Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

South Africa: "Steep Rise" in Cases Since Omicron Emerged; China, Activists & WTA Locked in Standoff over Tennis Star; 54 percent of Global Population has had At Least One COVID Shot; Non-Profit Rescues 9-Year-Old Afghan Girl Sold into Marriage; Facebook Sold Ads Comparing COVID Vaccines to Holocaust; U.S. Scientists Create Reproducing Robots. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 03, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN, Atlanta. This is "Connect the World".

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello and welcome back to "Connect the World". I'm Lynda Kinkade filling in my colleague Becky

Anderson. Good to have you with us.

Well, very transmissible that's how the top scientists at the World Health Organization is describing the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. Take a



MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, W.H.O. COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD: There's data that is coming from South Africa and from some modeling groups that are looking at

the transmission, we do see an increasing growth rate we see increasing numbers of Omicron being detected. And right now, the data is I think,

maybe a couple of hours old.

But we have reports of Omicron in 38 countries in all six W. H. O. regions. And we do see increasing trends in Omicron in South Africa. So there is a

suggestion that there is increased transmissibility, what we need to understand is if it's more or less transmissible compared to Delta.


KINKADE: Well, Omicron is already causing havoc. 2000 people mostly children are in quarantine in Geneva, Switzerland, after two cases of

Omicron was founded a school. Meantime the Delta variant is driving the latest wave in Germany. Health officials they're saying intensive care

units already overwhelmed will hit a new peak by Christmas and COVID deaths will spike.

The W. H. O. warns that every community should prepare for a surge. Well, all this news is making for a grim holiday season. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen

has seen a crisis firsthand in Berlin. And our Eleni Giokos is in Johannesburg.

I want to start with your first Fred because Germany's Health Minister says more than a million people, almost a million people rather right now in

Germany are infected with COVID-19. And he is blaming those who are unwilling to get vaccinated.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly what he's doing, Lynda. And that's one of the things that he did

also the press conference that he held earlier today where he said, quite frankly, that if all adults who will ever be eligible to be vaccinated

would have done so by now that Germany would not be in a dire situation that it's currently in.

And obviously one of the things that the Germans are trying to do right now is they're trying to accelerate their vaccination campaigns. They've

announced that they want to administer around 30 million jobs before the end of this year. And that entails both the first time vaccinations, but

then also booster shots because that, of course, is also something that is necessary.

But he also said that even if they do, do that, that ICUs are still going to continue to fill up. And you're absolutely right. We did see this

firsthand. We were in an ICU, just the beginning of this week. And you could really see how hard the staff was working there? How difficult it is

on them and how little vacancy there still was in that ICU?

And the Germans are saying that things will most probably peak around Christmas time, I want to listen into the dire projection that was coming

from Germany's Health Minister earlier today. Let's listen in.


JENS SPAHN, GERMAN HEALTH MINISTER: The ICUs keep filling up. Even if the measures agreed yesterday, were already effective tomorrow some of those

who were infected yesterday and today will surely find themselves in COVID ICUs next week or the week after. Germany will drastically surpass the

number of 5900 patients in intensive care units in the coming days and weeks. The situation in our intensive care units will reach its sad peak

around Christmas, even if our measures proved effective.


PLEITGEN: He was talking there about 5900 patients in ICUs. That is the former highest number of people that Germany has had in ICUs. That was at

the end of last year. And now the Germans already seeing that number will be surpassed they are saying before Christmas talk at - Christmas time

comes that is the projection.

Now of course the answer by the German government is not only Lynda that booster campaign, but also those lockdown measures, especially targeting

unvaccinated people. And you can tell really, from inside German politics, also from the population as well, that a lot of people quite frankly, have

lost their patience with those who are unwilling to get vaccinated Lynda?

KINKADE: Yes, no doubt Fred. I want to go to Eleni Giokos because South Africa is where this latest variant, this latest mutation of COVID-19 was

discovered recently. I'm wondering what the surge in cases is like they're in and specifically what it's doing and what impact is having on the

epicenter where this new variant was discovered? Are we seeing more children in hospital?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the short answer is yes. We are seeing children more children in hospitals, around 10 percent of admissions in the

municipality of 20, which is Pretoria count for children under the age of five. This is worrying but experts also say when hospitals are not full and

you have empty unavailable ICU beds.

Children are sometimes admitted because of an abundance of caution where they can be monitored.


GIOKOS: Now we try to ascertain the severity of Omicron and that is of course one of the biggest question marks over the last week or so.

In terms of transmissibility, the W. H. O. has just come out to say that it appears that it is more transmissible in terms of the caseload, the

positive numbers that we're seeing that been doubling almost every single day, over the past week. But the numbers remain low in comparison to what

you're seeing in parts of Europe.

