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Pushback on British Prime Minister's COVID-19 Plan B; New South African Study Examines Efficacy of Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine; U.S. Continues Pursuit of Diplomacy with Iran; U.S. Military Won't Punish Troops for Botched August Drone Strike; At Least 88 Killed by Storm of Deadly Tornadoes; Omicron Spreads in Europe; Vaccine Mandates and Rules Drive European Protests; Flying Car Maker Aims to Revolutionize Transport. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 13, 2021 - 10:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: With the Omicron threat accelerating, the British prime minister is facing revolt from inside his

own party. The U.K. Parliament debates Boris Johnson's controversial plan B COVID measures.

A fatal mistake: U.S. military officials acknowledge a botched drone strike took innocent lives.

Will anyone be punished?

The latest from the Pentagon coming up.

And tragedy strikes in Haiti again, as a tanker truck explodes -- explosion kills dozens. The toll is likely to rise, as crews dig through the charred



FOSTER: Welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster in for Becky Anderson.

We begin with the fast moving Omicron threat here in the U.K. The U.K. health secretary is warning that cases of the Omicron variant are doubling

around every two days. That has people up and down England lining up for COVID booster shots.

The health secretary was speaking a short while ago in the U.K. Parliament, where British lawmakers are debating new measures to fight the Omicron

threat. A vote for tougher new rules for England is set for later today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to face a revolt from members of his own party over what is known as plan B. The plan's mandatory COVID

passes are sparking civil liberties concerns, especially among dozens of conservative lawmakers. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is outside the House of

Parliament; she joins us now live.

This will get through, though, won't it, because the opposition party is basically going to support Boris Johnson while the rest of his own party

does not.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Ironically, Boris Johnson is pushing through these new measures, thanks to the Labour Party, thanks

to the opposition party. This is not what he wants to see.

And it all comes down to the fact there are dozens of MPs, who are going to vote against this. As you said, they feel that it is a step toward

authoritarianism, a step too far in terms of curbing civil liberties and it provides limitations to the economy at a time when it needs the money and

the support of the holiday season.

But health secretary on his feet, in Parliament today, saying, now is the time. Take a listen.


SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: But it is the fact that Omicron hospitalizations are low that means it is now the best time to act.

And we have seen during previous waves, we have already seen this, the lag between infections and hospitalizations. It is about two weeks. When

infections are rising so quickly, we're likely to see a substantial rise in hospitalizations before any measure is starting to have an impact. So there

really is no time to lose.


ABDELAZIZ: Now there is only about 10 people in hospital right now with the Omicron variant. That's what the health secretary was referring to. But

those case numbers are just growing and growing by the day.

Health officials saying the next few weeks are crucial.

So what are the measures coming into place, those plan B measures?

Mandatory masks now on public transport and in most indoor settings. Also now if you can work from home, you should work from home across the

country. And finally and the most controversial one here is the COVID passes, health passes, so proof that you are either fully vaccinated or

that you had a recent negative test to go into large public venues.

Think like night clubs, Max; that's where a lot of the anger and opposition is. And a lot of this is happening at a time when the prime minister is

facing huge scandals over Christmas parties, plural, taking place at Downing Street.

The allegation there is that, during lockdown, last year, the prime minister's own staff was essentially eating cheese, drinking wine,

celebrating, while other people were locked up, kept apart from their loved ones.

This right here, Max, is not just about the Omicron variant and the measures needed to fight it; it is about whether or not prime minister

Boris Johnson still wields the political power he needs to fight this pandemic. Max.

FOSTER: Salma, thank you very much indeed.

As the Omicron variant spreads at a stunning pace, scientists are looking at all the weapons in our medical arsenal really. A new major real-world

study from South Africa indicates the Pfizer vaccine is only about 33 percent effective against Omicron.

The researchers looked at data that came from the time when Omicron became predominant across South Africa. The study suggests, if you're infected,

two doses of Pfizer's vaccine means you're about 70 percent protected from being hospitalized.


FOSTER: The results are based on analysis by Discovery Health, which is a major South African insurance company, and South African Medical Research


Joining me now, co-author in this new study, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker.

Thank you for joining us. I want to focus on the Pfizer vaccine efficacy study which indicates about two doses are 70 percent effective against


Is that good enough?

PROFESSOR LINDA-GAIL BEKKER, CO-AUTHOR, SAMRC AND DISCOVERY HEALTH STUDY: Well, I think it does mean at least the vaccine is holding up against a

variant that we were all very worried about.

