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First Move with Julia Chatterley
U.S. Using Commercial Airlines to Transport Evacuees; F.D.A. Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine; Market Focus on Fed Chair's Speech on Friday. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 23, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Richard Quest, in for Julia Chatterley this morning.
We start in Afghanistan where the Taliban are demanding that U.S. forces leave the country by the end of this month. Otherwise, they say it is a
clear violation of their agreement with the United States.
The problem is obvious. Some 13,000 people are said to remain inside the perimeter of the airport waiting to leave, while outside, Afghans fleeing
the Taliban takeover are growing increasingly desperate. Can they all be evacuated in the remaining time?
CNN's Sam Kiley reports from Kabul.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A massive multinational air evacuation is crowding the airspace above Kabul.
This Qatari flight is one of many coming to the rescue of thousands. The airplane brings its own security as the airport is now under threat from
KILEY (on camera): We've landed just a few moments ago here at Kabul International Airport, and clearly, the pace of evacuation has been picking
up. There are planes leaving pretty regularly now, and large numbers of refugees, of evacuees getting ready to get on those flights.
This is a group that are heading into Qatar, where they're hoping then to either stay there or move on.
Qiam, you are about to leave? What is going through your mind and your heart at the moment?
QIAM NOORI, JOURNALIST BEING EVACUATED FROM KABUL: Yes, actually, I've told this many times with others. That right now I have a mixed feeling,
being a journalist myself, probably I'm lucky enough to leave because of a lot of threats that exist here. But I'm also leaving a family, a whole
family behind and that's a lot of friends behind.
I don't know how to describe this. Am I happy? Am I sad with this government, with this new rulers? They I'm sure they will not leave us any
space to be here.
KILEY: That must break your heart.
NOORI: Of course, certainly that has already broken, but you know, that's the reality.
KILEY: Your heart is already broken.
NOORI: Yes, yes, yes.
KILEY: Good luck.
It's not just the personal tragedies that are so heartbreaking here, it is the tragedy of Afghanistan itself. For 20 years, so many millions of people
believe that they would receive Western support. They believed in the evolution of female education, of the arts, of cinema. They thought they
had a future. Now, that future is getting on an aircraft and leaving as one of the evacuees just said to me, Afghanistan is seeing a total brain drain.
Sam Kiley, CNN, at Kabul International Airport.
QUEST: As the new week gets underway, in the next hour, President Biden is to meet his National Security team when they will discuss the current
crisis in Afghanistan. It happens as the U.S. Defense Department is mobilizing commercial airlines to facilitate the evacuations from various
waypoints and take evacuees to final destinations.
These 18 flights are to be used to further transfer people who have already left Afghanistan. Kylie Atwood is with us from Washington, DC. The number
one goal now is to speed up the evacuations from the airport. But now there's this wrinkle, the Taliban say they will not extend or it is
believed they won't extend the deadline from the end of the month.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's significant here because the timeline really matters when you're talking about the
total number of people that the United States can facilitate on these evacuation flights.
Significantly, we know that in a recent 24-hour period, on U.S. military aircraft, there were more than 10,000 people that were evacuated from
Kabul. That is the highest number in a 24-hour period that we have seen.
It means that they are reaching capacity. They're finally essentially, you know, getting this operation which has been plagued by chaos, plagued by
violence on the way to the airport sort of up and running.
But as you note, as that's happening, they are also facing this deadline, this August 31st deadline. It's a self-imposed deadline. But as you say, it
doesn't seem like the Taliban are going to want to extend it.
Now, President Biden said yesterday that U.S. military officials were discussing the possibility of extending it, but he also said that he would
like to see everything completed before August 31st.
ATWOOD: And I think a major question is, what exactly does completion here success here look like for the United States? We have heard President Biden
very clearly say that any American who wants to get out will be given the opportunity, will get out of Afghanistan. But what we don't know is the
number of Afghans that this administration is looking to get out of the country, those Afghans who worked alongside U.S. troops and diplomats,
before the U.S. military presence leaves that Kabul Airport.
And once they leave, there's a lot of questions about if that airport can even run any longer? What kind of lights the Taliban will be allowing in
and out? So, that is why this timeline here really matters so much.
QUEST: And then there is this question of the evacuees, and I don't mean American citizens, I am talking about the Afghan evacuees who are now
starting to build up in sizeable numbers at transfer points, whether it be Germany, or whether a particular one in Qatar.
Now the SIV - Special Immigrant Visas, we know about. What about the rest?
ATWOOD: Well, that's right. We know one of the problems here has been capacity to process those Afghan SIVs. That's a specific group of the
Afghans who have applied for a special visa because of their work alongside U.S. diplomats.
But there are also other groups of Afghans who are applying for refugee status, different kinds of visas to the United States. So, it's a little
bit complicated because they are processing different kinds of visas, Afghans who have different kinds of backgrounds, different paperwork,
different reasons for applying. This is not a straightforward one, two, three process here. And that is one of the complicating factors.
