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Taiwan Remains Defiant Against Chinese Aggression; Sydney Reopens After 106 Days Of COVID Lockdown; Moscow Tells E.U. To Fix Ties To Avoid Gas Shortages. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 10:00:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Taiwan's leader says she will not bow to Beijing as the island takes center stage in the wider clash between

the United States and China.

With demand for oil pushing prices through $80.00 a barrel and with gas still rising, you'd be hard pressed to argue the era of fossil fuels is

over. More on that this hour.

And they are out after months in lockdown. Sydney's population finally free to get a haircut, go to a restaurant or even to the beach. But will

international travelers be allowed in?

I'm Becky Anderson. Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. Taiwan's weekend of national pride has done nothing to ease the tension with China.

During Sunday's National Day festivities in Taipei, the Taiwanese president said Taiwan will not bow to Chinese pressure to become one with the

mainland. That would undo 72 years of self-governing and democracy. President Xi Jinping calls for a peaceful reunification.

But dozens of his country's warplanes crisscrossed Taiwan's defense so last week, all this putting the United States in a tight spot. Having to show

support for its ally Taiwan, while trying to ease tensions with China. Will Ripley joining us now from Taipei. Talk us through what is going on here

and the mood in Taiwan. Are people increasingly concerned at this point?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Tsai Ing-wen said here in Taipei on Sunday, that it is the most complex situation that this

island has faced its more than 70-year history. And yet a lot of the escalations are not really on the radar of everyday citizens here, Becky.

If you would have watched CNN on the day that, you know, the dozens of Chinese war planes flew into Taiwan's air defense identification zone,

there was coverage every hour.

It didn't even make some hours of the local news here because that's how often this is happening. So in some ways, the population is becoming

desensitized to all of this. But the leaders here are very well aware of the growing risk of being taken back by the mainland if things are

perceived to be moving too close to the U.S.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Taiwan's growing arsenal on full display at this weekend's National Day Parade to defend against a growing threat from

China. This small island is spending big on weapons, many made in the USA.

F-16 fighters, patriot missiles $5 billion in U.S. weapons sold to Taiwan last year.


RIPLEY: Taiwan arm sales skyrocketed during the Trump years. The former president's hardline stance against China, one of the few Trump era

policies embraced by President Joe Biden, defending Taiwan's democracy against authoritarian China has rare bipartisan support. Some worry

Washington politics may be provoking Beijing, even pushing Taiwan and the U.S. into dangerous territory.

JESSICA LEVINSON, LAW PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: If you do take steps to look like you are aggressively defending Taiwan, then you arguably put them

in a more vulnerable position you arguably again, irritate China.

RIPLEY: Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen says the island is on the front lines of a much bigger battle.

TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism and Taiwan

is on the forefront of the defense line of fellow democracies.

RIPLEY: China's set a record 150 warplanes near Taiwan in just five days this month. Biden's balancing act, calming cross strait tensions, defending

democracy and preventing a conflict that could cost American lives.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've spoken with Xi about Taiwan.

LEVINSON: I think Taiwan really presents a challenge to any American presidential administration because you're trying to balance competing



RIPLEY (on camera): This is an extraordinary site. Four kinds of domestically produced missiles rolling through the Capitol in front of

Taiwan's Presidential Palace. An ominous sign of escalating regional tensions.

CHANG YAN-TING, FORMER TAIWANESE AIR FORCE DEPUTY COMMANDER (through translator): We cannot control whether or not the Chinese Communist Party

has the ability to attack Taiwan. But we are able to control and make sure it does not have the motivation to do so.

RIPLEY: Every Chinese leader since Mao has vowed to take control of Taiwan. Analysts say President Xi Jinping may be the first with a military mighty

enough to do it. Even as he calls for peaceful reunification.

CHANGE (through translator): Whoever wins Taiwan wins the world.

RIPLEY: China is locked in territorial disputes across the indo Pacific region. Taiwan, Beijing's biggest unresolved issue, and some say, Biden's

biggest test.

