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First Move with Julia Chatterley

The Suez Remains Blocked as Efforts Resume to Refloat the Stuck Ship Blocking Out a Critical Pathway; More Western Firms Face Backlash in China over Xinjiang Comments; E.U. Leaders Argue over Export Bans and Vaccine Supplies. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is FIRST MOVE, and here is your need to know.

Canal chaos. The Suez remains blocked as efforts resume to refloat the stuck ship blocking out a critical pathway.

Branding boycott. More Western firms face backlash in China over Xinjiang comments.

And dose debate. E.U. leaders argue over export bans and vaccine supplies.

It's Friday, let's make a move.

Welcome to FIRST MOVE. Great to have you with us this Friday.

Let's begin with a look at the markets. U.S. stocks looks at for a mixed open. Tech is looking soft, but the Dow and the S&P are set to build on

Thursdays late session gains.

The small cap Russell 2000 was Thursday's big winner, up more than two percent. Financials look set to rise for a second day after the U.S.

Federal Reserve gave them the greenlight to raise dividends and resume buybacks if they pass upcoming stress tests.

U.S. oil majors higher premarket, too, on concern that oil shipments could be impacted for weeks due to the stuck container ship in the Suez Canal.

Green arrows in Europe as well with oil majors. They are also on the rise. Asia had a particularly strong session with most of the major indices

rising more than one and a half percent. Chinese tech giant, Xiaomi rallied six percent in Hong Kong trading on news of an electric car making


Let's get right to the drivers now and the latest from the Suez Canal. A major dredging operation is underway to dislodge the massive container ship

that has blocked the canal since Tuesday. After failed attempts to refloat the Ever Given yesterday, dredgers are working to remove enough sand and

mud from around its bow, that's the front of the ship to fill eight Olympic swimming pools.

John Defterios joins me live now. You know, I would say this is a traffic jam to say the least, blocking other ships causing critical supply chain

issues. I would imagine there is a desire to move on this quickly. What are you hearing from the canal authority about the progress of moving this


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, we're in Day 4, Alison, and they clearly want to try to pick up the pace here. That's the

message that's coming out of the Suez Canal Authority.

In fact, they've even put a number on it saying it's 87 percent of the target, which is 20,000 cubic meters. They did not, however, set a


We're starting to get more data coming in about the number of vessels or ships that are stacked up at the north and south entrance. The latest count

as of today, 10:00 a.m., Egypt time was 239. And then the folks from Refinitiv, were in touch after one of our reports and said, look, this

could swell by another hundred vessels by Sunday if it is not solved. So we're going to be looking at more than 300 ships that are looking for a

place to go.

We also know that some of the vessels that are rerouting already. We have a count of 11 that would combine both container and energy ships going

eastbound to Asia and then around the Cape of Good Hope for those going to Europe and the United States.

This is where the extra costs come into place, and we know that the canal, we say it's an artery for global trade at 30 percent of container traffic

in the world represented right there at the Suez. It represents $400 million an hour the value of the goods that are not travelling through the

canal, or nearly $10 billion a day. That's from Lloyd's List and it's an extraordinary number.

It gives you a sense of what we take for granted in the world and what happens when you have a ship that gets lodged in diagonally and blocks that


KOSIK: Yes, it's just amazing. And the pictures are amazing, too. You know, you wonder, does Mother Nature have a potential role in this whole

effort to move this ship?

DEFTERIOS: Well, I'm glad you flagged it because I've been speaking to some shipping executives in the last 48 hours, and one said, look, let me

send you the tide report because we're watching it very carefully.

I said, what are you talking about? And when I actually opened it up, sure enough, March 28 is high tide, a seasonal high tide taking place in the

Suez. They think this is the best opportunity to assist what the Suez Canal Authority is trying to get done here with the salvage companies dredging


I think it was misleading to see that one backhoe that was trying to dig next to the gigantic vessel, but they've been dredging at a pretty fast


And now we have these mixed messages, which I think is fascinating coming through. The owner of the vessel Shoei Kisen had a press conference today

in Japan and the Senior Managing Director said, we're hoping to refloat the vessel by Saturday evening Japan time, which is quite interesting, and then

we hear from the Dutch salvage company, the CEO who has been pretty dour, very straightforward, pretty dry with his comments saying, a quote from

him, "It looks like the vessel to me is stuck rock solid." Those were his first impressions.

