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Experts: Omicron Transmission, Severity Data In Days; England Tightens Restrictions Amid Omicron Variant Concerns; WHO Says Omicron Poses Very High Global Risk; Barbados Cuts Ties With Britain, Becomes Republic; Leftist Xiomara Castro Poised To Win Presidency; Ukrainian Government Wary Despite Putin's Denials; Talks Resume After Nearly Six-Month Hiatus. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired November 30, 2021 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up this hour on "CNN Newsroom." The rise of the Omicron variant why travel bans are next to useless and how it countries stockpiling vast supplies of COVID vaccine only have themselves to blame for potentially more contagious and deadly new strain.

Save the date. Ukraine's President says he could be the target of a coup on Wednesday, maybe Thursday, possibly the beginning of a Russian invasion. (INAUDIBLE) what he says.

And a republic is born, Barbados officially severed his ties with the British monarchy, swearing in the island nation's first president in 400 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from CNN center. This is "CNN Newsroom with John Vause."

VAUSE: We begin this hour with the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus and three crucial questions which as yet have not been answered. Is it more contagious than the now dominant Delta variant? Is it more severe or deadly? Will existing vaccines still be effective? The next few days the World Health Organization expects to know more about transmission and severity. But the uncertainty over vaccines may take between two and four weeks to resolve.

After South Africa first detected the new variant, it's been found in at least 16 other countries and territories from Australia to the UK to Canada and Hong Kong. So far, at least 70 countries and territories that impose some kind of restrictions on travelers from Southern Africa.

While, Israel and Japan have closed their borders entirely, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson now testing the effectiveness of their current vaccines, while also developing an Omicron specific shot. In the meantime, the advice from healthcare experts remains the same. Get vaccinated, get a booster shot, wear a mask and practice social distancing.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Omicron is very emergencies. Another reminder that also many of us might think we're done with COVID-19 It's not done with us.


VAUSE: In this our headset and correspondents will be reporting in with the very latest from North America, Europe, Africa, as well as Asia but we will begin with a variant of concern was first detected, South Africa.

CNN's David McKenzie reporting in from Johannesburg.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: This variant is a cause for concern not a cause for panic.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): According to the U.S. president perhaps. But across Europe, parts of Asia, the Middle East, North and South America and even other parts of Africa. World leaders have been slamming the door shut on many African travelers. As cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant continue to spread.

GHEBREYESUS: The emergence of the highly mutated Omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is. South Africa and Botswana should be thanked for detecting sequencing and reporting this variant, not penalized. We shouldn't need another wake up call. We should all be wide awake to the threat of this virus.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The World Health Organization has warned against hasty travel restrictions, because it says they only offer marginal benefits. South Africa's President himself describing the measures as deeply disappointing, but scientists still need to determine the basics, whether Omicron is more infectious or causes more severe disease. Some scientists are confident that the vaccines will continue to provide protection.

SHABIR MADHI, VACCIONOLOGY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND: We need to adapt our mindset and we need to start to understand that it's not about eliminating the virus, which is what much of the travel ban is centered around. It has misconception that we still got the tools to be able to eliminate the virus. We need to accept that the virus is with us, but we do have the tools to protect against severe disease.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): The variant was first identified in South Africa, where Omicron appears to be dominating infections. Cases have now been confirmed across several European nations, as well as Canada, Israel, Hong Kong and Australia. And while both travel restrictions and national COVID-19 measures are being tightened across the globe, they remain many serious questions over the risks posed by this new variant, and at this stage, very few answers.

David Mckenzie, CNN, Johannesburg



VAUSE: And in England it's back to the future with masks once again mandatory in stores and on public transport. And adults will be eligible for a COVID-19 booster three months after their second shot.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has details.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (on-camera): The British government is taking steps to slow any potential surge caused by the new Omicron variant. This comes after the health secretary confirmed several cases at least 10 cases in the UK. He said he does expect that case count to rise in the coming days. This of course comes with new restrictions that will be rolled out starting Tuesday, masks will be mandatory on public transport. And in shops also anyone arriving in the UK will now have to take a PCR test travel restrictions have also been expanded against South Africa and several other neighboring states.

But crucially, the British government is looking at expanding its booster program, its booster vaccination program now recommending that booster shot to everyone over the age of 18, the Health Secretary Sajid Javid, saying it's necessary to take steps against this new variant.

SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: In this race between the vaccines and the virus, the new variant may have given the virus extra links. So our strategy is to buy ourselves time and to strengthen our defenses, while our world leading scientists learn more about this potential threat.