That word reunification is a real sticking point between Taipei and Beijing, Becky, because this islands leaders point out, there's no

reunifying here because Beijing has never ruled Taiwan. But of course, Beijing doesn't recognize the democratically elected government here. And

they view it as all but inevitable that someday, this island will become absorbed back into Mainland China.

Presumably with some sort of similar arrangement that that they had in Hong Kong where the deal got a lot shorter in terms of maintaining their way of

life and their -- and their -- and their freedoms. So, it certainly is a motivating factor for people here to pay a little more attention. But yet

they're their military is struggling to get enough volunteer soldiers. They don't really do conscription anymore.

I talked with a former diplomat who said Taiwan would have to essentially turn into a garrison state, if they wanted to have a fighting chance for

more than a few days against an all-out invasion by China. So when President Tsai Ing-wen talks about this fight, you know, for democracy

versus authoritarianism, she's appealing to democracies all over the world, you know, particularly the United States in Japan who probably have the

biggest stake other than Taiwan, to really rally and come to this islands defense.

So that China does not take that provocative step that some analysts think could happen, even within the next 10 years.

ANDERSON: And very briefly, do Taiwanese trust that Washington has their back at this point?

RIPLEY: They really loves President Trump because President Trump started selling the number of arms to Taiwan by tenfold, you know, really, really

changing the game in terms of what kind of weapons and level of weapons were being supplied. Of course, that had the effect of really agitating

China and escalating their own military activity.

But, you know, people that are just kind of following the news and personalities might not -- might not see it that way that the U.S. was

opening doors and opportunities for Taiwan that might have been dangerous to cross through.

So the average person still has, you know, faith in the United States. But certainly the fact that China was holding large scale live fire exercises

just days after, you know, the fall of Afghanistan. It's a real blow to U.S. credibility and raises a lot of questions about whether the U.S. is

willing and able to come to the defense of its longtime allies.

ANDERSON: Yes. More on this as we move through the show, which of course is two hours. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you, Will. The Cop26

summit billed as a potential climate game changer, may only be three weeks away but fossil fuels still very much in vogue. Just look at the price of

oil, it is flying. U.S. crude pushing past the $80.00 mark for the first time in seven years.

Natural Gas prices are softer this -- today but for the year, they have soared 400 percent in Europe, for example. That is fueling plenty of

concern. The U.K. government talking about all of this again today with British industry amid warnings that some U.K. factories are "days from

collapse because of those skyrocketing prices." The talks (INAUDIBLE) U.K. steel for example, urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "bang mistrial

ahead -- ministerial heads together to end the crisis.

Mr. Johnson happens to be on vacation this week. Look, CNN's Anna Stewart is on the case from her vantage point in London. There's two things going

on here. There's some, you know, the U.K. imbued in the politics of this energy crisis, which isn't just specific to the U.K., but it's got some

very domestic issues associated with. This is a wider energy crisis. And the backdrop to this is, this is skyrocketing.

And the -- in the price of oil and gas putting, you know, fossil fuels front and center once again, just when the world was sort of getting to

grips with the idea that maybe that era was over. Let's start with the comments that you are getting there where you are from industry bodies like

steel and ceramics.


ANDERSON: These guys are calling for the government to step in. What's the story here?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: I mean, it's quite extraordinary. We are getting statements from a number of different trade bodies representing all

sorts of sectors, ceramics, glass, steel, cement. You name it. They need gas. And yes, these big businesses do buy gas on long-term contracts. They

try and hedge against price fluctuations. But Becky, that only goes so far, some of them are having to return to the gas market to buy gas.

And it is up to eight times more expensive than it was last year. So imagine if you're a business, that doesn't just reduce your profit that

wipes it out, that means you could be operating at a loss. And the big warnings we're getting today is some of these plants are saying, listen,

we're going to have to slow down production or suspend it altogether. And that is a risk not just for our business and for our workforce, that has a

huge potential ripple effect for the supply chains within the U.K.

