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First Move with Julia Chatterley
The Evacuations in Kabul Ramp Up as the 31st Deadline is Ever Closer; The World Bank Says it has Halted Operations in Afghanistan; China Says a U.S. Intelligence Report into the Beginnings of the COVID-19 Virus is Politically Motivated. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 25, 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: Live from New York, I'm Richard Quest, in for Julia Chatterley. Middle of the week's FIRST MOVE and this is what
you need to know.
The race to escape is on. The evacuations from Kabul ramp up. The 31st deadline is ever closer.
And losing financial support. The World Bank says it has halted operations in Afghanistan.
Where did COVID come from? The origins. China says a U.S. Intelligence report into the beginnings of the virus is politically motivated.
Put it all together. It's the middle of the week. It's Wednesday. We need to make a move.
A very good day to FIRST MOVE on the latest on the U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan follows a look at the morning action on Wall Street and in
Look at the numbers, and a positive now for the NASDAQ futures. It's just nudged up, but they are a little changed after the milestone day where the
S&P and the NASDAQ record highs -- 15,000, you see the number there on the NASDAQ and a record lows for the S&P, the 50th so far this year.
If we continue the way we're going, well, things could look the way they are and more records tonight. The NASDAQ above 15,000 and is now 16 percent
for the year, the S&P, 20 percent for the year and the stimulus in global markets and countries is helping it.
Efforts to pass that $1 trillion infrastructure e-bill along with trillions of fiscal spending is moving ever so slowly, but it is moving through the
U.S. House of Representatives. The Chinese Central Bank has pledged to support monetary support and that new aid has moved things along for
Investors, of course, waiting to see what the Fed Chair Jay Powell says on U.S. monetary policy. His speech is on Friday at Jackson Hole, it is the
main event of this trading week.
And the markets: Europe is mixed, lower generally along with Asia and the weakness in volatile Chinese tech names, although they have been recovering
somewhat, but you get a really good picture there.
Three up, three down. Your page your money, you take your choice.
To the latest on Afghanistan and the race is on to meet the deadline. President Biden sticking to his plan to end the U.S. presence in the
country by August the 31st. That's less than a week to go. The critics say many Afghans who work with the U.S. or its allies are going to be left
Sam Kiley is at Kabul Airport and filed this dispatch.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Day and night, aircraft take flight from the Kabul Airport, one departing on
average every 45 minutes, and every second here is critical as time to complete the evacuation effort begins to run out.
ARMY MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM "HANK" TAYLOR, JOINT STAFF DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR REGIONAL OPERATIONS: We are able to achieve this level of increased
departures because of U.S. military personnel and our partners work around the clock to conduct this highly important mission.
KILEY (voice over): The Taliban banning Afghans from boarding evacuation flights, meaning thousands of people, including those who worked for the
U.S. and its allies over the past 20 years, will inevitably be unable to leave.
The first U.S. troops have already begun to pull out, early stages of the American withdrawal.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.) PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Roughly speaking, you need at least several days to get the amount of forces and equipment
that we have at the airport.
KILEY (voice over): The Taliban warns again that the United States must be out by the end of the month, and President Biden says it's on track to meet
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The sooner we can finish the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.
KILEY (voice over): Potential risks, Biden says he is not willing to take. Fearing possible terrorist attacks from groups like ISIS-K, and perhaps
retaliation from the Taliban.
BIDEN: The completion by August 31st depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate. In addition, I've asked The Pentagon and the State Department
for contingency plans to adjust the timetable should that become necessary.
KILEY (voice over): As evacuees continue to board planes, it is immediately clear that many Afghans may not make it out.
KILEY (on camera): There's no doubting the success of the second biggest airlift in the history of mankind. Yes, there are thousands still to get on
these planes, there are many people stuck in Kabul, but for most of these people, this is a moment of celebration in terms of their freedom, but also
bittersweet because of what they're leaving behind.
