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Connect the World

Study Suggests Omicron is More Transmissible, Less Severe; Vaccine Rules and Mandates Drive Protests in Europe; Belarusian Opposition Leader's Husband Sentenced to 18 Years; CNN Speaks to Head of Africa Health Research Institute; U.S. Lawmakers Debate Contempt Charge Against Top Trump Aide; Yemen Crowned West Asian Junior Football Champions. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 14, 2021 - 11:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Hello, welcome to "Connect the World". I am Max Foster in for Becky Anderson, and a large real world study

out of South Africa giving your insight into the Omicron variants of Coronavirus.

Omicron is causing COVID-19 cases in to search in South Africa with the positivity rate they're topping 30 percent. The study suggests reduced

effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTtech vaccine against the infection, and it gives more weight to speculation that the variance raises the chances of


But the study also indicates that people infected with Omicron are less likely to be hospitalized. And there's no data in this study on vaccine

effectiveness after a booster dose.

This comes - the news comes as Pfizer says its COVID-19 pill dramatically reduces the risk of hospitalization and death if given to high risk adults

soon after infection. Let's talk about the medical facts and the situation on the ground as well in South Africa.

David McKenzie is in Johannesburg, Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen also joins me and I know that your world, Elizabeth very much looking

forward to this study. So what was the headline for you?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The headline to me really is that this confirms very much what Pfizer has already found, what

another group in South Africa found, which is that this vaccine really does seem to be quite effective at keeping you out of the hospital, but you can

still get sick, even if you've been vaccinated, you can still get Omicron.

So let's take a look at what we, what they found. So folks who had two doses of Pfizer, they were 33 percent of the vaccine was 33 percent

effective at preventing infection, but was about 70 percent effective against hospitalization. So that's good news and bad news, right?

You would like for it to be 90 something percent effective against infection, but that's not the case, so x and pretty good chance that even

if you've been vaccinated, you're going to get Omicron, but a very good chance that the vaccine will keep you out of the hospital, Max.

FOSTER: And in terms of, you know, the booster, a lot of people looking at that thing that will make the big difference. But that wasn't reflected in

this study. But it does suggest that a booster is going to be effective.

COHEN: That's right, because a Pfizer actually did look at the booster to see what that would do. And they found that the booster really did improve

things. So this is you know, yet more evidence that boosters are helpful.

FOSTER: OK and, David, in terms of what's happening on the ground speaking to when the researchers of this new report, and she's very much looking at

it as a glass half full situation is positive news that allows the country to move forward. Is that the feeling on the ground as well?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think there's cautious optimism, yes, Max. And there is a real sense from clinicians who actually dealing with

this day in day out in hospitals across South Africa and the region of maybe a sigh of relief is too strong.

But there is some optimism that the presentation of this virus in hospitals, even those on some level who are unvaccinated is not as serious

that is very anecdotal at this stage.

But the same discovery study did show that there is a drop in severity compared to the very first version of this virus amongst those they are

seeing in the last few weeks. It is early days, though. And they warned that you're really going to need to watch this for several more weeks to

prove that, but there is optimism that it's not as bad as they feared it would be, Max.

FOSTER: OK, David. Thank you, Elizabeth; I just want to come back to you. We mentioned the Pfizer pill. And there's a huge amount of excitement

around the world about this because it does seem to be you know, really positive news, particularly obviously, for people who don't like injections

as well. But what did you see in the study about that?

COHEN: So Max, definitely, this is good news. I'm going to preface this by saying it is always better to be vaccinated. This pill is treats you once

you have COVID-19, it is always better to prevent infection.

But if you do get infected, and you do get this pill early, and I mean early on in your course of COVID-19, it does seem to do some good. So let's

take a look at the results from Pfizer.

So when they gave this pill to folks who were within five days of symptom onset, so five days is very short. The folks who receive the placebo in the

study, in other words, a pill that does nothing, 66 of them were hospitalized over the next month, and 12 of them died.

But folks who got the drug in this clinical trial, only eight of them were hospitalized and none of them died and an equal number got placebo and

drugs. So you can see that is a huge difference. Now there are a couple of caveats here.

These results at five days after symptoms were good, it was even better if you got the pill within three days of symptoms.


