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Early Data From Israel: 4th Dose of Vaccine Yields Nice Increase in Antibodies, But May Not Prevent Omicron Breakthrough Infection; Ghislaine Maxwell Ends Fight to Keep Names Secret in Lawsuit; Prince Andrew's Lawyers Seek to Depose Giuffre's Psychologist, Husband; Underwater Volcano Near Tonga Erupts at Least Twice in 4 Days. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: New data from an Israeli study finds a fourth dose of the COVID vaccine yields a, quote, nice increase in coronavirus antibodies that fight the virus. But it also finds a fourth dose may not provide enough of those antibodies to protect against the Omicron variant. Let's bring in now CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, what's behind this nice increase? Kind of broaden that out for us.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Victor. So, in Israel, several weeks ago they started giving fourth doses to people who were immune compromised, to people who were 60 years of age or older, and also to health care workers. So, at Sheba Medical Center they decided to see, gee, when we give it to health care workers, what happens? So, let's take a look at what Sheba did.

So, they gave fourth doses to 274 health care workers, some got Pfizer, some got Moderna. They said the fourth dose did raise antibodies and maybe there was a slightly lower level of infections among those who got the fourth dose. They weren't sure. They also didn't give any data as to whether or not getting that fourth dose did what we want it to do, which is prevent severe disease, keep you out of the hospital.

Now, if this all sounds mushy, it's because it was mushy. The Israeli researchers did not give any actual data, they just gave descriptions. But perhaps the most telling thing is when the researcher, Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, when she said, look, I think from what I've seen here that the Israelis are doing the right thing, which is giving the fourth shot only to those who are vulnerable. Health care workers, people who are immune compromised, older people and not to the entire population. That may be a signal that that's the direction Israel is headed in, and maybe perhaps the direction that the U.S. will go in later in time -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

Now let's bring in CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen. She is the author of a new memoir "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey In Public Health." Dr. Wen, good to see you again. Let's start here with the number of doses. Because in Israel, they are now extending to a certain portion of the population, the fourth dose. In the U.S., the definition of fully vaccinated is still two doses. In Hawaii, soon, that could change. They're considering requiring the booster for travelers essentially changing the definition of fully vaccinated.

Let's go back to the beginning of the pandemic when we heard from the head of the FDA what the floor of effectiveness for a vaccine would have to be. This is Dr. Hahn from 2020.


DR. STEPHEN M. HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER 2019-2021: We wanted to establish that 50 percent effectiveness. We really felt strongly that that had to be the floor. Now, that's been batted around among medical groups, but for the most part, I think infectious disease experts have agreed that that's a reasonable floor.


BLACKWELL: 50 percent effectiveness is the floor. We now know from the CDC that two mRNA shots, which is fully vaccinated is 35 percent effective against Omicron, third shot makes it 75 percent effective. Now, for those who still get it, the consequences are less severe.


But why hasn't the definition changed to three shots considering what we know about how effective it is?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Victor, let's go back to why it is that we get vaccines. Yes, it would be nice if vaccines can prevent symptomatic infection, because thankfully, who wants to get ill and who wants to pass it on to others. But ultimately, the most important reason for getting vaccinated is to prevent severe infection. And in a way we are spoiled because these vaccines are so good. They are so effective at preventing hospitalization and death, even two doses.

But now we know that a third dose can reduce hospitalization and death even more and that it's also even more effective against preventing symptomatic infection. So, at this point, I do think that it is beyond time for the FDA and CDC to change their definition of fully vaccinated to being three doses.

I don't think, though, that we should be talking about a fourth dose yet, especially when there are so many Americans, more than half of those who are eligible to get boosted have not gotten their booster doses. So, let's emphasize getting those boosters and of course, getting those who are not yet vaccinated, vaccinated.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Part of the guidance we recently got from the CDC is what to do after five days of isolation once you're out, you have no more symptoms. They say these are the people you should stay away from after you end your COVID five-day isolation, people who are overweight, battling depression, current or former smokers and pregnant people. That's nearly nine out of ten people. I don't know how I'm supposed to know if someone is a former smoker. What do you see here in this guidance from the CDC, how do we adhere to that?