ABDELAZIZ (on-camera): Health officials are also expected to recommend a potential fourth shot to those who are immunocompromized. There's also going to be a second shot recommended to 12 to 15 year olds, and that period between the second shot in a booster shot, which is usually six months is now going to be reduced to three months according to these latest recommendations. The Health Secretary saying this should buy the country time to understand more about this new variant, it's transmissibility, its severity, and provide a layer of protection across the population.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Now the Asia, CNN's Will Ripley live this out in Hong Kong and will this easy that sort of scramble, if you like, to recalibrate plans to reopen. And to ease these, you know, these entry requirements that were being used, I should say, which are now being typed again, it looks like this will play out over the coming days. So how does this end up looking for travelers heading to Asia?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's like we're in a time warp going back to the height of the pandemic, when you had countries like South Korea like Japan that were just now starting to reopen their borders to foreign rivals and starting to lift restrictions and allow group gatherings, well, now that's all changing. Once again, it's certainly changing here in Hong Kong, where they actually are still clinging to a zero COVID strategy also embraced by mainland China, abandoned by most of the world because it's felt to be simply unrealistic, unless you have what some called these draconian quarantine requirements.

So here in Hong Kong, they've now added 13 more countries to the list of banned non resident arrivals because of Omicron. So, not only from the four African countries of Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Zambia, but also additional bands on any country where Omicron has been detected from Australia to Canada to Israel at six European countries. If Hong Kong residents have traveled there over the last 21 days, when they come here, they have to go into seven days of government monitoring and then 14 days in a hotel, or they'll have 21 days in a hotel, depending on which country they're coming from, and how many cases have been detected.

So in other words, they're looking at three weeks of quarantine either at their own expense in a hotel or one week where they're in a pretty austere government facility getting tested for COVID every single day. It's a similar situation in China, where they have very strict quarantine protocols in place, sometimes up to seven weeks. And yet Hong Kong, mainland China, we're projecting calm in the midst of this. Even as other countries are scrambling to enact new reg --new restrictions, the restrictions have already been in place here and in China.

Hong Kong is hoping to partially reopen its border with China in the coming months, which may explain why they're going to be instituting these new restrictions before African country travel bans kick in today. The others will kick in and just a few days from now on December 2nd.

So John, it's not looking like opening back up in some parts of Asia. In fact, things are really closing back down.

VAUSE: Yes, it's better to be wise and cautious now than sorry later. Will, thank you. Will Ripley in Hong Kong.

Well, scientists are still trying to assess how dangerous the Omicron variant could be. The chair of South Africa's Medical Association was one of the first to suspect a new variant was circulating.

Angelique Coetzee told CNN from her experience symptoms are mostly mild and most infections are in people 40 and younger.


ANGELIQUE COETZEE, CHAIR, SOUTH AFRICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: Listen, if you have this extreme fatigue and this malaise type of feeling I'm not feeling very well something is wrong and the other thing that they will also will tell me he's that therefore this stop of a scratchy throat, it's not a sore throat, it's just a scratched I call it scratchy it's very interesting. And it's sort of a dry cough, but it's not the same dry cough that we have seen previously. It is like an irritation, not very prominent either.


So this is -- so if you are a patient or out there are suffering from any of these type of very, very mild symptoms. The idea is please don't get yourself tested.


VAUSE: Join me now from Los Angeles is Anne Rimoin, epidemiology professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Welcome back.

And there is still a lot which is not known about this variant, that there is enough known to be concerned. Here's Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. Listen to this.


FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, U.S. NIH: What we do know it has a lot of mutations more than 50. That's a new record. And some of those we've seen before and some we haven't.

What we don't know is whether this Omicron variant will out compete Delta in a country like ours, or weather Delta because it's been so successful. Well basically just push it aside and that's another unknown.


VAUSE: So explain why is that number of mutations noteworthy? And what does it mean in a practical sense when it comes to boosters and vaccines and containment efforts?

ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROF., UCLA FIELDING SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, we become very concerned when we see mutations that affect the spike protein, the spike protein is what allows this virus to be able to attach to cells and to be able to enter human cells. It's what really is a marker for how contagious it is. And so, because there are so many mutations, there's a lot of concern about how contagious this variant could potentially be.

You know, we have to make it very clear here, there is concern, but there is no -- we don't have the data yet to be absolutely certain how this virus is going to behave, how this variant is going to behave, and what could potentially happen here. So we have a lot of work to do. There are studies that are ongoing, that will help us determine whether or not this variant is more contagious due to these mutations.