KILEY (voice over): Hosa (ph) is leaving, but her brother Hayda (ph), who has a visa for the U.S. is trapped outside the airport. Marines tried to
connect them, but she can no longer wait. It is her turn to board a plane with her younger sisters, a journey to a new life with no idea whether her
brother will be part of it.
KILEY (on camera): The other issue here is that it's not clear now whether or not even American citizens are able to get to the airport, because the
numbers of people arriving here at Kabul International Airport are way down, and those concerns some flights might even be leaving empty.
QUEST: So, to the economic side of this. The World Bank is joining a growing list of governments or organizations who are so far refusing to do
business with the Taliban.
World Bank officials say they will freeze aid for Afghan development projects until they have a better idea of how the Taliban is going to rule.
Anna Stewart is with me. As the evacuation comes to an end, short or long, then the West's pressure becomes through aid and finance.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It does, and this is a country, Richard that relies on international financial aid. In fact, it accounts for around 75
percent of public financing according to the World Bank.
This joins a growing list, the E.U., the I.M.F., the World Bank, all suspending payments, the U.S. have a blocked access to foreign reserves and
even banks, like Western Union have said they're going to suspend money transfers into Afghanistan.
The economic picture is looking dire here, the currency is volatile. Inflation is a very real risk, of course, pushing up prices of food and
basic necessities. Imports look difficult, it's a country that imports more than it exports. But without access to foreign currency, that will be a big
And then look at the disruption, just to internal supply chains to the workforce. You know, we're looking at thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing
the country, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, and the future of women in the workforce, full stop, looking so uncertain --
QUEST: Okay, so whilst obviously the attention is on evacuation and the human misery of this at the moment, the reality is after the 31st, the
Taliban rule Afghanistan, the dollars are not coming into the country through swaps or through the Central Bank. So, what do they do? These are
practical issues, Anna that will be have to be addressed sooner rather than later.
STEWART: Exactly, and the Taliban have successfully financed themselves for decades, but you know, financing the wellbeing of a country, keeping
the lights on, paying people's salaries, that is something else altogether.
And it was interesting last week, in one of the press conferences from the Taliban, a spokesperson said they want to be a country that is narcotics
free, but they need the help of the international community. They have other revenue streams.
They have had the illegal mining and trading of natural resources, oil, gas, copper, lithium, which of course is in very high demand for car and
phone batteries. There is smuggling. All of this can be legitimized, levies on goods crossing international borders.
But even if you added up all of that that is not going to fill this huge void that is currently being created by international agencies pulling out.
They need to be legitimately recognized by the international community if the economy is really to survive here -- Richard.
QUEST: Anna Stewart, thank you. Anna said two things there of importance, one of which was that they need legitimizing of the West, and they need
support from the West.
The G7 have said that they have worked out a roadmap for engagement with the Taliban. By that, they want Afghans who work with the coalition to be
allowed to leave the country and they are defining the future relationship with the Taliban upon that, and Taliban's cooperation with them.
Nic Robertson is with me, let us pull that economic strand together. In a sense, because the evacuation is going to happen or not. People will be
left behind or not. But you know and I know that governments now are thinking ahead of that, and how to use the levers of power and influence
they have and that's economic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is economic, and I think one of the first places to splurge their immediate cash is and we've
already seen the pledges from some of the G7 nations to do that, and that is to put money into supporting refugees in region close to Afghanistan.
The U.N. group for refugees, UNHCR, says they believe there are about 3.5 million displaced people inside Afghanistan, and many of those will head to
the borders. And of course, the European Union witnessed a massive surge of refugees coming from Syria in 2015. It was hugely destabilizing for Europe.
Many of those European Union members within the G7 see the way to head off that kind of situation being replicated by refugees fleeing Afghanistan, is
to try to contain the problem in the region.
So that first splurge of money I'm talking about is aimed at supporting neighboring countries, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, et cetera to keep
refugees, you know, proximate close to Afghanistan.