Of the last 24 hours, it was 11,500 positive cases that are taking up to around 30. But the numbers are sort of subdued. The worry is here Lynda

that it is going up, that it is part of a wider surge, heading towards the fourth wave. And importantly, it's happening in the province where I am

now, in the housing region.

They're doing genomic sequencing and a rapid pace to try and ascertain when the Omicron variant came into effect in South Africa? Has it overridden the

Delta variant which was a dominant variant in the month of October? And of course, looking at hospitalization rates, looking at ICU beds, looking at

how severe the illnesses right now?

The anecdotal evidence that we're seeing is that it's impacting people under the age of 40. And the unvaccinated are still dominating

hospitalization rates. So those are some of the things that we're hearing now as we try and learn more, Lynda.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly that message loud and clear that it's mostly unvaccinated people ending up in hospital and sadly dying from COVID-19.

Eleni Giokos and Fred Pleitgen good to have you both with us thank you.

We, have another cluster out of school has officials worried. This one is in Sydney, Australia, on the a few cases are the only Omicron variant but

there are concerning signs that it was locally transmitted. CNN's Ivan Watson has more from the region.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDEN: Lynda, we heard from a top official of the World Health Organization in the Asia Pacific region,

warning governments to get ready for the Omicron variant and basically predicting that the variant is likely to be circulating in far more

countries than have officially identified cases of the new variant.

Case in point Australia, which had already identified several Omicron cases but has now urged the New South Wales Government, has urged an urgent

investigation into one cluster of COVID cases at a school in Western Sydney. 13 cases confirmed tied to that school has them three Omicron

variant cases.

And part of what has the authorities they're so concerned is that this outbreak is not apparently linked to any international travel suggesting it

is local transmission of the new variant. Most of the new cases we're hearing popping up in one country after another are linked to travel and

linked to travel frankly, to the African Continent, which has prompted many governments to at least temporarily ban travel from Southern African


China so far has yet to announce the discovery of any Omicron cases and it is maintaining its zero COVID case policy though it is struggling with

outbreaks in several northern cities, prompting strict lockdowns. The biggest hotspot for China is the Northern border City of Majuli, where

there were 207 cases confirmed since November 27th. 80 local symptomatic cases on Thursday, and when China conducts a lockdown, they're serious.

They shut down public transport. And in that city, they have barred people from leaving their homes unless they are basically emergency workers Lynda.

KINKADE: All right. Ivan Watson there thanks very much! Well, meantime the Biden Administration is taking steps against COVID with a new push for

testing and vaccines. In addition, it is tightening testing requirements for travelers. Then the U.S. announced it will ramp up vaccine shipments to

high risk countries, mostly those in Africa. Well, one week since the discovery of the new variant and there are still so many unanswered

questions. CNN's Health Jacqueline Howard is here to tell us what we do and don't know at this point? Certainly a lot of questions Jacqueline firstly,

just take us through what the W. H. O. was saying about how transmissible this new variant is?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Yes, Lynda. Well, there's still a lot we have yet to learn. But we have heard signs from the World Health

Organization's Chief Scientist. She says that looking at cases in South Africa there's evidence to suggest that this is a highly transmissible



HOWARD: Because cases in the country have increased. She says that there have been cases doubling every day and so that's the evidence that they're

using to suggest that this could be a highly transmissible variant.

But of course, we still need more research. We still need the data to support this. And there's also, you know, we have to keep in mind that the

Delta variant is also highly transmissible. And here in the United States, it's still the dominant variant. So we still have more to learn when it

comes to Omicron. But that's what we're hearing Lynda from the World Health Organization on transmissibility.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly still a lot of data to gather at this point in time in the coming weeks. At this point in time, what do we know about vaccines

and their impact against this new variant?

HOWARD: We do know that this is something vaccine makers and pharmaceutical companies are testing at this moment right now. We should hear more data

from companies within the next week or two. We expect to hear more from them.

But the World Health Organization says that this is something that's being looked into, we still have more to learn, but have a listen from a W. H. O.



KERKHOVE: So we have some clues that we may have some reduced efficacy of vaccines, but we don't have that information yet. And it will take a week

or two or three to get that. So there are a large number of scientists around the world that are working directly with us directly with

researchers in country to gather that data and so that needs to take place and we need science. We need the scientist to have a little bit more time

before we have that answer.


HOWARD: So you see there that was the World Health Organization's Maria Van Kerkhove and she says that studies are underway. We just need the time to

collect the data and we can expect to hear more in the next week or two Lynda.

KINKADE: Excellent. All right, Jacqueline. I'm sure we will speak in the coming weeks. Good to have you with us. Thank you!

HOWARD: Absolutely.