And also, we really start need to start looking at what's happening globally. We are starting to see in South Africa cases starting to tick up, we're also starting to see some of these other indicators tick up as well, including things like hospitalizations in certain places. And so, we just need to be looking to see what's coming next and to be caught to be worried, but not panicked.

VAUSE: Two hundred and twenty nine days ago, the head of the World Health Organization at this warning about the consequences of global vaccine inequity. Here it is.


GHEBREYESUS: The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerged, the more likely it is that they could evade vaccines. And as long as the virus is circulating anywhere, the longer the global recovery will take.


VAUSE: So breaking news, we were warned. But is the Omicron variant a direct result of wealthier nations cornering the market on vaccine supply, and a total absence of a plan for global vaccination.

RIMOIN: I think it's very possible to make that case. You know, nothing is happening in a vacuum. And so, here in the United States and other countries in the West, where we have been very successful at vaccinating our populations, or we've been at least making vaccination available to our populations, you know, we have not been taking care of the global self. And if we we've said, we've said this many, many times on your program, an infection anywhere is potentially an infection everywhere.

And so, if we want to be able to stop this virus from spreading, and from mutating, we really do need to vaccinate the world, we do have an obligation to be able to do that and to make and it's more than just giving these countries vaccines. You know, we need to be able to make sure that the countries that need them are able to distribute those vaccines to the populations that need them. And then we'll also be able to combat things like vaccine hesitancy, which is a problem everywhere, not just here in the United States, not just in Africa.

VAUSE: Yes, the Delta variant emerged from a mostly unvaccinated India, there were four strains, three seem better at evading the vaccines, but Delta was a lot more contagious and Delta one. Now, there seems to be some data which strongly was seems to suggest that the Omicron is highly transmissible, at least possibly, and there's concern that mutations in the spike protein may give it an edge over the current vaccines that are out there.

So, this isn't a doomsday variant more contagious, more deadly than Delta. Is it only a matter of time before there is one if the coronavirus continues to spread?

RIMOIN: John, I think you bring up a very good point. You know, the first thing you said is if this is a doomsday -- if this is not a doomsday variant what else is out there? Well we don't know what this variant is there are concerning characteristics, we don't want to panic, we want to be concerned and take action. But it is true what you are saying, sooner or later, if we allow this virus to spread unchecked globally, because we have not vaccinated the world, we eventually will end up with a virus of a variant that could potentially really take give, could really diminish the effect of our vaccines, of our therapeutics and become so contagious, that we will have a very difficult time to contain it.


So I think it's very important that we remember whether or not this particular variant is the one that we should worry about. It's a warning signal. We've had many warning signals, but hopefully we'll finally take -- we'll take heed of these warning signals that we need to vaccinate the world if we want to get ahead of this virus as opposed to constantly chasing behind it.

VAUSE: Eventually, maybe that will be the case and I hope. Thank you so much. Anne Rimoin there for us in Los Angeles. Thank you.

RIMOIN: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Still to come, the baffling case of the fully vaccinated Canadian with no travel history to Africa, diagnosed with the Omicron variant.

Also ahead, Honduras may just have elected a Castro's president. It could be a major political upheaval.


VAUSE (voice-over): And with that Britain's Queen Elizabeth no longer head of state of Barbados. Four hundred years after British ships arrived the island nation is now republic, cutting the last remaining ties to the British monarchy. Prince Charles attended the ceremony was honored with the country's highest ranking order, the order of freedom. The edge of the brace throne reaffirm that strong friendship in the speech between Barbados and the UK.


PRINCE CHARLES, UNITED KINGDOM: The creation of this republic of the new beginning. But it also marks a point on a continuum. A milestone on the long road you have not only traveled, but which you have built. From the darkest days of our past and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forge their path with extraordinary fortitude, emancipation, self- government and independence, where your waypoints. Freedom, justice, and self-determination have been your guides.

Your long journey has brought you to this moment not as your destination but as a vantage point from which to survey a new horizon.



VAUSE (voice-over): Seventy three Sandra Mason the former Governor General, is the first ever president of Barbados. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDRA MASON, BARBADOS PRESIDENT: Our country and our people must dream big dreams and fight to realize them. As poet James Stevens puts it, we must learn that we are better than our clay, and equal to the peaks of our desire. I was born and grew up in the time of colonialism, and witnessed Barbados' independence. I am part of the bridge generation from the colonial past to the independent nation to the future of the New Republic.


VAUSE (voice-over): Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth the 54 member organization of mostly former British territories.