ROBERTSON: But the real money as we're talking about here that sustains and allows the Taliban to keep good on their promise that no one is going
to lose a government job, the women will have to stay at home for now, but everyone will keep getting salaries, that is going to be dependent on that
And we heard Boris Johnson say just yesterday, who is the President of the G7 meeting there, very clearly, you have to allow all those Afghans who
want to leave. That's the number one priority.
So, the Taliban are failing on that. So, I think the roadmap is starting to look like intent on the Western side, but not met by the Taliban side.
QUEST: Now, Angela Merkel, speaking to the German Parliament yesterday, she basically said I don't like it one little bit, but I'm going to have to
deal with the Taliban in some shape or form. Now, she'll be gone by year's end and the Taliban will still be there.
Are we in a problem here from Europe? I mean, with the great wish in the world, the E.U.'s high representative on foreign policy, nobody probably
can remember his name, and President von der Leyen's power comes from Germany, in a sense, once Merkel has gone, who leads for Europe?
ROBERTSON: This is a big question. Look, it is a huge mess in Afghanistan. The European Union collectively is trying its best way to deal with this
and what they are telling the Taliban is, you must measure up to your international obligations as a nation. You must stop terrorism on your
soil. You must look after human rights, look after women, look after children, look after religious and ethnic minorities, and you must stop
All of these things, the E.U. is saying, but where is the power to actually affect that change with the Taliban? And it is in the money. But as we're
already seeing, the Taliban are not doing what the international community wants them to do. You know, they're already telling women to stay off the
streets, stay at home until they've figured out -- until the Taliban have figured out how to treat them.
Well, you know, these are thresholds that clearly not making it for the World Bank, I.M.F., and for others. So, there is going to be the shortage
of money. The E.U. is going to end up with a problem on its hands, whatever it says.
ROBERTSON: This, Richard, is a mess and there are absolutely no simple answers for it at the moment.
QUEST: You know, Nic, I always remember -- I always remember John Major when he was asked a question about Northern Ireland when he was the Prime
Minister. He just looked witheringly at the journalist and said, "Is there any easy answers? Don't you think we'd have found them by now?" And I think
that's really a classic one for this one, isn't it, Nic? It's absolutely.
Nic Robertson, who is with us. Thank you, Nic. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Thousands of Afghan refugee evacuees are now taking shelter in Germany at the U.S. Air Base there. Many are staying in tents as they wait for onward
flights. Atika Shubert is our correspondent there and now tells us the transit process is taking much longer than expected.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ramstein Air Base has rapidly transformed into a temporary refuge for
SHUBERT (on camera): So, it's really from this vantage point that you can see just how much this operation has grown. When we got here on Saturday
morning to see those first few flights arriving, there were only a few tents over there. Now, as you can see, it's grown and it really just goes
to show what a massive operation this is to bring in thousands of evacuees.
SHUBERT (voice over): The number now waiting here has swelled to 7,000. All of them desperate to get to the U.S.
Donia Laali says she fought her way into Kabul Airport to get all the women and her family out.
DONIA LAALI, EVACUEE: We saw lots of problems there, and I just tried and my family tried to come out because we're all women. There's no men with
us, because we are just women and my two brothers there in the U.S., so we tried to go and reach them.
SHUBERT (voice over): The quick transit is now taking much longer. Evacuees are tired and frustrated. U.S. citizens, green card holders and
those with approved visas are being given priority, according to the State Department.
But Nazif Maywand told us he has a visa and has been waiting for more than two days to board a flight.
MOHAMMED NAZIF MAYWAND, EVACUEE: We need shower. We need the internet. The internet is not available over here. Somehow we need to have contact with
our family members that they are worried about us. We're not so relaxed over here. Things are not that good over here. I know that they're trying
SHUBERT (voice over): To speed up mobilization, The Pentagon has activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet with commercial carriers such as Delta to bring
evacuees to the U.S.
In the meantime, sing-alongs and football keep the little ones occupied while their parents worry and wait.
Atika Shubert, for CNN at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
QUEST: As we continue, after the break, China's opened or reopened, I should say a key port after a COVID shutdown, the Port of Long Beach, the
Executive Director on the global impact is with me.
