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First Move with Julia Chatterley

New Coronavirus Variant Causes Fresh Concern; Global Markets Fall as New COVID Variant Spreads Alarm; EU Nations and UK Issue Travel Bans Over New COVID Variant; South African Government Urges Vigilance while New Variant Investigated; Ukraine's Zelensky Claims Russia Plotting Coup Against Him; Macron Says Open Letter from British Prime Minister is "Not Serious"; Stocks Sink on New Variant Concerns; Growing Concern over Taiwan's Fate Amid Chinese Aggression. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired November 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A warm welcome to the show. Wherever are you in the world, I'm Julia Chatterley.

And today, we begin with news of a new COVID-19 variant. Let me just explain what we know so far.

The new variant was first detected in South Africa and Botswana. The current concern is tied to the unusually high number of mutations in what

is known as the spike protein. Which very simply makes it more difficult to predict how the virus will react, including how it may react to vaccines.

We are going to be discussing all of this during the show.

The World Health Organization will be meeting in the coming hours to discuss. And for now, it's advising caution. But plenty of governments are

already taking precautions. Those in yellow, just to give you a sense, the UK, France, Germany and Japan among them are restricting flights from South

Africa and several other African nations, which are shown in red on the map.

Belgium has just become the first European country to confirm a case of the new variant. And together, investors are reacting with caution, as you

would imagine, pairing back positions and we're seeing pressure on things like stocks as you can see there, an array of red across stock markets

around the world. And we're seeing energy, oil prices lower and the flight to safety in the U.S. dollar.

European stocks as you can see there, clearly struggling. It's the latest variant adds to already existing worries about the spread of the current

dominant variant Delta. Asia also as you can see had a tough session as well. And that's the handover to the United States, where markets will only

be opened for a few hours today.

Just bear in mind as well that many investors will still be on holiday post-Thanksgiving. And that means thin volumes, outside moves across these

markets should be expected.

OK. And as you can see there, I mentioned it very briefly, futures are higher than where they were, so they're still in the red. But they have

recovered somewhat based on the overnight hours.

OK. Let's get to the drivers.

First the context on what we need to understand about this new variant.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has some details.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There are mutations and variants all the time. Most of them never make it to the world stage. Some

like Delta are particularly clever and they do make it to the world stage. We don't know which one this will be.

But let's take a look at some of the basics of this new variant that South African researchers are talking about to the WHO. So, the name of it, as

you said, B.1.1.529, it does not have a Greek letter yet. We don't know what that will be if they give it one. There have been -- what they have

seen that's so disturbing is that there are more than 30 mutations in the spike protein.

That's important because the spike protein is how this virus works. It's how it infects us. And the vaccines are built to fight that spike the

protein. So, if there are too many mutations in the wrong places, it could be a problem for either natural immunity or vaccinations. U.K., Germany,

Japan and other countries have restricted travel from South Africa.

Now, to put this in even more context, if you remember back to January, there was another variant spotted in South Africa that did real damage

there but never got onto the world stage. So, we don't know if this is going to be like that variant that was spotted in South Africa or, God

forbid, would it become like Delta. So, that's what the World Health Organization is going to be discussing today and we will wait to hear what

they have to say.


CHATTERLEY: OK. Elizabeth Cohen there.

And Anna Stewart is looking at the market reaction for us. Anna, I think as Elizabeth was saying there, there is much that we don't know yet. And it's

the uncertainty that I think is playing into global markets in addition to the restrictions, in addition to the fact liquidities type, because we're

post the Thanksgiving holiday. Just walk us through what we are seeing.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Exactly. And I think it's important to remember as you say, after Thanksgiving, volumes are low, moves are being



But waking up this morning it kind of felt like I woke up in the wrong year. It felt like spring 2020 with a really broad sell-off investors

rebalancing their portfolios. Particularly of course on FTE markets, exiting many.

And we saw a broad sell-off in Europe and in Asia. Some sectors oversleeping hit harder than others. Not surprisingly travel and leisure.

Look at some of the airlines' stocks in Europe. IAG, EasyJet, Ryanair, Lufthansa, all down double digits on fears that this could lead to further

travel restrictions in addition to what we saw of course overnight regarding Southern African countries.

Some stock winners here. Of course, the so-called lockdown stocks, particularly those related to remote working or home delivery. So, some

stocks like Ocado, Delivery Hero, HelloFresh, they are all bucking the trend and outperforming this forced sell-off we are seeing.

In terms of oil, oil down nearly 7 percent early today. No surprise there. Investors' fears are realized. And we are seeing potentially a pullback in

terms of travel. If we could see, further lockdowns that hits manufacturing. Of course, you could see, a fall in demand of oil. And

that's a similar story we are seeing actually across commodities like copper, aluminum, zinc, nickel and so on.

Where is all the money going? No surprises, fleeing for safety. So, we are of course seeing gold higher today. Also pumping into treasuries and other

bonds. You'll see yields falling today. It will be interesting to see whether that continues as the U.S. market opens of course.