Honduras appears on the brink of a major political change. Xiomara Castro is poised to become the country's next president, 12 years after her husband was ousted in a coup, she ran against more than a dozen candidates and if elected, will be the first female president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Sadly, men have lost credibility after mismanaging corruption, abuse of power, personal ambition, leadership battles and special interests. Today history is being written in Honduras, and I think women should be proud of having a woman guide in a country marred by poverty and corruption.


VAUSE: We get more now from CNN's Patrick Oppmann.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): A political earthquake may be taking place in Honduras where the wife of a former president deposed in a military coup is inching towards an electoral victory. Leftist candidate Xiomara Castro has not been declared the winner of the election, at least not yet. But she is leading in the vote count over the National Party of sitting president Juan Orlando Hernandez. Castro.

If would be if elected the first president -- first female president in Honduras's history. She has vowed if she does win this election to fight corruption and official ties with drug traffickers. That's a reference to accusations that sitting President Juan Orlando Hernandez has allowed Honduras to become a transshipment point for drugs heading to the United States. Hernandez has denied those accusations.

In 2019, though he was implicated in the trial of his brother in the United States on charges of drug trafficking. His brother eventually was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. It remains to be seen whether Hernandez himself will face charges in the United States once he leaves office. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Castro is feared by some in Honduras, that she will lead a tilt to the left if she is elected that she will essentially ally herself with Venezuela and Cuba with the socialist governments in those countries. But Castro has said that she's willing to work in the fight inequality and poverty in Honduras, the conditions that are leading to a surge in migration of Hondurans to the United States.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


VAUSE: She was like the Prime Minister then quit within hours and now she's back in the top job. In Sweden, social democrat Magdalena Anderson is once again Prime Minister. She initially quit hours after first elected last week when her budget was blocked, and her coalition government fell apart. Now Sweden's first female prime minister plans to form a minority government. The Social Democrats hold 100 of the 349 seats in Parliament, which means you'll need support from other parties to get anything done.

If Ukraine's president is right, his government will be the target of a Russian backed coup attempt on Wednesday or Thursday. He claims to have intelligence including audio of Ukrainian and Russian plotters discussing this coup plan. Russia says it's nonsense, but its military bought up on it -- build up rather on their border is raising alarms in Kiev as well as in Europe and the United States.

CNN's Matthew Chance asked Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs, if they're still bracing for an attempt to overthrow the government.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Do you think the threat of a Russian backed coup is still real today? Or has that threat now receded?

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRANIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: External military pressure goes hand in hand with domestic destabilization of the country. So we look very seriously in the information available to us to the Government of Ukraine at this stage when it comes to the potential coup in Ukraine and we remain extremely vigilant. Our law enforcement agencies are examining this information. And we will, have course, provide, provide our partners with this with the updates as they arrive.


But I want to be clear that if, if Russia decides to resort to the last measure of military offensive operation, it will undoubtedly be preceded or accompanied by systemic and bold attempts to destabilize Ukraine from the inside, by all means available to Russia.


VAUSE: That was Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaking to CNN's Matthew Chance.

Well, Iran nuclear talks resumed in Austria on Monday amid low expectations. Tehran has announced it's willing to make a deal, but only if the U.S0 lifts economic sanctions. Israel lobby hard against that releasing a report claiming Iran is preparing to enrich uranium to a level needed for nuclear weapons. Despite the lack of common ground so far, there is still optimism about the return to talks.


ENRIQUE MORA, DEPUTY SECY. GEN. EUROPEAN EXTERNAL ACTION SERVICE: I feel extremely positive about what I have seen today in the Joint Commission. There is clearly a will to engage, there is clearly a way -- a will on all the delegations to listen to the Iranian positions brought by the new team. And there is clearly a will of the Iranian delegation to engage in serious work and bring JCPOA back to life. So, I feel positive that we can be doing important things for the next weeks to pay him.


VAUSE: Well for more, here's CNN's Nic Robertson.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on-camera): Well, it's not precisely clear what was discussed inside the meeting, the Russian representative inside the room said that the negotiations had started off his words, quite successfully. He said that they had agreed further immediate steps to be taken. He tweeted when the meeting began, he tweeted when the meeting ended, the space in between about three hours. Now that seems like a relatively short period of time for all these partners, Chinese Russians, Iranians, British, French, Germans to be sitting around the table together for the first time in earnest in over five months now.

The United States, of course, in proximity not in the same room wants to get back into these talks has been putting a lot of pressure on Iran, and saying that the test of Iran in these talks will be that they will move forward, not stall, not go back compared to that -- compared to where the talks ended in June.

