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Top South African Epidemiologist on New Coronavirus Variant; South African Health Authorities Hold Briefing on New COVID Variant; Markets Rattled Over Concerns of New Coronavirus Variant; Israel PM Expects More Variant Cases to Come to Light; Taiwan Faces Uncertain Future as China Ramps up Pressure; U.N. Campaigns to End Violence Against Women. Aired 11a- 12p ET
Aired November 26, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour the world on high alert as South Africa identifies a new COVID-19 variant. I'm Becky Anderson
you are watching "Connect the World" live from Abu Dhabi.
Here is what we know so far. Scientists say a new possibly more transmissible a variant of the COVID-19 virus contains multiple mutations.
Those are genetic changes that could make it spread more easily or better evade the body's immune response. But we don't know for sure.
It was first discovered in South Africa, but it's unclear where it originally came from the strain does appear to be spreading rapidly within
South Africa. And it's now been found in Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.
South African health authorities have only just sounded the alarm yesterday, but nations are taking forceful action. Overnight UK banned
flights from six African nations other European countries quickly following suit as well as Israel and several governments across Asia and beyond at
One thing is for sure the announcement of the new variant is rattling markets, you can see that stocks are lower down in the U.S. in Europe and
close lower in Asia. Well, I spoke with Professor Salim Abdool Karim. He's an Epidemiologist and the Former Head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee
on COVID-19 in South Africa, and I started by asking him, what we do and what we don't know, at this point?
SALIM ABDOOL KARIM, FORMER CHAIRMAN, SOUTH AFRICAN MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON COVID-19: We've been expecting that we will see more variants.
So that's why the surveillance systems were established. That's why we were able to pick it up early. And we know through our sequencing, what the
sequences are of this particular variant.
The second is that, because it's still quite new, we've only known about this variant for few days, we don't have the scientific evidence to really
guide us about how this virus is causing infection. Is it more severe? Is it escaping vaccines? Those are all unanswered questions.
The third point is that we can make some extrapolations based on the mutations. And what we seen in the mutations in this variant are that it
has mutations that are in common with the other four variants of concern, looking at this kind of variant. It has many mutations, many more than
we've seen in the other four variants of concern.
So besides the mutations that are common with the others, it has a whole lot of new mutations that we know very little about, and so over 30
mutations, so you can see this is going to be a bit of a challenge for us to fully understand this. And so we're going to have to unravel the way in
which these mutations are impacting this virus. Over the next few weeks, as our studies start showing results.
ANDERSON: How worried are you?
KARIM: I'm quite worried. When I look at a variant like this, not only does it have characteristics that made the other variants quite concerning, it
has whole of additional mutations that we just don't know. So we're not sure whether it would be able to evade, you know, the antibodies, and those
are studies we still need to do.
But looking at what I'm seeing in the mutations, that there's likelihood that it will have some level of immune escape. And if it does, then we
would expect that vaccinated people may start getting mild infections, it's unlikely that we will see an increased and severe infections because the
vaccines protect well against all of the variants of concern, because it's a T cell response.
So while I'm not too worried about, you know, in vaccinated people that we may see more infections, I expect most of them to be mild. But those are
all presumptions. You know, we still have to wait to see the clinical features of this viral infection.
ANDERSON: I mean there is a possibility that it will bypass vaccines currently available, correct? You just don't know that at this point.
KARIM: We simply don't know that. And we actually won't know that for a few weeks because those tests take a few days for us to do.
ANDERSON: How widespread is it at the moment as far as you can tell and how badly could this impact not just South Africa, but the African continent in
the next couple of months?
KARIM: At the moment worldwide, there are only a handful of cases. But when you are dealing with a variant, by the time you have identified it, in
other words, the person got infected, got sick, had a test, you did the sequencing. You are now about two weeks or so one to two, maybe up to three
weeks after the actual start of the spread of the variant.
So you are playing catch up in many ways. And the one thing with this Coronavirus is that we learned that time is not on your side, within a
matter of a week, the situation can change. And so it's quite important that the efforts being made in South Africa to try and contain this and to
identify, you know, any local spread, you know, has rarely been put into gear.
And we are really focusing on that because if we fail in doing that, it's quite likely that this variant will spread quite widely.
ANDERSON: We are seeing several European and Asian countries banned flights from South Africa and five other African countries and the South African
government has released a statement saying and I quote them here, Africa, CDC, strongly discourages the imposition of travel bans for people
originating from countries that have reported this variant.
