.

PUTIN (through translator): We can see where unbalanced decisions, unbalanced actions and abrupt movements can bring us. Today, as I said before, we can clearly see it on European energy markets.

QUEST: As the nights get longer and the temperatures drop, so energy prices go higher, and the need for a deal becomes pressing approval for the Nord Stream two pipeline, which would send Russian gas straight to the EU is likely to become a bargaining chip. The French finance minister says Europe has allowed itself to get into a vulnerable position.

BRUNO LE MAIRE, FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER: We are too much dependent on Russia. We are too much dependent on foreign countries as far as energy is concerned.

QUEST: Despite his leverage over Europe, this will not be an easy winter, either for Mr. Putin or for Russia. New restrictions have come in this week. Daily COVID cases are at record levels. Around 1,000 people are dying per day. So Moscow has introduced a new four-month lockdown for any over 16 unvaccinated. And yet, despite being the first to approve a vaccine, Russia's vaccination rate lags behind other countries.

Now, President Putin's urging his countrymen to step things up.

PUTIN (through translator): We need to increase its pace. I asked you to take an active part in this activity.

QUEST: The Vladimir Putin in Russia, this winter is all about decisions about whether to help keep the lights on in Europe and COVID under control at home.


VAUSE: Thanks to Richard Quest for that report. So what's the name? Maybe Facebook can answer that question. The beleaguered social media giant could soon have a new name, with a major rebranding reportedly coming as soon as next week. According to The Verge, Facebook plans to put his family of apps under one umbrella name, which may reflect plans to build a Metaverse which Facebook says will combine virtual and augmented reality in a digital world.

Josh Constine is a Principal Investor and Head of Content at venture capital fund, SignalFire. He is also the former editor at large of TechCrunch and is with us this hour from San Francisco. Josh, thank you for taking the time. Good to see you.



VAUSE: OK. So after weeks of global outrage and anger at the health impacts Instagram has had, especially on teenage girls in terms of suicide, and eating disorders, growing demand in many countries for Facebook to stop spreading racism, bigotry, and hate, as well as differentiation, which is undermining the fabric of democratic institutions. Mark Zuckerberg takeaway from all of this is, with a branding issue, we've got to get a new name.

CONSTINE: It is seems like a little bit of short of a decision not quite sufficient to really erase the enormous problems that you listed off, but at least could help a next generation of potential Facebook product users from aligning its toxic brand with the new types of features and metaphors worlds that it's trying to build.

VAUSE: How toxic is the name Facebook right now in terms of brand identity?

CONSTINE: It's not only toxic, but a huge portion of people don't actually know that it owns Instagram and WhatsApp. And I think Facebook wants to keep it that way. It's hoping to be able to remove some of that stigma that stench that's come from Cambridge Analytica and the privacy scandals and allow it to rebrand and develop new products without that Facebook name. Remember that Facebook released a smart video screen called Portal. And everyone loved it except for the fact that it was made by Facebook. And I think it took that note saying we should really change the name at least.

VAUSE: You mentioned that this could also be about, you know, changing the focus of the country for the future, which we all about the Metaverse which apparently is the idea is to create a space similar to the internet, where users via digital avatars can walk around and interact with one another in real time. In theory, users could sit around at a virtual meeting table with remote colleagues and walk over to a virtual Starbucks to meet up with a friend. They also do that in the real world.

Is this really as terrifying as it sounds? Yes, social media. It already has such a huge disconnect from the real world. It seems the Metaverse just takes it to the ultimate conclusion and closes the door completely. CONSTINE: The internet is just getting more immersive over time, and we're going to have to accept that it's going to start to look more attractive than the real world to a lot of people. And so the idea of this Metaverse is if the internet is for interconnecting 2D websites, the Metaverse will interconnect 3D virtual worlds where you'll get to walk around is your own avatar, but also bring your identity and possessions and items with you. As if lots of the video games you might play today were all interconnected.

And I think that this could be a little bit scary if big corporations own tax and gate keep this space instead of independent players who truly want it to be a place for self-expression, where you can really make a second life for yourself where you can be who you truly want to be.

VAUSE: So it is as terrifying as it sounds. There's a lot of speculation a lot of suggestions on the internet about, you know, what the name of the company should be, my vote is for hot or not. But what do you think? What are they looking at in terms of just branding? What will be the name actually sounds like.