COHEN: At least in the United States, testing is sometimes messy. It can be hard to find a place, it could be hard to get results back quickly, then

you would need to call your doctor, your doctor would need to prescribe this pill. So it's the trick here is to get it early. And getting it early

may not be easy, given the testing situation in the United States, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Elizabeth, thank you back to you, David because as Elizabeth says, the secret here really is vaccination. But that's a problem in large

parts of Africa, isn't it because they're not getting the vaccine supplies in and that's where a lot of experts say the new variants could come from

as a result.

MCKENZIE: Well, we don't know where the new variant came from. But yes, there is an assumption it might be from the Africa region. And you're

right, the levels of vaccination Max in other countries outside of South Africa are largely very low, but not exclusively, but largely, so.

And so the worry is that this could have an impact. And also, the worry is that more variants like this could emerge. I have to say at this point,

though, there is a surge in cases across Africa, driven largely by South Africa, there isn't yes, any evidence on push or this major surge at

hospital level.

And I spent the last few days making calls around this region, to clinicians. And it reflects at this stage, what's happening in South Africa

that there isn't an overflow of patients in hospitals, like they saw in earlier waves just yet.

Again, we'll have to wait and see. But that is also a positive indication, if nothing concrete yet, Max.

FOSTER: David and Elizabeth, thank you both very much indeed for your insight on this. A bigger supply of vaccines finally starting to arrive in

Africa in recent months, but some of the donated vaccines are said to be too close to the expiration dates. Nigeria now forced to destroy a million

expired COVID-19 vaccines.

Last week, the Nigerian health minister said the vaccines they received for the COVAX donation program had very short shelf life, just weeks and some

of them. Last month our Becky Anderson spoke with the Co-Chair of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, who warned that this was coming.


AYOADE ALAKJIA, CO-CHAIR, AFRICA VACCINE DELIVERY ALLIANCE: In Nigeria, Abuja where I sit today, you know, Nigeria, we have 1.5 million vaccines

that were pretty much dumped on us in the last few weeks because high income countries didn't want them to export their shows that are about to

expire in the next week or two.


FOSTER: Well, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa responded to the impression that COVAX recipients are wasting millions of

doses. Take a listen.


DR. MATSHIDISO MOETI, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AFRICA: It's necessary to dispel the impression that even as we are

expressing concern about access to vaccine supplies, there are millions of doses being wasted expiring in Africa. That is not the case. The main

challenge in African countries has been access to vaccine supplies.


FOSTER: While the UK facing an urgent battle with the overcrowded threat, the British Health Secretary warning the cases of the Omicron variants are

doubling around every two days, that's got people up and down England, lining up for COVID booster shots.

The health secretary was speaking a few hours ago in the UK parliament where British lawmakers are debating new measures to fight the Omicron

threat. A vote on tougher new rules for England is set for the coming hours.

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

passes are sparking civil liberties concerns especially amongst dozens of conservative lawmakers, his party of course.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is at the House of Parliament for us. She joins us. We've also heard in the last couple of hours about how red lists countries

are well, countries that Britain has on their red lists on being delisted because basically Omicron is everywhere already.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: That's basically the reasoning from the Health Secretary Max him saying today that they never want to keep

restrictions for a moment longer than they need to and because Omicron is already in the country, already spreading quite quickly to the population.

These restrictions are no longer necessary. But it's also key to note here that many of the states, 11 countries that were on that list for Southern

African states.

I'm going to point out here to South Africa in particular; the government there had flagged how these restrictions are ineffective that they're

driven by stereotypes towards Africa rather than actual science.

Still the Health Secretary has left that door open for the possibility of more restrictions travel restrictions in the future, but for now that red

list is no longer going to be used. The other key measure of course here the other key way of fighting this virus is boosters, boosters, boosters,

the Health Secretary speaking on that in Parliament today.



SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: More encouragingly, effectiveness rose considerably in the early period after a booster dose providing around

70 to 75 percent protection against symptomatic infection. This data starkly shows the importance of booster doses and why we're working so hard

to get many more boosters into arms.


ABDELAZIZ: You hear their why it is so necessary for this government to get everyone their third shot as soon as possible. The Prime Minister has set

the goal that every single person who is eligible should get an invitation to get that third shot by the end of the year.

It's a huge feat Max; it would require the NHS essentially to ramp up to the levels they were at the beginning of the vaccination efforts when they

were first rolled out. At the start of the year, GPS being told doctors being told now put aside anything that's not an emergency, all your focus

all your efforts should be on boosting vaccinations, Max.