Obviously the 93 percent that we saw against Delta would be better. But I think it is whether you see your glass half-full or half-empty; I think it

is great that the vaccine is still having an impact.

FOSTER: This is very early data, isn't it?

And the company behind this says that.

What are your plans for follow-up, what we know for sure how effective the vaccine is against Omicron?

What do you want to look at next?

BEKKER: Well, I think, you know, durability is important. I think you are also just saying -- and I think it is an important factor that

hospitalization often follows, you know, the initial burst of infection. So I think we have to keep watching this.

But I think it was everybody's concern that we would see complete breakthrough with this variant and we would lose all effects. So I think we

are feeling better about the fact that it does seem to be holding against more severe disease. But absolutely we need to keep watching and checking

out for durability.

FOSTER: You've been looking at two doses of the vaccine; what about three doses?

Here in the U.K., they're focused on the booster program and, other parts of the West, they're focused on that. That presumably is positive in terms

of Omicron.

BEKKER: Yes, I think this is what has also been indicated from the laboratory studies that the boost definitely ups the amount of neutralizing

antibody that is present in the body. And that seems to offer further protection.

So I think that is -- you know, this would add further positive thought toward boosting, to make sure that protection is as high as possible in the

face of the variant.

FOSTER: You also did a separate study, you're involved in a separate study in relation to Johnson & Johnson. That was pretty positive as well. During

that study, no one died from the Omicron variant.

BEKKER: Yes, well, so we're following this large cohort of health care workers. we have been following them since February. We initially gave them

the single dose J&J. We have just implemented a second dose as a boost to the cohort.

And then, of course, we were hit by the Omicron wave. So we are able to follow that cohort in the face of Omicron, now with two doses versus one

dose of J&J. So, so far, they're reassuring news is that, though we have seen a larger number of breakthrough infections, we have seen far fewer

hospitalizations in the cohort.

And to date we have had no COVID-related deaths in this cohort of 500,000 health care workers.

FOSTER: What does seem to be noticeable about the latest waves of the virus are the children in South Africa, more likely to be hospitalized.

What is the explanation for that, do you think?

BEKKER: Well, I think there could be -- we're looking into that still more carefully. But there are a number of possible explanations. It could be

just the nature of this variant and how this virus is behaving.

But it could also be that we have not had large-scale vaccination in children and adolescents. We've just started the adolescent program. They

are taking it up very well. It is the group that is most enthusiastically being vaccinated at the moment. But our numbers are small in adolescence.

And we haven't started vaccinating children at all.

FOSTER: Just on a practical level, we all got used to the symptoms of previous variants, the sore throat, the temperature.

You've got different symptoms with Omicron, haven't you?

What should people be looking out for?

BEKKER: Well, we are seeing quite a lot more asymptomatic infection, which probably is not good news as we move into the holiday season. But yes, we

are seeing sort of milder infection, upper respiratory tract infections; although, again, people are occasionally reporting gastrointestinal

symptomology, perhaps milder.


BEKKER: And perhaps what people are more likely to think of as a head cold is how Omicron is manifesting in many individuals.

FOSTER: OK. Linda, thank you very much indeed for joining us, giving us your insight into the latest research on Omicron.

We are also following some very sad news out of Haiti, where a tanker truck carrying gasoline exploded, killing at least 59 people, it happened in the

country's second largest city. Officials say the death toll is likely to rise. Dozens more were injured. No word yet on what caused the blast. Matt

Rivers following the story for us from Mexico City. Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is just an absolute tragedy after so many tragedies recently in Haiti. This is just

the latest event to happen to a country that can't seem to catch a break now, for a number of different reasons.

This particular event happened in a city on the northern part of the country, which is the country's second largest city. It is a big port city.

And what happened here is there was a tanker truck that was leaking fuel. And there were people trying to get some fuel from that leak when something

happened that caused this explosion.

And this explosion was absolutely massive. As of now, at least 59 people are dead. We expect that number to go up. The mayor telling CNN that there

are dozens of people in the hospital. He is urging blood donations, asking for assistance from the federal government.

And we know this explosion took place in a pretty crowded neighborhood, to the effect that at least 50 homes have been damaged by this, many of which

caught fire as a result of the explosion. Just gives you some idea of how bad this was.

But I think the context here is extremely important. Haiti is going through a horrific gas shortage now, for a number of different reasons, everything

from government inaction and bad policy to gangs in the capital city of Port-au-Prince holding up gas shipments to the rest of the country.