KINKADE: Well, fresh criticism has been heaped on the International Olympic Committee over its so called "Quiet Diplomacy Approach" regarding Chinese

Tennis Star Peng Shuai. The IOC says its vote upon a second time this week. The body is now twice confirmed she's safe, despite concerns about her

disappearance from public view after accusing a former top Chinese official of sexual assault.

But in an open letter, Human Rights Activist Peter Darlan alleges the cause were "Obviously staged, putting Peng at a greater risk". The Head of the

Women's Tennis Association expressed a similar view. Meanwhile, Beijing is criticizing the WTO for suspending all its events in China. Well, CNN's

Will Ripley has been following the twists and turns of the controversy. He filed this report from Hong Kong.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When the Head of the Women's Tennis Association made this stunning announcement on our front.

STEVE SIMON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, WOMEN'S TENNIS ASSOCIATION: We're planning to suspend our events until such time that the Chinese authorities do the

appropriate thing.

RIPLEY (voice over): Chinese state media began waging a propaganda war, blasting the WTA in English on Twitter, a platform banned in the mainland.

This tweet reveals Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai why sent a third email to the WTA's Steve Simon, expressing her shock for the WTA's unfair decision

to suspend all tournaments in China.

Simon confirms to CNN he got the email. And just like the first two, he's not convinced Peng is speaking freely.

SIMON: We just feel very strongly that this is certainly being orchestrated. This is something we can't walk away from.

RIPLEY (voice over): Even if it means losing a lucrative 10 year deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: The WTA CEO Steve Simon has been as strong as I have seen a leader in sports in a longtime.

RIPLEY (voice over): The WTA's strong response in stark contrast to the International Olympic Committee's quiet diplomacy. The IOC now claiming on

Wednesday, it held a second video call with the three time Olympian no photos or videos released, offering her wide ranging support, including a

personal meeting in January.

The IOC handing out this single photo of its first video call with Peng last month, the IOC's longest serving board member telling out front,

despite no independently verified evidence that call alone is enough proof for them she's OK and not being held against her will.

DICK POUND, MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: There are there lots of countries where you can easily leave the country and so forth. She's

fine. She's not under any kind of coercion or confinement.

RIPLEY (voice over): China's Global Times citing the Chinese Tennis Association, saying the WTA's decision was based on fictitious information.

This state propagandist tweeting the WTA is coercing Peng Shuai to support the West's attack on the Chinese system. They are depriving Peng Shuai's

freedom of expression that Chinese system censored Peng's painful post a month ago accusing a retired senior Communist Party Leader of sexual



PENG SHUAI, CHINESE TENNIS STAR: Why did you have to come back to me take me to your home to force me to have sex with you? I couldn't describe how

disgusted I was?

RIPLEY (voice over): Proposed, erased in less than 30 minutes Chinese social media users appearing to use code words to evade the government's

army of censors. Some using a line from Peng's posts that going up against a powerful party official is like hitting a rock with an egg.

One comment says why don't we talk about the issue of you know whom the thread deleted 20 minutes later. Chinese television never aired these

videos of Peng videos activists say are almost certainly staged, released about three weeks after Peng's post aimed at a foreign audience to repair

China's reputation ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

RICK BURTON, PROFESSOR OF SPORT MANAGEMENT, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: The public face that they will show when the games actually happened in February. It

will appear as if this never happened.

RIPLEY (voice over): Some of the world's most famous athletes voicing support for Peng and the WTA Olympic partners' sponsors remain silent, much

like the tennis star she. Will Ripley CNN, Hong Kong.


KINKADE: Well, Lebanon's Information Minister has resigned. George Kordahi TV Host and Politician says he's putting his country ahead of his personal

interest to help end a diplomatic dispute. Kordahi triggered a crisis by making critical remarks about Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen war.

Kordahi also says he was asked to resign before the French President's visit to Saudi Arabia in the coming days. Well, France's spearheaded

efforts to pull Lebanon out of its severe economic crisis.


GEORGE KORDAHI, FORMER LEBANESE INFORMATION MINISTER: French President Emmanuel Macron will make an official visit to Saudi Arabia. I understood

from Prime Minister Najib Makati whom I met three days ago, based on his request, it seems that the French would like my resignation ahead of

President Macron's trip to Riyadh, whereby it will help in opening discussion between Saudi officials around Lebanon and the future of Lebanon

Saudi relations.


KINKADE: Well, the French President's Persian Gulf to also include stops in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Well, earlier today Emmanuel Macron met

with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince as France signed a major military equipment deal with the UAE.

The $19 billion contract includes 80 French war planes and a dozen combat helicopters, France's three military bases in the UAE and some 700 military

personnel. The French Defense Ministry says the deal comes amid regional doubt of U.S. engagement in the Middle East.