For instance, we actually already saw this last month. I'm sure you remember, there was a U.S. fertilizer company, it has two plants in the

U.K., it suspended production and that resulted in no CO2 being emitted as a byproduct which is used by the food and drink sector. It was such a big

problem. The U.K. government did step in, they gave it temporary financial support. And today they've said they're actually going to buy the carbon

dioxide produced by those plants.

What are they going to do for these other businesses? That's what trade bodies want to know, elsewhere in Europe because this gas crisis, of

course, knows no bounds. Elsewhere in Europe, some governments are stepping in with subsidies, with tax cuts, trying to not only help consumers but

also help those businesses keep going. Because the big risk here isn't just about one business. It's not just about one sector. It's about the huge

ripple effect through supply chains. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes. And Russia's ambassador to the European Union making a suggestion today and two countries who are in the midst of this supply

crisis. What's Moscow's envoys saying?

STEWART: This was quite extraordinary, really. In an interview with the Financial Times, Russia's ambassador to the E.U. suggested that it would

help if the E.U. were a little friendlier, less adversarial, when it comes to Russia, which of course has been accused by many as exacerbating this

crisis because they're not exporting as much gas, for instance, as they did last year.

And in addition to that, the ambassador also supported some comments we had from President Putin last week saying that the President has advised

Gazprom to be more flexible when it comes to gas exports to Europe. So, that will hopefully help prop up those prices. I think you are actually

seeing that today. But this is really interesting. This week, we will get a strategy, a longer term strategy from the E.U. when it comes to this gas


And what they're going to do is going to focus I imagine a lot though, on transitioning to green energy but the fact of the matter is, Europe is very

reliant on gas. And that is the crisis right now.

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Anna, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed. The U.S. calling talks with Taliban representatives candid and

professional. A U.S. delegation traveled to do half of the first meeting since American forces left Afghanistan. They discussed safe passage for

U.S. citizens, former Afghan partners and foreign nationals, as well as humanitarian assistance and human rights.

Alex Marquardt joining me now live from Washington. Candid and professional, it will be useful to know what was discussed and how this

U.N. interagency delegation came to -- came to this conclusion. And this statement off the back of those talks. Have we got any further detail?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not in terms of the concrete measures that were agreed to Becky, both sides agreeing that

there was a solid discussion on a number of different fronts that you just mentioned. What was interesting was the makeup of this us delegation,

reflecting the priorities in the talks of counterterrorism, of political and economic issues as well as humanitarian aid.

The most senior person on this U.S. delegation was the deputy director of the CIA which of course reflects an emphasis on the discussions around

counterterrorism and how the Taliban is going to help fight against groups like ISIS and al Qaeda. What what's interesting, Becky, is that when you

look at these senior officials in the U.S. delegation, who was the number two at the CIA, who was the number two in the Afghan reconciliation office

at the State Department who was an assistant to the USAID administrator.

Lest there be any perception that the U.S. is recognizing the Taliban government. The U.S. reiterated in their statement after the meeting that

the Taliban will be judged on its actions not only its words. One of the major actions that the U.S. is going to be watching is how the Taliban

treats women and girls in Afghan society. So far, the indications are not good. Of course, the -- a major U.S. priority is getting Americans who want

to get out of Afghanistan, out of Afghanistan.


MARQUARDT: State Department saying last week that they are in touch with dozens of Americans who still want to leave but that it is very hard to put

an exact number on how many remain. And then a major priority for both sides is going to be humanitarian aid. You have the Afghan economy

collapsing, its care system collapsing. You have winter coming, cold coming. So how is that aid going to be delivered?

The U.S. wants it to be delivered directly to the Afghan people and not go through the Afghan government. The Taliban is saying that they do not want

the issue of humanitarian aid to be tied to political issues. When you look at the readouts of this meeting from both sides, from the Taliban side,

from the U.S. side, it was a little bit rosier on the Taliban side. They said that they consider this a good opportunity of understanding.