We should note that President Biden made it very clear yesterday in his remarks that none of the Afghans who are leaving Afghanistan are flying
directly to the United States, they are all going to Qatar and then to these other places where they can be processed, where their background
check can be reviewed. Of course, that comes as there has been some fear mongering within the Republican Party about those Afghans coming directly
to the United States without background checks. That is just not correct. That's not what's happening.
But this process here, this incredibly complicated process is one of the things that's slowing things down and we should note that State Department
officials who are on the ground in Afghanistan recognize that this was going to be a possibility. They wrote a dissent memo to the Secretary of
State Anthony Blinken in mid-July.
One of the things that they said is that there should be a biometric data program that's created for all of these Afghan SIVs. That wasn't done soon
enough. So, it's very haphazard right now, in terms of trying to get this done, but many different processes that they're having to apply.
QUEST: Thank you, Kylie Atwood is at the State Department in Washington, and we'll watch the events there as they unfold during this Monday.
And as President Biden attempts to get ahead of the crisis as the days countdown, let's discuss this. Nick Paton Walsh is with me from Doha, in
First, Nick, I am curious. The people who are at the airport in Kabul, now you've got two groups of people. You've got those who are now within the
perimeter, are all of those people expected either by one nation or another to get out, to be evacuated.
And then you've got those on the outside of the perimeter, many of whom will be legitimate evacuees, and some will be trying.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, and there's a third group, those who are not even near the perimeter in Kabul who have
legitimate rights to potentially apply for this Special Immigrant Visa status.
Those in the airport, as far as I understand, many of them may not really supposed to be there as part of any official process. But there was a
couple of days in which basically, the perimeter sort of seemed to collapse, and people got on for all sorts of reasons, depending on who you
knew, how well you could bluff your way on. They are still there, and there are still some coming on it seems because of their contacts with the Afghan
Special Forces that run the security perimeter at the edge.
That explains why even though we've had this extraordinary airlift of 10,000 people in the past 24 hours, that there are still 10,000 on parts of
that airport, mostly Afghan, not entirely clear what their official status is, but most likely going to get flown out.
So that is something of course that we will have to work out down the line as to quite how far down the system they get once they've left Kabul.
But I think with the chaos and the strategy ahead, it is hard to leave that number of Afghans, many of whom are sort of young men sat there waiting on
the tarmac. What next? Well, I'm amazed at the operation, frankly, in the last 24 hours, 10,000 out is extraordinary. If they keep that up, they
could begin to wrap this down potentially in the next two days or so.
But the real question, Richard, is how much more do they want to do here? Now, I understand from a source to the close situation that there could be
as many as 4,000 local employees of the U.S. Embassy and their family members in and around Kabul who want to get on to that airport and get out,
who are likely either recipients of Special Immigrant Visas or eligible for them.
PATON WALSH: Now, some may have already left with that 4,000, but it's not clear. So, a very urgent task, of course, for U.S. diplomats there is to
make sure the people they sat next to, worked with, day in day out are safe. It's obviously a hugely important moment for the United States as
well, in terms of its credibility.
So as we edge towards August the 31st, and you know, I don't think anybody really thinks they want to sort of tell the Taliban they are staying longer
than that deadline, and I understand from the source, I'm speaking to that there is no discussion at this point of anyone going past that date. We've
got about a week. And in that week, you have to finish your evacuations, maybe 10,000 a day, and you have to get your 6,000 troops off.
So, at some point that troop withdrawal has to start during this closing week -- Richard.
QUEST: Now, Nick, the real politic of this is what ability, do you think the U.S. has, to look the Taliban in the eye and say, we are going to
finish this evacuation come what may. We strongly suggest you don't interfere. Leave us alone to get what we've got to do, get it done.
PATON WALSH: I don't think really they have the appetite for this at this particular time. They seem quite reliant on, say Taliban goodwill. That
sounds wrong, but the Taliban, not interfering with their operation at the moment in order to get people to the airport through the various alternate
routes, which they're not discussing in greater detail for security reasons. The Taliban are checking documents.
The Taliban have until this point apart from a security incident at four o'clock this morning, that isn't entirely clear who was behind it, appear
to have let them get on with it despite checkpoints on the road towards and harassment of people trying to get to and around the airport, they don't
appear to be getting in the U.S.'s way necessarily.
So, they very publicly stated you need to be gone by August, the 31st. President Joe Biden has said he would do that. And so the idea I think of
them saying the United States saying okay, after all of this, we're just going to keep doing this, as long as we need until we finish the job. I
would be surprised because you have to look at the real politic of this, too.
This is a PR disaster for the United States, every day it continues, and they will be a victim of their own success, this extraordinary airlift
they've pulled off. I mean, remarkable volume of work by diplomats and Marines and airmen to make this happen. It does mean that people will be
thinking, well hang on a minute, they're moving people, maybe I have a chance.