FOSTER: These COVID passes are less controversial I think in other parts of Europe, it's fair to say here they're very controversial. But in the

Conservative Party specifically, Labor going to support that move from the Prime Minister, but it does show how he's losing so much support in the

leadership of his party.

ABDELAZIZ: This is a true test of the Prime Minister's authority especially since he had that big hit big hit rather to his credibility last week. The

allegation of course, is that multiple parties were being held at Downing Street by senior staff during a very strict lockdown last year.

That's of course, impacted the Prime Minister's moral standing his authority across the country, and crucially, his ability to wield political

power within his own party, the conservative party. So dozens of backbenchers by local media estimates up to 70 MPs will be voting against

these measures across Western Europe.

As you said, these are seen as common sense measures, mandatory masks the requirement to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to go into

large public venues, like nightclubs, the orders to work from home, but these MPs say they curb civil liberties.

They harm the economy that we need to normalize essentially COVID-19 and our lives it's going to pass due to the Labor Party. That is the


But the crucial thing here is Max, if Omicron gets worse, if this variant starts to put more pressure on the health care system and the Prime

Minister wants to pass even tougher rules, he's probably not going to have the support of his party, Max and that's really going to hurt his standing

across this country.

FOSTER: Yes, absolutely. Salma, thank you. Other European nations are taking new measures to combat the new Barrett, Norway banning alcohol in

bars and restaurants effective on Wednesday.

Spain will start vaccinating children five to 11 years old starting tomorrow. But French officials say they don't expect any more restrictions

despite a rise in cases. Along with the actual Havoc from the Coronavirus, there's also the public backlash to restrictions.

Police in Germany arrested a man they say for several 100 vaccination passes. France is also trying to crack down on counterfeit health passes.

You need the pass - is at restaurants, bars and sports venues. Melissa Bell takes a look now at the Coronavirus backlash, gripping 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 at home --.

Nearly one year into the 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 SCHALLENBERG, FORMER AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR: 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 is between the mainstream and the periphery. And Periphery is made of all kinds of people.

BELL (voice over): --agrees she's helped organize several of Francis COVID demonstration. We want to create a citizens opposition which is beyond

electoral considerations and much more like a watchdog that sits outside the world of politics. To be able to sell it, look here you are no longer

protecting our rights.

Researchers at the University of Turin have found a strong correlation between anti-vax and populist sentiment, 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-vaxxers would hold even more extreme positions. If

the vaccines become mandatory, then 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: More details emerging now out of Haiti, where a tanker truck carrying gasoline exploded killing at least 59 people. It happened in

Haitian, the country's second largest city; Haitian officials say the death toll is likely to rise.

Dozens more have been injured. Matt Rivers following the story for us from Mexico, I mean, it's you know, more bad news for the country. Just take us

through what you've heard.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Max, and unfortunately, the death toll that you just mentioned 59 at this point almost assuredly going to go up,

given the level of injuries we're seeing as a result of this explosion. It happened overnight.

When people - there was a fuel tanker that was traveling through a neighborhood in Cap-Haitien, its Haiti second largest city, it's a dense,

crowded city, this fuel tanker going through that city. And at some point apparently started leaking word spread among that community, people started

bringing buckets to that fuel tanker, trying to collect some of that fuel for themselves.

And at some point during all of that, and we're not sure exactly what happened. But something happened that caused that fuel tanker to explode in

the video that has come out on social media, this explosion is just staggering. It shows just how big this explosion was, especially because it

took place in a relatively crowded area. So there obviously a lot of people around the truck, but also buildings were affected.

So you're talking about dozens of people dead dozens more in the hospital, at this point, the mayor of Cap-Haitien put out an urgent call for blood

donations this morning, at least 50 different structures have been burned as a result of this explosion. So it's truly staggering.

And Max, I think it's important to give the context here of why people would approach a fuel tanker like this, there is a crippling gas shortage

across all of Haiti. And this is a country that really needs gas to run just everything from refrigerators; little stores whole industries, because

the electrical grid in the country is simply not reliable.

And so people rely on gasoline, but for a number of different reasons over the past few months, ranging from gang activity to government incompetence,

there has been a crippling gas shortage, which has made people simply desperate for gas to be able to do just about anything cooking, cleaning

heating of their homes at night.

Quite literally, anything that requires gas has been very difficult for these people to do because there is such a gas shortage. So it's no

surprise and I've seen it myself being on recent reporting trips in Haiti, where you know, people will swarm gas stations.