They said that there may be more meetings in the future. Of course, Becky, it is safe to assume that there will be more meetings between the U.S. and

Taliban sides. Everyone here looking to keep Afghanistan stable. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, this certainly hasn't normalized relations between Kabul and Washington or let me -- let me call it the U.S. and the Taliban because I

think by using the term Kabul, that would suggest a normalization. So certainly, no normalization of relations and still not clear exactly how

the Taliban will be prepared to help U.S. to fight extremism going forward. So as you say, rose tinted glasses, some more on what we've got out of this

meeting I think. Alex, keep your ear to the ground for us. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

Lawyers for an 84-year-old Iranian American asking Tehran to leave -- let him leave the country for urgent medical care. We're going to speak to his

son in our next hour.

Plus, many Iraqis have published a push to have historic early elections. So why didn't more of them show up to the polls? We'll take a look at that

in a moment.

And devastation in northwestern Syria. A region traumatized by war now facing down COVID-19. Why there are so few resources and so many deaths.


ANDERSON: Votes are being counted and results are coming in from Iraq's first ever early Parliamentary elections. And the turnout is looking pretty

lackluster. Has to be said Iraqi election officials say 41 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. That's based on early data. And it's the

lowest figure in almost 20 years since the U.S. invasion. And it happened even though protesters wanted these early elections in response to a deadly

government crackdown in 2019.

CNN's Sam Kiley following the story from Abu Dhabi. Is it clear, Sam, what the explanation is for this relatively low turnout?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you covered as I did the 2019 demonstrations, those December protests that in many cases

were bloody, brutally suppressed. And then a lot of young people especially disappeared, as a consequence of them.

There -- then we had the collapse of the then Prime Ministerial structure, a new prime minister and the Prime Minister Academy promising early

elections from the outside looking in, you might have anticipated that these young -- this young new energy of if you like, post U.S.-led


Generation of people who were on the streets would try to take advantage of the fact that this new constitution offers more opportunities for

independent non-aligned candidates. 3200 potential candidates there. But -- and this is the big but, in the interim, of the structures of the Iraqi

body politic, the organs that keep that place, rigidly fixed, the large Sunni blocks of political organizations allied with militia are very

heavily influenced by Iran.

Then you have Muqtada al-Sadr Shia block, rather anti Iran at the moment trying to break away from that. And then you've got still the sectarian

politics of large Sunni blocks. And of course, Kurdish blocks, nobody feeling confident enough in any new dispensation to start breaking those

molds. The only potential mold breaker likely to emerge from this is Muqtada al-Sadr, who probably will be the kingmaker in any ongoing future

coalition talks.

And they're an almost certainty in the 329 seats that have been fought over Becky,

ANDERSON: Which means what, Sam, effectively? What are the consequences of these likely movements and alliances?

KILEY: Well, if Muqtada al-Sadr gets a bigger lump of the pie than anticipated, he's not going to get anything like a majority. But if he can

put together a coalition, say, with Sunni groups, with some Kurdish groups, he may be able to dilute the influence of Iran. Play up the nationalist

element of his movement and play down. It's very formally close links to the Shia theocracy in Iran and sideline those other Shia groups.

He may be able to take advantage of this reformist movement in the coming years as the older more sectarian people die out. Younger people may be

coming through who wants to take a more nationalist type of view. If he doesn't manage to get that though and this is not to suggest that he's

particularly benign or liberal thinker. He's very skilled, though, at seeking political opportunities.

But as he goes forward, he may well be able to get himself into position in which they are reforming in the coming years, but it's a bit of a long

shot, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, fascinating. Thank you, Sam. Well, Iraq's neighbors Syria still consumed by the civil war that's been going on there for more than a

decade. It's now fighting a massive onslaught of COVID-19 infections. Jomana Karadsheh takes us to one of the last opposition strongholds, which

is Idlib province. Its relative isolation is no longer protecting it from this virus. Have a look at this.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Grief is no stranger to this part of Syria. But this time, it's not the bombs and

bullets. It's COVID-19 that's claiming more and more lives. The White Helmets known for their heroic rescues, pulling countless bodies from

underneath the rubble of bombed out buildings. Now bury it looks dead. No one really knows how many lives COVID-19 has claimed.

