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Israeli Prime Minister Meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince; South Africa's President Infected Despite Vaccination; CNN Talks to Man who was Among First to Get COVID Vaccine; Tornado Strikes Amazon Warehouse, Killing Six People; CNN Speaks to Leading South African Vaccinologist Shabir Madhi; Chris Wallace Announces he is Leaving Fox New for CNN Plus. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 13, 2021 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is "Connect the World" with Max Foster.

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello, welcome to "Connect the World" I'm Max Foster filling in for Becky today the push for Middle East

stability. The theme of historic meeting today in the United Arab Emirates for the first time and Israeli Prime Minister has officially visited the

UAE Naftali Bennett greeted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed at the Palace of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince.

The Prime Minister and De Facto UAE Leader sat down for - sat down 15 months after the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington that

normalize relations between the two countries. Just minutes ago, Mr. Bennett released a statement expressing satisfaction with what he called

meaningful in depth and straightforward talks that involve the economy and technology no mention in this statement, though, of Iran.

I want to take a closer look at today's meeting with CNN's Hadas Gold in Jerusalem and Sam Kiley as well, in Abu Dhabi. First of all to you, Sam,

let's just go to Iran first, because this was a very sensitive topic, perhaps they need to do avoid those, at least not talk about them publicly

to make sure this meeting, this first meeting went well, in order for that to speak to the stability of the region.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think you're absolutely right there. What they're saying in public will be only part of

what was said in private. A four hour meeting two hours or so over what was scheduled Max, including a long lunch between the two or at least two

leaders, the Crown Prince and the Israeli Prime Minister.

An historic meeting, very important, indeed, for Israel for a whole range of reasons and something that was reiterated when Naftali made his brief

statement following his meeting but as you rightly point out, no mention there of the elephant in the room or the potential nuclear power across the

sea here of Iran. But this is what Bennett said just after that meeting concluded.


NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I'm finishing up good visit here in the United Arab Emirates. I want to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed

Bin Zayed for a very warm hospitality throughout this visit.

Throughout the day, we had meaningful in depth and straightforward talks about our two nations about the region and about our economy and technology

and what we can do together. I'm flying back to Israel, very optimistic that this relationship can set an example of how we can make peace here in

the Middle East?


KILEY: Meaningful in debt and the bubbles straightforward, very revealing words I think there, Max, I think that the Israelis perhaps came with a

degree of pressure trying to get the Emiratis to ease off on what they are seeing as a rapprochement between the Gulf State and its neighbor across

the ocean and not much of an ocean rather the Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf depending on which side you're on. Because the Emiratis are going in that

direction in counter to Israeli and U.S. desires Max.

FOSTER: OK. And Hadas this is a real triumph, isn't it for the Prime Minister because his predecessor tried many times to make the same trip he

failed in that or is this just about timing?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Partly about timing, but partly also politics have played Benjamin Netanyahu, the Former Prime Minister now

opposition leader was the one who signed who was the Prime Minister when those Abraham Accords and normalization agreements were signed at the White

House in 2020.

He was seen as a major player in those Accords, and he did try to make the trip to Abu Dhabi several times there are various reasons for why they were

canceled, ranging from personal reasons to of course, Coronavirus, but there was also some reports that I had to do with politics that he was

trying to make these trips while he was running for reelection.

And that there were reports that the Emirati didn't want to be seen as getting involved in Israeli politics. So ultimately, it went to his

successor, Naftali Bennett, the sort of accidental Prime Minister who actually today is celebrating his six months as Prime Minister so quite a

way to mark the occasion by becoming the first Israeli prime minister to ever have an official visit to the UAE.

And I should know the significance of this visit Max because just a couple of years ago is really wonderful allowed to enter the UAE and now you have

something like seven or eight daily flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv and Israelis going on vacation to Dubai is considered just a normal part of

life here.

And it's only been about 15 months since those accords were signed. And in a joint statement, which I think is notable that the two leaders issued a

joint statement after this meeting, they talked about the tremendous partnership that they were building.

They also talked about establishing a Joint Research and Development Fund. In a later statement, the prime minister talked about how they discussed

establishing a free trade agreement. And perhaps most notably, and this would be really amazing if we see this come to light. The Prime Minister

invited the Crown Prince to visit Israel and he accepted the invitation Max.

FOSTER: Which is interesting, isn't it? It's really developing. And Sam, in terms of how this was all set up credit should go to Netanyahu for the way

this initial deal was reached, but also to Donald Trump.

