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FDA Advisers Recommend Pfizer Vaccine for Children 5 to 11; China Clamps Down on Outbreak 100 Days from Winter Games; D.A. Won't Rule Out Criminal Charges in "Rust" Shooting; Blinken Speaks with Sudan's Prime Minister After his Return Home; Biden Wants Climate Legislation in Place Before COP26; Flood Warning Issued for Parts of Southern Italy; TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube Executives Testify on Capitol Hill. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Isa Soares in London, and just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: COVID-19 is a very bad actor in the children 5 to 11, and that's why we need it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now with the vaccine, many kids will be able to resume so many actions of pre-pandemic life.


SOARES: Top U.S. health officials back vaccines for children 5 to 11 saying the benefits of the Pfizer shot outweigh the risk.

It is crunch time for President Biden. Democrats lobby outlines of support days before the president says he wants a decision.

Britain's monarch pulls out of the COP26 climate change summit on doctor's orders.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Hello, everyone. It is Wednesday, October 27, and we begin with a big step really in fighting the pandemic, which has lately been impacting children. Vaccine advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending the Pfizer vaccine for kids as young as five. They say the benefits outweigh the risks. Take a listen.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: When we make these kinds of decision, it's all based on one thing, would we given the vaccine to our own children? I think no one would have said yes if they weren't willing to give it to their own children. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SOARES: Well, the advisory panel voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for children but there was one abstention of the vaccine mandate.


DR. CODY MEISSNER, PROFESSOR PEDIATRICS, TUFTS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I'm just worried that if we say yes that the states are going to mandate administration of this vaccine to children in order to go to school, and I do not agree with that. I think that would be an error at this time.


SOARES: It's not yet clear whether vaccine mandates will apply to young children. But regardless of mandates, the health experts and former federal officials are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated when they can. Listen to this.


DR. MARK MCCLELLAN, FORMER U.S. FOOD AND DRUG COMMISSIONER: Take a look at the data. What it shows is 90 percent effectiveness of the vaccines, very few, very rare side effects, and those are able to be managed. That's much better, I think, for most people, given the way COVID is spreading now in the country, for protecting their kids.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It could have an impact on the trajectory of the pandemic, especially as we head into the winter. But I think the major difference is the change that it is going to make in parent's lives and in kid's lives. There are so many parents who have been really worried about sending their kids to school, especially if their school does not require masks, and to have that additional level of protection, with the vaccine, will be really game changing.


SOARES: So, what's the next step for the children's vaccine? Well, the FDA sleep will now take the panel's recommendation under consideration. Then next week, the vaccine advisers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet and weigh in on that. Once the CDC's advice is approved, the head of the agency, Dr. Rochelle Walensky will have the final word. And after that, vaccination can begin in the following days.

Now the CDC is also updating vaccine guidance for some people with compromised immune systems. Agency now says they could benefit from getting a vaccine booster at least six months after their third shot. Back in August, the CDC said the third dose was needed to fully protect people with those immune, weakened immune systems. Well, that includes patients going through cancer treatment, people with advanced HIV, and certain organ transplant recipients.

And we want to have a look at this. The number of Americans getting their first vaccine shot is plummeting. The U.S. is now averaging just over 200,000 vaccinations a day -- as you can see there on your screen. There's been a 15 percent drop really from last week, and now the lowest number on record right now, just over two-thirds of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated. We'll stay on that story for you.

Meanwhile, China is clamping to stop a growing COVID outbreak, just 100 days before the Winter Olympic Games begin. Cases have being reported in nearly a third of China's provinces and regions including Beijing. The Olympic host city in the northwest, a city of more than four million people is now under strict lockdown. Up to six new cases were reported on Tuesday. The CNN Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang joins me now. And Steven, some of these measures, I was reading this morning, are pretty stringent which just shows how worried Beijing is about these rising cases there.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Isa. It's really a return of some of the harshest measures we have previously only seen during the peak of the pandemic last year. Now of course, not only citywide lockdowns are making a comeback, as we mentioned, but also other measures in, by now familiar play book, from the authority's mass testing, extensive contact tracing and imposing growing travel restrictions across the country especially into Beijing.

All of those of course very much related to the upcoming Winter Olympics. Because the authorities simply don't want to take any chances in the lead-up to the games. And also, they don't want to see a repeat of what happened in Tokyo, which it was a surge of COVID infections during the summer games. That's why they have just announced a very strict protocol concerning participants to the games. Not just athletes but reporters, thousands of them as well.