This is FIRST MOVE.
QUEST: So to the stories making headlines around the world.
Vice President Kamala Harris says Washington will challenge Beijing's claims in the South China Sea. She was in -- she is in Vietnam where the
Vice President said the U.S. Navy would maintain a strong presence in the region upholding freedom of navigation. China has denounced the move and
accuse Washington of disturbing regional peace.
Taiwan has turned its dire COVID situation around the self-governing island of 23 million people reported no locally transmitted COVID cases on
Wednesday, that's the first time since a major outbreak in May, around 40 percent of the population has received their first COVID jab.
China says a report by U.S. intelligence on the origins of COVID-19 is a political exercise and not based on science. Sources say President Biden
was briefed on Tuesday on the findings of a 90-day review. They will be shared with lawmakers in the coming days, a summary will be released to the
David Culver is with this us. This is rum business, isn't it? Because it's inconclusive and we've had now the W.H.O., we've had numerous reports, and
nobody can say was it manmade or animal crossover with any definitive?
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, China seems good with that. They seem to prefer that in fact. It is something that they have emphasized in
state media as though to say this is a scientific matter, it shouldn't be political, and they've called the U.S.'s move in all of this political
manipulation and maneuvering in order to sway something that really in their opinion, the U.S. has no involvement in whatsoever, and it goes
beyond that because they believe the U.S. should be investigated.
They have pointed out that there is possibly a lab leak that caused this outbreak, but not the one in Wuhan.
Now according to the Chinese, it should be investigated within the United States within Fort Dietrich, outside of D.C. There's no evidence of that,
but it's something that plays into this larger massive propaganda effort and this campaign that has been relentless. That's underway right now, too.
CULVER: But getting back to that Intel Community review. Now, we had heard from diplomatic sources, they told me directly, that this is going to be a
very difficult one to prove. You're looking for that smoking gun, that one piece of evidence that says concretely, this is exactly where the virus
started. They do not have that.
What they have instead is a lot of circumstantial evidence, particularly when it comes to the lab leak theory. If you look at the Wuhan lab leak, in
particular, they have the geography for one, they have the lack of transparency, the reality that the Chinese were silencing whistleblowers
early on, and that they were covering up things, all items that we covered early on going back to the start of this outbreak.
But what you don't have is that specific point to say, this is now how we know that virus was in the lab before this outbreak.
QUEST: Right. Is this one of these things that we will never know? Because the Chinese government is not going to cooperate to the level that would
satisfy its critics.
CULVER: That's right. They have essentially shut the door to any further W.H.O. field team missions. They had one in January, they were heavily
involved in that one. There was even suggestions for some of those who were part of that team that they insisted the lab leak not even be mentioned.
And there were some negotiations, and finally, they agreed it can be mentioned, but it must be said as though it is extremely unlikely.
To your question, will we ever find the origin to this? I've talked to several experts, Richard, and a lot of them are science based and they
said, because of the geopolitics here, it has overcrowded all of this, and you won't get to the true science.
And they said that's ultimately going to be a huge setback for humanity as they see it, because even if we were to, for example, jump ahead and say
that it was a lab leak with just circumstantial evidence, you run the risk, for example of putting away the wrong guy and letting the actual killer get
That is to say, you go after China, but then you don't really look at the natural origins theory that this jumped possibly from animals to humans.
And so what could happen again. But ultimately, you have to look at one thing that you pointed out, that's lack of transparency. That's a reality.
The Chinese have not been fully transparent, and it's something that they likely won't change.
QUEST: David Culver who joins us. David, thank you. I appreciate it.
Well, your report will be in the next hour on "Connect to World." A full report on that.
China has reopened a port that was partially closed for two weeks, because of a single COVID case. Now, Beijing's zero COVID policy has created
further obstacles in the world of global trade.
The CEO of the shipping giant, Maersk, you'll remember told me this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOREN SKOU, CEO, MAERSK: China has, as you know, is combating the 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 difficult -- more difficult for us.