They'll swarm tanker trucks, people desperate to get that gas and that does appear to be what happened last night. When this explosion happened is why

there were so many deaths and so many injuries. Not to mention how many buildings here were damaged.

FOSTER: OK, Matt, thank you. Ahead on the show we returned to one of our top stories that are the Omicron variant. We'll speak with the Director of

the Africa Health Research Institute on its study showing Omicron completely escapes one of the leading vaccines.

And after months of amassing Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, what President Putin is pushing for now to help Russia.



FOSTER: The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin wants immediate talks with NATO in the U.S. set up guarantees for Russia's security. That's from

a phone conversation Mr. Putin had earlier with a Finnish President.

With tensions rising between Russia and Ukraine, the Kremlin says Mr. Putin has to hope the expansion of NATO and to stop any further deployment of

weapons in Ukraine. CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Berlin. Fred, these comments come as Russian military buildup continues on the

Ukrainian border. And the EU is talking about how best to take action.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Max. And I think it's quite interesting to see this sort

of diplomatic full court press that Vladimir Putin has really been putting on today and in the past couple of days as well.

Because he not only spoke to the leader of Finland today, but also spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron essentially made exactly the same point, I

was just able to get the readout from the Kremlin of that phone conversation.

And there he also said that he demands and is certainly very much in favor of immediate talks about Russia security. And also, once again, those two

demands that Russia has been making no further eastward expansion of NATO. And then of course, also for Ukraine, not to become a member state and

certainly for NATO not to put any weapons that Russia feel would endanger its security, close to Russia's border.

And that, of course, coming from that backdrop that you were talking about with the Russians continuing to apparently amass troops at least close to

the border with Ukraine, that of course, a huge security concern, not just in Ukraine itself, but also in the rest of Europe as well.

And it all comes just a day Max, after the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister came out and said that if the Europeans did not a NATO did not heed to

Russia's demands, at least take up talks with Russia that Russia would have a military answer to that.

And of course, as you stated all this huge security concern the Ukrainians have been saying that they want for the support from NATO. They especially

wanted make it easier for Ukraine to get some of those defensive weapons.

It's interesting because I was actually watching a press conference by Ukraine's defense minister earlier today where he ripped into Germany and

said that Germany had vetoed some defensive weapons deliveries in NATO.

And he said that that was something that the Ukrainian certainly hopes will change with a new government in Germany. And NATO itself is also talking

about tough sanctions. But right now, when you listen to especially the European NATO countries, they say they certainly want to solve this


I want to pursue all avenues to obviously make sure that any further escalation of this conflict can be averted. But that is certainly is

something that is continuing to heat up here in Europe, Max.

FOSTER: Much attention between the EU and Belarus as well. The Belarusians have jailed an opposition leader's husband for 18 years which streets seems

like an extraordinary sentence. Just take us through that.

PLEITGEN: Yes, this is a husband of Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Sergei Tikhanovsky. And of course, he's been jailed for 18

years. And along with him, several other people who were part of the opposition, but some of them were mere bloggers.

And these are, of course, very, very tough verdicts that were coming in by the court they're in Belarus. And certainly also something in strong

criticism from the European Union, of course, right in the middle of essentially this conflict between Belarus and the European Union with that


That's been going on at the Polish border between the Belarusians, of course, trying to push migrants over into the European Union. Now the

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, she's obviously very angry about this verdict. And she had some pretty choice words for

Belarusians leader Alexandria Lukashenko. Let's listen in.


SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA, BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: In the sign that regime is afraid, even those people hide behind the bus, even in jail, they

are frightening this regime with the honesty with - you know; strive for changes in our country.

And that's why the process was closed nobody was allowed in and because the even the sight of those wonderful people can be inspiration for the rest of

those things.



PLEITGEN: So Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, of course she's vowing to continue her work. And since the Belarusians opposition will also continue their work as

well. Of course all this comes as the European Union also heavily criticizing that verdict as well.

And also saying that all political prisoners in Belarus like for instance, Maria Kolesnikova and others, they demand their release immediately, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Fred, thank you. The United Arab Emirates has suspended talks with the U.S. to buy F-35 fighter jets, the UAE points to some issues

including what it calls tech requirements. The U.S. State Department says it's hopeful about working through any outstanding issues. In the past, the

U.S. has been hesitant to firm up its F-35 weapons deal over concerns regarding Emirati adoption of Chinese 5g technology.