At the moment, the United States, the United Kingdom, believe that there is a good offer on the table for Iran that the door is open for diplomacy. They recognize that Iran wants sanctions lifted, they want to see Iran come into the terms of the nuclear deal. Iran at the moment is a long way out of compliance with the terms of the deal. But at the moment, this seems to be the opening phase. How many more days of talks again isn't clear this diplomacy is shrouded in an element of secrecy. But it's the Russian diplomat in the room who is posting the photographs and giving the time updates and giving the only analysis that we have so far of how well it's going.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Well, long before Omicron came along Germany was facing one its worst pandemic moments. When we come back, the healthcare system that was struggling to cope with a surge in new COVID patients. We'll have details on that in a moment.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Health experts say they could know within the next few weeks how effective current COVID vaccines are against this new variant of concern. The omicron variant has been found in at least 17 countries and territories including Australia, Canada, U.K., Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization's governing body will meet again in Geneva in the coming hours after declaring on Monday the overall risk from the omicron variant is very high.

The first sample of mutation was taken November 9th because of a surge of cases in South Africa. The one thing experts say they do know about this strain it appears to spread quickly. But it's too soon to know if the variant is more deadly, causes more severe symptoms, or is resistant to vaccines.

The top infectious disease experts in the United States are now offering familiar advice.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We want to get a lot more people who are eligible to be boosted, boosted. Vaccination is going to be the solution to this, whether it is the delta variant, or whether it's the omicron variant. Vaccination is going to be the solution.


VAUSE: Meantime, Canada has confirmed a third case of the omicron variant. And the country's health minister says they expect more such cases will be detected as testing continues.

CNN's Paula Newton has more.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Canada may be offering us a glimpse into how far this new variant has already traveled all over the globe.

Now here in Canada, they say they have confirmed three cases of the new variant but those cases are related to travel from Nigeria, not the southern African countries that are part of the travel ban here in Canada, the United States, Europe and in many other countries around the world.

For that reason Canada says it continues to investigate dozens more cases and it fully expects to identify more cases in the coming days. What's especially interesting though is the case that was confirmed by authorities in Hong Kong. That was a fully vaccinated man who traveled a few days ago from then Vancouver to Hong Kong and has since also tested positive for omicron, that new variant.

What is interesting here is the fact that that person as far as Hong Kong officials know does not have travel history to Africa. It is leading many health officials to be very, very cautious about these new cases.

In fact here in Canada, anyone that has traveled to those countries must now isolate for at least 14 days. They are also asking for close contact and family members to also isolate.

Paula Newton, CNN -- Ottawa.


VAUSE: At least 70 countries and territories have now imposed travel restrictions from African countries to slow the spread of the omicron variant. All the areas on this map in purple show where restrictions are now in place.

But the World Health Organization warns these measures will not stop the spread and that countries should not be punished for reporting new variants.

MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, GLOBAL COVID STRATEGIST, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We will get some good data from other countries that are starting to detect this variant. And this is why it is so critical that countries continue to report this.

And we are worried. We are worried about the stigma associated with countries that report this information so forthcoming. You know, it's really critical that that continues and that countries don't feel that they will be penalized for reporting this information.


VAUSE: Dennis Carroll is an infectious disease expert and the former director of USAID's Emerging Threats Division. Welcome back. It's been a while. Good to see you.



VAUSE: Thank you.

Now with the number of countries shutting their doors to travelers from countries in southern Africa many are following the U.S. lead on this.

So here is President Joe Biden explaining his reasons for the travel restrictions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We needed time to give people an opportunity to say get that vaccination now before it's going to move around the world. I think it is almost inevitable there will be at some point that that strain here in the United States.


VAUSE: Does that make much sense? I thought we already had this debate about travel restrictions especially for an airborne disease like this one. Essentially these travel restrictions are for appearance's sake only they don't do a whole lot much. And ultimately can do more harm than good.

CARROLL: Well look. The point is this virus -- this variant is already all the way around the world. We now got confirmation it is in Hong Kong, it is in Canada. it is across Europe, it is in Canada.

So this is the proverbial horse is already out of the barn. And putting in the travel restrictions is the old song about closing the barn door after the horses out.

So it doesn't make any sense in terms of slowing down the spread. It is already around the world. We just don't have the kind of adequate surveillance systems that allows us to follow these variants before they become widely dispersed.

VAUSE: The W.H.O.'s concern that by putting these travel bans in place is essentially South Africa is being punished for being ahead of the curve and reporting this. And that could lead to hesitancy down the line by other countries that discover, you know, these variants. They may not be so forthcoming.