In fact, over the duration of this pandemic, we have observed that imposing bans on travelers from countries where a new variant is reported, has not
yielded a meaningful outcome, given your concerns about the possible spread and the speed at which this could possibly spread. Do you agree with that
KARIM: I agree with it. And I think the fundamental issue is when you're dealing with a pandemic, especially one that spreads as rapidly as this
Coronavirus, you have to find a way to work with each other. It's our mutual interdependence that will enable us to defeat this virus.
If we simply all try to batten down the hatches, and you know, shun the rest of the world. We're not going to solve this problem. And so I think
it's very unfortunate, the step that has been taken, one would have hoped that the UK would want to work with us and put in measures to prevent entry
of the virus. That's not a problem. But it has to be in the context of us dealing with this at a global level.
ANDERSON: Just this week, almost 100 million vaccine doses began arriving in Africa from the EU through the COVAX scheme, we have talked at length on
this show, you and I have talked about this, the Head of W. H. O. has called it simply immoral, that there are parts of the world that do not
have the supply - the sufficient supply of vaccines to ensure that we are not sort of vaccine rich vaccine poor around the world.
So question to you at this point, given the concerns about this new variant, does the continent have the tools at its disposal to fight this?
KARIM: We have some tools. And some of them are quite nascent. But we are missing several others when you think about the fact that Africa is running
about seven to eight months behind the rest of the world in terms of access to vaccines, and we've only seen, you know large numbers of vaccines being
delivered on the continent through the African Union's vaccine acquisition task team and through COVAX in the last few weeks.
And, you know, now is the big challenge of converting that from, you know, vials into jabs in arms. And many of the healthcare's - health services in
African countries, you know, lacked that capacity. So, we are going to have to face this, you know, in quite a challenging way.
But what is important is that you cannot deal with this as Africa, you cannot deal with this as Europe. It's a pandemic, it affects all of us. We
have to work together, all of us. And it doesn't help that rich countries have stockpiled vaccines, and then just when they about to expire, they get
donated to Africa.
And so you know, we kind of use them because by the time to get in we got to get to using them they are expiring. We've got to find a different way.
We've got to find a way that says all of us must work together and that means that to get out Africa vaccinated we've got to be helping Africa.
KARIM: And we've got to help in Africa in a way that encourages and boasts some kind of sustainability because this is not the first epidemic. And
it's certainly not the last.
ANDERSON: Well, more on the global markets impacts CNN's Matt Egan is standing by from New York. But I want to get you to David McKenzie, first,
who is joining us from Johannesburg with more. And clearly there, when you listen to Salim, there are a lot more questions than answers at this point.
Is it clear how long it will take to get those answers David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you can look back to the discovery of the beach of their interior in South Africa from earlier this
year, which we covered extensively at the time we were inside the lab, as they were trying to tease out what the impact will be on immune response
and also on the vaccines available at the time.
And I remember very clearly at that point, it's a painstaking process, growing the live virus and then getting the immune responses from previous
variants in patients into that petri dish. And then kind of assessing it, it's not an instant onset.
And something very important there from a scientific perspective that he mentioned was even if the immune response on one level is showing some
lacking effectiveness against a new variant, you've also got the T cell response, which might have a more robust impact.
So the lab is never 100 percent going to be replicated in the real world. But it is a worry, certainly for scientists that this is already surging,
if not surging, certainly spiking in South Africa, this variant. And that could be bad news for the rest of the world, a portent of what is to come.
ANDERSON: David, another guest that I had on just last hour described the world's reaction to this in the slapping of travel bans on travelers from
South Africa, and other African countries by the UK, the EU. And we are seeing I have to say that list increasing sort of as we speak, calling it a
punishment, and a punishment for actually coming out the gate and being honest about what was going on except the sense there.
MCKENZIE: There is definitely the sense there. Of course, it's hard to gauge the overall public opinion. But I do have to say that that's the
feeling, I think amongst those in this region, that the South African scientists and the government released this information quickly and had the
scientific capability to do the genomic surveillance in the first place, to then come up very quickly and announced it and then immediately faced these
bands, which they say are punitive and may be too hasty.
Of course, sitting at this vantage point, that is the feeling setting as a politician in another part of the world and making these kinds of
decisions. There is no easy decision when it comes to public policy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Africa CDC has repeatedly said that these kind of bands are unhelpful, both from a public health standpoint, potentially, but also just
from a standpoint of nations working together to end this, Becky.