QUEST: What did 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 -- 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 chain, you know, when you close a port, it has consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: The knock-on effects of the shutdowns are being felt across the Pacific, particularly the Port of Long Beach on the U.S. West Coast. Now,
Long Beach is North America's second largest port, and China's biggest trading partner.
With me as Mario Cordero, the Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. Sir, it is good to see you. And so, I mean, obviously, you do not shutdown
Long Beach at the first whiff of a single case. And indeed, you are just expanding the Long Beach Port. But the pressures that you've been seeing on
supply chain, as a result must be intense.
MARIO CORDERO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORT OF LONG BEACH: Yes, thank you, Richard, for your invitation.
As you've indicated, the pressures have been intense and the ramifications of the supply chain with regard to the disruption or confluence of factors,
but particularly what's happening in China with the closure of the ports have significant impacts.
QUEST: And are you now seeing an easing of that because you are a first class barometer of the trade links between China and North America. Are you
seeing any opening up? Are you seeing an easing? What's the Long Beach experience?
CORDERO: Well, our experience has been basically, it is a dynamic that changes. In June, we were pretty much back to a situation where we had nine
vessels at anchor here in San Pedro Bay Complex. Now, it's 37. So, it's up and down.
So the fact of the matter, I think the message here is a lot of disruption in supply chain, COVID-19 has had a significant impact with regard to that
aspect and of course, again as you indicated, when there was an outbreak in China, and those ports close, the ports of origin, it has an impact here in
the United States and in the entire world supply chain.
QUEST: How have you been able to cope with the increase -- the dramatic increase in demand in global trade demand? Or I mean, obviously, the supply
chain issue is another matter, but we know that there has been a pent up demand increase to the point where the Maersk CEO is saying, he can fill
every ship with every container. Can you unload every ship and every container?
CORDERO: Well, number one, I want to thank the men and women who work on the dock. I mean, they've been working day in day out since its pandemic
commenced back in early spring of 2020. So, I think we've been managing well, relatively well, when you talk about the magnitude of containers that
come into Southern California at the tune of 19 million expected this year, and that's between Port of LA and Port Long Beach, and for the Port of Long
Beach, we've had a record year.
So in the proper context, I think we have been managing well, given the volume surge that we've had. And bottom line is, the economy expected to
grow here seven percent here in 2021, the U.S. economy, so consumer demand is driving a lot of what we're seeing today.
QUEST: We are looking at Warble's pictures of the new port, the new wing of your port, the expansion with the multiple cranes that can unload
multiple ships. And also the ships themselves will take power from the port so they can switch off their engines. How advanced is this new port?
CORDERO: Well, it's a state of the art terminal. So, I think part of what we're doing here in Long Beach and have been doing for the last decade is a
continuing investment in our capital improvement projects.
So, with the terminal you're referencing, that was a $1.5 billion investment. So, it's state of the art, it's an electrified terminal, and
it's twice as big as its prior footprint with emissions that come from there reduced by over 50 percent. So again, it's our way of continuing to
invest to remain competitive and create better efficiencies here at this port.
QUEST: Finally, the competition between ports is what would you say? At the end of the day, ports are geographically located. And therefore, you
know, to a certain extent, this is -- not monopoly, but there's an element of you've got to send it to there. But the ability of land bridges,
railings, new infrastructure, saying the United States is this a benefit? Can you win business from other ports?
CORDERO: Well, the more you invest in infrastructure, yes, it puts us in a better competitive level in the global arena. And for that reason, I want
to thank the Biden administration for having here very much of a target to continue to invest not only in a nation's infrastructure, but in the
maritime port industry.
So absolutely, that's a very positive impact.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir. Mario, I appreciate it. I filmed at the port before, it's a most impressive place. Absolutely. And I'm looking forward
to coming back. "Quest Means Business," we'll bring it back live from Long Beach. I can see that coming on the horizon. Thank you.
CORDERO: Thank you.
QUEST: Thank you. The markets open in New York in just a minute or so from now. We were at record yesterday on the NASDAQ and the S&P, obviously if we
open with a record, that continues.