CARROLL: Well, that's exactly the point. Whatever measures, you know, whatever advantage there might be to quote unquote "slowing this virus down", what you have really done is shined a light on southern Africa because they were the first ones that had this system to identify and report it. It is not necessarily because it emerged there. It's that they have in place the surveillance capability to pick it up.

VAUSE: And James Krellenstein who is an AIDS activist now pushing for global access to COVID vaccines. He tweeted this. "In the rare cases where travel bans work it's when we can detect the spread of a new variant extremely quickly after they emerge. The lack of sequencing means this almost never happens and why omicron is probably already around the world," -- or around the world already, he said, essentially your point.

But in terms of testing, explain what sequencing is? Why is it so important? And why are we still so slow at it?

CARROLL: Right. Well, first off sequencing is really recognizing that this virus for instance is constantly mutating. And that sequencing is nothing more than unraveling what the mutations might look like as this virus evolves. So every time there is a new infection, that infection has the potential to generate new mutations and new variants. What we definitely have, the capability worldwide to do a very rapid sequence of every new case that occurs. What we don't have however is the political or the financial commitment to undertake a coordinated effort to sequence at a very high level these new infections so that whether it's in southern Africa or in Europe or in North America or in Asia, being able to pick up at the earliest moment when a new variant emerges.

VAUSE: Instead of implementing travel bans, many experts believe that improved vaccine access globally would actually do a whole lot more here.

The co-chair of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance also responded to comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci that millions of doses of vaccines donated in parts of Africa have been wasted. Here he is.


DR. AYOADE ALAKIJA, CO-CHAIR, AFRICA VACCINE DELIVERY ALLIANCE: You can't plan mass campaigns and you don't know when your next supply is coming in. I can't open up the equivalent of the Royal Albert Hall in Abud or Lagos or in Kinshasa if I know I have to shut it down next week because we don't have enough supply. And that has been the problem.


VAUSE: That seems to be the rub. We keep thinking of vaccine distribution around the world as some kind of act of kindness or charity. We are not treating it as being in everyone's vital self interest.

CARROLL: It is the lack of reliability and forward planning that makes vaccine access really difficult across the world. So not having very well-scheduled, high volumes of vaccines making their way across the globe means the supply chains become very complicated. And really undermined by the haphazard nature with which the vaccines are being distributed today.


VAUSE: Yes. Dennis, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate all our time here --


CARROLL: Take care John.

VAUSE: Thank you.

Germany reported more than 50,000 new COVID infections on Monday and has now confirmed a fourth case of the omicron variant. A relatively low vaccination rate has led to a surge of new COVID patients with intensive care units across Germany now close to capacity. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Another tragic day in this ICU near Germany's capital, Berlin. This 82-year-old woman's husband just died of COVID here. Now doctors and nurses are fighting for her life.

When we asked if she's surprised that she got the virus she shook her head, no, she says.

That's because Germany is currently suffering through the worst COVID outbreak since the pandemic began and most of those who end up in ICUs are unvaccinated or might have waning immunity because they are in need of a booster. This ICU's head says she fears things will deteriorate even more with the omicron variant already detected in Germany.

"We are extremely concerned," she says. "We fear December, January and February, and believe things will become a lot more difficult.

The State Department has warned U.S. citizens against traveling to Germany as the country struggles to contain the latest wave of infections.

(on camera): Germany has seen massive COVID-19 infection rates for weeks now. And a lot of those patients are now winding up in ICUs like this one and it is driving Germany's otherwise very robust health care system to the brink.

(voice over): So bad that the German military has been called up to fly patients out of hard-hit areas. One reason for the disastrous numbers, experts say, despite having scientists Angela Merkel as its leader, Germany has some of the lowest vaccination rates in all of western Europe.

Anti-vax groups are extremely strong here and a recent study found that infection rates are high in strongholds of Germany's ultra right- wing AFD Party which opposes measures to combat the pandemic.

While the government has now made booster shots widely available, medical professionals are calling for more drastic measures.

DR. TOBIAS KURTH, INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC HEALTH, CHARITE BERLIN UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE: I'm afraid we have to go into lockdown hopefully a hard, short lockdown with a clear vision of what to do after.

PLEITGEN (on camera): And of course Germany is about to get a new government. Angela Merkel on Tuesday is going to meet with the incoming chancellor Olaf Scholz and he has specifically not ruled out a lockdown for Germany especially as the omicron variant is looming in the midst of this devastating outbreak here in Germany.

Fred Pleitgen CNN -- Berlin. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: For more on international travel bans, please visit our Web site You will find everything you need to know and then a whole lot more.

Just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM. A new report warns of the impact climate change is having on the destructive power of typhoons and how much worse they will get.