KILEY: Yes, two highly controversial leaders. But there's no question at all that this was a triumph of diplomacy, led by Donald Trump engineered in

large part by his former friend Benjamin Netanyahu has been less flattering in his descriptions of the Former Israeli prime minister in recent

interviews, using the F word to describe him.

But I know that you're absolutely right. This this - whatever you one thinks of the Trump administration. This was a diplomatic triumph and one

that has had as has been saying something that Israel is keen to see expanding, then we heard from Bennett they're saying that this sort of

relationship they want to see developing elsewhere in the Arab World.

One of the key issues those still on the backburner very much on the backburner, it would seem certainly with Gulf Arab states is the future of

the Palestinians, ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the encirclement of Gaza.

That's something that really has been pushed to one side, certainly from the Emirati perspective as the Emirates pursue their own interests. And

that is something a nation that is frequently threatened with annihilation that the Israelis can relate to.

FOSTER: Hadas, presumably, we're looking at the next meeting for the real substance, because this was really about optics, making this first visit

look like a good foundation for a future relationship.

GOLD: And that's, I mean, often these visits are all part of the personal relationship. And I don't think anybody expected some major trade agreement

or anything to come out of this for Naftali Bennett and for the Emiratis, there was a lot of concern also of over control of this trip.

You know, we got very limited videos and images and some of the videos didn't even have sound to them. And everything was very clearly tightly

under wraps and under control until really the last minute we only this trip was only made public on Sunday.

And the real work has been the flurry of diplomatic and business and economic activity between the two countries over the past 15 months. There

are now embassies in the countries the foreign ministers have visited. And there is a potentially a lot of work and major work that could be done.

There has been a lot of business between the two countries. And I think that's where there's a lot of sort of joint interest. In the first seven

months of 2021, there were $600 million of trade done; Israeli officials say that's a $550 million more than the year before.

Of course, they also have joint interest in Iran. And so there is definitely a desire to see this relationship expanded. And for the two

leaders to show that they got along, warmly shaking, hands smiling, there's even a photo released, where it looked like the Crown Prince was like

whispering something to Naftali Bennett, those are all so important parts of the image that Israel wants to show, especially to other countries in

the region that they potentially want to bring on to these Abraham Accords Max.

FOSTER: OK, Hadas also Sam, thank you both very much for bringing us that context this historic visit. The visit coming against the backdrop of the

stalled Iran nuclear talks, as Sam was mentioning, and many stakeholders are saying time is running out, including the German Foreign Minister for

its part, Iran is laying the blame the lack of over the lack of a deal at the feet of what it calls the opposite side more on this in just a moment.

I want to highlight that the G7 nations are warning Russia of what they call massive consequences. Meanwhile, if it takes any further military

aggression against Ukraine, tensions over Moscow's military buildup along Ukraine's border; top the agenda of the G7 foreign ministers meeting in


They released a statement on Sunday after gathering in Liverpool reaffirming their commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty. CNN's Nic Robertson

was there and sent us the details.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): Well, after a day and a half a tour to G7 Foreign Ministers sending a very clear, very

unambiguous message to President Putin that if Russian troops invade Ukraine, there will be costs and consequences.

LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: We have sent a very clear united message to Vladimir Putin from this G7 meeting. And we want Russia to stop

its aggression with respect to Ukraine and we are very clear that there would be severe consequences if that incursion took place. This is about

deterring Russia from taking that action.

ROBERTSON (on camera): And although Russia and Ukraine taking up a great deal of the conversation time here, Iran also a breakthrough issue, the

German Foreign Minister, saying that the ongoing nuclear deal talks in Vienna are faltering that Iran is setting them back the message from the G7

that Iran needs to get serious about those talks.


TRUSS: This is the last chance for Iran to come to the negotiating table with a serious resolution to this issue, which has to be agreeing the terms

of the JCPOA. This is the last chance and it is vital that they do so. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Other topics of conversation here COVID-19 and China finding a strategy to combat China's coercive trade practices with low and

middle income nations.

But even as the meeting room here, wrapping up word from Moscow, that Russia's state media running a video clip from President Putin's virtual

meeting with President Biden in the past week, saying President Putin would really like to meet face to face with President Biden not clear if that's a

reaction to the G7 or simply diplomatic brinksmanship Nic Robertson, CNN, Liverpool, England.


FOSTER: Ahead on the show South Africa's President tests positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, the latest on his condition and the

transfer of responsibility that he's made. Plus lining up in London and across England for COVID booster shots, but the UK is doing as it confirms

its first death from Omicron.