It's very hard to get anywhere near the airport. The gates are all closed. So, it's not really like it was a few days ago, where you can sort of hope
to get in a crowd and get your way over if you're lucky. But they will have to come a point where they have to say that's it.
And that, too, of course, will trigger a reaction in people who are desperate to get on. So, it is a lose-lose situation, really for the United
States, but one that incurs greater losses and damage the longer it goes on for.
So, I would be surprised if we're still doing this in September -- Richard.
QUEST: Nick, thank you. Nick Paton Walsh in Doha, I appreciate it. Thank you.
The economy of Afghanistan, who knows what will happen next. Well, Afghans former Central Bank Governor himself had a harrowing escape from Kabul. He
spoke to CNN's Matt Egan and about the country's economic future.
AJMAL AHMADY, FORMER GOVERNOR, CENTRAL BANK OF AFGHANISTAN: The plane that you see, people scrambling to get on, I was on that plane that evening. At
some point, I think I realized that it wasn't going to take off and so we went on the tarmac, and at that point, it was a surreal experience where
various helicopters were taking off, planes were taking off. People running for any plane that they could find and I was able to find one where I did
not have a ticket to, but where I somewhat forced my way on, and I was very fortunate to get out.
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: How worried were you for your own safety? I think that you said on Twitter that you heard gunshots while you
were at the airport.
AHMADY: Sure. At that point, once the President of a country announces that he is no longer in country, the whole chain of command falls apart.
So, there's no police, there's no air traffic controllers. It's every person for themselves at that stage.
EGAN: What went through your mind when you learn that President Ghani had left the country?
AHMADY: It was shock, complete shock. I couldn't believe it. It was disbelief. There had always been talk of staying until the bitter end, of
fighting. And for him to have left without senior staff or other staff or in making a speech or informing the public about it, I think, it was not
the right decision. I think a lot of people feel that way.
EGAN: Former President Ghani, he has denied allegations that he left the country with a large sum of money. Do you have any reason to doubt him?
AHMADY: Again, I was not on the plane. I was not with him at that time, and there were a lot of decisions that I mentioned, I was not happy with.
At the same time, I can say that we were again facing dollar shortages. So, we did not have dollars coming in. And so unless he had an alternative
source of cash with him available to him, I would be skeptical of that report, although I cannot deny it.
EGAN: Could he have gotten it from the Central Bank that you were in charge of?
AHMADY: Absolutely not.
EGAN: So now that the Taliban is in charge, how much access to the Central Bank money do they have?
AHMADY: I mentioned this, that Afghanistan had a relatively high amount of Central Bank reserves, $9 billion, approximately. Those, as is the norm
with any central bank are typically held in liquid assets, such as U.S. Treasuries or gold, and all of them are held abroad, essentially all.
So my expectation, I believe, it's already come true is that the U.S. Treasury would freeze those assets. So, the amount of accessible reserves
has dropped from 9$ billion to a very low amount on the order of, let's say, a few -- $10 million or less or more. So, it's a very small amount,
you could say that the import coverage ratio, which is a common metric has dropped from more than 15 months to less than a week.
EGAN: And how important is it, given the way that the Afghanistan economy is structured to have access to U.S. dollars?
AHMADY: It's vital. Afghanistan runs a very large trade deficit, which needs to be financed, and that had been occurring through donor inflows
over the past few years, and that was the reason why we had been able to accumulate significant international reserves.
Now, with the stock of reserves having been frozen, and the flow likely to significantly decline, I think it's going to cause economic hardship to the
EGAN: The people of Afghanistan has already gone through a very traumatic time in just the past few weeks. What happens to food prices going forward?
AHMADY: If inflation goes up, that means food prices will also go up and that is going to cause economic hardship. So, I would stress that
humanitarian assistance not only needs to remain, but needs to be increased over the next few days and months.
QUEST: The Central Bank Governor or the former Central Bank Governor from Afghanistan on the economic outlook.
As you and I continue on FIRST MOVE, a milestone in COVID-19, Pfizer's vaccine is set for full F.D.A. approval, most likely before the day is
And charities using donated air miles to get migrants to safety.
QUEST: U.S. health officials today expected to remove some of the regulatory uncertainty about the COVID vaccines. Full F.D.A. approval of
the Pfizer-BioNTech is said to be imminent. Now, the reason it's significant is it could boost vaccination rates. Many vaccines hesitant
people have said it's only because it is not full approval, just emergency use authorization.
Elizabeth Cohen is with me, CNN senior medical correspondent. Is it likely to make much difference? I mean, all of that number of people who have been
holding back because it is EUA rather than full approval.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, I think you ask a good question because this gets pretty weedy whether something has
emergency authorization versus full approval. Are people really following it that closely? Are we going to see this sort of tidal wave of people
saying, ah, now I'll get it because it has full F.D.A. approval?