VAUSE: The sex trafficking trial of Jeffrey Epstein's longtime companion resumes just hours from now in New York. Prosecutors are portraying Ghislaine Maxwell as a predator who created a network of underage victims for Epstein to sexually exploit. Maxwell's lawyers argue she's being used as a scapegoat for Epstein's defense.

We have more details now from CNN's Brin Gingras.


BRIN GINGRAS, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Later this morning the governments first witness will again take the stand. That is a former pilot of Jeffrey Epstein.

This was after a full day of jury selection and opening statements from both the government and the defense. And in those opening statements, of course, both sides were laying out their cases to the jurors in this federal courtroom.

And essentially the government alleging that Ghislaine Maxwell recruited these women and groomed them to exploit them to Jeffrey Epstein, essentially saying anything that happened behind closed doors on Jeffrey Epstein's properties, Ghislaine Maxwell knew it, that she was the lady of the house.

And she played a part in the manipulation of these women and then in part was very much aware of what was going on with Jeffrey Epstein.

Now the defense says that she herself is a victim and that she is being vilified for the crimes that Jeffrey Epstein committed. So we are getting really a sneak peek of what both lawyers are going to lay out in this what is supposed to be a six-week trial for the six federal charges that Ghislaine Maxwell now faces.

And again testimony will pick back up later this morning with a former pilot of Jeffrey Epstein. And we are expected to hear from the government, four witnesses, alleged accusers who will talk about the part that they played, the part they believe Ghislaine Maxwell played in their victimization.

Back to you.


VAUSE: In Istanbul, Turkey, winds of up to 130 kilometers per hour brought down buildings and damaged infrastructure. The powerful winds forced planes to be redirected to other cities, shut down the Bosporus Strait to all shipping. Four people were killed, 19 injured by the time the storm was over.

The Pacific Northwest in the U.S. in the Canadian province of British Columbia also grappling with dangerous destructive weather. Atmospheric rivers are expected to dump more rain today and into Wednesday. Rivers are at or near flood stage and the additional rainfall is said to bring even more flooding.

A new study has found tropical cyclones in Asia could be twice as destructive by the end of the century. Scientists say the man-made climate crisis is already making them much more stronger. The study suggests that average cyclones by the end of the century will last around five hours longer, travel 92 kilometers further inland, nearly doubling the destructive power.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now with more on this.

You know, this is just something which keeps coming back. They're getting stronger. They're getting more destructive. It's all due to climate change.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, John, we have reported on every single one of these storms in recent years, of course, and we have noted exactly that. They are getting stronger. They are lasting longer.

So when these studies come out it certainly resonates with us and you take a look at what this particular study looks at and this is via be the Shenzhen Institute of Meteorological Innovation.

And this particular study goes back four decades from the 1970s ending in 2016. And John, notice it's essentially showing us that across portions of Asia, and we've seen this course around the year the world but in Asia in particular, these storms have become dramatically stronger. They've lasted quite a bit longer and they tracking quite a bit farther inland as well.

In fact, when you look at the data on the lesser end of things, these storms have lasted a minimum around two hours longer than they did back in the 1970s.

And at the higher end of the perspective these storms have lasted as much as nine hours longer, that is after making landfall from just four decades earlier.

And you take a look. They are traveling on average about 100 kilometers farther inland than just 40 years ago. All of this, of course, major concerns because the longer these storms last the longer they stay intact, the more damage and destruction they cause.

And you notice the study kind of highlighted southeastern China and northern Vietnam near the capital city there of Hanoi as the areas that were highest hit from the 1970s all the way to 2016 and we know why this is all happening.

Our planet not only is it warming but our oceans are warming at alarming rates and our planet's air temperature is about 1.2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times and a lot of people fail to kind of realize the well-known fact within the meteorological community that about 90 percent are excess heat that is generated on our planet is retained in our oceans. That excess heat translates to energy. Of course, that energy translates seeing these storms get stronger and last longer.


JAVAHERI: And we know with that warmth, John, we have seen about 7 percent increase in water vapor in the atmosphere. So these storms are producing even more rainfall.

So a lot of this again really going to be a major concern moving forward within the next few decades as well, John.

VAUSE: Yes. Stronger, longer, wetter I guess. Pedram, thank you. Pedram Javaheri there with the latest on that report.

Now a surprise exit for Twitter CEO leaving behind a laundry list of to do's for his successor. When we come back, was Jack Dorsey fired or did he quit? And what to expect from the new boss at Twitter.

Also ahead, Argentine striker Lionel Messi has more hardware for the trophy case -- the latest award for football's finest.