ANDERSON: Yes. And David's team, monitoring a press briefing being held by the Health Ministry in South Africa, as we speak more on that as we get it.
Thank you, David! Stock markets smart hate uncertainty so no real surprise that investors are spooked.
We've seen markets down in the U.S., Europe and earlier in Asia. The big question now how big is the risk that this new variant could trigger lock
downs, and travel restrictions and ultimately put a brake on global economic growth, just as the world was sort of getting back into some sort
of shape, correct?
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Becky, I think spooked is a great way to put it. Investors are definitely selling first or asking questions later. This
sell off is a global phenomenon it began in Asia where we sell markets fall Europe, markets down very sharply. And here in New York, the DOW was down
nearly 1000 points around 2.7 percent that is on track for the worst day since October of 2022.
Two stats that I think really sum up the mood of the market right now. Oil, which is very sensitive to economic swings, is down 11 percent.
EGAN: Moderna, the vaccine maker is up 25 percent.
ANDERSON: Matt, let me stop you there for one sec. I'm going to keep you with me. I just want to listen in to this briefing by the Health Minister
in South Africa stay with me.
JOE PHAAHLA, SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTER: Which has led to some of the actions which have been taken by some of the countries in the North has
been the suggestion that some of this mutation changes on this virus may have the implication of not responding to neutralizing antibodies, either
from natural immunity from the previous infections of the COVID-19 virus.
Or also questions as to whether neutralizing antibodies and other immune system, body immune reactions may be able to respond or neutralize this
virus, including from, you know, the immunity, which has been ignited by vaccination. Now, I want to emphasize the fact that at this stage as our
scientists were pointing at no stage, did they say that they've got the evidence that, firstly, that this virus is more transmissible.
They simply said that, just as it has been the case as other mutations, which has happened, some of them have had the effect of being more
transmissible, without necessarily also, meaning that, in terms of its seriousness, in terms of, you know, is having more impact in terms of the
severity of illness, they did emphasize that this is very early stages, in terms of, you know, the specifics of how this new variant is going to
Now, that's why we are saying that the reaction of some of countries in terms of imposing travel bans and such measures are completely against the
norms and standards, as guided by the World Health Organization.
At this stage, therefore, as South Africa, we want to assure South Africans that it's very necessary that as we have been, what even earlier when this
pandemics that, that we must do everything to protect ourselves in terms of the non-pharmaceutical interventions.
But also that it has been proven over time, that the vaccines which have been approved by various bodies, world bodies, including the World Health
Organization, but also various regulators, reputable regulators, including our own regulator, the --, which is indeed, very, very vigilant before they
can approve any vaccines that we were quite confident at this stage that the vaccines remain a major Bulwark in terms of protecting us against this
It's been proven over time, the various mutations which have happened, that the vaccines are very effective, and we know that they are not effective in
terms of preventing one contracting the virus, but they've proven to be very effective in terms of preventing severe illness, which may result in
hospitalization, and also getting a person ending up in ICU or even succumbing to the virus.
So, we want to emphasize the fact that there - the announcement about this value and the risk which the scientist was showing was simply to say that
this needs to be watched. But there is no indication and any suggestion at this stage that this mutation, this particular variant, will not be able to
serve - severe illness as a result of infection by this particular variant will not be prevented by the vaccine, there is no such evidence.
So we want to dispel any notion as has been abandoned by the various commentators. We have had even some of the reasons given by some of the
commentators from some of the countries which has imposed this bans, that it is as a result of that, but we can assure you that it at no stage did
the scientist who announced the discovery of this value and say that this particular variant will be resistant to the vaccines which are being
PHAAHLA: So let me - let me leave it there, because I'm sure members of the media have particular questions so that we can be able to interact having
made the introductory remarks back to you first.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health Minister, you don't have to switch off your camera because my camera is not working well. So before I take the first
questions, I'm going to check with the Deputy Minister, if he can make the few inputs before we can take the questions. Deputy Minister?
DR. SIBONGISENI DHLOMO, SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTER: No, no, no, we're going to support the minister on the questions. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wonderful. I'm going to now start taking the questions as we've committed. The first questions is a mix of questions, other
questions that are not necessarily related to COVID-19 and the value that we have announced, but they're more still talking about health?