You routinely have people doing just about anything they can to get gasoline because everything in the country runs on gasoline, runs on

generators. The electricity grid powered by the government is just not reliable.

And so everything, from little mom and pop shops to full industries, run on generators. People are desperate for gas. And so this kind of scene, where

people going to leaking gas trucks, everyone knows how dangerous it is.

But so many people are desperate for fuel, they're forced into these situations because of how bad things are in Haiti right now when it comes

to the gasoline supply. So unfortunately, this just a horrific consequence of a country-wide problem, which is a gasoline shortage.

FOSTER: And amidst all of this, this rise of criminal behavior, gangs taking more and more control because of the economic crisis and the


RIVERS: Yes, the gang situation, in some parts of the country, Max, the federal government has essentially ceded control to the gangs. By some

estimates, in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, roughly 50 percent of the capital of Port-au-Prince is controlled by gangs.

If you wanted to drive, which you could drive from Port-au-Prince to Cap- Haitien, it is due north of Port-au-Prince, you can't make that drive right now because the gangs control those highways and they won't let you pass.

And that's part of the reason why there is a gas shortage, is because the gangs are using that as leverage against the government. Basically, they

control these areas, they control the flow of gasoline supplies to the rest of the country. And they use that as leverage in their fight against the


It is an utterly incompetent federal government in Haiti right now that cannot control or provide security for its own citizens, it cannot provide

gasoline for its own citizens and it forces ordinary people into these kinds of horrific situations, where they're literally forced to go get

gasoline leaking from a fuel tanker because, in many cases, they simply have no other choice.

FOSTER: OK. Matt Rivers, thank you.

U.S. military officials admit a mistake was made and now they've made a decision on whether the soldiers behind a tragic drone strike in

Afghanistan will be punished. We're live to the Pentagon next.

U.S. President Joe Biden takes on the role of consoler in chief when he visits the tornado-ravaged Midwestern U.S. We'll look at what he'll find

when he touches down on Wednesday.





FOSTER: U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is on his first trip to Southeast Asia as the top American diplomat. But at a news conference in

Jakarta today, the topic turned to Iran and ongoing talks to salvage the nuclear deal.

Blinken said the U.S. is still pursuing diplomacy with Tehran; that is, engaging with allies on alternatives. He also responded to senior British,

French and German diplomats, who say the talks are moving too slowly.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It made a few points. It said very clearly, time is running out, that Iran has still not engaged in real

negotiations. Unless there is swift progress, the E3 said, the Iran nuclear agreement will become an empty shell.

And what we have seen so far is Iran losing precious time by advancing totally new positions that are inconsistent with a return to the JCPOA.


FOSTER: Blinken also talked about China's role in the Indo Pacific. He said Beijing's aggressive actions in the South China Sea threaten trillions

of dollars worth of commerce every year and that the U.S. is determined to help ensure the free flow of goods. That triggered a response from the

Chinese foreign ministry.


WANG WENBIN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I would like to point out that the U.S. on the one hand dramatically plays up

the so-called China threat while claiming to have no intention to start a conflict with China on the other.

This kind of self-contradictory practice does not accord with the spirit of the recent meeting between our two heads of state and will struggle to gain

approval from the countries in the region.


FOSTER: The Pentagon has announced that U.S. troops will not be punished for a botched drone strike in August that killed Afghan civilians.

The strike happened just a few days after the deadly ISIS-K attack at the Kabul airport and the U.S. military said it was launched to prevent another

attack. Instead, 10 people, including seven children, were killed. Officials initially calling it a tragic mistake. Oren Liebermann joins us

from the Pentagon Washington.

What are they calling it now then?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: At first the Pentagon was defending this strike, even as, behind the scenes, there was an

investigation into the possibility of civilian casualties. Pentagon officials said and insisted that they had eliminated an ISIS-K facilitator

and planner.

But after the strike, CNN and other media outlets cast serious doubt about the Pentagon account of who they had killed. We went on to find out it was

Zamarai Ahmadi, a father who had been killed. The Pentagon insisted it was an ISIS-K facilitator or planner.

And yet we came to learn that Zamarai Ahmadi he worked for Nutrition and Education International, an NGO that focused on food distribution as well

as malnutrition. The Pentagon ordered a further investigation, a broader review of the strike itself and the pressures and the decision-making that

went into it.