We will have the numbers for you when it does.
QUEST: It's FIRST MOVE. Middle of the week and Wall Street is now open up and running. Dow is just a tad lower. The S&P and the NASDAQ, those gains
however slim mean new record. Both indices have risen for four days in a row.
Some of America's best known CEOs are going to participate in a White House Summit on cybersecurity today discussing how to reduce the threat from
hackers attacking key infrastructure. So you're going to have Apple, Amazon, JPMorgan, and others expected to attend.
J&J - Johnson & Johnson are flat, the company says, COVID-19 boost up generates the worth. The use is rapid and robust in the increase in virus
fighting. J&J citing the results of two early stage trials on the efficacy.
Australia and New Zealand are experiencing their worst COVID outbreaks since last year. Both countries had practiced zero COVID policy from the
start. Now, the strategy seemed to work and then along came delta and it has introduced infections that the country's leaders now believe it's
impossible to get down to zero.
CNN's Ivan Watson is with me in Hong Kong. Was zero ever realistic? I mean, unless you vaccinated, wasn't it always the possibility that something was
going to get in?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it worked for 2020, Richard. The problem is, there's this new, much more contagious
variant and the fact that Australia and New Zealand have not been able to stamp it out yet has fueled this fresh debate: Is this zero COVID case
approach still viable? And the jury is still out right now.
WATSON (voice over): Australia and New Zealand, two countries that stamped out each and every COVID-19 outbreak over the first year and a half of the
pandemic, now in partial or complete lockdown as they struggle with a new surge of infections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, I don't think my kids would go back to school this year.
WATSON (voice over): The outbreak prompting Australia's Prime Minister to suggest moving on from a zero case approach to COVID.
SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: This cannot go on forever. This is not a sustainable way to live in this country.
WATSON (voice over): Stay-at-home orders in the major cities Sydney, Melbourne and the capital, Canberra extended. COVID fatigue contributing to
violent protests that erupted in Melbourne last weekend.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison now promoting a plan to ease restrictions once 70 to 80 percent of adults get vaccinated, but vaccination rates in
both Australia and New Zealand are still low, with only about a quarter of Australians and a fifth of New Zealanders fully vaccinated.
This summer's outbreaks popped the short-lived travel bubble between both countries in late July. Their borders now largely shut to the outside
world, and New Zealand's leader wants to maintain her government's zero case COVID strategy for as long as she can.
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER FOR NEW ZEALAND: For now, absolutely, elimination is the strategy. We need more certainty. We don't want to take
any risks with delta.
If the world has taught us anything, it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19.
WATSON (voice over): In just two months, Australia went from one confirmed case of COVID to over 16,000 fueled by the more contagious delta variant.
WATSON (on camera): Do you believe that a zero cases strategy is still viable for Australia?
MARY-LOUISE MCLAWS, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Sadly, not anymore. I think it's too late. But we may go to some type of mitigation,
while desperately trying to increase our vaccine rollout.
WATSON (voice over): Some weary Australian say this islands nation may need to accept the reality of the virus.
SUSAN, SYDNEY RESIDENT: At some point, we're going to have to open up I don't think we're ever going to be a hundred percent confident and safe.
WATSON (voice over): Two countries grateful to have been spared the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, delta now threatening to take away their hard won
QUEST: Ivan, the delta -- the zero case strategy would only work whilst they were also vaccinating. So, because you're -- obviously, eventually
something is going to get in when you open up. How long do they think they can mitigate? When do they think they're going to get to sufficient
vaccination to relax the mitigation and zero strategy?
WATSON: Well, the Australian Prime Minister has been suggesting that 70 to 80 percent of the adult population vaccinated that that could be reached
kind of sometime before the end of the year. And the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has suggested that perhaps the borders could be
opened at the end of the year.