Well, news of Omicron has renewed alarm about a pathway out of the COVID-19 pandemic, but how can we get the entire world protected? We're going to

speak to the CEO of the GAVI Vaccine Alliance coming up next. And later in the show the rescue of nine year old Parwana, the 12 year old sister has

already been sold into marriage. How Parwana has been saved from the same fate?



KINKADE: Welcome back well, many countries around the world have moved quickly to shut off South Africa and surrounding countries through travel

restrictions. But the W.H.O has repeatedly said the only way to get out of the pandemic is by getting vaccines in the arms, especially in Africa,

where vaccine rates live far behind the rest of the world. Take a listen to what the director general had to say on the discovery of the Omicron



TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Globally we have a toxic mix of low vaccine coverage and very low testing a

recipe for breeding and amplifying variants.


KINKADE: Well, my next guest is an epidemiologist and founder of the vaccine Alliance Gavi, an organization aimed at increasing access to

immunization in poor countries. He says the port has been slow to come.

He says we have been asking our vaccine manufacturers for months to give us better quality donations, and more lines of sight when doses will be

received. This message is just starting to be heard and countries are beginning to plan their roll outs with greater confidence. Well, Seth

Berkley joins me now live from Geneva, good to have you with us.

SETH BERKLEY, GAVI CEO: Nice to be with you.

KINKADE: So Seth, not only are you the CEO of that GAVI Alliance, you're also an epidemiologist. Just before we get into COVAX and the distribution

of vaccines, I want to ask you about what you're learning about this new COVID-19 variant?

BERKLEY: Well, of course, the first thing is a little bit what Tedros said, which is, if we want to stop new variants, we got to get the vaccines out

to the world. We've been saying that for months and months and months.

Now, I don't think people were taking us seriously. I think maybe now they do. This new variant is yes, scary. But we still don't know does it cause

worse disease? Is it easier to transmit? And from my perspective, most importantly, will the current vaccines continue to work?

We have some suggestions that they will against severe disease and death. We don't know so much about against protection against infection.

KINKADE: And Seth there are over 190 countries and territories engaged in the COVAX effort which account for 90 percent of the world's population.

Gavi are working with the likes of the W.H.O and UNICEF. Take us through how many doses have been delivered so far? And what are the biggest

challenges the biggest issues you're dealing with?

BERKLEY: Well, at the beginning, I mean, the good news is we delivered our first dose 39 days after the first dose was done in wealthy countries to a,

you know, a lower income country. And we had hoped that we would be taking off from there.

But then, with some export bans and restrictions on supply, we ended up having a delay mid this year. The good news is now things have picked up.

And as of today, we've allocated more than 1.4 billion doses for developing countries and have delivered more than 600 million doses to 144 countries.

Now what's happened in this interim, of course, is some of the high income countries that are part of COVAX had gone ahead and purchase their own

doses, and therefore they don't need doses from COVAX, which allows us to focus most of our effort now on the poorest countries.

KINKADE: And in terms of data that we've got right now, our data show that 54.8 percent of the world's population has received at least one dose of a

COVID-19 vaccine. But only 6.2 percent of people in low income countries have had one dose.

What's your reaction when you hear about the fact that millions of doses in wealthy countries right now are set to expire in the coming weeks? Why

aren't they getting to the people who need them?

BERKLEY: Well, you know, this, this whole situation has been very difficult. Why is that? Well, initially we had no idea whether any of the

vaccines were going to work. So the rational thing for wealthy countries to do was to buy supply of many different vaccines.

Now of course, that's what COVAX did as well, as the world's go to place we actually have the largest portfolio of 11 vaccines. And so what you're

seeing now is some vaccines are being used in high income countries. Others are not being used so much, and that's why they're extra doses.

What we've added asked for is for those doses to be donated to COVAX and we've had responses. We've had 1.3 billion doses that have been donated to

us although we don't know all the timelines and when they're going to come.


BERKLEY: But the most important thing is we need them to come with long shelf lives and with transparency, so the countries can plan for their

arrival. So initially, they came with a little short shelf life, not enough time and countries had a hard time planning that is getting better now and

we're getting more into sequence.

KINKADE: All right. Well, that is good news Seth Berkley; I will have to leave it there for now CEO of the GAVI vaccine Alliance, great to have you

on the program. Thanks so much for your time.

BERKLEY: Thank you.

KINKADE: Well, still ahead on "Connect the World" the emergence of the Omicron variant in the U.S. is putting America's Coronavirus sequencing

efforts to the test. What researchers at one lab are doing to identify variants, and later more questions and more scrutiny why Facebook is

feeling more heat?