CONSTINE: You know, I think it'll probably be something that can be used as a verb the same way that you might say, oh, Facebook me, the Oreo, that's an Instagram something. They'll probably look for a name that has that same verb ability. And one potential option is Meta. Facebook actually already owns the website, and an anonymous internet giant has been buying up all the URLs similar to The same way Facebook has done for its own URLs, buying and any misspellings of Facebook. So that's one potential idea.

But we've also heard that Mark Zuckerberg cousin wants to shock and surprise people with something truly different. And just calling it Meta might seem like a kind of totalitarian approach to taking over the Metaverse and claiming it as Facebook's own. So it might look for something a little bit more demure. And one option is Horizons, which is the new word metaverse world that it's released.

VAUSE: OK, Horizons interesting. Some have said this is very similar to the time when Google became Alphabet. How similar these two might be.

CONSTINE: Most people don't remember that Alphabet was this new corporate name that Google released in hopes of being able to disconnect some of its loss of your business units from the really big cash cow is like it's Google search website. And so the idea here might be not that Facebook, the website, the blue app that you know, is going to change its name, but the overarching corporate name will change. And that probably means that no one's going to stop calling it Facebook.

VAUSE: Despite what Mark Zuckerberg wants, OK, well, we'll see. Hey, Josh, thank you so much. It's been great to have you with us. We really appreciate it.

CONSTINE: My pleasure. Enjoy the Metaverse. VAUSE: Thank you. And still to come, a country of 1.3 billion people now administered its 1 billion COVID vaccine dose. But health experts say India still has a very long way to go.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN Newsroom. Just once after a devastating second wave of the Coronavirus. India is now reporting a vaccine milestone administering a billion doses. CNN's Vedika Sud joins us now live from New Delhi.

A billion doses but then equals about 30 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated as a significant increase but still way shorter what they need to get to.

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, John, good to be with you this morning here in India. But well, it is being called a milestone by the Indian government. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted a few moments ago to talk about this and he said that it's a historic moment for India. But experts feel there's still a long way to go.

Let's start with the figure that you just mentioned. 30 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated, but about 74 percent is partially vaccinated. A huge discrepancy numbers there itself. So the biggest challenge before the Indian government currently is to make sure that they fill in those gaps and get those people who've just been partially vaccinated, another dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

That's not the only gaping discrepancy in numbers that we see. Because even when it comes to the urban versus rural population, urban areas are more congested, crowded and busier out there. There are about 35 percent of the people who have got one vaccine when compared to the rural population, which is about 64 percent that have received a vaccine. So those numbers are also something that the health ministry is aware of.

We've been reviewing the administering of the vaccines, and they themselves have come forward to say that there is a sizable population that still needs to get that second vaccine. They've reached out to the state saying you know what, we really need to ramp up your numbers. You need to get these people to get the second vaccine.

Interesting figures that I'm going to give to you now. 500 million vaccines were administered between January 16 and August, 500 million. And that number has been achieved in the next three months itself between August and today. So there are supplies that have increased when compared to the second wave when the vaccines were really not available in India. The exports of vaccines have been banned, then they've been resumed now, John, and experts worry that maybe sending these vaccines out is not probably a very good idea given that the Indian government is very clean (ph) to get the adult population fully vaccinated by the year end, John, VAUSE: You know, they did what -- they did 8 million doses I think in the past 24 hours, which is impressive in itself. But these vaccines, correct me if I'm wrong, they're not being provided free of charge not being subsidized by the government, are they? They essentially everyone has to pay for it.


SUD: Well, when you got to go to government hospitals, it's a different story in their private hospitals that make you pay for it. So it is both, John, to be very clear here where if you do opt for private hospitals, you have to pay for the vaccine that you're getting. So in both cases differs for those who avail of the government hospitals when compared it's a nominal charge, they're compared to the entire fee that you have to pay in private hospitals. John.

VAUSE: OK. Everywhere in the US, it's been saying, which has been free, (INAUDIBLE) in other countries as well as in India. Maybe that's an idea. Vedika, thank you, Vedika Sud there in New Delhi.

Well, Singapore has just reported its highest one day COVID death tolls, since the pandemic began, a grim record despite 84 percent of the population being fully vaccinated. And the government says COVID restrictions will now be extended for another month.

Manisha Tank is following all of this for us live this hour from Singapore. I think we spoke once about this long term pandemic strategy was essentially learning to live with COVID. But right now, record number of people are dying from COVID.