Want to take your live to the UAE where Sam Kylie is unpacking all of this. It's quite complicated, but it really matters, doesn't it in terms of

international relations?

SAM KYLIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It matters in terms of international relations, and it matters in terms of money Max, this is a

$23 billion deal that largely American defense contractors could now see are now watching disappear, if not entirely, then onto a distant horizon.

These talks over the F-35 have been suspended. They have not been ended. But they come close on the heels of a $19 billion arms deal struck between

the Emirates and France as a signal perhaps. Just a few weeks ago, during an arms fair here in the Emirates, the French managed to land that deal.

And speaking privately to Emirati officials, this really is part also of this much more robust, front footed forward thinking independent, Emirati

foreign policy that is being pursued in the wake in the most immediate terms of the what is seen here is the debacle of the withdrawal of U.S.


And other NATO forces coalition forces, which had in the past been contributed to by the Emirates from Afghanistan that is seen as reinforcing

the view that the Americans an unreliable ally.

Now from the Emirati perspective, I think one of the things that were unacceptable was a number of things that were unacceptable in this deal is

the sort of restrictions imposed by the United States on the use of the F- 35.

And on the use of the technology that would go inside this very complex aircraft, obviously, in their statement coming from the Emirati, saying

that there were issues that were unresolved about the sovereignty, that's a very key issue.

This is a country trying to sort of shake off the big brother idea that they just do what the Americans ask them. We've seen that already, of

course, as you know, Max in terms of the relationship between the Emirates and Iran, which is warming, when the Americans are trying to put the

pressure on, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Sam in Abu Dhabi, thank you very much indeed. Ahead on the show it's vaccines versus barriers. Every day, scientists reveal new research on

the efficacy of existing vaccines against Omicron. We'll speak with the Head of the Africa Health Research Institute about its latest findings.



FOSTER: Well each day we learn more about the Omicron Coronavirus variant and whether our current vaccines are going to be able to fight it. Today

we've been talking about a major real world study from South Africa that indicates the Pfizer vaccine is only about 33 percent effective against


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

and have had two doses of Pfizer's vaccine, you're about 70 percent protected from being hospitalized.

The results are based on an analysis by Discovery Health, which are a major South Africa insurance company and the South African Medical Research

Council. My next guest is Director of the Africa Health Research Institute.

It released a study on the Omicron variant last week, saying lab research suggests the variant "escapes antibody immunity induced by the Pfizer-

BioNTtech vaccine, but considerable immunity is retained in people who were both vaccinated and previously infected.

The Director of the Africa Health Research Institute, Williem Hanekom joins me live from Durban South Africa. Thank you so much for joining us. If you

combine your research with what we've heard today, what are we learning about Omicron would you say?

WILLIEM HANEKOM, DIRECTOR, AFRICA HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE: I think the research aligns, and what we are learning is that vaccines are still likely

to work. Now the reason why we give vaccines is really to prevent severe disease and death.

And that and that include hospitalizations. So if the vaccine is 70 percent effective against hospitalization, it means that vaccines are still likely

to work. And that is the message. So the best way to protect you against Omicron is really to get vaccinated.

FOSTER: Because we haven't been aware of the variant for that long. We need to test the power of the vaccines over time, don't we not just at the very

beginning of the onset of an Omicron infection?

HANEKOM: You're absolutely right; I think we need to accumulate as much data as possible. And these have to be regarded as preliminary data because

as they said early in, in this wave, we're now in the fourth wave of our epidemic here in South Africa.

But 211,000 cases of COVID have already been analyzed, obviously cases that also occurred during the previous waves. And their conclusions are pretty

clear at this stage. There's also much larger studies going on by our South African Medical Research Council, which had much larger numbers and we

should get some of these results within a week or so.

FOSTER: When you looked at immunity, you weren't just looking at the vaccination where you, you were looking at people who've been previously

infected as well, which does suggest some level of natural immunity is developing in your region.

HANEKOM: Yes, so in South Africa, about 70 to 80 percent appear to already have been infected by this Coronavirus. So lots of people in our community

therefore have some natural immunity.

And what's also been shown recently in South Africa by other researchers is that some of this immunity can also be resisted by Omicron, Omicron can

escape that. So the amount of reinfections that we're seeing now are greater than we saw during the Previous waves you know, caused by the Beta

variant or by the Delta variant.


HANEKOM: So, it is a theme that immunity this variant and escaped immunity. But we need to wait for the real world data to see whether the vaccines,

which are of course, also induces of immunity can still work in the early data suggests they can.