And again, the shippers were saying, if we don't get this solved one week in, which would be next Tuesday, it's shipping rates, container rates that

skyrocket, oil prices, again, they were down in the last 24 hours, but they're back up better than two percent as you were suggesting in your lead

right now.


DEFTERIOS: And the final point is, there must be the truth somewhere in between. The authorities pushing to get this done. They've got the salvage

companies on the on the mend here and pushing as aggressively as possible. We have the shipping company obviously wants to solve it as the owner. And

the salvage companies say let's try to manage expectations. It's not going to happen just overnight. At least we don't think so is the word right now

-- Alison.

KOSIK: Who knows, maybe March 28th is the day when the tide is going to help. We shall see.

John Defterios, thanks for all of that great context.

More Western brands facing a boycott in China over their stance on forced labor allegations in the cotton producing region of Xinjiang. Companies

including Burberry and New Balance, now also caught up in the backlash after H&M, Nike and Adidas came under fire.

Clare Sebastian joins us live with the latest. Clare, great to see you. You know, the backlash against Western companies. It's just growing and

growing. Walk me through why this matters to these brands?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alison, this is definitely spreading. Burberry, now the first luxury brand to become

embroiled in this. They have lost a celebrity endorser. They have been removed from a popular game.

There was even this tweet from a Hong Kong lawmaker. I think we can see that saying, "I will stop buying or using Burberry products until Burberry

has retracted or apologized for its unfounded allegations against Xinjiang." Looking somewhat nostalgically at her own Burberry products in

the picture.

But this matters because China is such a huge market for these companies that, you know, H&M has more than 500 stores there. That's a second only to

the United States. Nike, it accounts for about one-fifth of all their sales. Burberry the most exposed of all, don't forget the luxury in China

is just booming compared to the rest of the world.

This accounted for about 40 percent Asia Pacific of Nike -- of Burberry sales, pre-pandemic that number probably only going up given that China was

the only major economy to grow last year.

So a lot at stake here. And this, as I said, isn't dying down. It's created a very delicate balancing act for these companies.

KOSIK: You know, we have seen this many times where Western brands face all this backlash, similar backlash over political issues in China. Do you

think this is just the cost of doing business there? Is this how these companies view this situation?

SEBASTIAN: You know, I think to an extent, yes, we have seen this in the past. We saw a couple of years ago, for example, companies like Marriott

and Delta and Zara publicly apologizing and walking back sort of seeming missteps over how their websites characterized Taiwan and Hong Kong.

But I think, this is getting harder because this issue with Xinjiang, even though these statements were made months ago, and don't seem to be the

trigger for what's happened here, this is much more difficult for these companies, because we're talking about something that, you know, the U.S.

government has characterized as genocide, sanctions were imposed over it just this week.

They cannot walk back these statements, so they have to tread a very delicate balancing act.

But you know, we've seen this in the past, a huge wave of sort of manufactured online outrage, and then it has died down. So you know, we'll

wait and see, but this is probably the trickiest one they've had to navigate.

KOSIK: All right, Clare Sebastian, thanks so much for your reporting.

And they may be face-to-face over a conference call, but will European leaders see eye to eye on Day 2 of their COVID-19 Summit? The big talking

point is the issue of restricting vaccine exports, something the French President supports, but Austria's leader says vaccines need to be more

fairly distributed within the E.U. itself.

Nic Robertson is on this story and joins me live. Nic, great to see you. You know, this is a summit that so far has descended into squabbles. But

there is a serious crisis here of infection surging across Europe. What is going to come out of this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: That's the driver for the E.U. leaders. They're not united on their position because some of them

feel that they're suffering more than others. You know, France is just one of a number of European Union countries that has had to go into deeper

lockdowns. The French President has said that the E.U. really didn't act fast enough at the beginning, but he certainly supports the position of

taking control, better control of the vaccines produced in Europe.

Part of the concern for sort of European Union chiefs is that they see their nations as a significant export of vaccines. Yet those nations are

suffering, they feel, while near neighbors like the U.K. are doing very well with rolling out vaccines.

You know, head to head numbers, the U.K. is about 47 per hundred people, the European Union varies 15 to 14 to 13 depending on which country exactly

per hundred people.


ROBERTSON: So there's the difference, and the focus and the expectation of the citizens of the European Union is that their leaders will look after

them, too. So that's the pressure here.