MANISHA TANK, JOURNALIST: Yes, yes, but let's put that in some context, shall we? So I want to just drill down for you, John, the number of people but also the split between those who were vaccinated and who weren't. 18 new fatalities resulting from complications due to COVID-19 here in Singapore,

Nine of those were vaccinated, eight of them were unvaccinated, and one was partially vaccinated. And it is worth noting that they all had underlying health conditions. And this has been a feature that we've seen in other countries as well, where those with underlying situations of one kind or another are hit so much harder by this particular disease.

With all of that in mind, you mentioned the extension of these restrictions here in Singapore by another month, and that is to give the government the opportunity to bolster health services here to respond to these rising case numbers, which at one stage, we're really doubling up where the Delta variant of the Coronavirus was concerned.

But now we are beginning to get the inkling from the Ministry of Health, that those numbers in new cases could be plateauing, could that possibly be the light at the end of the tunnel, we're going to have to wait and see and see how this extension of restrictions will go down in terms of reducing those numbers. We do have a big public holiday coming up Deepavali, otherwise known as Diwali. And it seems that those restrictions many had hoped might be ease, they will be reviewed every two weeks. But right now until we see some significant drop in numbers, it will continue to go on like this, this living with COVID strategy and extensive testing.

But it really does feel John like it's two steps forward and one step back given these recent numbers on fatalities in case numbers because we are actually now seeing vaccinated travel lanes opening up that's been a big feature. This week, it was big in the news for countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States. And this extends on an experiment that was done with Germany last month.

So what this means is we will see very important business coming back to Singapore. Singapore appreciating that the local case numbers are the ones that are growing, it isn't those that are coming into the country from outside. And this could bring back some really valuable dollars for the Singapore economy. That at least is what this vendor had to say.


RAJ SAMUEL, RESTAURANT MANAGER: As you know, the pandemic has definitely hit majority of the businesses and we are not spared as well. So that means motorists into an area like ours. And definitely there'll be more opportunities increased footfall (ph) into the venues.


TANK: Of course having the borders shut had really hit Singapore hard and gradually seeing this reopening is giving people a lot of hope. I suppose that is the flip side to these rather somber numbers that we had out today, John.

VAUSE: Well see the glass is half full. Thank you. Manisha Tank there in Singapore. Still to come, a code read for our future health where top medical journal says health problems related to climate change are getting worse.



VAUSE: More than 150 people have died after two days of heavy rain and flooding in Nepal and Northern India. Hundreds of others were evacuated from low lying areas in Nepal. Just across the border some areas in India's Uttarakhand state have seen their highest rainfall on record this week. At least 46 people were killed there and thousands of others forced to leave their homes.

And researchers warn the health effects of climate change are expected to get worse in the coming years. From droughts, impacting food production to rising temperatures, which will increase the spirit of disease. A new report from the Lancet Medical Journal says current climate trends are a code read for future health. More let's bring in CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, John, this publication from Lancet is published annually and it tracks these health impacts of climate change. Now we've only got 10 days until that crucial start of COP26 when world leaders joining Glasgow, so they're being reminded right now with publications just like this of the crucial moments that we find ourselves in.

So the publication by Lancet highlighted a couple of things, specifically what takes place during climate change. We know that with a warming -- rapidly warming planet, we're shifting our rainfall patterns across the earth. We're seeing the warming temperatures equate to more wildfires, longer wildfire seasons, of course, the hazards that demonstrates too, our floods and droughts when impacts food production, as John just mentioned, as well.

But that extreme heat has the potential to allow for longer wildfire seasons, and that means more smoke in the air. The potential for more smoke in the air impacting people's upper respiratory problems, but also that translates to the potential for increases in the number of months where diseases are transferable for for instance, and encourages the spread of infectious diseases as well.

So this has a health impact on us. A real direct impact, not only from heat stress, but the insect borne diseases like malaria and Dengue fever as well.

Take a look at some of these examples. We had the incredible flooding that took place in Tennessee, also on the other side of the world in Germany and France last summer, where we had extreme rainfall. We can't talk about climate change without mentioning what took place over the Pacific Northwest and into western Canada. All-time record heat taking place across this region never warm to 49.5 degrees. Of course, that translated to an increase in wildfires, which has an impact on people's upper respiratory problems.

And then when we talk about the potential for infectious diseases spreading when we have warming temperatures, that allows for that to take place across the planets. And so we are going to study this Lancet journal very closely because it has some direct ramifications. And right now, we are being reminded that why this is so important leading up to COP26. John.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Derek, thank you. Derek Van Dam, we appreciate that.