So the first question, I'm going to quickly go through this, just give me a minute. The first question is, is there a number whether the data becomes
more reliable and predictable, or accurate, precise as this into the pertaining the sequencing values - factors mentioned in yesterday's address
in terms of transmission?
ANDERSON: David McKenzie, with me. I know the team is keeping an eye on this press conference; it's quite difficult to hear what's going on. And
David, so I'm going to bring you back in and just get you to comment on what we just heard from the health minister there your thoughts?
MCKENZIE: Well, Becky, I think the Health Minister of South Africa is trying to dial back some of the speculation, in his words, and I'm
paraphrasing, that people have made about the potential danger of this variant that was discovered here in South Africa in the last few days.
He was saying that it is not clear that they will be an immune; it will be able to evade immune responses. And also, it is very unclear whether the
vaccines will be affected in any way, I think perhaps the South African leadership might have been taken aback by the very swift travel bans and
read lists that have been put in place over the last few hours, which as you say, Becky, he had been expanding on an almost minute to minute basis.
He did take direct - make direct criticism of those travel bans, saying that it isn't the right thing to do. And again, I'm paraphrasing, given the
lack of knowledge about this variant. And so it goes back to what I was saying earlier, that the feeling at least on the ground here in South
Africa, is that these are punitive measures that other countries are put in place. While we still have very little information. That's at least the
view from the leadership here.
ANDERSON: Yes, and I'm just reading in to some of the views of the W. H. O. that have just been released in a Q&A to media. We don't know very much
about their share. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations that
can have an impact on the way that viruses behave.
Right now researchers are working to understand where the mutations are, and what this could mean for diagnostics, for therapeutics, or for vaccines
that very much mirrors what we've been hearing from the experts that we've had on David from South Africa for some time.
And obviously there are concerns out there about any new variant and when experts can't stand up whether this variant will bypass vaccines, and how
much more dangerous it is, and then obviously, that sparks concerns. And we have seen governments around the world responding as a result of that.
And let me bring in Matt, Matt, you and I were talking about the impact that the reporting on this is having on markets around the world, and we
were talking about how the potential for a risk to economic growth going forward is really concerning and not just the stock markets.
It will be of concern to those who fix monetary policy as well, just when we were looking at an inflationary environment in the West and around the
world, and indeed, the potential for a rise in interest rates.
And of course, we are seeing a sell off on the oil markets, all of which suggests that there are concerns that as the world was sort of taking off
as a result of this kind of moving away from the lockdowns and travel restrictions that we've seen so there are concerns that we may just be
moving back towards that.
ANDERSON: And look, it isn't just as a result of this new variant being discussed today. This is as a result of the sort of an action that we're
seeing across Europe, for example, at present an increasing amount of lockdowns across Europe as numbers there spike, of course.
EGAN: Yes, Becky, I think that's right. The first shoe to drop was the lockdown in Austria, which again, you saw the impact of that move in the
oil market before you saw it in the equity market.
But I do have to say, in just the last few moments, we've actually seen the U.S. stock market move down to session lows, DOW down more than 1000 points
around 2.8 percent. Again, on track for the worst day since the fall of 2020, was also really interesting to see where investors are putting their
money and not they're taking money out of travel stocks.
We've seen hotels, airlines, Airbnb, cruise lines, of course, they've all really taken it on the chin, and they're also betting on those stay at home
stocks. We've seen money pile into zoom into Netflix, Teladoc.
And again, this is all because investors are trying to understand one, how contagious is this new variant? Two, how effective are vaccines going to be
and three, what are governments and going in society? How are they going to react here?
And we just don't know the answers yet. We could easily see a situation where if this variant does not turn out to be quite as concerning as the
initial headlines, the markets could quickly rebound here. On the other hand, if this is a real threat, then there could be more selling to come
Becky, I think either way, we're going to see some turbulence in the days ahead.
ANDERSON: Yes, we are seeing money moving into safe havens like T-bonds, treasury bonds and gold. Those are all, you know, always seen as the flight
to safety, as it were.
And like you say, you know, we're not sure where these markets will go at this point. And what markets absolutely hay is uncertainty, of course. We
are also just looking at the idea of a very difficult winter, aren't we? For people, it's very difficult for businesses to get a sense of where they
go next, when there's so much uncertainty ahead.
EGAN: Yes, absolutely, I mean, this, this creates so many headaches for business owners and CEOs as they're trying to plan. I mean, just a few days
ago, some of the Wall Street banks were calling for even faster growth in the United States in the fourth quarter, Jeffrey's were calling for 9
percent GDP growth, that would be the second fastest since 1983.