After that strike, the Air Force inspector general, who led that review, said that, although he made recommendations for improving the process and

procedures around carrying out strikes to avoid civilian harm, the question of accountability, of punishment was left up to the commanders of Special

Operations Command, as well as U.S. Central Command, which governs operations in the Middle East and in Afghanistan.


LIEBERMANN: They made no recommendations for punishment. They didn't say anybody should be held accountable and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

signed off on that recommendation. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby had this to say about that decision.


ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Secretary reviewed the recommendations. I won't get into all of them -- some of them are

understandably classified but he approved their recommendations. So I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had with

respect to the August 29th airstrike.


LIEBERMANN: Steven Kwon, the president of Nutrition and Education International had this to say about the decision not to hold anybody


"This decision is shocking.

"How can our military wrongly take the lives of 10 precious Afghan people and hold no one accountable in any way?

"When the Pentagon absolves itself of accountability, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified, increasing

security risks and making evacuation even more urgent."

So Max, it is easy to see the anger there about this decision not to hold anyone accountable for the strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians in the

closing days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

FOSTER: What sort of situation do you imagine the Pentagon would hold someone accountable?

LIEBERMANN: That's an excellent question and one we have, at this point, repeatedly asked. The Pentagon insists that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

is taking the issue of civilian casualties more seriously. He said he's increasing the standards by which commanders will be held and that he will

enforce those standards.

But will that lead to accountability?

Will that lead to action?

That's an open question right now. It is worth noting that there is a review of another strike, in which the Pentagon has admitted civilians were

killed, including women and children. That strike going back to March 2019 in Syria, in the closing days of the fight against ISIS. There is an

ongoing review into that.

Will somebody be held accountable in that?

We'll look forward to getting that answer.

FOSTER: Oren, thank you.

China has donated a second batch of emergency winter supplies to Afghanistan. Over 70,000 blankets and 40,000 coats were delivered to Kabul

on Monday. Afghans are facing a humanitarian crisis. The country relies heavily on foreign aid, much of which has been cut off since the Taliban

took over.

Tsunami warnings discontinued after a powerful earthquake struck off Indonesia's eastern coast. The 7.3 magnitude quake impacted Flores Island.

At least 15 aftershocks have been reported. So far, no reports of major damage or injuries.

At least 17 people were injured on Sunday when a group of migrants fought with Mexican police. According to Mexico's interior ministry, the group was

told they could not spend the night at a religious gathering. The violence began when police offered to take them to a nearby hostel.

U.S. lawmakers could vote this afternoon on contempt charges against Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House chief of staff, who stopped

cooperating with investigators looking into the January 6th Capitol attack.

Some of his text messages from that day were made public last night. Lawmakers, White House officials, FOX News hosts and Donald Trump Jr. all

frantically messaged Meadows during the riot and urged him to tell the president to take action.

Current U.S. President Joe Biden will head to Kentucky on Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the devastation after a series of violent tornadoes

ripped through the Midwest and South.

At least 50 tornadoes touched down across eight states over the weekend, leaving last 88 people dead. Kentucky was the hardest hit, with at least 74

people killed and more than 100 still missing.

Exact numbers have been hard to pin down so far.


FOSTER (voice-over): And this is partly why: entire communities reduced to rubble, unrecognizable to the people who lived there, as they begin

sifting through the debris, picking up pieces of their lives that they had built. CNN's Boris Sanchez reports.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrifying moments captured on camera. As at least 50 reported tornadoes ripped across eight states

over the weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can just see rubble and it was unrecognizable. To me, it looked like a war zone.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Leaving catastrophic damage and loss of life. At least 88 people killed while rescue efforts continue for those still


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What is certain, it is one of the worst tornadoes disasters we have had in the country.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The storms unprecedented. One tornado reportedly on the ground in Kentucky for more than 200 miles. It could be the largest

continuous tornado track in U.S. history. Entire towns were wiped off of the map in the bluegrass state.

WHITNEY WESTERFIELD, KENTUCKY STATE SENATOR: For some folks I don't know that they'll ever recover from this. Completely certainly not emotionally

or psychologically.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The governor of Kentucky emotional this morning, reflecting on the 74 lives lost there. And 109 still missing.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): Of the ones that we know.


BESHEAR: The age -- the age range is five months to 86 years.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The small town of Mayfield being described as ground zero. Janet Kemp says it's a miracle she survived. Lying flat on the ground

in a hallway, praying as the storm leveled her home. Leaving the place she grew up unrecognizable.