I've talked to one epidemiologist who says it's really tragic that the fresh outbreaks, the delta variant hit these countries just a few months
too early before they could ramp up their vaccination enough to really -- to reach that herd immunity to protect the population, and the timing --
because they'd had such a good track record to begin with and the timing is really kind of tragic right now, you have an enormous part of both
populations that are very vulnerable, and so, both populations are facing these lockdowns.
And the price that they've had to pay to keep the zero case strategy has been quite high. In Australia's case, you've got tens of thousands of
Australians who can't come back home in part because of the strict border restrictions. You have to pay out of your pocket two weeks for hotel
quarantine to come into the country, that's a lot of money. You've had cities like Melbourne that have had 200-plus days of cumulative lockdown
since the pandemic began.
So, these are populations who've had to really pay a steep price for this strategy thus far, which the epidemiologist say it's too late now. The cat
is out of the bag. The delta variant is there now, and that's a lesson for other societies here in the Asia Pacific region, like Hong Kong, like
Singapore, that have tried to maintain the same strategy and are now facing this new threat of the delta variant.
QUEST: Because they didn't get the vaccines in, bought them quick enough, which of course, is another issue completely about whether they could buy
them, the market for them, and who was cornering the market.
Ivan, that's excellent. Thank you very much. We'll talk more on that.
The delta variant continues to spread and surges demand for rapid reliable test kits. The German COVID test kit maker QIAGEN recently received
emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a rapid test that can produce results in as little as two minutes.
Thierry Bernard is the CEO and with me now. Testing, testing, testing. We were talking to the Dutch -- sorry, the Danish Health Minister and he said
their strategy is vaccination and testing.
And I've got a variety of test kits from a PCR test kit at home to the do- it yourself 15-minute test or the proctored test, which is online. Why is yours different?
THIERRY BERNARD, CEO, QIAGEN: Yes, first of all, good morning, Richard. And thanks for having me. I mean, I don't think that the real or what
matters the most is, if those tests are different. I think what is interesting to highlight is that since the beginning of the pandemic, the
in vitro diagnostic industries, many companies all over the world here in the U.S., but outside of the U.S. as well did really step up to the
challenge of multiplying manufacturing output in very record time.
So now, the situation is that we have a huge variety of tests from antigen test, PCR test, sometime next generation sequencing test. What is important
is that we have now test for any kind of hospital infrastructure.
Sometime, as you said, for home testing, as well for decentralized settings, like airport, like cruise companies and this is what is
QUEST: Isn't the important -- related to that is the ability to test at will and pretty much for free. We need to be able to put that swab and get
a result whenever you need it.
BERNARD: Exactly, Richard. You are really in that -- I think so many people were thinking when the vaccine appeared that vaccine would kill, I
would say the need for test. It's never about just vaccine or treating. It's always good healthcare -- prevention policy always relies on testing
and treating, and therefore the need for tests.
And it is shown now by the delta variant the need for testing is more accurate than ever. And we see indeed an incredible surge of demand for
testing from now in July, for example, compared to the second quarter of this year, as an example --
QUEST: Right. Yes, but the irony is, this is exactly what the experts said at the beginning. And we all thought it was just because we're talking
about testing at the start of the crisis, but the reality is, the long term requires tests. Briefly, sir.
BERNARD: Exactly. We have probably have been too complacent with the need of testing. Let me just give you a clear number. At the peak of the
contamination, probably around January of this year, we were shipping -- the whole industry in the U.S. was shipping 1.6 million PCR tests per day -
- per day for the U.S. market.
This went down progressively, and at the end of the second quarter, around the month of June, this number was down to 350,000 PCR tests shipped per
day in the U.S., and obviously with the need now for more actions against the delta variant, we see this number on the rise again and we are now up
again to roughly one million test PCR shipped per day. So really having --
QUEST: We will talk more about this, sir. I need to leave it there. Thank you. I appreciate it, but we will talk more about it.
And that is our program for this morning. Testing, PCRs, antigens. And of course, what's happening in Afghanistan.
The news never stops.
I'm Richard Quest. Thank you for watching.
"Marketplace Europe" comes up next. This is CNN.