That call now looks to be a little bit in question as we learn more details here. You mentioned inflation and supply chains. Well, that is a big
wildcard here because you know, one of the most unexpected parts of COVID initially and also the Delta variant was the impact on supply chains, in
particular, how there were all these outbreaks among workers. And so if this new variant is a big issue, you have to wonder what that does to
supply chains that are already under enormous stress.
If there's a situation where workers are unable or unwilling to go back to factories, if that starts to impact a computer chip production, that would
be a big negative in terms of the supply chain situation, and would also be a big factor for inflation. All of this is something for investors, CEOS
and of course, central bankers to sort out in the days to come.
ANDERSON: Yes, it's a spectrum of stagflation that I think is really concerning people at this point, thank you, Matt, always a pleasure. This
of course, is a breaking news story. CNN will bring you all the latest developments as soon as we get them.
There are more questions and answers. We have been saying that now for 24 hours and as we get some more answers, of course, you will get them minute
by minute. Everything that we know about these new COVID variants we've got live coverage for you. Cnn.com is where you can get that, taking a short
break back after this.
ANDERSON: Well, countries around the world are on alert as the new COVID variant with a high number of mutations is detected in South Africa.
Belgium is now the first European country to take the new Coronavirus strain.
Belgium's Health Minister says one unvaccinated person tested positive after traveling abroad. Today Hong Kong identified a second case of the new
variant. The Hong Kong government released a statement saying the two people infected are returning travelers on the same floor of a designated
Let's get you to Will Ripley, who is also quarantining at that same hotel in Hong Kong, what do we know at this point?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So we got a notice from the hotel Becky, that immediately starting immediately, we have to order an air purifier for
each room if you want to do exercise because they're concerned about the airflow in and out of rooms. Although these two cases that were detected
last week, one a man in his 30s from South Africa and another man in his 60s in a separate room across the hallway from him.
They believe that this virus was spread because the man from South Africa was opening his door which we are allowed to do to get our food or to put
our trash out, I opened up the door and took some shots of the hallway.
Just to give you a sense of just how close together these rooms are. As you look down the hallway, every single chair that's covered in plastic is in
front of a door that that is next to a room.
And they put your meal on the chair you put your trash underneath the chair; you don't step outside the room, because if you do, you could be
arrested and fined. But I was able to stick my arm out and just kind of pan down the hallway.
And you can see just on my floor, the seventh floor, how many people are staying on this floor. It was two floors down for me that this cluster of
two cases was detected last week. As a precaution, the Hong Kong health authorities have taken most of the people who are on that fifth floor in
the adjacent rooms to these two positive cases.
And after their 14 Day or 21 day quarantine period finishes here at this hotel, the Regal Airport Hotel, they then have to move to a government
quarantine facility at Penny Bay for an additional 14 days of isolation.
So you can imagine for people who are coming in here for the Chinese New Year holiday or because they have business or because they want to see
their families, it is massive inconveniences for some of the guests staying in this very hotel that now have to extend their isolation much longer
ANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for that so some firsthand experience from Will in Hong Kong another place that has identified cases that the new
variant is Israel.
The Prime Minister says in his words, he's very worried at the present a short time ago. Naftali Bennett announced there are at least four suspected
cases in Israel and he says he expects more cases to come to light in the coming days. Mr. Bennett also said "We are raising a red flag; we
understand that we are on the verge of a stage of emergency". Let's get you to Hadas Gold in Jerusalem Hadas?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky so far, Israeli authorities say they have one confirmed case of this new variant and three suspected cases.
They're waiting for confirmation on those. Indeed they do expect more to emerge.
The confirmed case is somebody who arrived to Israel from Malawi. And that confirmed case was caught because every single person who lands at Tel
Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport must be tested before they leave the airport so because of that they were able to detect that variant.
GOLD: I should note that health authorities here say that the person who has the confirmed case was vaccinated. And so far they are exhibiting mild
symptoms. So that is a sense of good news, of course, very, very small sample size there.
But as a result of this variant being detected within Israel, the Israeli government has issued sweeping new travel rules, essentially banning all
travel from most of Africa, except for some of the northern countries.
So no foreigners will be allowed into Israel from any of these countries. And Israelis who are returning to Israel, from these countries will be
required to go into full on quarantine, even if they have been fully vaccinated. Becky.