So, if you're coming here for the games, if you're fully vaccinated, upon landing you will be sent straight into this bubble they are creating in and around Beijing, encompassing all of the competition venues but also Olympic villages, media centers and dozens of hotels. You will be sealed inside these bubbles for the duration of the games. And then once the game is over, you'll be sent straight back to the airport and being flown out. And there, of course, there'll be no international spectators. And domestic audiences very much carefully vetted in terms of their health status, and they're not allowed to be interacting with people in the bubble as well.

Now, these games are really shaping up to be the most controversial in recent times. Not only because of these COVID policies but also because of China's human rights record and its controversial policies on a whole range of issues, drawing protests, and even cause for boycotting. But, Isa, there is no doubt President Xi Jinping's government is going to put on a spectacular show, but this time of course without a COVID measures helping them keep protesters away, and keep reporters in check -- Isa.

Yes, geopolitically it's being pretty busy indeed. Steven Jiang for us there in Beijing. Great to see you, Steven, appreciate it. Now, Brazilian lawmakers have voted in favor of charges against

President Jair Bolsonaro over his pandemic response. They allege his government intentionally allowed COVID to spread in a failed bid to achieve herd immunity. Their recommendation now goes to Brazil's prosecutor general. Now he is seen as an ally of the president and is not expected to pursue charges. Bolsonaro has also said he's not guilty of any crimes but he has long downplayed the severity of the virus and recently spread misinformation about the vaccine. Take a listen.


OMAR AZIZ, BRAZILIAN SENATOR (through translator): The presidency is not an office and a bar where you say what you want while drinking beer and eating barbecue. The president of the Republic informs the Brazilian people on a study that is not approved, and so something along these lines when we are asked to vaccinate the population.


SOARES: The reaction there of some of the Senators that were voting on the measure yesterday. Well, this all comes of course the same day Brazil reported more than 400 new COVID deaths. In all, the virus has killed more than 606,000 Brazilians. That's the second highest death toll in the world.

Now, new details are emerging about the fatal shooting of the set of the Alec Baldwin film "Rust." A law firm has been hired by the film's producers to investigate the death around the Halyna Hutchins this. That is according to a report from And this photo of Hutchins has surfaced showing her inside a church on the "Rust" set where Alec Baldwin was rehearsing. A crew member posted it on Facebook saying it's the last photo of Hutchins before she died. It is unclear when the photo was actually taken.

And now more focus is turning toward the district attorney handling of the case. CNN Josh Campbell has that part of the story from Santa Fe.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're learning new details about the status of the state's investigation into that fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by actor Alec Baldwin. An official here with the District Attorney's Office telling CNN that it remains an active investigation. That they have not yet ruled out any potential criminal charges. Of course, one key question has been is liability, whether authorities will be holding any one person, or group of people, actually responsible for her death. Officials tell us that that investigation is under way at this hour.

We're also learning new details about what authorities found on the set of that shooting. According to court records, we're learning that the sheriff's department found three pistols as well as boxes of ammunition, a fanny pack containing ammunition, as well as spent rounds. Left unstated in the warrant is whether any of the ammunition was actually live. Whether they were alive rounds. We're waiting for additional information from the sheriff's department officials, which we hope will come on Wednesday.

Finally, as it relates to the status of the medical examiner's review, we're learning that their report is still potentially weeks away. That is key because the sheriff's department has told us that what they are looking to, is what the medical examiner actually finds after that autopsy. What was that projectile that actually struck Halyna Hutchins resulting in her death? Again, potentially weeks away from learning an answer to that question.


Josh Campbell, CNN, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


SOARES: Now, America's top diplomat has spoken with Sudan's Prime Minister as an unfolding military takeover plunges the country into crisis. That call with Secretary of State Antony Blinken coming after sources say military personnel escorted Abdalla Hamdok back home one day after he was detained. It's still not clear if he is able to move about freely of course. Thousands of protesters returned to the streets on Tuesday -- as you can see there -- denouncing the coup, even as Sudan's top general defended the military action.

Sources say key opposition leaders and the brother of the Foreign Minister were detained in the new wave of arrests. We have learned in the last few minutes in fact, that the airport in Khartoum has not opened. Khartoum International Airport in Sudan will reopen on Wednesday, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern -- 1400 GMP. So, this is coming from the head of Sudan's civil aviation authority.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins me now with the latest. And Salma, let's start with what we heard from the general yesterday. As I was talking to him, I was trying to make sense of why he would go ahead with this. He obviously tried to defend his actions but what's the political play here? And surely, he knew that the U.S., the World Bank, the international community won't back him. So, what's the strategy from his side do you think?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: In fact, Isa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State yesterday called the Prime Minister, not the General al-Burhan, of course, called Prime Minister Hamdok, expressed his support for him, expressed his support for a civilian-led government, expressed the United States fears and concerns of a military takeover. You Nd you have to remember the United States has already cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of aid. You have the United Nations condemning this strongly. The EU saying that there will be strong consequences for a military coup. But here's the key part. The General al-Burhan does have support. Where is his support?