FOSTER: Turning to our top stories this hour; confusion persists as the number of Omicron variant cases skyrockets around the world. The World

Health Organization says Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant COVID-19. And more research suggests that our existing COVID

vaccines may not protect us enough.

Oxford University researchers find the AstraZeneca short provides no protection from the strain from 15 weeks after the second dose. There's

also a substantial decrease in effectiveness for the Pfizer shots. That's according to a preprint of the study.

There's still no evidence that it's more deadly than other variants, but the UK has reported its first different Omicron and with his country in the

spotlight since it discovered the new strain. South Africa's President has tested positive for COVID 19. He's being treated for mild symptoms.


FOSTER: David McKenzie has been bringing us the league from South Africa and the region he joins us live from Johannesburg. And you know the case

there you know really illustrates the point that it does spread quickly.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think you're right in terms of spreading quickly. Certainly the anecdotal evidence at this point Max is

that it is very transmissible and, you know, that's based both on the cases raising quickly and also just the fact of this.

The anecdotal information you're getting in terms of so many people seemingly getting sick all at the same time, but many of them are like the

President of the country Cyril Ramaphosa his office saying that he does have a mild version of COVID-19.

He's handed over the reins for at least a week to his deputy president. And he used the opportunity Max to reiterate that vaccinations are key to

stopping severe illness. He had a one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that many months ago, he was the in fact a Max have his booster this week.

But that's been delayed, obviously because of his infection. But it does show that at least the President of South Africa is doesn't appear to be

very sick and at least anecdotally, again, and I keep using that word, but it's important to stress this is not hard evidence. At this point, it does

seem many of the cases are less severe, at this point Max.

FOSTER: Take us to the term travel apartheid, because we're hearing it more and more here in Europe. It must be much bigger talking point, obviously in


MCKENZIE: Oh, that's right. The red list that the UK hit very early on in the after the announcement of this variant here in South Africa, on the

25th of November, a regulator cascade of travel restrictions, outright travel bans, and even some instances of people getting stranded at airports

as we've been reporting.

There is a great deal of anger, I think, here in South Africa and southern Africa at large when you look at the level of community transmission in the

UK and other parts of Europe. And in fact, in many parts of the world, the feeling is that these bans have little effect, certainly at this point, and

are having a very punishing economic effect and also just splitting up families stopping reunions after what is a very important time of the year

for many, many people Max.

FOSTER: OK, David in Johannesburg, thank you. UK confirming its first death from Omicron variant British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the

announcement a short while ago, but didn't mention whether the person had been vaccinated. He was the UK is facing what he calls a tidal wave of

Omicron infections.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We can see Omicron spiking now in London and some other parts of the country in - here in the Capital it

probably represents about 40 percent of the cases by tomorrow. It will be the majority of the cases and it's increasing the whole time. And sadly,

yes, Omicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly at least one patient that have now been confirmed to have died with Omicron.


FOSTER: Prime Minister speeding up England's rollout of booster shots these new Omicron concerns are looming over his government as Mr. Johnson comes

under more fire. This is why a new photo has emerged showing him hosting a Downing Street Christmas Party last Christmas while strict Coronavirus

restrictions are in place.

Let's bring in Salma, who's been looking at all of this. Putin is not underestimating the threat here in one was on a warlike footing, but their

response is slightly different from other parts of Europe because they're looking at vaccination as a solution.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. So there are two avenues. There's two ways in which we fight Coronavirus. The first is, of course

social restrictions. We have some of those coming out. Masks are now mandatory in public transport and most public settings that are indoors.

You have starting today if you can work from home, you should work from home and tomorrow Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to go to Parliament

to push through a few more social restrictions including a COVID pass if you're in a large venue like club or a night venue, but the government's

main strategy is boosters, boosters, boosters, boosters.

That's why you had the Prime Minister out today. You saw him there pushing for more vaccinations. He wants to see every single person in this country

over the age of 18 every single eligible person get an invitation for their booster job by the end of the year. It's a huge feat.

Yes, the amount of vaccinations is there but do you have the staffing? Do you have the clinics? Do you have the space to do that? It's going to

require bringing up our vaccination level rates in this country up to what it was even higher than the beginning of the year when vaccines first

rolled out.

So huge effort you have the military involved hundreds of people being trained to vaccinate it's a massive, massive effort if the government pulls

it off but they say this layer of protection is necessary the Omicron variant is set to be the dominant variant in London by tomorrow.


FOSTER: And the skepticism about more people really about whether or not booster shots are the way through but also skepticism about his authority.

And this could all undermine his effort, right?