ANDERSON: Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. Well, to help us understand more about what we do and don't know about this new variant, I want to bring in
CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. More questions than answers, certainly the South African health authorities very keen to point
out that very little is known at this point.
But there are two pressing questions, aren't they? Just how virulent is this strain? Just how does it mutate? And will it bypass the vaccines that
are currently available on the market? Elizabeth, what's your sense at this point?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Becky. So the questions are, as you said, does it spread more easily? Does it cause more
severe disease? And does it pose a challenge to the vaccine or to natural immunity? We don't know the answers to that. But there are reasons to be
concerned. So let's go over what we do know about this variant.
So the variant does not have a name yet, it doesn't have one of those Greek letters, because it has not been proclaimed a variant of concern or a
variant of interest by the World Health Organization that might happen but hasn't happened yet.
So it's just B.1.1.529. Here's what makes people nervous, Becky, it has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, that spike protein is what
gets its way into our cells. The vaccine is designed to fight the spike protein in effect.
And so if that's fight protein, it's not just the number, it's what they do, where they are what functions do they affect, too many that affect
important functions could really be a problem. Now also, the World Health Organization currently lists four variants of concerns, one of them, of
course, being delta and two variants of interest. So to get on this list, it's a pretty selective list.
So we later hear from the W.H.O that it is either a variant of concern or a variant of interest, that that really is saying quite a bit. But again, we
just don't know if this variant is going to peter out, or if it's going to literally take over, you know, the planet - delta did. You know, we report
- you and I talked back in January or so about the beta variant, which was coming out of South Africa at the time. And there was a lot of concern
But that one never, never got to the world stage and sort of was in a smattering of countries, it kind of got it just sort of petered out, you
know, worldwide. And so will that one, will this new one be like that? Or will it be like delta? We don't know yet, Becky?
ANDERSON: No, you make a very good point. This is what the W.H.O has had to say about this. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, WHO TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19: This is one to watch. I would say we have concerned but I think you would want us to have
concern. And I want the viewers to know that we have people who are on this, who are making sure that the right people are having the discussions
and as soon as we have more information share, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That's the sort of unanswered question at the moment as well. When will there be more information? I put it that to one epidemiologist
who was very close to the health ministry in South Africa.
And they said its days possibly weeks, but days I mean, there's only been three or four days since they've been able to sequence this Elizabeth. So
what a week, maybe two before we really find out you think sooner than that before we really understand what's going on here?
COHEN: I think it's going to be sooner Becky. You know, when you ever would --if you want everything all sort of tied up pretty in a bow the way we
used to do things before the pandemic. Yes, that takes weeks to do but there's quite a bit that you can learn.
We found this with the Alpha variant, the one that was first spotted in the UK; we found it with the one that was first spotted in South Africa towards
the end of last year. You can learn quite a bit in a matter of days.
And so one of the things that you do is you take blood from a vaccinated person and you use it in the laboratory with this variant. And you see what
happens that that doesn't take weeks to do that can certainly be done pretty easily in a matter of days. And that's really the key when you look
at someone who's vaccinated, what does this virus do?
ANDERSON: Elizabeth, thank you, still ahead tonight to report from Taiwan and how people there are viewing their future in the wake of Mainland
China's crackdown in Hong Kong.
ANDERSON: And New Zealand's foreign minister has been talking to me about values her countries and China's. What she's been saying is up next.
ANDERSON: A somewhat startling allegation today by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky says a group of Ukrainians and Russians are plotting to
oust him from power sometime next week. The President talking to reporters during extended news conference in Kiev, have a listen to part of what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Yep, there are great challenges within our state, which are already being recorded by the intelligence
services of other countries. I will tell you, frankly, I live in this process. For example, we received information that on the first there will
be a coup in our country. I think it is an important information on the first or second of December.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, Kremlin rejects the allegations of any Russian involvement. We'll get a lot more on this story at the top of the hour on "One World".
Ethiopia's Prime Minister is touting victories against rebel forces from the battlefield. Abiy Ahmed says his troops have retaken two territories.
He posted this video, speaking from a mountain area recently controlled by the opposition forces and this was on his Twitter account.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER: The morale of the Defense Force is really great. The war is being undertaken with great feats. Now we've taken
castigated today, we will take over achiever and Booker. He will continue until Ethiopia's freedom is ensured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the Prime Minister joined his troops on the frontlines this week after reports of rebel fighters advancing. It marked a major
escalation in what's been a year-long conflict between his government and groups from the northern Tigray region.