But every day since August, they've been digging new groups. When they're not faring the dead the White Helmets are still trying to save lives,

transporting hundreds of patients to the few hospitals left standing after years of Russian and regime airstrikes. Hospitals treating COVID-19 are

overwhelmed. Oxygen is in short supply and so our doctors. Officials here say there are only 200 doctors treating COVID-19 patients in northwestern


Years of war have left this last major opposition stronghold, home to more than four million people with only 900 doctors. This nearly isolated part

of the world was spared the worst of the pandemic. But health workers say the Delta variant is wreaking havoc. With limited testing capabilities,

it's hard to know the real extent of the spread. Medical NGO say the situation is catastrophic or the positivity rate of more than 50 percent.


DR. IBRAHIM ABOUD, DIRECTOR GENERAL, AL-ZIRA'A HOSPITAL (through translator): Over the past six weeks, the curve started increasing slightly

with that Delta variant. We felt the danger and prepared ourselves at the hospital and the logistics and schedules. We prepared the workforce but

didn't expect that this wave was to be the strong and the severe.

KARADSHEH: It's not just the Delta variant, vaccines have been slow to arrive here. Less than one percent of Northwestern serious population is

fully vaccinated. It's hard to believe that these are the streets of a city facing its second and worse wave of the pandemic. But this is a population

that is lived through hell. People here have been craving the normalcy this past year's relative calm has brought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People have suffered a lot from airstrikes, from chemical attacks, and we have lived through many wars. So

we have developed immunity, emotional immunity and permanent immunity.

KARADSHEH: While many parts of the world prepare for a post-pandemic life. Syria's latest nightmare maybe just beginning. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN



ANDERSON: Coming up. People in Sydney are enjoying their freedom once again. Restaurants pubs back after months of COVID lockdown. Still some are

calling for caution.

And you'll still need back your patience to navigate the new world of traveled but it is getting easier for Globetrotters from England to return

home. We'll take a trip to Gatwick Airport for you.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Welcome back. Millions of Australians living in Sydney are finally

getting their lives back. The city's hair salons, its shopping malls and its restaurants are opening up for fully vaccinated customers. They are

emerging from almost four months of a strict COVID lockdown. Angus Watson is in Sydney with more for you.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Joy, relief and some apprehension in Sydney, Australia. The country's largest city coming out of lockdown after 106 days

on Monday. People are allowed to visit family and friends at their homes. Go out for a meal at a restaurant or drink at a bar, go to the gym or get a

haircut. For the first time since June when an outbreak of the Delta variant of coronavirus set in and forced the city into lockdown.


WATSON: That began with just one case. Some months later, over 60,000 cases and over 300 deaths. But as those cases have risen, so has the city and the

state of New South Wales as vaccination rate. Now Sydney is able to open on Monday because it's achieved this goal of 70 percent of the adult

population fully vaccinated. That means people are going out with more confidence now.

Yes, there is concern about cases increasing about pressure on the hospital system for people who are vaccinated now able to enjoy some freedoms and be

confident in doing so. We were at a pub earlier in central Sydney. The Angel Hotel which was giving out free beers to celebrate the end of the

lockdown. The Publican said that that high vaccination rate is giving him the confidence to keep his doors open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're lucky that Australia's actually got a higher vaccination based on what the U.K. does at the minute which has been

great. People have been jumping on it which is excellent for us. We're going to hit 80 percent next week, which is really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pub is way better than drinking in your in house. 106 days in my house is nothing compared to the pub.