ABDELAZIZ: Absolutely, right now the Prime Minister is embroiled in a scandal over Christmas parties plural that allegedly took place at Downing

Street last year. The feeling here is that in the very offices in the very rooms where these rules were set, they were also being broken Max, I want

you to take a look at what happened last week.


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to save his credibility and office after a week of scandal that set off public fury.

JOHNSON: Good afternoon, everybody.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): The latest hit coming from British tabloid the mirror. A newly leaked photo showed Johnson at a Christmas party quiz

inside Downing Street December last year, at a time when indoor social gatherings were banned in London.

Downing Street admits Johnson took part in the virtual event briefly, but added those participating in person were already working in their offices.

It adds to mounting information that multiple parties took place at the prime minister's office and residents last year, a brazen violation of


CNN has confirmed that two social gatherings were indeed held one on November 27 and another on December 18. And that Johnson himself gave an

impromptu speech at the first one.

Days earlier a leaked video of a mock press conference showed officials laughing about the alleged December 18th Christmas party. Allegra Stratton,

the Prime Minister spokesperson seen in the video--


ABDELAZIZ (voice over): --apologized and resigned shortly after. Last week Johnson launched an investigation into the social gatherings. Still, he has

continuously denied that any party's took place or any restrictions were broken.

JOHNSON: I can tell you that. I've certainly break no rules that the whole thing will be looked into by the cabinet secretary and what I'm focused on,

frankly, is the vaccine rollout.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): It comes as health officials warned Omicron cases in the UK are doubling every two to three days. On Sunday, the Prime

Minister pled for compliance with new COVID rules and urged everyone eligible to get boosted.

ANDREW MARR, BBC ANCHOR: There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): But the country's opposition leader Keir Starmer said Johnson is a threat to public health and no longer fit for Office.

MARR: Now that trust is broken. And many people are now saying well, if the Prime Minister is going to allow breaking the rules, parties, and quizzes

going on in Downing Street when we're being asked not to see our loved ones. Well, why should I follow the rules?

ABDELAZIZ (voice over): Johnson is set to be back in Parliament this week to push new COVID measures. He is expected to face a rebellion from his own

party appearing to lose faith, even among his own circle.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, Max, this is no longer just about what took place inside of Downing Street, what parties took placing when and who was there? It is now

about how the Prime Minister has handled this because there's this overwhelming sense that he's lied to the public.

That despite videos and pictures and multiple accounts to journalists, he has insisted that no rules were broken that nothing went wrong. So right

now, he's dealing with questions about his credibility questions about his moral authority, his ethical standing at a time when he's trying to impose

new rules.

All of this is going to be put to the test tomorrow when he goes back to Parliament to try to push through more COVID measures.

FOSTER: Thank you, Salma. Whilst you're speaking, we heard that 10 people between the ages of 18 and 85 have been hospitalized with Omicron in

England, so not across the UK. But in England, there are cases in Scotland as well. I haven't got those figures here.

And the saying here that the majority had received two doses of vaccination, which speaks to the fact that the vaccinations may not be

protecting us against Omicron in the same way as they did against Delta, but these are very early statistics and we'll keep an eye on them.

You may remember Martin Kenyon who won viewers hearts last year in a CNN interview about being amongst the first to get a COVID vaccine; he quickly

became a viral sensation with his British humor. CNN's Cyril Vanier caught up with him to see how he's doing one year later.


MARTIN KENYON, AMONG FIRST TO GET COVID-19 VACCINE: I said what the thing you're doing is the vaccination is yes.

VANIER (on camera): Remember this from a year ago?

KENYON: I hope I am not going to have the bloody bug now. I didn't intend to have it so granddaughters. I want to live a long time.

VANIER (voice over): A dash of humor, a zest of dry wit and good old fashioned British Common Sense.

KENYON: Put in a point dying now when I have lived this --.


VANIER (voice over): This from newly vaccinated 91 year old Martin Kenyon on the day the UK rolled out the world's first COVID-19 vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sitting here; I'm sure Jim to beaming from ear to ear that entire interview.

VANIER (voice over): For a brief viral moment, 6 million views on Twitter, Martin was everyone's cup of tea, gushing headlines, and a star turn on

Good Morning Britain. When we catch up with him at his London home, Martin hasn't changed one bit.

VANIER (on camera): So Martin, how have you been? It's great to see you. It's been a while.

KENYON: I'm still alive. That's the most important thing, isn't it? I've been - alive instead of soil. I've been very well.

VANIER (voice over): How does he feel about his overnight fame?