But as China's steps up pressure on Taiwan to unify with the Mainland, residents of the Democratic Island are growing increasingly worried about
what their future may look like. I just spoke to Will Ripley a few minutes ago from quarantine in Hong Kong. He's just traveled back from a reporting
trip in Taiwan, have a look at what he found while he was there.
RIPLEY (voice over): Hong Kong and Taiwan two islands claimed by China less than 500 miles apart, they might as well be different worlds. In 2014,
student led protests broke out in Hong Kong and Taipei, both taking aim at Beijing's communist rulers.
Taiwan's Sunflower Movement occupies the legislature for weeks. In Hong Kong five years later it was only a matter of hours, two similar events,
drastically different outcomes.
RIPLEY (on camera): If you had done the exact same thing, but you're in Hong Kong, where would you be today?
LIN FEI-FAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL, DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY: I think we'll probably be in jail. Yes.
RIPLEY (voice over): In 2014 Lin Fei-fan was a student protests leader today, a political leader. He says all of his activist friends from Hong
Kong are either in exile or in jail, targeted by a sweeping national security law, a law imposed by Beijing last year. With the stroke of a pen,
many of Hong Kong's freedoms promised for 50 years under one country two systems' erased.
RIPLEY (on camera): What does that mean for Taiwan?
FEI-FAN: I think that tells us that we must prepare, the threat for China is very kind of very escalating at a quite serious level.
RIPLEY (voice over): Fears are growing; China may use its massive military to forcefully reunify with this self-governing Island. Those fears helped
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen reelection by a landslide last year.
RIPLEY (on camera): So you don't believe that China even if they promised one country two systems' would actually deliver that here in Taiwan?
TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: This is an issue of credibility there. And the Taiwanese people have said very clearly that they don't accept One
Country Two System as the formula for resolve the Courtrai issue.
RIPLEY (voice over): Opinion polls shows support for Taiwanese independence at its highest point in decades. Students like Samuel Li afraid for their
future. Afraid the world's only Chinese speaking democracy could become the next Hong Kong.
SAMUEL LI, TAIWANESE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Those protesters who are just as young as me, getting tear gassed and, you know, getting beat up by the
police. I mean, that's just outrageous and devastating to watch.
RIPLEY (on camera): What do you think is inevitably going to happen?
LI: The Chinese government taking over Taiwan is going to be inevitable in my lifetime. I believe.
RIPLEY (voice over): He worries this tale of two islands could have the same sad ending. Will Ripley, CNN, Taiwan.
ANDERSON: Well, China's actions certainly seem aggressive. President Xi Jinping says that he will never seek hegemony. Speaking at an ASEAN meeting
earlier this week, he said that China is firmly opposed to being a dominating nation, and power politics.
His words, however, I'll take him at the dose of weariness by many of the countries in the region. Chinese Coast Guard's vessel use water cannons
against Philippine's vessels in the South China Sea just last week, for example.
One member of ASEAN is New Zealand, which is growing ever more worried about escalating tensions in the Asia Pacific region. Earlier this week,
New Zealand's foreign minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, where China's expansion was surely on the agenda for
discussion. I interviewed her, before her tripping started by asking her about New Zealand's stance on the rising tensions between Taiwan and China.
Have a listen.
NANAIA MAHUTA, NEW ZEALAND FOREIGN MINISTER: New Zealand recognizes Chinese Taipei within the APEC economies. And from their perspective, there have
been ways in which New Zealand can exercise its opportunity to work with Chinese Taipei. We like many others in the region want to see a de-
escalation of anything that will create tension and then eventually conflict.
ANDERSON: Can you ever see a time when New Zealand will look to recognize Taiwan is separate from China?
MAHUTA: Well, again, Chinese Taipei is a part of APEC that is a way in which New Zealand and APEC economies can engage for the mutual benefit of
the region with Chinese Taipei.
ANDERSON: You want a rules based approach to the Pacific. One you say the census, certainly that is that is focused on human rights and protecting
the sovereignty of states. You signed a trade agreement with China this year, when you see what China's attitude is towards Taiwan.
China's attitude towards the Vegas, Beijing's attitude towards this own media, for example, it does seem at odds with those values, does it not?
MAHUTA: Well, we completed the free trade agreement with China in 2008. And we've recently upgraded that agreement. So let's be very clear about the
length of time that New Zealand has engaged with China through a free trade agreement.