So you have the internal issue and the external issue. And the external issue, there were proposals by the E.U. leadership to control very firmly

exports. Proportionality, if a country outside the E.U. is doing better than you in vaccinations, then keep the vaccines, don't ship them there.

The U.K. could have fallen into that.

Reciprocity, if the other nation isn't allowing vaccines or vaccine key components to be exported to the European Union, then don't export to them.

Now the E.U. didn't agree on that principally because some of the Big Pharma producing nations within the European Union, Netherlands and Belgium

just didn't support those firm measures because they figure it would impact and hurt their GDP down the line.

Internally, yes, big squabbles there, too. You had the Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz pushing the case for Austria to get a bigger share

of the European Union's slice of vaccines, wanted it for Croatia and the Czech Republic as well, and he was told by the Dutch Prime Minister, and

the Germans, actually you're not doing so badly.

So, you know, again, this is very typical for the European Union. Twenty seven different nations, different agendas, common need, but different

agendas to get them. Difficulty to coalesce around some very key points.

KOSIK: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

And here in the U.S., Big Tech has been facing big questions as the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google were pressed on what role their platforms may

have played in January's riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg seemed to dodge the issue of who was to blame.


REP. MIKE DOYLE (D-PA): I want to start by asking all three of you, if your platform bears some responsibility for disseminating disinformation

related to the election and the Stop the Steal movement that led to the attack on the Capitol? Just a yes or no answer. Mr. Zuckerberg?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Chairman, I think our responsibility is to build systems that can help --

DOYLE: Mr. Zuckerberg, I just want a yes or no one answer, okay. Yes or no? Do you do bear some responsibility for what happened?

ZUCKERBERG: Congressman, our responsibility is to make sure that we build effective systems to help our --

DOYLE: Okay, the gentleman chooses not to answer the question.


KOSIK: No, yes or no there. Donie O'Sullivan is on the story. Donie, great to see you. You know, after watching this circus, what really came out of

this hearing?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, Alison, I think you sort of saw it there. Yesterday's hearing was pretty frustrating for everybody

involved. It was frustrating to watch because nothing was really achieved.

It was frustrating for the lawmakers because as you saw there, Zuckerberg and the other tech executives had no interest whatsoever in acknowledging

sort of any responsibility or culpability in the misinformation that spread on their platforms ahead of the insurrection that helped fuel that


And then from the tech executive's point of view, you know, all the companies put forward some ideas, especially Facebook and Twitter, to

reform regulation of social media in this country, and we actually saw jack Dorsey tweeting during the hearing his frustration.

Somebody tweeted that they wish that their lawmakers would engage Dorsey on the sort of substantive issues and he tweeted during the hearing "Agree"

that he agreed with it.

So not much achieved at all whatsoever. But it was, of course, a very important hearing, because it was the first time we heard from those

executives since the insurrection and getting them on the record.

KOSIK: Donie, what kind of regulation do you see coming?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, there are -- the funny thing is, is that I guess Republicans and Democrats want to do something about Big Tech. They want to

regulate it in some ways.

The problem is, is that they want to do very, very different things. Democrats essentially want to have more moderation, that these companies

take responsibility for what is on their platforms, whereas most Republicans want less moderation, and we saw President -- former President

Donald Trump calling for the removal of what is called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act here in the U.S., which basically allows

companies to have whatever is on their platforms that they are not liable for what people post on their platform.

So we could potentially see a change in that law. Although, we have heard in the past few weeks -- in the past week, actually -- that the former

President, President Trump is talking about looking into starting up his own social media platform.

So how that might change his views on regulation of this area of course will be one to watch.


KOSIK: Oh, to be continued. Donie O'Sullivan, thanks so much.

And these are the stories making headlines around the world. South Korea's President is calling for renewed efforts at dialogue with the north in the

wake of Pyongyang's latest ballistic missile launch. This, as North Korea talks up the results of Thursday's launch.

Paula Hancocks has more.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korea says that Thursday's launch was successful, and it was in fact, a newly developed

projectile. They've released images of this, which clearly experts around the world are pouring over to find out exactly what kind of weapons

technology it was.

Now, the early indication is that it was in fact a new kind of short range ballistic missile.

Now, Kim Jong-un had said that he had unveiled a number of new weapons systems at recent parades. He had said that he wanted to test them.

But interestingly, he wasn't actually at this launch himself. Quite often, Kim Jong-un is front and center at these successful launches and you can

see him celebrating with the weapons experts around him. He wasn't at this particular one, but it was said that they had a quote, "newly developed new

type of tactical guided projectile."