WATSON: Celebrations going on in Sydney there. The next step will be for other lockdown Australian cities to follow like Canberra, the capital of

the country. And Melbourne, Victoria still locked down, still with coronavirus in the community. That's very different to many other places in

Australia. We're living without the virus. They've closed off their borders to the states that do have it.

The next step for Australia will be for vaccination rates across the country to catch up to one another. That's the first step. The next step

will be for international borders to open. Angus Watson, Sydney, Australia.

ANDERSON: But you haven't be a globetrotting Brit watching today. Your life got a bit easier this morning. There are now only seven countries left on

the U.K.'s Red Zone travel list. That's of course the list of destinations that require a hotel quarantine before Britons can return back to their

homes after traveling abroad. Well, the government took nearly 50 countries off the list including Mexico and South Africa.

Let's bring in Salma Abdelaziz who has spent plenty of time flying in and out of London. Not so much over the last 18 months of course. She's at

Gatwick Airport right now with more Selma on -- reaction from travelers. What's the -- what's the story there?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Becky. I mean, this is something people here have been calling for for a long time. London is absolutely an

international city with people who have family and relatives all over the world. And this is a dramatic cut to the list. 47 countries. So down from

54 to 47 countries now off that red list. That means no more hotel quarantine was -- which was essentially an impossible hurdle.

You can imagine if you wanted your relative to come over 10 days in a hotel quarantine. A government hotel quarantine was simply not an option. So, you

can begin to see reunification here which is exciting for many families. But it also allows families and passengers to begin to reinvest in the

economy. To begin to have confidence in the airline industry, in the travel industry.

I'm going to point here to Thailand which has been removed off the list. A country that really wanted to see British travelers come in. So you have a

lot of countries now really opening up their tourism to the U.K. people re engaging with the world and able to travel once more. And on top of that,

you now have an easing of the restrictions in terms of the vaccination requirements.

You now have over 35 countries that U.K. authorities will recognize vaccinations from those countries. So it means you can come in and be

treated as a U.K. traveler if you have that proof of vaccination. No need to isolate. You can just take those series of tests. And that's what the

authorities say is the purpose of this change. To simplify the travel rules. Remember we previously had the traffic light system, red, green,


Now you just have two things it's either on or it's off and down to just seven countries on that red list. So authorities -- the government here

wants to see people reinvest in the airline industry, begin to travel again and hopefully more unifications, Becky.

ANDERSON: Let's just remind ourselves, what sort of impact has the last 18, 20 months had on the airline industry?

ABDELAZIZ: I mean, it's devastating, Becky. And it's absolutely not up to pre pandemic levels. Heathrow Airport reported about 38 percent of pre

pandemic level traffic last month. So you still have a huge gap there to go. But it wasn't just about the rules of being unable to travel. It was

also about all the confusion. There was a lot of complaints in frustration that the traffic light system here, the red amber system, that could change

on a whim.

I'm going to give you an example. One time I was in the airport coming back from assignment in Portugal, which had been on the green list had suddenly

switched. All of a sudden you had hours long queues at Heathrow.


ABDELAZIZ: People struggling to figure out what the new rules are. The additional cost of all of the tests. So now it's much more simple in a --

simple system rather for airliners. That gives them the opportunity to say to passengers, look, we know what the rules are, they're not going to

change. Come on, book your flights. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Salma. Salma Abdelaziz is at Gatwick Airport for those of you who have traveled to -- in and out of the U.K. You

are likely to know that airport right.

Let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. And thousands took to the streets of Warsaw in Poland on

Sunday to show their unity with the European Union. A decision by the country's Constitutional Court challenging the primacy of European law

sparked fears of Poland leaving or certainly looking to leave the E.U. As government spokesman deny that Poland will be exiting.

Alexander Schallenberg has been sworn in as Australia's new chancellor. His predecessor, Sebastian Kurz resigned abruptly amid a corruption scandal.

The opposition is pointed out that Schallenberg is a close ally of Kurz, which means he will effectively remain in charge of the country.