KENYON: I never saw any of it. I had no idea was there. I still haven't seen it. It requires other people to tell me about it. I've never seen what

was in. Maybe it was ANCs called, what did Americans--

VANIER: CNN, we are fond of you at CNN.

KENYON: CNN, CNN, that's it. The fact is that when this thing happened, other people did see my name in the paper. Every single damned London

newspaper was there, which rather shocked me now.

VANIER: So how is life after vaccination?

KENYON: I can't - it changed at all. I had the injection. I remember going to get it. I took my own initiative and got over it.

VANIER (voice over): One thing inoculation does help with seeing his granddaughters.

KENYON: And they love their grandfather. That's a great thing. He took a great care to care about me, which couldn't be luckier. I couldn't be


VANIER (voice over): Like last year Martin plans to spend Christmas with his family unruffled by the pandemic, but cautious. He got his booster

shots more than two months ago, the vaccination card always in his back pocket.

VANIER (on camera): Do you have any parting thoughts for us?

KENYON: Oh, lovely.

VANIER (on camera): I think you're lovely too. Thank you very much.

VANIER (voice over): Cyril Vanier, CNN, Paris.


FOSTER: Ahead on the show more on the fast spreading Omicron variant, despite a rapid acceleration of infections, one South African volcanologist

says in a few weeks, we could be at a turning point in the pandemic. Also ahead, the hope of finding more survivors in the rubble after tornadoes

level parts of the U.S.



FOSTER: The Governor of Kentucky has confirmed at least 64 deaths in his state and says the toll is likely to rise after dozens of tornado struck

parts of the U.S. over the weekend. At least eight states reported tornadoes Kentucky was hit the hardest. The governor said the victims range

in age from five months to 86 years.


ANDY BESHEAR, KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: As of this morning, our best count for confirmed deaths. The most accurate count we have as of this morning is 64

Kentuckians. Remember, this is fluid, and the numbers will change. And sometimes they have thank God gone down. Other times they've gone up again

with this amount of damage and rubble. It may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of loss.


FOSTER: In Edwardsville, Illinois, the same storm system launched a tornado that tore into an Amazon warehouse; six people were killed when the

building partially collapsed. Polo Sandoval is at the scene there for us. When we look at the images, you know, it's incredible that so many people

did survive but such a tragedy nevertheless.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That doesn't make it alive to Max. But we can tell you about this particular site here, the search the rescue, the

recovery, all of that was completed over the weekend right now.

Crews behind me are actually focusing on the cleanup process. And what sets what we're seeing here in southwestern Illinois apart from perhaps what's

been seen in neighboring states like Kentucky that saw widespread damage is that all that death and destruction that was all contained here.

Mother Nature targeted this specific Amazon shipping center where on Friday night that storm that tornado basically cut through the facility inside was

a total of 46 people and we understand according to authorities, six of those did not make it out alive. One of them is Clayton Cope.

The family of the retired Navy veteran 29 years of age took us into their home yesterday to share some of the memorable stories that they have, that

they shared. Obviously with this young man, his mother Carla telling me that the last conversation that she had with her son was Friday assets

storm was basically zeroing in on the area here. And she recalls overhearing her son basically urging his coworkers to see cover.


CARLA COPE, SON DIED WHEN TORNADO STRUCK WAREHOUSE: In my heart, I know that he went to try to warn other people to get where they needed to be in

between his military terror training and just who he was, he would have done that, no matter whether you know, he was told to or not. So that's the

only thing I can hold on to be that I feel like he must have been trying to help someone else.

SANDOVAL: What is it that you want the world to know about your son?

COPE: I just want him to know that he was a wonderful caring person, and that his presence will be a huge void in so many lives.


SANDOVAL: So again, Mrs. Cope's son, just one of six people who did not survive that partial building collapse here in southwestern Illinois and

Max, you will hear those stories all throughout the region.

Obviously, if dozens of families who lost loved ones in neighboring Kentucky here, now as for Amazon here at the site, they say they have been

in constant contact with those that were deeply affected here.

And also tell us telling us that at the moment of the storm that their managers inside were using loudspeakers and bull horns to basically urge

those team members of theirs to seek cover immediately. And again, that they are in constant contact with the families and the rest of the

community as they now focuses on the healing process with the cleanup almost complete.

FOSTER: OK, Polo, thank you. We're getting a clearer picture of just how powerful these storms were as teams assess the damage. The Storm Prediction

Center says there were at least 50 Tornado reports. At least five of them are categorized as EF3 tornadoes that's means the third most intense.