Now, it was enough to get the attention of clearly everybody in the region, but also the U.S. President Joe Biden. In fact, the N.I.S. the spy agency

here in South Korea believe that timing was to be just before Joe Biden's first press conference to make sure that North Korea was talked about and

to make sure that it was back as a priority for Washington.

Now at that press conference, the U.S. President was asked: is North Korea once again, a foreign policy priority and issue as it was, as the former

President, U.S. President Obama left office and told former President Donald Trump, it was one of the main issues and Joe Biden replied, yes.

So once again, Pyongyang making sure that it is a priority.

Now, we could be just a week away from the North Korean policy review that the U.S. Biden administration has been undergoing for the past couple of

months. Everybody waiting to see what that policy will hold.

But for now, President Biden said that there would be responses if North Korea does continue to fire ballistic missiles also pointing out though,

that they are still open to diplomacy.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

KOSIK: Brazil reporting more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day as the country staggers under the impact of the pandemic. The

country also reported nearly 2,800 new deaths Thursday.

Neighboring Peru and Venezuela are both reporting surges driven by the variant first identified in Brazil.

At least five people are dead in the U.S. State of Alabama after a wave of tornadoes moved through Thursday. Five states were hit by the storms which

caused heavy property damage. More than 20 tornadoes were reported in the region. Alabama alone saw 14.

Still to come on FIRST MOVE, as ships start to divert away from the blocked Suez Canal, we have the latest from Egypt.

And Everlywell was one of the pioneers of at-home Coronavirus testing, its CEO joins me to discuss its future beyond the pandemic.



KOSIK: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE. I'm Alison Kosik live from New York where U.S. stocks look set for a mixed open as we wind down the last full

trading week of the first quarter.

It's been a volatile week on Wall Street with investors unable to commit to economic reopening stocks or tech. The next big market catalyst could come

from Washington, as investors gauge the appetite for new federal spending.

President Joe Biden in his first formal White House news conference yesterday said he will unveil his new stimulus proposals next week.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The next major initiative is -- and I'll be announcing that Friday in Pittsburgh in detail is to

rebuild the infrastructure, both physical and technological infrastructure in this country, so that we can compete and create significant numbers of

really good paying jobs.


KOSIK: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in congressional testimony this week that taxes would have to be raised to pay for the new spending.

Joining me now, Greg Valliere, the Chief U.S. Policy Strategist at AGF Investments. Great to see you, Greg.


KOSIK: All right. So let's talk about this infrastructure priority for President Biden. It is massive, it is ambitious, and it's got a massive

price tag as well. Talk me through what you think he's going to get with this, what he won't get, and whether or not Republicans are going to play


VALLIERE: I think he's got a real problem, Alison, and that is I'm not sure he has the votes. You're absolutely right. It's a massive amount of

money, at least $3 trillion dollars, a huge amount of new taxes and I don't think he has all 50 Democrats, which is mandatory, if he just wants to get

to a tie that's broken by Kamala Harris.

So he's looking at changing the filibuster rule, but even that would still leave him potentially short a Democrat or two. So this is high stakes, the

next few weeks. We'll see what the reaction is, but as of now, I don't think he has the votes.

KOSIK: What about mimicking the approach he took on passing the $1.9 trillion stimulus package? He used reconciliation, that's a parliamentary

process that would shield it from the Senate filibuster and allow it to pass with Democratic votes alone.

VALLIERE: Well, yes, but what if one or two Democrats defected? That's the issue. And I think Joe Manchin of West Virginia in particular, is leery of

a price tag this high, and I think it's going to take some convincing.

I mean, Biden can still negotiate a deal. I don't totally rule it out. But the enormity of the tax hikes they're talking about I think will be

difficult to get through Congress as will $3 trillion worth of infrastructure.

KOSIK: How do you think the uncertainty with this bill will affect Wall Street?

VALLIERE: Well, that's a really great question. I think that for the markets, we all knew we were going to get around $1.9 trillion. I mean,

that was a fairly easy call. This is not as easy a call.

It's entirely possible that he'll get half a loaf. It's entirely possible he might not even get that much. And I think for the financial markets,

it's going to be a source of real uncertainty. And as you and I know, markets don't like uncertainty.