SOARES: From where?

ABDELAZIZ: The Gulf, and that is the key part, Isa. You have to remember how many states across the Middle East are propped up by the support of Gulf states. Take neighboring Egypt. That is how the coup d'etat in Egypt became status quo was the support in the Gulf. And then he also has key allies domestically. And here I'm talking about one of the most powerful and feared paramilitary forces on the ground in Sudan, that is the rapid support forces. They lead back to the Darfur conflict. But in recent years, protesters and activists have said they have been used to violently suppress demonstrations that are booming across Sudan. They have used rape as a weapon of war. Essentially any violent means necessary to suppress dissent.

SOARES: Which then begs the question, you know, is this what we have seen, between the divide between the protesters and the army, is the beginning -- is this the beginning of something very worrisome here?

ABDELAZIZ: It's absolutely concerning, Isa. Because you have two sides that are now digging their heels in. We heard from the al-Burhan yesterday -- General al-Burhan yesterday saying he is the protector of Sudan. He is the one protecting people from the possibility of civil war and instability. Let's remember what's at stake here. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, debt relief packages. The economy and future of Sudan, the revolution of Sudan, right. We are talking about a transition, a very fragile transition that young people have been hoping, praying, wishing, fighting for, and who absolutely will not let it go.

SOARES: Of course, if there is, they'll be heading to a collision course. I know you'll keep our eye on that. Salma Abdelaziz, thanks.

And still ahead right here on the show, a sharp divide between rhetoric and reality. Dozens of countries not doing enough really to keep the planet from a dangerous rise in temperature. Plus, how flash flooding in one Italian city turned roads into rivers, as well as submerging cars. We'll have that story from Italy next.



SOARES: Now U.S. President Joe Biden leaves tomorrow to meet with G20 leaders in Rome before heading to COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. And he's hoping to have the details of his legislative plan in place when he arrives. Democrats in Congress are trying hammer out an agreement on the largest social safety net bill. And sources say the climate portion alone could total over $500 billion. The president has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least by half by 2030. Take a listen.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is also important to note that we have made a significant amount of progress. And we are almost there. And that the president is on the verge, we are all on the verge of passing a bill what is the largest investment in addressing the climate crisis in history. And of course, global leaders take note of that too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: Well, the COP26 summit begins this weekend with a first

meeting really of world leaders in Glasgow on Monday. Meanwhile, a new U.N. report finds climate pledges from almost every country falls short of what's needed to keep global temperatures in check. The U.N. says updated pledges will cut emissions by an additional 7.5 percent by 2030. But a much greater cut of the 55 percent is needed to meet the goal really of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Sticking to current targets would warm the planet by almost twice that.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Until CEOs are paid a bonus for the coal they didn't dig or the oil they didn't burn, these are just pledges. And so, it takes an overall structure, that will be a theme, one full day, to talk about finance in Glasgow, there as well. But yes, and just to put it in perspective, of the almost 200 countries that signed, only Gambia has really practically on course in realtime to meeting their goals. And the hope was that people would wake up to the enormity of the challenge and really heed these latest alarms.


SOARES: Only Gambia is meeting their goals. Well, who's at fault really for the rising global temperature? Well, a new YouGov poll finds Americans blame the fossil fuel industry. Pollsters ask how responsible are oil and gas companies for climate change. The majority of Americans you can see there, more than 60 percent said mostly or completely, 20 percent said somewhat and 13 percent said not at all. Democrats are much more likely to blame oil and gas companies compared to Republicans.

And speaking of climate change, we're going to take you to Italy, where some areas of southern Italy are under extreme threat of additional flooding.


These dramatic images show cars as you can see there, submerged in the waters. Flash floods engulfed the city of Catania in Sicily on Tuesday. The government officials called the situation very critical. I'm going to bring in CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau in Rome. Good morning, Barbie. I mean, these images we just showed our viewers are pretty dramatic. Give us a sense of what the situation is on the ground.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is really dramatic. We've confirmed one death, a 53-year-old man who was washed away in his car. There are a couple of missing people we are told from the authorities. They're going through the town of Catania now, the city center, building to building, to see if anyone was trapped and to see if there is any additional flooding, if they had basement storage areas.

They've turned out the electricity throughout the city because of the water that's still standing there. And they're checking roads and other infrastructure. They're telling people not to drive. There's no school today. All businesses are closed, and they're expecting more rain, which could lead to even more flooding. Now this is a city that's used to threats. You know, they are on the foot of Mount Etna, a volcano that often rains ash on them. But this amount of water has just inundated this area and devastated the city center.

SOARES: Any help being sent in, Barbie, at all to help the people of Catania?