I'm not so sure that it will. But there may be some people who are kind of teetering on the edge, and for that reason, they will go get it. So, let's
take a look at the ways in which full approval, which as you said is expected imminently could help.
Number one, it could encourage folks who have been hesitant and are waiting for it, and number two, businesses and schools and restaurants who have
been hesitant to mandate it may now say okay, now I feel better mandating because it has full approval.
Let's take a look at vaccination rates in the U.S. They were up in the spring, they tanked in the early summer. They're now going up slightly,
slightly, slightly because people got scared watching people die of the delta variant.
And now let's take a look in the United States, sort of who is left to vaccinate. There's 82 million people who have not yet been vaccinated.
That's about 29 percent of the eligible population not gotten even one shot -- Richard.
QUEST: On this question of why we're all doing booster shots and the like. There is this growing uncertainty about the length of vaccination efficacy.
Israel is one particular example because it did start vaccinating much sooner, it is now boosting, because they're also seeing, according to
reports, an increase in hospitalizations.
If that's true, Elizabeth, does that blow a hole in the hole sort of strategy?
COHEN: It doesn't blow a hole in the strategy. In fact, I think it sort of supports the strategy that you need to be doing these third shots. So,
Israel has been doing them sort of, you know, piece by piece, immunocompromised people, then older people, and so on. It's really just
been a number of weeks since they've been doing that, so you wouldn't necessarily see those hospitalization rates go down very quickly.
So, I think everyone is looking to Israel to see what happens with their hospitalization rates. I think what we're finding out is that vaccines last
for different amounts of time. If you look sort of through the history of vaccination, some lasts longer than others. This one, according to the data
that U.S. sources are quoting, it looks like at around eight months, it starts to wane.
People first started getting vaccinated back in December. So, we're seeing the vaccine wane. And it was the most vulnerable people who started out,
right? It was the immune compromised. It was the elderly people who got it long ago. And now, we're seeing that it just needs a boost.
So actually, I think this is a sign that says, hey, it looks like folks are doing the right thing. I think that many eyes will be looking at Israel to
see how their hospitalizations look since they've been doing this third booster shot for the longest period of time.
QUEST: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.
Now to the markets and the trading which is about to get underway six minutes from now on Wall Street. You can see the numbers there. The major
averages are on track for solid gains. There was a pullback last week, but we are now expecting to see an improvement and that could be records before
the day is out.
We'll talk about that on "Quest Means Business."
Energy stocks are amongst the big gainers as oil prices are bouncing, reversing seven days of losses, strong gains for both the major benchmarks.
And in Asia, a strong week ahead, too. The Hang Seng up one percent after - - so it was a bear market on the regulatory concerns out of China. Now, it has put on some weight. The Nikkei in Tokyo again, one and a half percent.
And the main event for all global investors, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell will give his Jackson Hole speech on monetary policy,
and we'll be looking for tapering guidance, cutting stimulus, all the sorts of ideas that he has, and of course, the rising number of COVID cases and
how that's affecting the economic recovery.
QUEST: It will be delivered virtually again this year from Jackson Hole because of the delta variant concerns.
Tony Crescenzi is with me, market strategist and portfolio manager at PIMCO. Good to see you. Okay.
TONY CRESCENZI, MARKET STRATEGIST AND PORTFOLIO MANAGER, PIMCO: Thank you.
QUEST: Jackson Hole is an interesting speech, because it's more detailed. It's not generalities, and even though it's a speech, the Fed uses it as a
way to tell other central bankers what it is thinking of doing. So, what will you be looking for?
CRESCENZI: Well, I've already -- I think we already have a lot of information to judge what might be said simply in the main topic of the
gathering is on macroeconomic policy. We haven't seen that in four years.
Typically, in a phrase, the subject matter, the words monetary policy is shown. So, this says something, it may be symbolic, of course, it probably
isn't meant to be a message, but I think it does tell us that monetary policy has reached its practical limits in terms of what it can do to help
economies. It is up to the fiscal authorities now to do more, because if in the 2020s, growth is to accelerate, there has to be that sort of investment
that the U.S. is trying to embark on now.
QUEST: So what do you, you know, as a market strategist, what do you do? If you're an investor and you're looking at this current environment, and
you're not playing sort of the game of follow the trend, or you're not sort of doing rotations. You're just sitting there waiting to know what to do
next. And markets, by the way, are very highly valued at the moment. Equities are highly valued.
CRESCENZI: Right. Right. Well, that's one way to think about it, at least in the bond market, for example. There are certain corporate bonds, cash
corporate bonds that have very low yield spreads over higher quality bonds, including U.S. Treasuries.