FOSTER: The U.S. Emergency Management Chief says storms like these will be the new normal due to climate change. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us

live from Atlanta. Is that a view that you share Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: I think what she was saying is that we are going to have more disasters, not technically more tornadoes, but

more things that go wrong. We know that it's high evidence that we have more heat waves.

We know that the ocean is rising coastal flooding. We know that there are heavy rains and there's drought. What we don't know we have very limited

evidence of what's going to happen to hurricanes and tornadoes because tornadoes are so complex.

Yes, you need heat, yes, you need humidity, but you also need a Jetstream. You also need the winds to be turning in the atmosphere as you go up. You

also need the wind to be going faster as you go up, so all these things have to combine to make tornadoes.

Otherwise there'd be a tornado every day, it was hot, and we just don't get that. So what's happened here, most scientists I've talked to a few believe

that if you warm the poles, like we know the Noth Pole is getting warmer.

And it's getting warmer, a lot faster than let's say down across the south, or even in the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. If you warm that Nothern

pole, you're going to slow down the Jetstream.

So there's a possibility with a slower jet that the number of tornadoes could actually decrease because you're taking one of those ingredients out.

It's like not putting the beans in bean soup, you know, I mean, you just have to; you need all the ingredients to make all the things.

What we do know is that back out here where I used to live where some of these ranches are 10,000 hector's there's not many people. And that's where

Tornado Alley really used to be.

But with the new normal, it appears that the storms are moving farther to the east where the population density is significantly higher. Here was the

storm from Arkansas right on through Missouri, into Kentucky and all the way up to the Noth from Noth there.

And we do even know that tornadoes happened in December, not a rare event. Certainly not widespread but 23 tornadoes per year on average happen down

along the Gulf Coast where the humidity is not up here where it's supposed to be snowing.

In linear years as well, you're going to see a turn of the Jetstream come down here and the possibility of more tornadic activity with La Nina and we

are in La Nina right now. Max.

FOSTER: It's complex and scary. Chad, thanks for bringing us that and breaking it down for us. Now ahead on the show we returned to one of our

top stories accelerating spread of Omicron. We'll speak with a leading South African researcher who has said he's feeling somewhat optimistic

about Omicron.



FOSTER: Here in the UK, the countries reported the world's first known death from the Omicron Coronavirus variants. Government's launching an

ambitious booster shot program to tackle what the prime minister called a tidal wave of infections.

You can see a queue here people outside of vaccination center, Omicron suspected to be less deadly than the Delta variant but has --that has yet

to be confirmed. But we do know is according to the World Health Organization, and others it spreads more easily.

And each day more scientific evidence emerges that Omicron may evade vaccine protection. For much more, I'm joined by Dr. Shabir Madhi, he's

professor of Vaccinology and the Dean of the Health Sciences Faculty at Wits University.

He joins me live from Johannesburg, thank you so much for joining us. What do you make of the British government's response to Omicron because it's

very different to the South African government response?


the South African government has taken much more nuanced approach based on the past experiences over the course of the three previous waves, when

going into higher levels of restriction simply didn't prevent people from getting infected.

All it really did in a South African context said it spread those infections over a longer period of time, probably an additional one to two

weeks. This time around or government has decided is instead of trying to prevent infections, to keep his eye on hospitalization and death, and

probably tailored response, going to higher level of restrictions if healthcare facilities are imminently under threat. And that seems to be

working up until now.

FOSTER: The concern about balancing, you know the how dangerous the symptoms are from this and the transmissibility of that thing, that this

seems to be what they're grappling with right now. So it may not be have the same symptoms as delta, but more people will have milder symptoms that

will put the same pressure with it on a healthcare system, which is the concern here.

DR. MADHI: And that really depends what sort of underlying immunity you've got at a population level. And even if the - is antibody based, so if it

doesn't mean that vaccines don't work against what matters most, and that is prevention, or reduction of hospitalization and death.

So in South Africa, what we're experiencing is that this particular wave has increased much more rapidly than any of the three previous waves,

including the Delta variant wave.

But at the same time, what we've seen is an uncoupling when it comes to hospitalization and death, relative to the number of cases that have been

diagnosed in the community, as an example, right now in South Africa as close to 20,000 new cases that were diagnosed day before yesterday.

And there were 25 deaths that occurred. During the course of the Delta variant wave when they were 20,000 cases that were being diagnosed there

were between 250 and 300 people that were dying of COVID-19 on that particular day.