NADEAU: Well, you know, the civil protection chief was there this morning. He's surveying the area. You know, local authorities from all over the island of Sicily have been coming into Catania and helping them out as they conduct the searches. But you know, it's a very controlled search, because of the danger that could be under some of the water that is still standing.

It's not a huge city. But the city center area, you know, is full of businesses and shops, and it's a very touristy town. And you know, with those place, they're just devastated this morning.

SOARES: Do keep us posted on that story. Barbie Nadeau for us in Rome. Thanks very much, Barbie, good to see you.

Now, a storm northeastern has left more than 100,000 customers in the dark this morning in Massachusetts. Meantime severe weather is heading toward the U.S. Southeast. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the days forecast. Good morning, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Isa. The severe weather concern now shifting farther towards the Gulf Coast region where we have a frontal boundary pushing in, and very gusty winds associated with this next system. And yes, even a level three. That is an enhanced risk in place there just east of Lake Charles, approaching areas of New Orleans, with the highest threat is in the country here, for severe weather. Could see some straight-line winds here pushing maybe over 50 or 60 miles per hour and large hail, certainly not out of the question.

And all week, we've seen upwards of about 20 tornado reports. This line of active weather could prompt at least several tornadoes as it pushes off towards the east and along the Florida Panhandle, between Wednesday into Thursday. Look at the wind gusts here, really an incredible area of coverage of 40, 50, even 70 mile-per-hour wind gusts into eastern New Mexico and western Texas, with this incoming system.

Now, speaking of gusty winds, want to show you how things have played out around the Northeastern United States. We have a classic Nor'easter in place. Winds pushing up to 80 miles-per-hour, that is equivalent to a category one hurricane across portions of coastal Massachusetts. And again, kind of speaks to the severity of what is played out there and still have the threat here for some very powerful winds, as the system gradually peels away from the Eastern United States. We think up until even 10:00, 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, those gusty winds will be howling along the coastal region of Massachusetts and parts of New England before it all quiets down.

As far as what's happening offshore, there is the storm system, again, it will pull away and finally see some dry weather across this region later on in the latter half of the week. Offshore, there is a 40 percent chance of a tropical system forming. This would be our final of the 21 named storms for the season. So, it'll be storm Wanda if it forms, but it looks to remain offshore. And will leave you with this, Isa, temperatures around 60 in Kansas City, warming up to 81 in Houston, almost 90 degrees down in Miami.

SOARES: Thank you very much, Pedram.

Now Democrats are waiting to reach an agreement. Coming up, the flurry of meetings to deliver a deal on President Biden's social spending plan before he leaves for Europe.

Plus, renewed calls to look into the death of 25-year-old Jelani Day, with so many unanswered questions. One U.S. lawmakers believes a federal investigation is needed. We'll bring you both those stories after a very short break. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Isa Soares. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

Vaccine adviser to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending the Pfizer vaccine for kids as young as five. They say the benefits outweigh the risks. More on that on "EARLY START," in about 30 minutes or so.

Meantime China is clamping down to stop a growing COVID outbreak just 100 days before the Winter Olympic Games begin. The city in the northwest of more than 4 million people is now under strict lockdown.

Now on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of senators willed executives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat on the safety concerns for young people using these platforms. The executives said their companies are already taking significant steps to protect children but admitted there's more work to be done. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube in the hot seats on Capitol Hill.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Why do you need all of this personal data, especially on our children?

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The platform's questioned about how kids use social media, how they are affected by it and what the companies to do to protect teenagers and children?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Parents of America cannot trust these apps with their children.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): It's the first time TikTok and Snapchat have been called before Congress. They were grilled about content their app suggests to kids' accounts.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): I'm sure the articles about the porn stars were accurate and fact checked. And I'm sure that the tips on why you shouldn't go to bars alone are accurate and fact checked, but that's not my question. And this is about whether it's appropriate for children ages 13 and up as you've certified.

JENNIFER PARK STOUT, VP OF GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY, SNAPCHAT: Absolutely. And, Senator, I think this is an area where we're constantly evolving. And if there are any instances where these publishers are surfacing content to an age cohort that is inappropriate, then they will be removed.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): One big message, we're not Facebook.

STOUT: Snapchat is different. Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media.

MICHAEL BECKERMAN, VP & HEAD OF PUBLIC POLICY, TIKTOK: Our leadership makes safety and wellness a priority particularly to protect teens on the platform.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But lawmakers warning the executives just because they're not Facebook doesn't mean they don't have a lot of work to do.

BLUMENTHAL: That bar is in the gutter. What we want is not a race to the bottom but, really, a race to the top.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Facebook has been plagued this week by the disclosure of internal documents which paint the company as harmful to society, including running algorithms that funnel harmful content to children.