So what pain is there to give up that yield and move into something that's more liquid and safer for a little while to show what could be called
patient opportunism, to expect that there will be volatility markets, because that does reflect the whims of human beings, and now and then,
there will be these reactions to things that come along that we can't predict now.
But the way to be prepared, of course, is to create a portfolio that's more liquid, resilient and agile to have a little bit more cash than normal
because there isn't much pain to do that.
QUEST: When we started the year, we were looking at a bumper year. I get the feeling that the best gains of the have been had. And yet I don't know.
I mean, you're nodding, and yet, I still feel well, if tapering is on the cards and the market likes it, and economic growth is okay, then the last
quarter could also be good, do you?
CRESCENZI: Well, as with the long term orientation, which we at PIMCO would suggest, we can't say for sure, and one has to think past it. And
thinking past it means looking forward to the next year or two in terms of cash flow. What matters to an investor in terms of portfolio returns? Its
cash flow. Does a company generate more cash flow to pay higher dividends, to have more profits, to pay you back if you're a bond investor? Those are
the sorts of things to be thinking about.
And cash flow generation is likely to be good the next year, probably two years. In fact, the S&P 500 earnings projection is for double digits next
year, and the year after, and that is -- that should provide the long term orientated investor when it comes to -- all of that said, but --
QUEST: Right, but Tony --
CRESCENZI: Yes, sir.
QUEST: How much of that is priced in at these frothy levels, do you think?
CRESCENZI: A reasonable portion, but there's always some risk premium in markets, and we would judge that markets are priced for what's called a
mid-cycle stage right now, which means that an investor may be far more selective than normal.
So yes, there probably will be gains to be had in the next couple of years because economic growth is likely to be above our growth potential, which
is around two percent, so look for three percent growth, for example, next year.
But picking the right companies, the right industries, the right countries to invest in requires a lot of work at this point, as is typical for mid-
cycle investing, and we'd suggest thinking along those lines.
QUEST: Excellent thought. Thank you, Tony. I appreciate it.
CRESCENZI: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: Thank you. As you and I continue, the charity that uses frequent flyer miles to evacuate refugees, and if you've got some spare frequent
flyer miles, dig deep in your pocket, I'll tell you about it after the break.
QUEST: President Biden has called the evacuations from Afghanistan in his words, one of the largest and most difficult airlifts in history. On
Friday, the Ramstein Air Base in Germany became a nerve center of the operation, southwest of Germany, in Germany and one of the biggest U.S.
bases outside the U.S. itself.
During the weekend, 36 flights carrying more than 7,000 evacuees landed at Ramstein Air Base, and amid the chaos and despair, there were some small
moments of joy as CNN's Atika Shubert reports.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An image of hope amid the chaos, a baby girl born in the cargo bay of a U.S.
Air Force C-17 carrying Afghan evacuees.
As the plane landed at Ramstein Air Base, the 86th Medical Group rushed in to safely deliver her.
ERIN BRYMER, NURSE AND ARMY CAPTAIN, DELIVERED BABY EVACUATED FROM AFGHANISTAN: So, when I evaluated the patient, we were past the point of
no return. That baby was going to be delivered before we could possibly transfer her to another facility. So, we were just opening our emergency
SHUBERT (on camera): What was the moment when you realized we're going to be okay?
BRYMER: When the baby came out screaming and we were able to put her directly on mom's chest and get her breastfeeding right away. I was like,
okay, we're good here.
SHUBERT (voice over): Ramstein Air Base in Germany has become the latest hub for evacuation flights out of Afghanistan. CNN filmed some of the first
flights arrived. More than 6,000 have been evacuated here with 17 flights landing in 24 hours Air Base officials say and more to come.
Here, there is safety, basic shelter, food and water, but it is only a temporary measure. Many here do not know where they will go next or how.
But for the moment, there is relief and reason to celebrate new life.
QUEST: A charity Miles for Migrants lets us donate air miles to help refugees travel to safety. Now the partners include the Red Cross and the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in the past few weeks, it has been working with organizations in Afghanistan to book flights out.
QUEST: Those commercial flights have now been cancelled, of course, after the Taliban takeover.
Andy Freedman is with me, the cofounder and Managing Director of Miles4Migrants. So, the U.S. forces and other nations' forces are bearing
the brunt of moving people. In fact, they're doing all the work of moving people from Afghanistan to transit points. Where do you now come into this?
ANDY FREEDMAN, COFOUNDER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, MILES4MIGRANTS: Yes, absolutely. And thank you for having me, Richard. Just to step back, so
Miles4Migrants, as you mentioned, we're an organization that collects donations of frequent flyer miles and credit card points to reunite and fly
people to safe new homes, specifically, those have been displaced refugees, asylees.
In the case of Afghanistan, where we come in is we're working very closely with our partners, that once people have made it out of Afghanistan, how do
we get them to a safe community? Typically family.