JANET KEMP, MAYFIELD, KENTUCKY, RESIDENT: It really hurts. Because I love Mayfield. And I wouldn't live anywhere else. So I'm going to stay here and

start again.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The path of destruction stretches all of the way to Illinois, where OSHA is investigating the collapse of an Amazon warehouse

in Edwardsville. At least six workers died after an EF-3 tornado tore through the walls. Imploding a section of the building.

KELLY NANTEL, AMAZON SPOKESPERSON: The tornado warning siren actually went off and we had about 11 minutes from that time to the time the tornado hit

the ground in order to get our employees and partners into a safe place.

SANCHEZ: And back here in Mayfield, Kentucky, the cleanup effort is enormous. It is staggering. There are hundreds, if not thousands of workers

on the scene, alongside heavy construction equipment, trying to move debris as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Getting back to normal is going to be a long and difficult process but one that residents here tell me they are committed to -- Boris Sanchez, CNN,

Mayfield, Kentucky.


FOSTER: British health officials say they anticipate a very difficult four weeks ahead because of the Omicron variant. We'll look at what other

nations are doing as the variant spreads and cases rise.

Call it lockdown fatigue, restriction backlash but people in Europe are getting fed up with vaccine mandates. Why that's landing some people in

jail now.




FOSTER: Welcome back. I'm Max Foster in London. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

England plans to remove all 11 nations from its red travel list, effective early on Wednesday. The health secretary told Parliament there is no point

in keeping the restrictions in place because the Omicron variant has spread so far across the globe.

Health officials say they expect a very difficult four weeks ahead because of Omicron. Other European countries are taking new measures as cases


Norway is banning alcohol in bars and restaurants and imposing more restrictions in schools. Spain will start vaccinating 5- to 11-year-olds

old starting tomorrow. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Rome with the latest measures that Europe is taking.


FOSTER: A real lack of consistency, which really shows how we're struggling to make sense of this latest wave.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly the case, Max. It does appear that the Omicron variety has really taken the

health authorities across Europe by surprise. And they're scrambling to figure out what to do.

You mentioned Norway, where, of course, they've banned the serving of alcohol in bars And restaurants. And they've imposed mask mandates on

public transport and shops and shopping malls and whatnot. And of course Norway is a particularly acute case. It has the highest number of Omicron

cases in continental Europe.

And one study conducted there said that they may see as many as 50,000 to 300,000 cases of COVID a day, compared to about 4,700 at the moment. So

they are bracing for, I think it is Boris Johnson said, a tsunami of new cases -- Max.

FOSTER: In terms of what we're looking at in Europe, it does seem as though locking down broadly is the way it was going, even in the U.K., as

more restrictions. And, of course, industry is going to have a huge issue with that, with a huge impact on travel again.

But is that the broad perspective in Europe as opposed to other parts of the world, would you say?

WEDEMAN: Certainly I think there is a real hesitance to reimpose the sort of lockdowns we saw, for instance here in Italy at the beginning of 2020,

when really life came to a screeching halt as well as the economy.

And therefore they are trying to sort of modify the restrictions so that people can continue to go to work, that shops can continue to function, but

try to minimize the possibility of the further spread of COVID.

And in particular this Omicron variety, about which so little is still known, and, therefore, yes, perhaps we won't see what we saw in -- for

instance, in Italy in March and April.

You would go out into the streets and there was nobody there. Almost all the shops were closed. But it may be a difficult few months ahead.

FOSTER: Ben Wedeman in Rome, thank you.

Along with the coronavirus, there is the public backlash to restrictions. Ben was suggesting that there.

Police in Germany have arrested a man they say forged several hundred vaccination passports. Six people -- police officers were reported injured

in Mannheim and dozens of demonstrators were charged.

Meanwhile, people are trying to get around the rules. Police in Nuremberg arrested those people. They found passes, vaccine stickers and even

doctor's stamps in the man's apartment.

Now France is also trying to crack down on counterfeit health passes. You need the pass for restaurants, bars and sports venues. And Melissa Bell

looks at the coronavirus backlash gripping large parts of Europe.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the new front in Europe's fight against the pandemic. No longer the hesitant but those dead

set against vaccines and COVID-19 restrictions a fight that set to get much uglier.

Nearly one year into the E.U.'s vaccination program and amid a surge in COVID infections, vaccines are becoming mandatory for entire populations or

certain categories, like the elderly or healthcare workers.