KOSIK: Yes, they especially don't like higher taxes, and you know, the top corporate tax rate is almost certain to rise with this thing from 21

percent to 25 percent. That could certainly hit the markets.


VALLIERE: Yes, I mean, if it's just 21 to 25, I think the markets can live with that. Biden is talking about 28. Bernie and others are talking about

big new taxes on foreign earnings of U.S. companies, big tax changes on capital gains and on estate taxes. These are controversial proposals.

KOSIK: I want to ask you quickly about the ship that's stuck in the Suez Canal. Do you think the markets are adequately pricing in what's happening

there? This could be a month long closure of the Suez Canal. This could really affect the supply chain that's already being strained by COVID.

VALLIERE: Yes, two points. Number one, let's see next week, they might be able to make some progress. But the second point I'd make is we're getting

close to the point where economic data, GDP, durable goods, all these economic reports are going to be skewed. They're going to be affected by

this problem in the Suez Canal.

So for the markets, it is going to be a complication.

KOSIK: Yes, this certainly could affect global GDP and we will be watching it along with you.

Great to talk with you, Greg Valliere, the Chief U.S. Policy Strategist at AGF Investments.

And the market opens next.


KOSIK: Welcome back to FIRST MOVE. I'm Alison Kosik.

The opening bell is seconds away from ringing on Wall Street and we're expecting a mostly higher start to the trading day.

Energy and financial stocks moving higher. We're expecting to move higher in early trading, but we're expected to see tech to remain flat at least

for the morning. But tech certainly on track for a losing week as bond yields tick higher again.


KOSIK: A wild ride for Reddit favorite GameStop. Shares fell on disappointing earnings earlier this week, but they spiked more than 50

percent on Thursday, and are expected to be up in early trading today.

Meantime, new economic numbers show U.S. personal spending falling by a greater than expected one percent last month. Spending should pick up again

soon as new stimulus payments arrive in bank accounts.

The U.S. trade deficit ticked higher by two and a half percent last month as well.

The owner of the Ever Given, the container ship blocking the Suez Canal says it hopes to refloat the ship by Saturday. Other vessels have started

to detour away from the blocked waterway, which is one of the world's busiest.

Dredgers are currently moving tons of sand from around the ship's bow. It has been wedged across the canal since Tuesday.

Ben Wedeman joins me now live from Cairo. Good morning to you. So, you know, what are Egyptians saying about this critical passageway?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, the Egyptians and particularly the Egyptian government are eager to get this

problem resolved as quickly as possible, keeping in mind that as much as $10 billion of trade passes through the Suez Canal every day, that's about

$400 billion -- $400 million an hour.

Now, as you mentioned, the owner of the Ever Given is saying that they are hoping that by Saturday night, Cairo time that the ship will be floated,

and we did hear the Chairman of the Suez Canal authority, Oussama Rabieh, say that so far, the latest is that they've been able to dredge 17,000

metric meters -- cubic meters, excuse me, of sand and whatnot from around the ship.

They say that the job is 87 percent done. Once they've cleared as much as possible of that sand and other debris from around the ship. They are

hoping by Saturday night to deploy two large tugboats to somehow work that ship free.

Now, I think that's the optimistic expectation. We have heard other experts saying that it's going to take much longer to achieve that. But I think

it's a given that the Egyptian government really wants to resolve this problem for economic reasons and for prestige reasons, as well.

The Suez Canal generates, last year at least, around $5.6 billion in revenues for Egypt and given we are in the age of corona with tourism down

and whatnot, they need that money to be flowing and those ships to be sailing as quickly as possible -- Alison.

KOSIK: And then when this ship is moved, do you think that there's going to be an investigation for who or what is to blame? And if the Ever Given

is to blame, will there be a fine imposed?

WEDEMAN: There's already talk about legal action being taken because there's a lot of money involved. Keep in mind that this is one of the

largest container ships in the world. So there's lots of people who are going to want answers, the Egyptian government as well.

Now it's important to keep in mind that for navigating through the Suez Canal itself, an Egyptian Captain comes on board to steer the ship through.

So they're going to be looking at the actions of the Captain. And of course, you have to keep in mind the weather throughout the Middle East. I

was in Beirut while this storm was coming through the region, the winds were very strong.

And it has been noted that with these containers stacked, I believe as much as you know, nine or 10 high above the whole of the ship, it acts as sort

of a sail. And keep in mind that since 1956, the width of the Suez Canal has been doubled. But the size of these ships is increasing all the time.