In the case of the U.S., people are arriving in the U.S. at U.S. military bases. We are on standby to fly people to their final destinations. In
fact, just yesterday, we flew a husband and wife and their child, the husband was an interpreter for the U.S. military. The wife was 35 weeks
pregnant, and we feel very fortunate to be able to have helped and played a small role in getting her to her family in Texas.
QUEST: Besides Afghanistan, there are refugees and people seeking asylum all around the world. On average, how many people do you move? How many
miles do you go through?
FREEDMAN: Yes, so the organization -- we started the organization in 2016, so we have been around over five years. In that time, we've flown over
5,700 people. Those people originated from over 70 countries across the globe, and where we step in, as we fly people who are legally approved to
travel, and just need help making that final link.
So we are flying hundreds of people every month right now. In fact, in this year alone, since the start of 2021, I believe we've flown over 2,700
QUEST: So the number of Av geeks watching, myself included, want to know how this works. I've got X number of miles in my frequent flyer account. I
know I can donate miles, that's been cleared to donate to charities. But if I donate them to you, how does it work?
FREEDMAN: Yes, so one of the things that is quite unique about us as a charity is the direct impact that you can have. With many of the airline
programs that we work with, you as a donor would be kind of pledging your miles and when we find a match, so a nonprofit partner might find us a case
that needs to be flown, for example, in the U.S. from Newark to San Diego, or vice versa, we would contact you and you would be involved in the
booking of that individual.
We do have more strategic partnerships with some airlines, specifically Air Canada, and United and where we can pull those miles, but in many of the
airlines right now, it's a pledging process where we put those miles to use when we find a match to use them.
QUEST: Okay. And I suppose people watching will say, well, do they get good value? I mean, are they using? I'm sorry -- are they buying standard
rewards and paying eight, nine times the miles necessary versus Safe Rewards. And I ask this, of course and the good work you do is you are
hoping people are going to donate miles. And those who donate want to make sure that the miles are being used in the same way as cash as wisely as
FREEDMAN: Yes, that is actually part of something we take great pride in, our efficiency of how we use the donations. And we look at things like cost
per point and make sure that every flight that we book, we're finding the best award availability, and if and if it's cheaper to book with cash, we
will do that.
The flights that we've flown to date, the cash value of those flights is well over $2 million, which is a stat that we're very proud of.
QUEST: And finally, what do you need now besides people to donate miles? What is it you actually need? You obviously need more airlines to sort of
work closely. I mean, you can have miles and just sign up and buy the tickets, but what do you need?
FREEDMAN: Yes, what we do need is, number one is what you just said. We need the airlines to come to us or we will come to you and partner with us.
Find other ways to make us as an organization more effective, and being able to help Afghans and many other displaced persons across the globe.
What else we need is just to continue to spread the word. I think one of the things that's often lost in refugee resettlement is what happens when
people arrive in their safe community. So, I would encourage anyone out there who is looking to make a difference right now, reach out to your
local organizations that are supporting refugees. See how you can lend a hand because there's plenty of opportunity to support.
QUEST: When we finish this discussion, I will be more than happy to donate some of my miles as you can imagine from a business traveling, "World of
Wonder" I've gathered a mile or two over the years. So put me down for a couple of tickets. I'll send you the miles after we come off of air.
FREEDMAN: Thank you, Richard.
QUEST: Thank you, and we will have details of course, of where you can donate miles as well, those of you who have got them and dong use.
Do you know how many percentage of miles are actually used by the way? And interestingly, miles are now -- thank you, sir. Now miles are now gained by
non-flying goals and things like that. So, there's plenty of view with miles that you may not use or have no intention of using, donate them away.
We'll continue on FIRST MOVE. Okay, so full steam ahead for global trade, in particular, the shipping industry, but the CEO of Maersk is talking
about stretched supply chains, in a moment.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the news is in, the F.D.A. has now granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, this for people aged
16 and older. This is the first coronavirus vaccine given full approval by the F.D.A., to this point, remember, it's been under what's known as
emergency use authorization, still safe, many -- tens of -- millions of people have been vaccinated.
However, big changes expected with this including opening the door to more vaccine mandates. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.
I mean, in the scheme of things, this is pretty remarkable speed to get to full approval for a vaccine such as this.
COHEN: It is remarkable. I mean, they just started the clinical trials about 13 months ago. I mean, that is really amazing. People were talking,
oh, it'll take four or five years. They went from 13 months from starting the trial to full approval. That is really quite amazing.
Now, unfortunately, about a third of the United States hasn't seen it as amazing as this sort of medical miracle that we were given. Some people see
it as, wait a minute, that's a little too fast for my taste. I don't care that more than 40,000 people were involved in the clinical trial, and that
it was declared safe and effective. I want full approval, I want them to take more time.
The hope is that those people will now roll up their sleeves now that there's full approval. It's unclear exactly how many people feel that way
that full approval will make a difference. One thing, however, is clear, Jim, you talked about mandates.