Firefighters have put out a massive plays at an oil storage facility in southern Lebanon. Fire started earlier in an army oil tank. An

investigation has been launched into what caused it. Lebanon's energy minister said around 250,000 liters of gasoline was burned. Lebanon already

struggling to fuel its power plants. And struggling is an understatement. So ahead on the show, and your experimental treatment for COVID-19 may soon

be available in the United States.

I'm going to get you news on how this new antiviral pill is shown to save lives is being reported.

And later, why Neymar says next year's World Cup could be his final.


ANDERSON: Drug maker Merck says it is applied for emergency use authorization for a new experimental drug to treat COVID-19. Now this pill

is made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The company says tests show that the drug caught hospitalization and death rates in half for people

with mild to moderate disease. If this pill is authorized, it would be the first oral antiviral treatment to fight COVID-19.

And it could bring us all a giant step closer to our pre pandemic lives. Let's bring in our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joining me

now. Elizabeth, to whom this drug be given Let's start there.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, this is a drug for folks who are an early stage COVID. You at least -- for the United

States, you can't be in the hospital, it's really for people who got a positive result really just within days.


COHEN: So that's a very distinct group. This pill does not work so well for advanced COVID. And I want to be very clear about something well, if this

gets approved, it will be a game changer or hopefully will be a game changer. It is no substitute for a vaccine. A vaccine is still better, you

don't have to be, you know, a brilliant doctor to know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So let's take a look at how Merck tested out this pill. They gave it to the -- well they did a clinical trial with 762 participants. So all of them had

early stage COVID, they were not in the hospital. About half of them got a placebo which is a pill that does nothing. It's often called the dummy

pill. 45 of those folks in time developed -- I'm sorry, ended up in the hospital and eight of them died. The half that got the drug, they got the

actual antiviral pill 28 ended up in the hospital and zero died.

And you can see that that is indeed a very big difference. But I want to say that Merck has not published these results, and that they need to be

reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as by the US Centers for Disease Control in order for this pill to go on the market in

the U.S. Becky?

ANDERSON: How does it differ from early other early treatments of COVID-19 that are already available?

COHEN: So Becky, at least in the U.S., the only real treatment that's available for COVID specifically are monoclonal antibodies like Regeneron,

for example. And those have to be given either by IV or by shots. And so your doctor can't just call your pharmacy and call in a prescription. It's

a little bit tricky to administer these. It takes up nurses' time, it takes up money, it's a little bit tricky in hospitals in the U.S. some of them

have had a hard time with it.

So, it works really well. And this pill also theoretically works well but the advantage of this pill is your doctor just calls it a prescription way,

way easier to administer.

ANDERSON: Elizabeth, always a pleasure. Thank you very much indeed. Your analysis and insight is important.

Neymar is giving himself one long shot at achieving his biggest childhood dream. To win the World Cup for his home country, that of Brazil. The

football star has said that next year's World Cup in Qatar could be his last. 29-year-old has played more than 100 times for Brazil in the past 11

years. Had he not started his career so early and -- have been so brilliant, Amanda Davis. We wouldn't be telling this story as a surprise.

I mean, the guy's 29 years old but says, you know, it could be all over by back end and next year. What does this mean for Neymar on the Brazilian

side? What do you make of it?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, isn't it? I mean, he's left the door open. He said it could be his last World Cup. He

hasn't ever reached the heights. The World Cup that he would have liked his country would have liked. There was that heartbreak when he got injured on

home soil in 2014. He was then coming back from an injury. The World Cup in Russia in 2018. And Brazil went out at the quarterfinals.

So this is the one he is so desperate to lead his country to success in. But, you know, it's a really tough ask and he is so often the focus for the

opposition teams. So, you know, it's no surprise he's saying this, he will be 30 next year, 34 come 2026. But he has left the door open, Becky

ANDERSON: Thirteen months to go until that World Cup. I was just thinking about it. It is upon us. Amanda is back with World Sport after this short

break. We're back after that with CONNECT THE WORLD. Do stay with us both.