Seventh heaven.


VAUSE: For the seventh time, Argentina's Lionel Messi is football's finest, winning the Ballon D'or Monday for his role in Argentina's win of the Copa America title. He also finished as the Spanish League's top scorer.

The women's award went to Alexia Putellas. The 27-year-old helped lead Barcelona to victory in the Champion's League, the Spanish League and the Spanish Cup.

Twitter CEO has called it quits, stepping down from the company he co- founded more than 15 years ago. Jack Dorsey has led Twitter through some challenging times like banning a sitting U.S. president, combating hate speech as well as misinformation. But Dorsey says it is time for a change in leadership.

CNN's Brian Fung has our story.


BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: This is a pivotal moment for Twitter. On Monday, CEO Jack Dorsey announced he is stepping down from the job immediately. Dorsey has been CEO of Twitter since 2015 and a co-founder of the company who sent the platform's very first tweet in 2006.

Rumors of his departure Monday morning briefly set Twitter stocks surging by more than 10 percent. In his announcement Dorsey said Twitter is ready to quote "move on" from its founders.

Following Dorsey as CEO as Twitter's chief technology officer Parag Agrawal. Agrawal first joined Twitter in 2011 is a software engineer. Before that he spent time at Yahoo and Microsoft.

Agrawal takes over at a critical time for Twitter, facing tough investor expectations, the company is experimenting with new ways to grow its revenue and user base.

For example this year Twitter launched a way for some users to pay for additional premium features like the ability to undo a tweet.

Twitter also continues to face questions and possible new laws and regulations on its handling of misinformation and hate speech. But Dorsey insists that this is the right moment for him to leave.

In a memo to employees he wrote that he was choosing his company's future over quote "his own ego. This was my decision and I own it," Dorsey wrote.

Brian Fung, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Earlier I spoke with Mike Isaac, a technology correspondent of the "New York Times". I asked about the legacy Dorsey leaves behind. Here's part of our conversation.


MIKE ISAAC, TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": He actually did a lot of what folks kind of wanted him to do coming in. If you remember back to 2015 that was when Dick Costolo was the CEO, the company couldn't turn a profit. It was bleeding users.


ISAAC: And, you know, slowly but surely, Jack actually chipped away at a lot of those problems but I think now, you know, we are in a sort of era of less about, you know, can you make money which is still important but more about how do you handle some of these really important content moderation decisions that I think plague Twitter and Facebook and other social media companies these days.

And that's like one of the probably most defining problems of his era and going forward as well.

VAUSE: Yes. He became a bit of a punching bag in the end it seems.

And he posted some weird stuff on Twitter on Monday including this from an internal email. "I work hard to ensure the company can break away from its founding and founders. There aren't many companies that get to this level and there aren't many founders that choose their company over their own ego."

I say it's weird because (INAUDIBLE) the point is essentially still a perception. Or the criticism that many have of Dorsey as CEO, isn't it?

ISAAC: It's funny because I do think that was absolutely -- I think there are different eras of Jack, to be perfectly honest. I think he was very self-obsessed a long time ago. And that he has changed over the past let's say five or six years and has become slightly less attached to the idea of always having to be CEO at two companies not just Twitter but Square.

But I also kind of read that comment as a thinly veiled subtweets of Mark Zuckerberg and his reign over at Facebook and his absolute unwillingness to ever step down from his (INAUDIBLE) at least anytime soon.


VAUSE: The incoming CEO Parag Agrawal says his first goal will be to improve working conditions and help the company reach its ambitious goals.

Non-fungible tokens or NFTS are offering a new way to experience the ballet. The auction house Bonhams is selling its first ever NFTs for ballet giving performing artists the opportunity to control and sell ownership of their work.

The NFTs feature three video performances by Natalia Osipova (ph) a Russian dancer at London's Royal Ballet.


NATALIA OSIPOVA, LONDON'S ROYAL BALLET: Pandemic -- it's crazy for art. It's two years we don't have light show, we don't have an audience. I actually didn't have work and we think what's next maybe I need to change and do something different, you know, like everybody starts to do it online, Instagram, Facebook, do something (INAUDIBLE) but this is like for high art it's a little bit stupid.

And we think we can do it best and actually my friend tell me why. Try NFT, maybe. And I think it's the right platform for great art.


VAUSE: And a great little earner as well it seems. The three pieces expected to sell for between $10,000 and $60,000.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Please stay with us. CNN NEWSROOM continues after a short break.

My colleague and friend Rosemary Church will take over.

Hope to see you right back here tomorrow.