KINKADE: Welcome back to "Connect the World". I am Lynda Kinkade, good to have you with us. Well, a woman is not a property but a noble and free

human being. This according to a special decree released by the Taliban on women's rights in Afghanistan, which goes on to say that no one can give a

woman to anyone in exchange.

It sets out the rules governing marriage and property for women, saying women should not be forced into marriage. It also says widows could remarry

and should have a share of their late husband's property.

The decree makes no mention of women being able to work outside the home or have access to education. Well, last month, we bought you a distressing

story about child marriage in Afghanistan.

And many of you were disturbed by the case of nine year old Parwana, who was sold into marriage to a 55 year old man for around $2,000. Her father

said it was his only option to feed his family. Well, CNN was granted rare permission to document the disturbing sale and handover.

And after international outcry following our story, the U.S. based charity "Too Young to Wed" got involved and rescued Parwana. CNN was there to

document it and Anna Coren brings us this exclusive report.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Any rainy and love song plays from a cassette as a driver navigates his way through the snow dusted

Layman Valley in northwestern Afghanistan. Ground in the back of his station wagon is a mother and her six children who've just left behind a

life of constant struggle and hardship all they've ever known.


COREN (voice over): Among them, nine year old Parwana, our cameraman Siddiqui asked her how she's feeling. I'm so happy, she says, with a

beaming smile. CNN met Parwana dressed in pink, in an internally displaced camp in - Province back in October. Her father claims he was selling her to

feed the rest of the family as a humanitarian crisis grips the country.

He'd already sold his 12 year old into marriage, and told CNN that unless the situation improved, he would have to sell his four remaining daughters

as well, including the youngest just two. If I didn't have these daughters to sell he asked, what I should do. Parwana's buyer who lived in a nearby

village confirmed he was taking the nine year old as his second wife.

QORBAN, BUYER OF PARWANA: I'm 55 years old. I have a wife with four daughters and a son. I bought her for myself. I will wait till she becomes


COREN (voice over): CNN was granted rare access to film the final payment and handover. The buyer asked for it to take place at a house in his

village and not the cab for security reasons. He paid a total of 200,000 Afghanis just over $2000 for Parwana in land --and cash.

This is your bride please take care of her says Parwana's father. Of course I will take care of her replies the man. As he drags her away, she

whimpers. Moments later, she digs her heels into the dirt, refusing to go but it's hopeless. CNN story caused an outcry.

The network was inundated with offers of help from the public aid organizations and NGOs wanting to assist Parwana and the other girls

featured in our story. The U.S. based charity "Too Young to Wed" took the lead.

Its founding Executive Director Stephanie Sinclair has been working to end child marriage and help vulnerable girls around the world for almost 20

years. She says the perfect storm is brewing in Afghanistan, and it's the girls that are suffering.

STEPHANIE SINCLAIR, FOUNDER, TOO YOUNG TO WED: I know the stories are difficult to watch and they're difficult to do. And they bring around a lot

of concern. But at the same time we need to keep people understanding that this is happening we need to keep ringing the alarm bell understand these

are real girls and real lives and they can be changed.

COREN (voice over): Within Badghis province there was widespread backlash towards Parwana's father and the buyer after our story went to air with

claims they brought shame on the community. Even the Taliban told CNN the practice is forbidden.

MAWLAWI BAZ MOHAMMAD SARWARY, BADGHIS INFORMATION & CULTURE DIRECTORATE: I request everyone not to sell their children. Child Marriage is not a good

thing. And we condemn it.

COREN (voice over): Women's rights activist and U.S. citizen Mahbouba Seraj who chose to stay in Kabul after the Taliban swept to power in August to

run her women's shelter says Parwana's case is just the tip of the iceberg.

MAHBOUBA SERAJ, AFGHAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: There's a lot of misery there is a lot of mistreatment, there is a lot of abuse is involved in

these things. And that will keep on happening with the hunger with the winter with poverty.

COREN (voice over): As a result of the controversy caused by the story and intervention from the charity, Parwana was allowed to return home after

almost two weeks with the buyers' family. Since Parwana has been rescued, I'm very happy for that, says Parwana's father.

He admitted to CNN that under duress from the community and some local media outlets, he changed his story out of embarrassment for what he had

done and apologized. The buyer is unreachable for comments, but the debt is still outstanding.

Too Young to Wed then organize to have Parwana, her mother and siblings removed from the camp with the father's permission. Their four hour journey

to neighboring Herat province was broken up with some childhood fun. Before arriving at the motel, the children who've only ever lived in a tent, the

novelty of the warm, fed and safe wasn't there enough.

PARWANA MALIK: They rescued me, they've given me a new life says Parwana, I thank the charity for helping me.