Now, some places are already doing mandates. If you want to sit inside a New York City restaurant, you need to be vaccinated. That's been true now
for a little bit of time. So, they did that even without full approval.
The hope is and the plan is, is that more businesses, more employers, more restaurants will say you know what, we have full approval, we're going to
mandate it in the same way that daycares and schools and universities -- universities, they mandate vaccines with full approval all the time with
getting certain vaccines like measles and mumps and whatnot. I mean you are required to have them vaccinated or to have some kind of religious
The hope is, is that this vaccine scene will now be one of them. It will just be standard that you will have to be vaccinated to do all sorts of
things such as go to school.
SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. We also have Jeremy Diamond at the White House and Jeremy, as you know, getting a handle on COVID, big
priority, arguably the biggest priority for the Biden administration. They met some of their goals, they were slower to get to some of their other
Tell us how the Biden administration is receiving this news, and what it plans to do next, now that full approval has been granted.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is obviously something that the White House has been waiting for, hoping that the F.D.A.
would do soon. And so obviously, they're elated to see this finally come through.
But of course, one thing that the White House wanted to make clear throughout this process was that they were not interfering. They were not
pressuring the F.D.A. in any way to approve this vaccine. They let that process play out independently on its own and that is exactly what has
And because of that independent process, there is certainly a hope inside the White House that this now makes it irrefutable for anybody who wants to
question the safety and the effectiveness of this vaccine that the F.D.A. went through this independent process, looked at all of the various
studies, the safety, the efficacy, and was able to make this conclusion.
And to Elizabeth's point, there is certainly a hope in the White House that not only will this perhaps help to change, you know, maybe two to three out
of every 10 people who are unvaccinated to perhaps convince them to get vaccinated, but mostly that it will encourage businesses and institutions
and universities to fully enforce vaccine mandates.
That is something that those businesses and organizations have signaled to the White House they would do, so now, we'll have to wait and see how
quickly that moves forward.
SCIUTTO: The U.S. military, one of those institutions. Secretary Austin, telegraphing that a short time ago. Jeremy Diamond hold on for a moment.
We're also joined now by Dr. Carlos Del Rio, Executive Associate Dean, Emory University School of Medicine at Grady.
Dr. del Rio, great to have you on. A couple questions for you. First, just for folks watching here. Yes, this came more quickly than often happens.
But there's an enormous amount of data and the data shows a very effective and safe vaccine. I'm drawn to the number we just had on the screen, 363
million vaccine doses administered in this country so far.
Tell us, for folks listening, who perhaps have not gotten the vaccine, why they should be confident in the process here?
DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY (via phone): Well, Jim, I think several things have
happened. Number one, you know, since the vaccine was given emergency use authorization back in December, as you have said to us, there have been a
millions of doses of vaccine administered and the system has worked in the sense that post the EUA, there has been very good surveillance for side
effects, and little side effects have been picked up.
And as you realize, those side effects have been mostly mild, few and far between, and when you look at them, you know, the safety of the vaccine,
clearly the efficacy is just tremendous. And the safety is really fantastic.
So the system has worked and what the F.D.A. has done is it has, you know, reviewed a lot of information, millions of pages of information that has
allowed them to make this recommendation to give what's called a biological approval, sort of the final approval of the of the Pfizer COVID vaccine for
people 16 year olds and older.
As you realize, for under 15, they're still reviewing the information, they're still, you know, looking at the data. And basically, you know, I
have utmost respect for the for the F.D.A. scientists because they really do their job well and they really take their job very seriously.
SCIUTTO: Okay, let's talk about the difference that this can make. You've dealt with a lot of patients, some of those patients were reluctant or
resistant to taking this vaccine. There is talk, we heard this from the Surgeon General, a short time ago that full approval might move those
people. And by the way, there's some polling that shows that full approval, some of these people have said, hey, once it's fully approved, I'm okay
In your experience, is this a mover? Is this a game changer for people like that?
DEL RIO: Yes, I think it will be a game changer for a variety of reasons. Number one, I've heard from many people say, well, you know, this is an
emergency use authorization, I'm not ready until there's a full approval.
And I think, however, that there's a piece -- there's very few people that actually will go -- will say, well, I am ready to now take it because it
The reality is that that change for most people is not that significant. It is significant. However, for corporations, I think many corporations and I
can tell you, for example, you know, I know Delta Air Lines, Delta has said we're not going to mandate the vaccine until it receives full approval.
So, many corporations are going to wait until that full approval in order to mandate, and this allows us now to be you know, something that you do
with a lot of confidence and say well now that has full approval, I can go ahead and mandate the vaccine.
DEL RIO: But the other thing that it does is, once a product has full approval, the company can then go ahead and advertise on television, which
they haven't been able to do up to now. And it also can be sold at pharmacies and other places, which it hasn't happened up to now. And those
three are very important things because again, seeing more about the vaccine in the media, through advertisement, I think is going to make also
a difference for many people who up to now have only been hearing government officials and public health officials talk about the vaccine.