So what we're seeing is an uncoupling of infections and severe disease and death. And the reason for this is not necessarily because the virus is less

virulent itself is more transmissible. But we don't know whether it's just variants. But what we do know is that Omicron has evolved at a point in

time, which is very different with regard to the extent of community immunity.

And that community immunity, and particularly what is referred to as a T cell immunity is probably attenuating, the clinical cause of the

infections, and consequently, we don't see these infections materializing into large number of hospitalizations and death.

FOSTER: That's another word for - if I can summarize, are you talking about herd immunity there when you're talking about T-cell immunity?

DR. MADHI: No, I'm not talking of herd immunity. Immunity suggested there's no transmission of the virus taking place. There's a lot of transmission of

the virus taking place. T-cell immunity is another arm of the immune system, which really sort of kills off the infected cells, and hence

bringing an end to the application of the virus.

The antibodies are more important when it comes to the virus being able to gain entry into the cells. But once it's inside the cells, it's probably

the T-cell immunity that matters most.

And what we've seen over the course, including with a beta variant, is that even though the variants might become antibody evasive, the T-cell immunity

is relatively preserved, both T cell immunity that's induced by past infection as well as T-cell immunity that's actually induced by vaccines.

So that's the reason you have this disconnect of people still likely being able to get infected with Omicron, but they're less likely now progressing

on to severe disease and death because of that underlying T-cell immunity.

FOSTER: OK. Thank you very much for joining us for insight from South Africa where this was first detected Omicron. And we're looking around the

world to see how it's spreading. Thank you so much again. Now Meanwhile, China says it's detected its first Omicron case saying travelers traveling

or riding from overseas brought it into the Mainland.

The new variant is spreading as the pandemic continues to push healthcare systems everywhere to the brink. CNN's Michael Holmes explains how experts

worry Omicron could make matters even worse.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The - Sean's Elise sparkles at night full of holiday lights and shoppers, some wearing

masks, some not, a festive scene that there is a different hustle and bustle going on in hospitals in France, and elsewhere in Europe to, one

that is far more urgent and devoid of cheer.

Hospitals once again in some regions of France are almost filled to capacity due to a rise in New COVID 19 cases, even though the country has

more than 70 percent of its population fully vaccinated.

Some medical centers are struggling to admit new patients and have activated emergency plans, which include expanding the number of ICU beds

and postponing non-essential treatments. Another wave of COVID-19 that is wearing down and already we re-staff.

JULIEN CARVELLI, ICU DOCTOR: You know work has been very hard for two years, especially in COVID units. We've had people who are competent to

work in ICUs who left and they no longer want to be hired in the COVID unit.

HOLMES (voice over): Hospital wards already strained with patients infected by the Delta variant of the Coronavirus brace for what could come next. The

UK says people sick from the fast spreading Omicron variant and now being admitted to hospitals.

The CEO of the International Council of Nurses who heads a group representing 27 million nurses says this could be the breaking point for

many healthcare workers. He says turnover could be alarming.

His organization estimates the rates of nurses intending to leave the job within a year has risen to 20 to 30 percent.

HOWARD CATTON, CEO, INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF NURSES: The feeling of they've run already two or three or even four marathons with each wave of the

pandemic the prospects of having to go again mean that many of them are not sure whether they can.

HOLMES (voice over): The nurses group says there was already a global shortage of 6 million nurses before the pandemic, and many were set to

retire in the next few years. But the pandemic has further drained the ranks.

The World Health Organization says up to 180,000 healthcare workers may have died from COVID-19 from the beginning of the pandemic through May of

this year, and a small percentage are leaving because of vaccine mandates.

Germany recently joined a number of other European countries like France and Italy to require vaccinations or proof of recovery from COVID-19 for

all healthcare workers, beginning in March.

A new study in the UK says without additional measures, there could be more hospitalizations in England this winter then last because of the Omicron

variant. Experts warning large numbers of even less severe cases would have an impact on hospitals.

CATTON: My sense is that nurses around the world I think like all of us were perhaps starting to feel so we were seeing light at the end of the

pandemic tunnel. But now, there's a palpable anxiety that we could be going back close to square one.

HOLMES (voice over): A setback that could derail what many healthcare workers really want this holiday season desperately needed break. Michael

Holmes, CNN.


FOSTER: This is "Connect the World". Still ahead Peloton puts a new spin on a seemingly unfortunate product placement and it happened just like that.

We'll explain and a longtime U.S. News Anchor quits joining a bitter rival and is most welcome at CNN.



FOSTER: Product placements in movies and television go back decades of course, but maybe never one quite like this. And a warning major spoiler

alert for you ahead if you intend to watch the new "Sex and the City" spin off titles and just like that, lower the volume now.