COREN (voice over): A few days later they moved into the safe house. Parwana's mother 27 year old Reza Gul has never lived in a house. She was

sold into marriage at 13 and has since had seven children, six of whom were girls.

Most days in the camp she would beg for food and often her family would go to sleep hungry. Now all she wants is to give her children a better life.


REZA GUL, PARWANA'S MOTHER: I have a dream, a wish they go to school and start an education, she says, I have a lot of wishes for them.

COREN (voice over): Too Young to Wed has already begun distributing aid to Parwana's impoverished camp among others. Well, the small charity is

prepared to bridge the gap. They're calling on the large aid organizations to step up.

SINCLAIR: These are communities that have relied on international aid for the last 20 years. And so with a lot of that aid stopping these people

didn't stop needing support. We can't let them pay the price because ultimately girls always pay the biggest price.

COREN (voice over): I speak to Parwana on zoom through my colleague Lucia. Hello Parwana, I 'm Anna.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? How would you feel?

COREN (on camera): I'm very good. Thank you. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fine. I am so happy. I'm safe. I rescued.

COREN (voice over): Then she asks when are you sending me to school? She wants to study and become a doctor or a teacher. But fairytale endings are

few and far between for girls in Afghanistan, even more so now than ever. Anna Coren, CNN.


KINKADE: Well if you would like to help girls like Parwana, please visit You can learn more about their work in Afghanistan and

how you can be part of the solution.

The U.S. President Joe Biden says he's preparing a set of initiatives to make it more difficult for Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade

Ukraine. Concern is growing in the U.S. and Europe over Russia massing troops along the border with Ukraine. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I've been in constant contact with our allies in Europe with Ukrainians. My secretary state and national security adviser

been engaged extensively. And what I am doing is putting together what I believe to be will be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of

initiative to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do. But that's in play right now.


KINKADE: Mr. Biden noticeably hoarse today he says he caught a cold from his young grandson. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



KINKADE: Welcome back. The World Health Organization says the Omicron Coronavirus variant appears to be very transmissible. But an official says

it's too early to tell if it is more or less transmissible than the Delta variant in spite a COVID-19 served in Europe and elsewhere.

Fears over the spread of the Omicron prompted Switzerland to place 2000 people at a school in Geneva under quarantine. Two Omicron cases were

discovered they're linked to a family member who had traveled to South Africa.

The Omicron variant has spread to the United States and the effort to track it is intensifying. Dan Gallagher visited a highly specialized lab in North

Carolina at the forefront of detecting the ever changing virus.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the front line in the hunt for Omicron in the U.S., after you finish that often uncomfortable

COVID test. It's usually shipped to a place like MAKO medical laboratories just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina.

MATTHEW TUGWELL, DIRECTOR OF GENOMICS, MAKO MEDICAL: 10,000 square feet in just COVID processing.

GALLAGHER (voice over): MAKO sequences samples taken in more than 40 states.

TUGWELL: 30,000 per day is how many we're processing right now. So that's about 100,000 or so per week.

GALLAGHER (voice over): Labs like this are key in detecting the Omicron variant in the United States because of what they do after identifying a

positive test.

TUGWELL: As of right now we are at the point where we're sequencing every positive that we get.

GALLAGHER (voice over): Genomic sequencing complicated and expensive testing that reveals the precise genetic lineage of the virus is the only

way to identify new COVID-19 variants. MAKO was one just over 60 labs that does sequencing for the CDC's national stream surveillance network.

LAUREN MOON, SEQUENCING MANAGER, MAKO MEDICAL: I would say it takes between two to three days to actually fully get the sequence from confirming a

sample as positive to library prepping the DNA and then to actually sequencing that library.

GALLAGHER (voice over): The World Health Organization and the CDC declared Omicron, a variant of concern after it was flagged by scientists in South

Africa. A mutation in the Omicron variant causes a peculiar test result called an S gene dropout.

MOON: N Gene is the blue curve. And then the green curve is the S gene.

GALLAGHER (on camera): It would normally be up there with them?

MOON: Yes, typically, they're all grouped pretty closely together because - -

GALLAGHER (voice over): Making a suspicious case easy to spot for expedited sequencing.

TUGWELL: We have about six samples right now that have that signature S gene drop out.

GALLAGHER (voice over): But sequencing is required to confirm Omicron because it isn't the only variant with that type of marker. Scientist at

MAKO say they've seen many different variants throughout the pandemic, some like delta become the dominant strain, while others fade quickly or never

take off.

Right now, there's no way to know what type of impact Omicron could have on the U.S. But they agree that when it comes to cracking COVID, knowledge is


TUGWELL: That every time they transmit from a person to another person, it's another chance for the virus to mutate and change into something

different. So you know, being able to monitor it, it really highlights the importance of testing, right, because without the testing, you really have

no baseline to understand what's going on.