So it's a challenge. But yes, obviously the Egyptians for obvious reasons, are going to want to get to the bottom of how this happened -- Alison.

KOSIK: Ben Wedeman, thanks for all that great context. Thank you.

To the crisis in Myanmar now and its military kills unarmed protesters, the U.S. and U.K. are targeting some of the junta's biggest income sources with

sanctions on two of the holding companies controlled by the military.

This is what human rights experts have been asking for as Ivan Watson explains.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The military in Myanmar is responsible for much more than the February 1st coup

and ensuing crackdown against protesters.

The military has also long been heavily involved in the business of making money.

CHRIS SIDOTI, U.N. INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL FACT-FINDING MISSION ON MYANMAR: The military has a tentacle in almost every part of the Myanmar


WATSON (voice over): Chris Sidoti was a member of the United Nations fact finding mission, which published a 2019 report on the economic interests of

the Myanmar military. It concluded that the same generals who have been accused by the U.N. of committing human rights abuses against ethnic groups

like the Rohingya are also in charge of two of the biggest conglomerates in the country, Myanma Economic Holdings Limited and Myanmar Economic


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today MEC is one of Myanmar's leading conglomerates.

WATSON (voice over): Their portfolios include banks, oil and gas extraction, mining, ports, hotels, telecommunications, breweries, and even

a golf resort.

A separate 2020 report by Amnesty International exposed the unique relationship between individual combat divisions and the conglomerate,


MONTSE FERRER, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL RESEARCHER ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Almost every single top officer of the military holds shares in

this large business conglomerate that's collecting profits and dividends.

WATSON (on camera): At the top of the pyramid, this man, Min Aung Hlaing, the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's Armed Forces. He declared himself ruler

of the country during the coup of February 1st.

But the U.N. report also identifies him as Chairman of the Patron Group, part of MEHL's corporate leadership. He is essentially a business mogul in

an army general's uniform.

WATSON (voice over): That unusual position highlighted at the 2018 launch ceremony for MyTel, a cell phone company joint venture between a Myanmar

military owned conglomerate and a telecommunications company owned by the Vietnamese military.

Min Aung Hlaing shared the stage with Vietnamese top brass.

At a press conference weeks after the coup, a military spokesman seemed to anticipate the junta would face international criticism. He said sanctions

are expected and they've come from mainly Western governments.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new Executive Order enabling us to immediately sanction the military leaders who directed the

coup, their business interests as well as close family members.

WATSON (voice over): The Treasury Department targeted two adult children of Myanmar's top general accusing them of benefiting quote, "from their

father's position and malign influence."

Washington also sanctioned the adult children's companies, including a restaurant, a media production company and a chain of gyms called EverFit.

WATSON (on camera): Despite the sanctions, I can still access an app from EverFit on my iPhone's App Store. I can also download another app called

OCCDS and that stands for the Office of the Commander in Chief of the Defense Services. It's basically a public relations media platform for Min

Aung Hlaing, the military dictator of Myanmar.

WATSON (voice over): On the bloody streets of Myanmar's cities and towns, the death toll continues to grow. The military seeks to crush the popular

uprising against the coup.

The struggle over the future of democracy in Myanmar is also a battle over who will control the country's economy.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Hong Kong.


KOSIK: Up next, home testing's Everlywell joins forces with DoorDash and Tinder to deliver COVID-19 tests on demand. I'll be speaking with

Everlywell's CEO.



KOSIK: Belgium is the latest E.U. country to announce a new lockdown as a third wave of COVID-19 infections hits Europe. Cases arising in 19 states,

Europe's Health Commissioner called the situation alarming.

India, too, is seeing a new spike in COVID-19 cases. Thursday was its third consecutive day of record infections this year.

Meantime, U.S. President Joe Biden has doubled his vaccination goal for his first hundred days in office. The new target is 200 million vaccinations by

April 30.

COVID-19 testing will remain key to overcoming the pandemic even as vaccinations pick up pace. Self-testing company Everlywell was one of the

pioneers of at-home coronavirus tests, and is now working with companies like DoorDash and Tinder.

Joining me now is Julia Cheek. She is the CEO and founder of Everlywell. Julia, great to see you.

JULIA CHEEK, CEO AND FOUNDER, EVERLYWELL: Thanks for having me, Alison.