A major character in the show Mr. Big dies of a heart attack after working out on a Peloton bike, Peloton didn't waste any time responding in the form

of a new commercial. Paul La Monica joins us now. Paul, we should let viewers know that the show airs on HBO Max owned by CNN's parent company.

But it was a pretty quick turnaround for peloton; did you think they did the right thing? Do they have any choice?

PAUL R. LA MONICA, CNN REPORTER: Yes, I mean, I think your Peloton could Max have just let this slide. It is a fictional show and you have to trust

that your viewers aren't going to all of a sudden say that no, I'm not going to buy a Peloton because Mr. Big had a heart attack on one.

But I think they did choose to make a humorous attempt to counter any negative publicity by teaming up with Ryan Reynolds who has already done an

ad poking fun at Peloton before. And doing this with Chris Noth, the actor in the --you know in "Sex and the City" is a way for them to try and spin

so to speak this forward and show that hey, there is nothing wrong with their devices that you know you're going to die of a heart attack.

However, let's keep in mind Peloton has had many problems this year that have nothing to do with a fictitious character passing away. They have had

recall issues and also they have come under fire from consumers for being potentially overpriced.

And there's a lot of competition from other cheaper exercise equipment makers and people are also going back to the gym fully vaccinated people

feel more comfortable working out outside of the home.

All this adds up to trouble for Peloton the stock got downgraded on Friday. Chris Noth passing away fictitiously on a Peloton is the least of the

company's problems right now.

FOSTER: Yes, we're just looking at the share price is currently down 1 percent which is a big hit for the company, isn't it? Does it open the

debate about whether or not you know we talk a lot about product placement?

But whether there's a debate about the opposite where companies can insist that their product doesn't appear in a series of some kind because they you

know, they own the intellectual property.

MONICA: Yes, I mean there is you know the notion that all publicity is good publicity and this may not necessarily be the case. I think the timing is

just bad. I think that you know, I seriously doubt that the writers of the "Sex and the City" spin off we're looking at what Peloton stock price has

done in the past year when they wrote this scene.

I think its bad luck for Peloton that it was already struggling. If Peloton was still riding high so to speak, then, you know, they probably would have

just laughed this off. It's just the - it's one more negative headline in - this year.

FOSTER: OK, Paul, thank you. It's a fascinating story. Now one of America's high profile TV news personalities Chris Wallace is joining our team here

at CNN. Wallace made the stunning announcement on Sunday.

He was set down as an anchor at Fox News and other rival U.S. network and will become an anchor for CNN Plus which is our streaming service that

we'll be launching in just a few months' time.


CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter joins us live from New York. This is a very big deal for anyone that understands U.S. media, but just

explains to people outside America, what he'll be bringing to the network?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right significant for CNN and for Fox, first on the Fox side, journalists have been fleeing Fox for the

past few years as that Trump takeover took place. And now as Tucker Carlson's right wing Extremism takes over Fox News.

It is exactly what we're seeing with the Republican Party in the United States, where moderates are being squeezed out where you know truth voices

are being squeezed out by Trump extremism.

Well, the same things happening at Fox News that GOP media and there was less and less room for Chris Wallace a down the middle journalist to do his

show. His contract was coming up at the end of this year, he decided not to stay at Fox, he decided to join CNN instead.

It's a big deal for CNN, because as you mentioned, Max CNN is launching this streaming service early next year. It is a big, very expensive bet on

the future of media, trying to create a very, very big platform for news and for lifestyle programming.

So Wallace will be hosting a weekday show on CNN Plus, so it reveals a lot about Fox that he wanted to leave. And it also reveals a lot about CNN,

that the network is paying to bring in a big star from Fox to host a weekday show.

FOSTER: We're all fascinated by CNN Plus even within the network; it's still taking shape, isn't it? What do we understand about it what it looked

like? I mean, this is an educator, presumably.

STELTER: Yes, I think this is a statement about how important this venture is for CNN, writ large, CNN, a 40 year old brand, a global news brand

available on cable and satellite and available with its current products online. But CNN Plus is something entirely new with new original

programming that is not what's already provided on cable and satellite.

So what you see is a lot of different news outlets, including CNN, all making big to provide content on streaming and when you can bring over

Chris Wallace that adds immediate gravitas and credibility to the new venture next year.

FOSTER: OK, Brian, thank you so much, it's fascinating to watch. Thank you for joining us. I'm Max Foster that was "Connect the World". "One World"

with Zain Asher is up next for you.