Now, the Kremlin says Vladimir Putin will not be attending the upcoming COP26 Climate Summit in person, but he may attend virtually. The UN's annual climate change conference will be held in Glasgow, in Scotland. It starts a week from Sunday.

During the two weeks summit, the focus will be mostly on the need to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases. It's not enough to simply cut emissions. Removing excessive carbon dioxide from the air is also critical. Now the world's largest carbon capturing facility is up and running in Iceland doing in one day what 500 trees can do any year. CNN's Kim Brunhuber has details.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Iceland's rural hillside enormous futuristic looking fans are using an unusual method to fight climate change.

JAN WURZBACHER, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, CLIMEWORKS: We have just turned into operation our Orca plant, which is the largest direct and capture plans currently operational in the world with a capacity of 4,000 tons of CO2 that are captured from the air every year.

BRUNHUBER: A Swiss startup partnering with an Icelandic carbon storage firm developed the plant named Orca referenced the Icelandic word for energy.


Powered by renewable energy from a nearby geothermal plant, Orca's eight large containers use high tech filters and fans to capture or suck planet heating carbon dioxide from the air. From there --

WURZBACHER: And we are then handing over this CO2 to our partners from Carbfix who -- and injected underground and the CO2 there is mineralized with a basalt rock. And it's turned into stone that's really and that is happening within a period of two years. So that's the really most safe and most permanent method of removing CO2 from the atmosphere that is currently available on the market.

BRUNHUBER: The technology is innovative but expensive and needs a lot more development before it could impact global warming. 15 climate capturing plants worldwide removed less than 10,000 tons of CO2 in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, that pales in comparison to the billions of tons of carbon emissions the world releases each year. But Orca's developers say they're planning to scale up and leading air capture firms say they're seeing more investment and government interest in their technology. A hopeful start, they say in the growing fight against the world's climate crisis. Kim Brunhuber, CNN.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, with tens of thousands of people waiting for years for organ transplant, what could be a potential breakthrough that might ease the shortage of human organs and save lives?


VAUSE: A potential medical breakthrough could someday help ease the shortage of donor organs. Surgeons have successfully transplanted a pig's kidney without rejection by the patient's immune system. The recipient was a brain dead patient, the family gave consent before the experimental place and she was taken off life support.

Now the new kidney was attached to her blood vessels and maintained outside her body for 54 hours.


DR. ROBERT MONTGOMERY, NYU LANGONE TRANSPLANT SURGEON: So basically, what we did was we transplanted a kidney from a genetically engineered pig that had the main molecule that is -- that really defines the compatibility of an organ, you know, between a pig and a human knocked out.


VAUSE: Joining us now from Baltimore, Maryland is Dr. Dorry Segev, a transplant surgery professor at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Segev was done involved in this research, but kidney transplants in particular, are his specialties, one of his expertise. So thank you for being with us.

DR. DORRY SEGEV, PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Great, yes, happy to chat about this really exciting discovery.

VAUSE: It is a big day because this was clearly no ordinary pig's kidney. I want you to tell us a little bit more from Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the Transplant Institute at NYU, which performed the operation. Here he is.


MONTGOMERY: When a pig organ has been, you know, transplanted up the evolutionary scale, there's been this sort of immediate rejection of the organ within minutes to hours. And because of the revolution in genetic engineering of animals, you know, we've got our first hope we could get beyond that initial barrier.



VAUSE: And what is really fascinating about this is that they've managed to take out a gene which plays the role in the production of a carbohydrate, which triggers the human immune system to reject the kidney. The ability to find that genetic all switch (ph) will take it out is incredible in itself, because I mean, the kidney could function, but also how significant is it that -- it started to do what kidneys do almost immediately?

SEGEV: Yes, I mean, one of the biggest worries is, when you do something like this, for the first time, in a human, there's all sorts of disasters that could happen. And none of those seem to happen. In fact, the immediacy of the function of this kidney looked more like a living donor transplant than any other kind of transplant, where the kidney works immediately starts to make urine immediately, and really does not interact with the immune system. So that's very exciting.

VAUSE: And also the ability to track down where and how that carbohydrate was produced within the pig. SEGEV: Right, that's decades in the making, to better understand the biological differences between the pig and the human so that we could genetically modify the origin that comes out of the pigs, so it would be accepted in a human.

VAUSE: One of the questions here though, is how long would this kidney continue to function? It was monitored for 54 hours with no sign of rejection, why not monitor for longer?