I think another thing that is very important that we are learning here in South Africa is that the disease that we are seeing due to Omicron is

milder than a disease that we saw due to Delta or to the Beta variants.

Now, these are again, as you've pointed out early days, and we need to accumulate much more data. But this is good news for us. And this may be

because the immunity works the immunity that South Africans have built up over time.

And therefore, that makes it absolutely clear that if you want to protect yourself against Omicron, you should get vaccinated.

FOSTER: Is there anything in the idea that because Omicron, it seems much more transmissible that could actually encourage so called herd immunity

more than the other variants?

HANEKOM: I think a lot of people in the scientific world are not looking at herd immunity anymore. Thinking that this variant this virus is so clever,

it's able to escape what we are sending its way.

It basically wants to evolve to survive in the world. And this may be one of the steps that it's doing, doing so by becoming more transmissible but

perhaps even not causing such severe disease.

FOSTER: OK, Dr. Hanekom, I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much indeed. Some revealing text messages show just how panic Donald Trump's

allies and even his own son were during the January 6 attack on the Capitol. And they run counter to any attempts to downplay or suspend the

events of that day. That's just ahead.



FOSTER: Now U.S. lawmakers could vote just hours from now on contempt charges gets Mark Meadows and send his case to the Justice Department. The

former Trump White House Chief of Staff stopped cooperating with investigators looking into the January 6 Capitol attack.

Some of his text messages from that day were made public last night. And they - lawmakers White House officials, Fox News hosts and Donald Trump Jr.

all frantically message Meadows during the riots and pleaded with him to have the President tell the writers to stop.

CNN's Whitney Wild is following the latest developments in Washington. It really does paint a more colorful picture of that day what was going on

behind the scenes.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN U.S. LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: And it really puts into more clarity how important people in Trump's orbit thought Mark

Meadows was in convincing him to try to condemn this violence.

It's very clear that Mark Meadows knows a lot about what was going on within the White House and also what was going on within the former

president's mindset as this riot unfolded. That is why the committee believes he is a central character to this entire storyline as they try to

figure out exactly what happened, Max.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Those in favor say hi.


THOMPSON: Those opposed say no.

WILD (voice over): Members of the January 6 committee voting to formally advance a criminal contempt report against Mark Meadows, the former White

House Chief of Staff.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is a near unique moment in history. As we vote on whether to hold a former colleague in contempt of Congress, Mark

Meadows has committed a crime in this case, a premeditated one.

WILD (voice over): But before that vote that committee revealed text messages from then President Donald Trump's allies in the media showing

them calling for him to act as thousands of pro Trump riders were pounding the Capitol building, attempting to violently disrupt the certification of

the presidential election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentlemen will proceed.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows and he has turned over those

texts "Mark, the President needs to tell people in the capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy" Laura Ingram wrote.

Please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished, Brian Kilmeade texted "can he make a statement"? Ask people to leave the Capitol.

Sean Hannity urged.

WILD (voice over): From Fox News personalities to Trump's own son.

CHENEY: As the violence continued, one of the President's sons texted Mr. Meadows "he's got to condemn this --ASAP, the Capitol Police tweet is not

enough", Donald Trump Jr. texted. Meadows responded "I'm pushing it hard, I agree, still President Trump did not immediately act.


CHENEY: Donald Trump Jr. Texted again and again, urging action by the President "we need an Oval Office address, he has to lead now, it has gone

too far and gotten out of hand".

WILD (voice over): And also a message from unnamed lawmakers sent after the violence.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Here's the last message I want to highlight again from a lawmaker in the aftermath of January 6. Yesterday was a terrible

day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I'm sorry, nothing worked.

The day after a failed attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power through violence, an elected lawmaker tells the White House Chief of Staff,

I'm sorry, nothing worked.

WILD (voice over): These chilling text messages were voluntarily handed over by Mark Meadows. A top White House official on January 6, that,

Meadows stopped cooperating suddenly with the House Select Committee.

THOMPSON: It comes down to this. Mr. Meadows started by doing the right thing, cooperating. He handed over records that he didn't try to heal

behind some excuse. But in an investigation like all of us, that's just the first step.

When the records raise questions, as these most certainly do, you have to come in and answer those questions. And when it's time for him to follow

the law, come in and testify on those questions. He changed his mind and told us to pound saying he didn't even show up.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): This witness must testify, like 300 other witnesses before him have done either voluntarily and proudly as a

patriotic citizen or at least under compulsion of subpoena by the Congress of the United States.