SCIUTTO: Well, listen, the data shows it saves lives. Let's hope that message comes out. We're going to have much more on this breaking news at
the top of the hour. That is the F.D.A. giving full approval to the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Carlos del Rio, thanks very much.
Well, other major story we're following this hour, rising tensions within the house over how to enact President Biden's sweeping economic plan --
QUEST: And there were our other colleagues at CNN.
In the United States, it is a new week on Wall Street and U.S. stocks moving higher in early trading after last week's modest losses. The future
pace of Fed stimulus will be in focus on this week as we count down to an important speech by the Fed Chair Powell on Friday.
Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris is touring Southeast Asia where she is shoring up relations with regional partners on top of security issues
with China. The Vice President is also concerned about demand for goods outstripping supply, especially with chip production.
During my trip to Denmark last week, the Chief Executive of the shipping giant, Maersk explained why global trade is in overdrive and what that
means for shipping and logistics.
SOREN SKOU, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MAERSK: Right now, in global trade, there's massive demand, massive demand in factories, in land site logistics, on the
ships, everywhere. The pipeline so to speak is bursting at the seams, because of two things.
First of all, there's very, very strong demand led by the U.S. and all of the stimulus money that has gone into products to the U.S. consumer. On top
of that, there's a huge inventory rebuilding cycle going on.
QUEST: Because we've depleted -- demand has depleted that which was in stock.
SKOU: Yes, and also because a year ago, in the second quarter of 2020, a lot of companies stopped buying in Asia or really scaled down their
purchases, because nobody knew where the world was going. We thought that we would have a major global crisis.
But then the stimulus came and demand came roaring back.
QUEST: So where exactly is the supply chain issue? Is it at the manufacturers? Or is it at the commodities and raw materials? Is it in the
shipping and distribution?
I keep hearing about it, but where is it?
SKOU: I'd say pretty much everywhere. You've seen it starting with the commodity prices going up, lots of shortages, for instance of computer
chips, and so on. And then all the way through the supply chain and logistics chains, lacking rail capacity in the U.S. trucking power, and so
on, so it's all over the place.
QUEST: We're seeing inflation. Now, the argument of inflation is at commodity level, it's at manufacturing level, but it's also at shipping
level. Rates have gone through the roof and that is contributing to global inflation at the moment, particularly in countries like the U.S. and in
SKOU: Look, there is no doubt that we see inflationary -- inflation creeping up for the reasons that you just stated. I do expect, however,
that things will normalize as we work out through this period of extraordinary demand and as inventories fill up again.
QUEST: You're turning the ship around literally, the ship of Maersk towards logistics, how easy is it turning to be?
SKOU: Well, we are growing our land site logistics business a lot, simply by selling land site logistics products to our customers on the ocean, and
in many cases, creating a more integrated solution, a more end to end solution. That's going quite well.
QUEST: The problem is everybody's doing it. Everybody wants to manage another company's logistics. And I'll grant you you've got great
experience. You've got ships, you know how to move things. But you know, what -- Is it worth it?
SKOU: I think in today's market, it is quite powerful to be able to offer an integrated solution where we take responsibility for the whole move from
door to door, and that's why we have been growing so strongly during the pandemic.
Last quarter, we grew 36 percent organically in our logistics business.
QUEST: If we take for example, the delta variant, which is now starting to hit Asia, and you see the measures that China is taking at the moment, is
this -- how is this going to affect you and your ability to export out of China?
SKOU: Well, China has -- you know, it is combatting COVID with very drastic measures, basically closing down ports if they have a handful of
cases. And that of course, is adding to the disruptions that we already have and will make it more difficult for us.
QUEST: What do you make of that? The closing down of the port last week because of one case? What did you make of it?
SKOU: Well, we have a different strategy in the West but we have also had many more cases, so it's hard for me to judge what is the right way, but
obviously for global logistics chains, you know, when you close a port it has consequences.
QUEST: So, have got vaccine mandates?
SKOU: No, not yet, but we will. I think I am pretty sure we will at some point.
QUEST: Okay, so forgive me, I am going to push you here. You say not yet, but we will. What are you waiting for?
SKOU: Enough vaccines. So our seafarers, of course, they come from Western Europe, some from the U.S., but a majority are Indians, Filipinos, Myanmar,
and so on, and there, we cannot rely on governments to actually provide the vaccines. We have to as a company provide the whole setup and that's what
we are establishing in.
It's only recently where we as a private company was even able to buy the vaccine. So once we have control over that, logistics set up so to speak
for vaccines, we will mandate it.
QUEST: That's FIRST MOVE for today. Thank you for watching. I will have "Quest Means Business" for you in five hours' time.
"Connect the World" is next.