SEGEV: So this was an interesting, unique scenario where it was placed into a person who was deceased, so that if there were a disaster, it would not impact the patient. And so, there was only a short window, ethically, biologically, where they could monitor this kidney. Obviously, the next steps are to continue to do this, these kinds of experiments, and ultimately to put these into living people where you can obviously watch the organ for much longer.

VAUSE: Right now most of those people on the donor list in the U.S. are waiting for a kidney, and that takes an average of between three and five years. In theory, could a patient receive a pig's kidney, assuming it functions for extended period of about a year or so, and then after that, receive a human can even become available?

SEGEV: Yes, certainly. So there are 100,000 people waiting in line for a kidney in the United States, some blood types, and in some areas, people can wait 10 years or longer for a kidney. And it's possible that these would be temporizing measures where as a bridge to ultimately a longer lasting transplant, you could have a transplant that lasts for several years as you were waiting.

VAUSE: Well, the animal rights group PETA issued a statement it read in part, pigs are not spare parts and should never be used as such, just because humans are too self-centered, donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants. You know, New York Times notes that Americans eat about 100 million pigs every year.

But do you have ethical concerns here in particular about the treatment and the welfare of pigs which are grown specifically for human organs?

SEGEV: I mean, I think we would -- we could use the precedent of how we treat pigs that are bred for consumption by humans, whether it's eating pigs or using pigs for organs to save people's lives. And I think that there are parallels in those and hopefully those parallels will be ethically kept.

VAUSE: Dr. Dorry Segev, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

SEGEV: Great. Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: South Korea expected to launch its first domestically produced rocket in the next few hours. The new real world rocket is a major advance with the country's space program. And if all goes to plan. This test should end with a dye (ph) satellite weighing more than a ton in Earth orbit. Space launches have been a sensitive subject on the Korean peninsula due to the North Korea's missile program. South Korean officials say the new rocket has no use as a weapon.

Well, for the most part, the space race has been a two horse race. It started with the Soviets and the Americans. And over the years, the number of players has steadily grown as countries have reached for the stars. But now as Isa Soares reports, those countries are realizing they can reach the final frontier faster and easier by working together.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lifting off from the satellite launch center in the Gobi Desert, China rocketed three astronauts towards the country's new space station. The crew will now live and work there for 183 days. It's China's longest mission yet, and a major step in the country's young space program, quickly becoming one of the world's most advanced.

Though China arrived late to space exploration, the government has been investing billions of dollars in its advancement. In the past three years Chinese missions have brought rock samples from the moon back to earth for the first time in 40 years, successfully landed an exploratory rover on the far side of the Moon and then one on Mars. There were only this couldn't continue to do so.


The United States unsurprisingly came first. But America's cosmological dominance could soon be challenged by China, as well as other space ambitious nations.

As its space program expands, the United Arab Emirates also reached Mars earlier this year, though their mission didn't touch the surface. The UAE scientific satellite began orbiting the red planet in February. The country also plans to send an uncrewed spacecraft to the moon in 2024. India hopes to do the same later this year or in 2022. After a failed attempt in 2019, the country has been inching towards a new date for the unmanned lunar landing.

India's Prime Minister is also encouraging the private sector to help the country's space ambitions following the U.S. in a pivot towards commercializing space.

Another would lunar ambitions is the European Space Agency, which is working to develop a moon lander. The ESA also has probes currently exploring the solar system. Still a player in space, Russia is planning a collaborative asteroid mission, joining forces with China for a robotic probe set for 2024.

They are also hoping to launch an automatic lunar station in July of next year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touch down confirmed.

SOARES: And in a first both for space and cinema, a Russian film crew returned to Earth Sunday after shooting scenes on the International Space Station for the first ever movie partly filmed in space. As a whole, however, Russia's space program has dwindled from decades ago, when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space.

In the meantime, Russia's former space rival has grown more ambitious. NASA has sent five rovers to explore the surface of Mars just launched a 12-year mission to explore asteroids and says it will soon land the first woman and first person of color on the moon.

As advancements unfold, the space race is much changed from its former standoff era. Now mixing contest with collaboration.

Take a look at the crew on the International Space Station. Astronauts from the United States Japan, Belarus, France and Russia. High above geopolitics, a truly international cooperation at the helm of humanity's next frontier. Isa Soares, CNN.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. Rosemary Church takes over after a short break. I'll see you tomorrow.