KOSIK: So now I guess you can order up a PCR test along with your pizza and get them the same day. Oh, wait, there's Tinder, too, so it means I can

find a date as well. Walk me through how this works and where it's happening.

CHEEK: Yes, so home testing is really moving mainstream. We have just announced these partnerships with Tinder and DoorDash, and there are many

other companies that are offering testing on demand. Not only COVID testing, but other testing, like STI testing that can be relevant for

people to do in their homes.

Certainly, the pandemic has really been this watershed moment for consumers to realize there's lots of different ways to get care, including testing.

And we expect that testing for COVID-19 will continue in conjunction with the vaccines.

And so I think this is not going anywhere. And if anything, people will continue to use this new way to get their healthcare from home.

KOSIK: How difficult was it to get this COVID-19 home test approved by the F.D.A.? I mean, there is a lot of room for error. I mean, you know, how do

you really do that nasal swab? There just seems to be -- there could be just sort of a user error here.

CHEEK: It's a great question. I think what's been interesting about the last year is how much progress we've made in teaching people across the

country how to send in a saliva sample, how to do a really easy nasal swab.

I think what's important to learn here is the swab is actually just about one inch into your nostril, and it is actually the gold standard PCR

testing, and it is better quality when correlated with that very long swab that is very uncomfortable than any other sample type so far.

And so the F.D.A. has been really progressive in how they've been able to get a lot of different formats to market for people. But ultimately, this

test is very high quality. It's over 97 percent accurate. And we know that for all of our labs that work with us that they've been doing high quality

COVID testing since the start of the pandemic.

But you know, you'll start to see a lot of other tests come to market that the F.D.A. has begun to approve. Rapid tests in the home that you may be

able to buy off the shelf of a store very soon, as well as other types of antigen tests, antibody tests. I think we're really just on the forefront

of what will happen with home testing across a number of different sample types and formats for COVID-19, and for other types of testing.


KOSIK: And early in the pandemic, testing was so vital. You know, at the beginning of the pandemic, there weren't enough tests, there was more

demand. Now, we're seeing people get vaccinated, hopefully, we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic. What does that mean for

you, in this business, this part of your business in supplying COVID-19 tests to households when there may not be as much of a need?

CHEEK: You know, this is a really exciting moment in digital health, and it's a new dawn in healthcare as we all emerge, hopefully, with rapid

vaccination programs. And we're really excited about it.

At Everlywell, we actually just announced that we acquired two companies, a clinical telehealth network PWNHealth and a home testing company that

serves insurance plans called Home Access Healthcare. And you know, we've been in this business for almost six years, and have been building products

and technology that makes diagnostics driven care easy for people.

And so in my view, this is really a new moment for everyone in digital health. The silver lining of the pandemic has been virtual care, and just

the explosion of virtual care options for people to reach underserved populations, to reach those who are under insured.

And so I'm hopeful that we'll continue to see great progress beyond the pandemic, and COVID-19 will become something that we manage, just like

influenza, and I think that that is on the horizon.

KOSIK: Are you seeing COVID-19 testing dropping off here in the U.S.?

CHEEK: Certainly we are as people get more vaccinations and as we start to reach those levels soon of potential herd immunity. And that, obviously, is

the goal.

However, we still will need rapid testing and PCR testing as people return to the workforce. So what we're actually seeing is a bit of a shift in the

type of demand.

People want to have comprehensive testing programs where they work, where vaccines may or may not be required. And so you still need to be sure

you're keeping your workforce safe, and that people feel safe in the environment that they're in every day.

KOSIK: Do we run the risk -- I know that you offer more than 30 tests -- do we run the risk of playing doctor and stressing ourselves out and then,

you know, we get our test result. And then we have to go to the doctor and then incur a cost twice, because inevitably, the doctor is going to want us

to retest. Does this sort of create this cycle?

CHEEK: So what's so interesting about virtual care is that it moves the entire process into an end to end experience, both for testing and for the

physician consult via telehealth. And so as an example of all of our tests, and many other players in the space, we're able to have full care from the

physician all the way through to consult and treatment for things like STI testing, Lyme disease testing, HPV et cetera.

And so our goal is actually to complete that care cycle so that you're moving the modality of how you get tested and treated into the home, or

really where it's convenient for people where they live and work, in stores, at their employer, et cetera.

What's important, I think, is that people actually do the testing. We know that about 30 percent of lab tests that physicians order today just never

get fulfilled by the patient. It's inconvenient. They don't know how much it will cost. They don't know how it's going to matter to their health.