WILD (voice over): A Congress that is trying to uncover what Meadows could be withholding.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): The Supreme Court has made it very clear that executive privilege is not absolute. And that's exactly what Mr. Meadows is

claiming. And the fact that he sent us all these documents as shows that he understands that he doesn't enjoy absolute privilege.

WILD (voice over): Representative Pete Aguilar also told reporters that he believes Meadows backed away from his promise to cooperate because,

"President Trump told him to". But the members of the Select Committee are not backing down.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): He owes us an explanation. And we need to get it in his unlawful refusal to answer the questions about the material that he

has acknowledged is not subject to executive privilege.

WILD (voice over): Reacting on Sean Hannity show "Monday Night" to the contempt vote Meadows attempted to shift the narrative.

MARK MEADOWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Obviously, is disappointing, but not surprising. And, and let's be clear about this,

Sean, this is not about me, holding me in contempt. It's not even about making the Capitol safer. We see that by some of the selective leaks that

are going on right now.

This is about Donald Trump and about actually going after him once again, continuing to go after Donald Trump. And when we look at the real results

of this investigation, it is not really the foundation is not based on a legislative purpose, very high probability that they will refer me for

criminal contempt to DOJ.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: What will you do, Congressman?

MEADOWS: At this point, Sean, you know, it'll be turned over to the hands of DOJ. I can say this that, that when you look at the criminal component

of this the intent, there's never been an attempt on my part. I've tried to share non-privileged information.

But truly the executive privilege that Donald Trump has claimed is his to wave. It's not mind a wave is not Congress's to wave. And that's why we

file the lawsuit to hopefully get the courts to weigh in. Hopefully they'll weigh in.

WILD (voice over): Meanwhile, the House Select Committee has a strong morning to Mark Meadows and all other potential witnesses who refuse to

comply with the panel's subpoenas.

THOMPSON: If you are listening at home, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Clark, I want you to know this history will be written about these times about the

work this committee has undertaken. And history will not look upon interview as martyrs.


WILD: The next step is for this referral to go to the full House vote then we're very likely pass, then it will move on to the Department of Justice

where it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide how to handle Meadows case.

FOSTER: OK, we're watching, Whitney, thank you very much indeed. We'll be right back with more on "Connect the World".



FOSTER: Nominations for the 79th annual global Golden Globe Awards were revealed on Monday the award show highlights the best in TV and film

according to The Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Here are the nominees of the Best Motion Picture Drama, both "Belfast" and "The Power of the Dog" and seven nodes each leading in the film categories.

Those are the nominees for the Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story made the list.

He also earned the nod in the best director category. The winners are set to be announced on January the ninth. But right now the awards show doesn't

have a home after NBC backed out because of diversity issues within the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

A worthy winner are an example of global obsession with the rich and powerful that question racing around social media after Time Magazine named

Elon Musk as its Person of the Year.

The CEO Tesla and SpaceX certainly made news this year, launching the first all tourist mission to Earth's orbit. He also became the world's richest

person. There are critics like U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren accused Musk of tax evasion.

And some say the honor could have gone to those involved in making life saving COVID vaccines. Times Editor-in-Chief says the designation is a

marker of influence and few individuals have had more influence, the musk on life on Earth and potentially life off Earth too.

Now sport has always had the power to inspire and unite people even in the most dire of circumstances. Not passing shots tonight. These jubilant

supporters are celebrating Yemen's triumph in the West Asian Junior football.

The championship that is they defeated Saudi Arabia for three in a penalty shootout giving fans a respite however brief from the ongoing seven year

civil war. The team received congratulations from around the world including the EU delegation to the country.


FOSTER: There were also signs of unity on the streets. The match brought large crowds from --Houthi controlled areas in the north to southern areas

of Yemen, where the internationally recognized government backed by Saudi Arabia is in charge.

Football has brought together warring factions before and these images show why it's known as the beautiful game. Thanks for joining us, I'm Max

Foster, that was "Connect the World". "One World" with Zain Asher is up next.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ONE WORLD: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher in New York and this is "One World". You begin with the Omicron variant of

the Coronavirus, which has quickly found its way into nearly every corner of the world.

In South Africa, a new study suggests two doses of the Pfizer vaccine provide 70 percent protection against hospitalization. But it's only about

33 percent effective against infection.