WEN: Yes, I think the guidance is really confusing and frankly, the CDC has really messed up their messaging on a lot of things, including on boosters and no one isolation.

Here's my take away. If you are an essential worker and you have to go back to work, you can go back to work after five days but you have to keep on your mask the entire time. Don't take off your mask including to have meals with your family and other people in your household. Because you don't want to be infecting them. You could still be infectious in that six-to-ten-day period. So, keep that mask on if you're going to be interacting with others.

The CDC has not said this, but I do think it's reasonable for individuals who want to, to take a test to test themselves out of isolation. I hope that's something that the CDC begins to embrace over time because we should have a reasonable policy that's based on science, and that's not entirely what they have done.

BLACKWELL: All right, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you.

Convicted sex trafficker, Ghislaine Maxwell, ends her fight to keep names secret of those eight John Does. We'll explain why and when the names could be revealed, next.



BLACKWELL: Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell will no longer fight to keep secret the names of eight John Does identified in a sealed defamation lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by Virginia Giuffre against Maxwell in 2015, and the identities were sealed by the court. She says Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused her as a teenager and got help from Maxwell.

CNN's Kara Scannell has been following this story very closely. So, Kara, what's the significance if these names are revealed?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Victor, I think that's going to depend on who these John Does are. Now as you said, this is part of the civil lawsuit that's been going on for quite some time, and the judge has unsealed thousands of pages of documents. Now, Maxwell's attorney had initially asked for the information and the documents and the names of John Does to remain under seal ahead of her criminal trial. Saying that she was concerned it could impact the jury. It could prejudice the jury if they had heard this information in advance.

She was convicted last month. Her attorney said in a court filing they do not wish to address this anymore. They're saying that the attorneys for the John Does -- there are eight of them -- could ably argue for their privacy rights if they want to take that up. Now, an attorney for Giuffre says that there's no reason to keep these under seal any longer. In a court filing one of the attorneys wrote: Generalized aversion to

embarrassment and negativity that may come from being associated with Epstein and Maxwell is not enough to warrant continued sealing of information. This is especially true with respect to this case of great public interest involving serious allegations of the sex trafficking of minors.

Now, Maxwell was convicted last month on five of those six charges. The John Does will have a chance to respond to this, and a decision will come. It will be several weeks from now -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: One more for you, Kara. We learned that Prince Andrew's legal team, they want to depose some people who were close to Virginia Giuffre. Who do they want to talk to?

SCANNELL: That's right, Victor, they want to speak with Giuffre's husband. They want to ask him about how they met. They also want to speak to her psychologist. Their argument there is that Giuffre may have a false memory of these events that she recalls of being sexually assaulted by the Prince. And they also want to test her allegations that she has suffered some kind of psychological harm based on this experience.

Now, Giuffre's lawyers say that they want to speak to a former assistant of the Prince. They also want to speak to a woman who has come forward and spoken publicly, saying, that she recalled seeing the Prince and a young girl at the Tramps nightclub in March of 2001. That is the same time period that Giuffre says she was there with the Prince -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Kara Scannell, thank you.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti joins me now to talk about this. Renato, good to see you again. Let's start here with this question over the depositions of former psychologist and Giuffre's husband. What does this tell you about the strategy potentially for Prince Andrew's attorneys and what they're looking for here?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, they're going to try to portray this as essentially, she hasn't been harmed.


There actually hasn't been any damage that's been done to her permanently. It's a way of trying to undermine the lawsuit. Essentially show that, you know, she's seeking -- trying to argue that she's seeking publicity, that she's really trying to, you know, extort the Prince rather than, you know, obtain any sort of fair compensation for some harm that she's caused.

So, it's actually kind of -- it's something that is an unfortunate aspect of these cases. That often somebody victimized by in this case a horrific crime can have to go through a very difficult experience as part of the lawsuit.

BLACKWELL: So, this is a civil case. It is not a criminal case. But is there any protection against deposition of a spouse of a mental health, a medical professional?