ALEXANDER SCHALLENGBERG, FORMER AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Despite months of persuasion, despite intensive media campaigns, despite

discussion in various media, we have not succeeded in convincing enough people to get vaccinated.

BELL (voice-over): In November, Austria became the first European country to announce that vaccines would be mandatory for all starting from

February. The far-right Freedom Party immediately called for demonstrations.

But it isn't just the far-right. Across Europe and for populist parties from all sides of the spectrum, the COVID-19 measures and vaccines have

provided a federating new focus that transcends the old left-right divide.

JEAN-YVES CAMUS, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: It's a divide about whether you trust the media or not. And it was all your trust your politicians are not

of the new divide between the mainstream and the periphery. And the periphery is made of all kinds of people.

BELL (voice-over): Sophie Tissier agrees; she's helped organize several of France's COVID demonstrations.

SOPHIE TISSIER, COVID-19 RALLY COORDINATOR (through translation): We want to create a citizen's opposition which is beyond electoral considerations

and much more like a watchdog that sits outside the world of politics. To be able to tell it look here, you are no longer protecting our rights.

BELL (voice-over): Researchers at the University of Turin have found a strong correlation between anti-vax and populist sentiment.


BELL (voice-over): Which means that mainstream governments are now taking on those they've already lost.

SILVIA RUSSO, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF TURIN: The results here would be that those anti-vaxers would hold even more extreme positions. If

the vaccine become mandatory than the government would need to have some kind of control about it and this can also undermine institutional trust.

BELL (voice-over): Increasingly aggressive vaccine policies may force many more people into vaccination centers but they're also likely to push many

more forcefully onto the streets -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


FOSTER: Some parts of Asia have been fighting vaccine hesitancy. But even in places with high vaccination rates like South Korea, hospitals are under


On Monday, the country reported a record number of COVID deaths as well as patients in critical condition. You see that the spike is really apparent

there in the graph. And China is going all out to prevent a similar scenario. Kristie Lu Stout reports.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: After health authorities in Tianjin confirmed the very first case of the Omicron variant in China,

another case of the variant has been reported in Guangzhou.

State media are reporting that this involves a 67-year-old male. On November the 27th he touched down in Shanghai. He was tested for COVID

multiple times while during his two weeks of hotel quarantine. He flew from Shanghai to Guangzhou, where he tested positive for the Omicron variant.

The epicenter of the current flare-up continues to be Zhejiang province. On Monday, China reported 51 new local cases of the virus, including 44 in

Zhejiang, home to tech giant Alibaba as well as a major shipping port.

Back in August, a single case shut down the port for weeks, causing shipping congestion and wreaking havoc on the global supply chain. And now

tens of thousands of people are now in quarantine across Zhejiang province and over a dozen listed companies have suspended production because of

local COVID-19 restrictions.

The final version of the Beijing Winter Olympic games playbook has already been released. And in this era of Omicron, it provides some clarity about

booster shots. Athletes are, quote, "strongly encouraged to get a booster shot" but not mandated to do so -- Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


FOSTER: Up next, life may be looking more like "The Jetsons." Could this be the way to commute in the not too distant future?

Find out just ahead.




FOSTER: Take a look up at the sky this month. This will be your only chance to see the newly discovered comet, Leonard, before it disappears.


FOSTER: Leonard has spent the last 35,000 years traveling toward our sun. It is set to make its closest pass on January 3rd. In the coming weeks,

look for a fuzzy star near the horizon just after sunset. The comet should look like a slow-moving object but, really, it's actually blazing through

the solar system at 71 kilometers per second.

It has been a long dream that never quite worked out for humankind and that's flying cars. But one company out of Sweden believes they could soon

become part of our daily lives. This is the first commercially available personal flying car, according to the company that developed it, Jetson


One person can sit inside, take off and land the vehicle, which the company says takes about five minutes to learn to use. The creators say they've

sold about 150 units and have seen lots of interest from around the world but is a long way from becoming mainstream.


PETER TERNSTROM, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, JETSON AERO: We want people to be able in 10 years from now to be able to substitute their car and to have

maybe some -- a product like this.

Yes, they're flying to work -- but that's so far ahead from -- we're talking decades and also lots of things need to change, like laws, for

instance. There's an entire legal framework that needs to be changed for this. So this is the first very, very, very small step.

FOSTER (voice-over): Right now the flying car can only last 20 minutes in flight with its current battery. But Jetson Aero is hoping as technology

advances that it will be able to sustain longer periods in the air just within a few years.