GALLAGHER (on camera): Now one of those so called suspicious samples did wrap up sequencing and it turned out it was not the Omicron variant. There

were still six that are finishing up that process. Expectation is that sequencing should be completed sometime on Friday.

And those results will be reported to the CDC. But of course, labs like this are receiving tens of thousands of new samples from COVID test every

single day. And so these numbers are fluid and will likely change in the weeks to come Dianne Gallagher, CNN, Henderson, North Carolina.


KINKADE: Well, Facebook is responding to questions about some of the ads on its platform which compare the U.S. government's COVID response to Nazi

Germany. One ad was so over the top it falsely and ludicrously imply the vaccines a pirate of an attempt to slaughter people on a mass scale.

Well, look spokesperson for Meta Facebook's parent company says that ad goes against the company's vaccine misinformation policies. CNN's Donie

O'Sullivan is covering this for us. And Donie, despite claims that Facebook says it's cracking down on anti-vaccine misinformation, it allowed these


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's incredible really. I mean, these it's important to note that these aren't just regular posts on the

platform. These are paid ads. So Facebook is accepting money for them and then you targeting them at their users here in the U.S.

I want to run through some of the ads that we found. You know, one was comparing COVID restrictions here in the U.S. to Germany in 1941 Nazi

Germany another as you mentioned was showed a syringe sort of a vaccine and said slowly and quietly but it's a holocaust.


O'SULLIVAN: And then others, condoning political violence make hanging traitors great again. Facebook missed these ads, seemingly, the first two

that we showed you there about COVID did go against their policies, but they didn't do anything about it until CNN brought it to their attention.

And that last ads, make hanging traders great again, seemingly is not against the company's policies. So right now, you could run that ad on

Facebook and Facebook will gladly take your money for it.

KINKADE: I think crazy, absolutely incredible. And according to the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Facebook could reduce

misinformation by some 25 percent overnight with changes to its algorithm.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, that's right. She's been very, very clear that Facebook can make some slight tweaks and could really make their platform and the

world a better place at least according to her. She spoke to our colleague, Anderson Cooper last night, have a listen.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK EXECUTIVE: Facebook's business model is conditioned on fixing problems after they find them. Facebook is known

since 2018. Mark has publicly made comments on it.

Mark Zuckerberg has made comments saying engagement based ranking that means prioritizing content or ads based on their ability to provoke a

reaction from you, which is usually the most extreme and polarizing content is dangerous because people are drawn to engage with extreme content.

But Mark said at the time, it's OK AI will save us. The only problem is the AI misses lots and lots of problems. In the case of hate speech, only three

to 5 percent of hate speech is caught.


O'SULLIVAN: And as we saw through our reporting, their Facebook's Artificial Intelligence also missed those disgusting ads comparing the

vaccines and the Holocaust. Facebook owns Instagram.

Well, now we call it Meta, I guess Meta owns Facebook and Instagram. And the CEO of Instagram is going to be testifying before the U.S. Senate next

Wednesday. He'll have a lot of questions to answer not only about stuff like this, but a lot of questions to answer specifically on the harms that

platforms have platforms like Instagram have on children and on young teenagers.

KINKADE: All right, Donie O' Sullivan, we will be tuning in next week as well. And no doubt we'll hopefully get you back on the show. Thanks so


O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.

KINKADE: Migrants hoping across the U.S. southern border have a new hurdle remain in Mexico a Trump era program is now under a court order to resume.

The Biden Administration says that means the U.S. will again send migrants to Mexico to await their immigration hearings.

Mexico has agreed to the revenge program. Back in August, a U.S. federal judge required the administration to restore the program it had originally

terminated. Matt Rivers is in Mexico City for us. So Matt, the Biden Administration having to bring back reinstate this Trump era border

program. What exactly does this mean?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that Joe Biden, despite campaigning, you know, during the 2020 presidential campaign vociferously

against this program, despite terminating the program after he became president, he is now in charge of what you could argue is the signature

Trump era immigration policy.

To remind our viewers, just what this was all about, basically any migrant that would come to the United States and wanted to seek asylum in the

United States, rather than wait out their claims.

Wait out that legal process in the United States, it is everyone's right to try and apply for asylum in the United States under U.S. law. But rather

than wait out those claims in the U.S., they were essentially deported to Mexico to different border cities in Mexico.

Tens of thousands of migrants were forced to do that. And the critics of that program, during the Trump Administration said that all of these people

were living in essentially squalid conditions.

And they were they were living in tent communities, essentially, in some of those border towns. They're some of the most dangerous cities in the world.

And these migrants were routinely preyed upon extorted by criminal organizations here in Mexico.