MARIOTTI: Yes, I have to say generally the mental health professional is going to be deposed in a case like this because they have to establish the harm that's been done to the plaintiff in this case. And you know, that unfortunately waiving your right to have privacy over your medical records, including your mental health records, is something that you give up when you file a suit like this.

So, it's difficult, I have represented clients who have been in a similar situation, and it's a very challenging thing, and that's unfortunately something she's likely going to have to go through in this case.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about the John Does, and Ghislaine Maxwell saying she will no longer fight to keep those names secret. This is up to the judge, but what's the significance of Ghislaine Maxwell, her team saying we're not going to fight against revealing those names.

MARIOTTI: Well, you know, I will say, Kara did note one difference, the trial's over. They don't need to be concerned about publicity.

But another thing is she doesn't need to try to stay on the good side of these John Does anymore. Now that she's lost her criminal trial, she doesn't have to worry about these individuals potentially testifying against her. And so, I just -- my read on it after reading everything that was filed was that she doesn't want to bear the expense, the legal expense of trying to fight something that's not her fight anymore. And I suspect these John Does, and they're very, you know, sophisticated attorneys will do that themselves.

BLACKWELL: So, Giuffre's attorney said that, listen, generalized embarrassment and aversion to that is not a good enough reason to keep these names secret. What will this judge likely consider in the decision making?

MARIOTTI: Well, the judge is going to be -- the presumption is going to be, the judge is going to be leaning towards at a start, releasing this information because that's the presumption, and that's the appropriate legal standard that in this country, court records are public. And so, there has to be a pretty substantial, you know, something pretty substantial on the other side to overcome that presumption.

Obviously, you could imagine that being associated with Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell could ruin someone's life, and that reputation, very substantial harm to some people. That's what the judge is going to be weighing on one side, as opposed to the public's right to know, including the press's right to know, what exactly is happening in our courts, including this case.

BLACKWELL: All right, Renato Mariotti. Good to see you, sir, thank you.

MARIOTTI: OK, thank you. BLACKWELL: An underwater volcano near Tonga has erupted multiple times in the last four days. One eruption so massive, it can be seen from space. And it also created tsunami warnings from Japan to California. We'll look at what's happening with a huge ash cloud, next.



BLACKWELL: An underwater volcano near the island nation of Tonga has erupted at least two times in the past four days. Look at these. The satellite images of the Saturday eruption, they are incredible. They show this massive ash cloud and shockwaves that shoot out of this underwater volcano. And experts say the eruption was likely the largest in 30 years.

Meteorologist Tom Sater joins me now. So, what's the situation like in the region now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I mean, go back in time, there's still some rumblings. We still have minor quakes which means magma trying to get up to the surface. So again, we can confirm two, of course, blasts but we're not sure if a third one or not.

But let's go back, I mean this occurring right now, the last one that was stronger was Mount Pinatubo in 1991 but you've got Vanuatu, you got New Caledonia, Fiji is in the area, American Samoa. This force is so great that as the energy transferred up through the water, the water dispersed. So, we'll get to the tsunami in a minute. First there was a sonic boom they heard. Then the ash was falling and residents there said it was tough to breathe.

Communication is spotty but Australia has been able to get reconnaissance craft and some aid to the area. Then the tsunami. Nothing like we saw, Victor, with the Fukushima megathrust earthquake in Japan or even previous to that was in Indonesia. This was, however, felt across the entire basin of the Pacific. Warnings were out for tsunamis from Hawaii to the Alaskan chain, the Aleutian Islands and the West Coast.


But we now think that not only that force through the water dispersed it but we also maybe there was a landslide, a submarine under the water. When you have force like this, what we're seeing is a collapsing of the caldera. So, there could have been, as you can see satellite images. This is 1.2 kilometers, that's about three quarters of a mile, it's almost now gone.

So, it collapsed instead of building an island and that could have caused as well the tsunami to be in effect. But there's still a lot of activity with this. We're going to continue to watch it in the days ahead.

BLACKWELL: All right, Tom Sater, thank you. It's Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin's first week in office and he's

already in a standoff with schools over an executive order that says parents can choose whether to have their kids mask up in schools.

More on that ahead when "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after a quick break.