We were one of the earliest economies to be able to achieve this. It has bought benefits which recognize that we manage that relationship in a way
now that we're very mindful of some of the actions of China which actually don't align to our values.
MAHUTA: And we've, in private and in public identified what those issues are very clearly, precedent - in prime ministerial level ministerial level
ANDERSON: To help increase concerns about the positions that Beijing is taking.
MAHUTA: We express our concerns. And that's what I'm saying; we express our concerns in a number of levels with China, privately and in public,
especially on those areas where we cannot agree on the issue of human rights with the Vegas also with Hong Kong.
You know, we formally launched our position around upholding international law, and respecting and cost for the South China Sea, again, a very clear
statement about where New Zealand, New Zealand's position is.
ANDERSON: You've been reluctant to resurrect the Five Eyes partnership with the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada. Are you worried about how
China would react?
MAHUTA: No, that's the wrong characterization of the situation. In fact, what I've said is that the Five Eyes relationship does not have to be
invoked every time on every issue. It is a security and intelligence relationship. It has a specific purpose.
What I've said is there are issues such as Human Rights, where we could build support in a multilateral way of a number of friends and partners
likeminded, that's the way to address these types of issues. And it's a way to stabilize the continuing tensions that we're seeing, especially on the
human rights front.
ANDERSON: When you leave here, you will be going to Washington, as I understand it, what will your message be there?
MAHUTA: Well, again, it's the message that we have been consistent about to our likeminded partners, but also to our emerging partners and
relationships, because I've also come through Southeast Asia here in Dubai and the UAE going up to our likeminded partners.
And it is that New Zealand defenses its independent foreign policy. We recognize that the Indo Pacific is becoming a theater of challenge. We
support the centrality of ASEAN, we support the centrality of the Pacific when, when there is growing interest in this region.
And if we were to, again, send a signal to our likeminded partners, it's to be mindful that we are in our region, we see what's happening. We value the
nature of our long standing relationships and will contribute to those.
But again, our aim is to see a peaceful prosperous Indo Pacific region with greater stability, not an escalation of tension that may have other
ANDERSON: Lessons is that you are really quite concerned about an escalation of tension at this point.
MAHUTA: Well, look, but there are a number of things happening in the Indo Pacific region. And I would say that the observation from across ASEAN to
the Pacific is this is becoming an increasing theater of activity of strategic geostrategic challenge.
But again, we live in the region. We want to ensure that there's greater stability, that we are working together around multilateral rules and norms
to ensure that there is stability. And that's going to be really important in this difficult time.
ANDERSON: After the announcement of the defense pact between Australia, the UK and the U.S. for the building of nuclear powered submarines, the Prime
Minister of New Zealand informed her Australian counterpart that the vessels are not welcome in the country's waters and no nuclear zone, of
course, since 1984, were you was the country blindsided by that agreement?
MAHUTA: Well, it's fair to say that we weren't consulted on the agreement, and we wouldn't have wanted to be a part of the agreement in once the
Australian cabinet made its decision and it's well known in the public domain.
PM Morrison picked up the phone and contacted our Prime Minister - my foreign minister counterpart to let us know the nature of the decision.
ANDERSON: Too late?
MAHUTA: Oh, look, it's a decision in agreement between those three parties that has an affected our bilateral relationship with Australia. We preserve
the opportunity to look for areas of collaboration on Cyber on Artificial Intelligence, and that's well understood amongst that partnership.
ANDERSON: That's the New Zealand Foreign Minister speaking to me recently here in the UAE. We are taking a very short break, back after this.
ANDERSON: Well, it's been described as the largest open museum in the world. But now the Egyptian Temple of Luxor has been given a much needed
sprucing up look at it now bathed in lights ready to wow tourists.
This is the avenue of sphinxes, which links the Temple of Luxor with the Temple of Karnak. Last night the past was brought to life as dances in
costume reenacted scenes from 3000 years ago. The opening show was attended by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, this really is impressive
stuff. If you were watching the show yesterday, you'll remember that we marked the beginning of a two week period, the International period for the
Elimination of Violence against women.
The U.N.'s theme for this year's commemoration is Orange the World encouraging people to wear orange to raise awareness. Well that's the
iconic Burj Khalifa in Dubai lit up or in orange for the cause, UAE where I am coloring its buildings orange for 16 days starting from today. Thanks
for watching. "One World" with Zain Asher is next.