And so for us, we really are filling that gap and we think we're expanding the pie of people who do need to be tested from their doctors, and not just

having people come in and get tests that they maybe didn't need.

KOSIK: Yes, it's amazing to go on your website. It's like ordering from a restaurant menu or something, but not really. Anyway, Julia Cheek, CEO and

founder of Everlywell. Great talking with you. Thank you.

CHEEK: Thanks for having me, Alison.

KOSIK: After the break on FIRST MOVE, it's been nearly 18 months since WeWork postponed its IPO. Now, it's taking another stab at going public

this time through, you guessed it, a SPAC.



KOSIK: Welcome back. I'm Alison Kosik. And while most governments remain skeptical about the adoption of cryptocurrencies, some are venturing into

cutting edge financial experiments. John Defterios has the latest on Dubai's crypto ambitions in today's Think Big.


DEFTERIOS (voice over): The world's largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin hit another milestone this month when it surged to a record high of $60,000.00,

a sign that digital currencies are becoming a growing force in the financial markets, garnering the tension of big banks and governments with

Dubai, hoping to lead the way.


adoption of digital technologies, right? There's strong direction about bringing these new technologies and cryptocurrencies and blockchain


DEFTERIOS: The Emirate wants to become the world's epicenter for crypto investments, digitizing most government and private company transactions

over the next few years. And the beating heart of the strategy takes place right here at the Dubai Multi Commodity Center or DMCC.

AHMED BIN SULAYEM, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF DMCC: The idea is really to create a Dubai Tech Valley, a lot of it will be digital, but there will be

also physical.

DEFTERIOS (voice over): The DMCC aims to provide a centralized and regulated platform that will manage all crypto related activities in the

city, preparing Dubai for the crypto age.

SULAYEM: It's going to happen. We're better off at least having the knowledge and then when the time comes to utilize it, you have the tools at


DEFTERIOS (voice over): But like most new financial products, cryptocurrency comes with risks, price volatility, hacking, security all

need to be ironed out as the tech is being developed.

ANGLADA: There's a lot of question marks around for instance, what will be the impact of cryptocurrencies into the banking system?

It's absolutely unclear.

DEFTERIOS (voice over): For the DMCC, creating a safe environment for crypto companies is a crucial step to attract investments.

SULAYEM: Confidence, trust and security. This will not be launched without covering all bases.

DEFTERIOS (voice over): It is with these initiatives that Dubai wants to speed up the transition to cryptocurrencies, hoping to be well positioned

by the time digital money becomes a mainstream presence in the global economy.

John Defterios, CNN, Dubai.


KOSIK: More than a year after its failed IPO attempt, WeWork is going public. It's agreed to a merger with the SPAC, BowX. The deal values WeWork

at $9 billion. It's a fifth of its valuation in 2019, and Paul La Monica has been following this story and joins me live.

Great to see you, Paul. So could this be WeWork's happy ending? I mean, it was already having trouble before the pandemic and once the pandemic hit,

its business model pretty much imploded.

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, obviously, WeWork like any company in the commercial real estate sector had a lot of problems because

of people being stuck at home and not going into the office.

The good news for WeWork is that after that botched IPO, we all remember the stories of Adam Neumann and the problems at the company, Softbank

having to take a huge haircut on its investment. Things seem to have stabilized.

They say that revenue excluding China, which they're getting out of was flat last year. They expect revenue to jump this year, and I think that's

the reason to try and go public also obviously SPACs are all the rage these days.

It seems like everyone is doing one and you know Shaquille O'Neal is even involved in the company behind the blank check firm that is now taking

WeWork public, so just SPACs all over the place.


KOSIK: And very quickly, everyone keeps on talking about whether or not SPACs are in this bubble, yet more companies keep on joining in. Are we

going to see this thing implode?

LA MONICA: I'm not so sure implode is the right way to say it. But clearly there is a lot of froth in the market. And eventually, you're going to see

things cool off.

I mean, there have been a couple of IPOs this week that had pretty cool receptions because I think investors are starting to be a little bit more

discerning and realizing that not every new company is going public either through IPO or SPAC is going to be worth their time and money.

KOSIK: All right, Paul La Monica, thanks so much for your reporting.

And I'm Alison Kosik. Thanks for watching. Stay safe.

"Connect the World" is next.