They were at the risk of an increased sexual assault, in many cases, according to human rights groups, and so that was a heavily criticized

program, including by Joe Biden himself.

But after eliminating the program, a federal judge over the summer basically said that in unwinding the program, Joe Biden and his

administration did so illegally, and he reinstated the program. The Supreme Court then upheld that decision.

And so what the Biden Administration is saying here is that essentially their hands are tied, they have to implement this ruling, as the Supreme

Court upheld this federal judge's decision.

The Biden Administration does say however that they are continuing to work to cancel the program. In fact, a memo put out back on October 29 from the

Department of Homeland Security said that they do believe that this program does not justify the costs and they want to cancel it. But until they can

work that process through the courts this process - this program is going back into effect.


KINKADE: All right. So as you point out, Matt, this program has been heavily criticized by immigration advocates by Democrats who call it

inhumane. So in the interim, what changes are being implemented to try to improve it?

RIVERS: Well, the administration officials told CNN that there are going to be several changes in this newly formed agreement with Mexico that was

agreed upon just this week.

Things like vaccines are going to be provided to migrants that are coming back here to Mexico. They're going to be asked if they have fears of going

back to Mexico. They are going to aim to process all asylum claims within six months.

Different transportation will be provided for migrants here in Mexico going back to the U.S., but critics say there's nowhere near enough to outweigh

the costs of putting these migrants back in a dangerous country like Mexico.

KINKADE: All right, Matt Rivers for us. Good to have you with us from Mexico City. Thank you. Well, so to come robots can do so much already. But

can they make baby bots. Well, believe it or not, we might just be getting there. That story next.


KINKADE: Now this is an incredible story. A team of U.S. scientists has created a living pacman style of robot which can create its own offspring.

It's quite a Xenobot after the type of frog from which it constitutes cells was taken.

Now robotic scientist Josh Bongard says in the future, the millimeter sized robots could be put to use in various ways, notably in the branch of

medicine that tries to regroup and repair damaged cells.

JOSH BONGARD, PROFESSOR OF COMPUTER SCIENCE: We showed that with just skin cells under certain conditions, this clump of skin cells will grow small

hairs known as cilia. And they beat these hairs like flexible oars, and they will swim themselves through the water.

Just for fun, we took a swarm of these robots put them back in the dish, and we sprinkled some very small pellets into the dish. What we saw was as

these robots move around, they happen to push these pellets into piles, which led us to the idea of what happens if you replace these pellets with

looser frog cells, which is that they will push these frog cells into piles.

Cells under certain conditions are sticky, so the cells in the pile will adhere or stick to one another. And over about five days, if the pile is

big enough, it will also sprout the small hairs and the pile itself will start moving and that's "Child Xenobot".

Maybe in the long term, we're able to create bio bots from human cells, and they might have actually have medical application. In the much more near

term it's probably going to be underwater applications.

These are after all frog cells that perfectly happy and freshwater. You can imagine them inspecting root systems in vertical farms or hydroponic

plants, reducing the cost of producing freshwater and desalination facilities helping with wastewater treatment sewage, anything underwater,

they may be useful in the not too distant future.


KINKADE: Wow, absolutely incredible there. Well in - the German army bid farewell to Angela Merkel on Thursday ahead of her departure next week when

Parliament elects a new chancellor.

A procession of soldiers carrying flaming torches on at Merkel with the highest military ceremony for a civilian called the Grand Tattoo. Merkel

also gave a speech thanking the pandemic workers wishing the incoming Chancellor and the country success.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: It is now up to the next government to find answers to the challenges that lie ahead of us and to shape our

future. For that they're all off shots. I wish you and the German government led by you, all the very best, good fortune and best of success.

I'm convinced that we can continue to shape the future well. If we don't succumb to discontent, envy and pessimism, but like I said elsewhere three

years ago, get to work with joy in our heart. At least that's what I always did in my life in East Germany, and all the more so once in freedom. It's

this joy in the heart which I wish on all of us and in a figurative way for our country also in the future. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


KINKADE: Well, in keeping with tradition, Chancellor Merkel picked three songs for the ceremony, one of which caught some listeners by surprise. Per

request, the military marching band played German punk singer Nina Hagen's 1974 pre punk pop music hit, you forgot the color film. Earlier Merkel

explain that she considers the song a nod to her past.


MERKEL: The song was a highlight of my youth. The song also came from East Germany and coincidentally it is still played in a region that used to be

my constituency, so everything fits.


KINKADE: Well, it's expected that the German parliament will elect Olaf Scholz as Chancellor next Wednesday. I'm Lynda Kinkade that was "Connect

the World". Thanks so much for joining us, have a wonderful weekend. But stick around for now "One World" with my colleague Zain Asher is up next.