And safe haven currencies, the dollar, the yen, faring very well today, much higher but of course, not so much to South African rand which is


Is all this an overreaction, Julia? I mean, possibly, we don't know enough about this virus in terms of its impact on vaccine immunity, in terms of

transmissibility. Elizabeth Cohen makes that really clear. But today, clearly, investors are designed to sell now and ask questions later.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. It's a classic risk off day. I mean, that's what we call it based on what you are saying. And actually, the energy markets are

interesting from the fact that, of course this week, the announcement over the releases of oil from strategic reserves around the world, right into a

point where we are now concerned about the recovery of travel. So, that was a perfect storm, at least in terms of what we are seeing for market action


Anna, also important to the point that you just made as well about over reaction, we're trading at or around record highs. If you've made a lot of

money this year, why would you risk it? You wouldn't. You would take some money off the table here and out of the markets. And obviously, too, we are

at record levels. So, you're going to get sensitivity around breaking news like this.

STEWART: Exactly. I think it was a note from Wells Fargo recently saying, yes, a rally potentially into the end of the year, but not much further

than that. And we've seen record highs just this week. The S&P and the Nasdaq, that just goes to show how long this week has been. And in Europe,

the CAC current hit high actually in November as well.

Add to that the low volumes post-Thanksgiving. Is there any surprise here? And also, actually let's add to that on top of all of that. The European

sentiment giving they are facing a fourth wave of coronavirus. Sentiment is lower here. But perhaps that hadn't been fully priced in, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. That's exactly where we are going next.

Anna Stewart, thank you for the context there.

OK. The UK and several EU nations have banned flights from South Africa over the new COVID variant. Travel curbs are also in place for six

neighboring nations. The EU commission says it may pull an emergency break, quote, "to halt" all air travel from the region.

The White House chief medical adviser Dr. Fauci have this to say about a potential U.S. travel ban.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Obviously as soon as we find out more information, we'll make a

decision as quickly as we possibly can. We always put these things on the table but you don't want to say you're going to do it until you have some

scientific reason to do it.


CHATTERLEY: Yes. And we don't have that scientific data yet and that's key.

Nada Bashir joins us now. That might not stop the European Commission. I believe they're going to make an announcement on this as early as today.

NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: That's right, Julia. You heard from Fauci there saying that they are looking at making a decision as soon as they possibly

can. And the pressure is certainly being felt here in the European Union.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is saying that they may pull that brake stop, halting travel to the South African region as

we've seen previously in travel restrictions across the European Union. And in the UK, we heard this morning from the Health Secretary Sajid Javid

speaking in the House of Commons, warning that the government is deeply concerned by the discovery of this new variant.

And as you mentioned earlier in the show, now we have one person confirmed, a case confirmed in Belgium of this new variant. And there are serious

concerns that this could spread. And the pressure is on now for European leaders to stem the spread of that virus.

We've seen other European countries taking similar measures, halting travel to the region and also putting into place restrictive measures within their

own countries. The UK has introduced, once again, South Africa to its red list.


And that means business going back, or travelers coming back will have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at their own expense. So, there is

pressure now to encourage people not to travel to this region.

But there are also serious concerns as we move into the winter months. The COVID situation in Europe could spiral out of control and put the

healthcare sector across the continent under immense pressure.

Now, we have seen some countries, including Austria and Slovakia most recently, introducing that lockdown. Other European countries reluctant to

go into those lockdowns as we've seen in the past, introducing tougher measures, including bringing back mandatory mask wearing and encouraging

citizens to go and booster jab, that third coronavirus vaccine to really boost immunity in the country.

France, for example, as well as pushing that incentive for people to get vaccines. They've got their health pass which citizens have to prove to

show that they've tested negative for coronavirus or have had the vaccine and are fully vaccinated in order to access places like restaurants and

bars, even to travel within the country.

And now, they're asking people who aren't vaccinated to prove that they have tested negative for coronavirus within the last 24 hours. So, we've

seen across Europe, these measures coming into forced closures including the much-loved Christmas markets in Austria, for example. So, there are

serious pressures now on European leaders to stem the spread of the virus. And this news of a confirmed case in Belgium is only going to heighten that

pressure. Julia?

CHATTERLEY: Yes. Heightening the concern.

Nada Bashir, thank you so much for that update there.

OK. To now the nation where this COVID variant was first identified. South Africa's government urging its people to remain vigilant while the new

variant is investigated.

David McKenzie joins us now from Johannesburg.

David, they're saying be vigilant, but also taking measures that could perhaps help fight this, which is vaccinations. Talk to us about one, what

they are saying and what people are doing in terms of response and how prevalent vaccines are.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, South Africa has a lot of vaccines available, but, in fact, there has been relatively slow uptake. Recently,

less than 40 percent of the adult population is vaccinated. So again, on this news emerging of a new variant discovered here in South Africa,

unclear where it came from, it is again being stressed that people need to vaccinate as quickly as possible.

Right now, the country isn't in its worst phase of COVID-19 by any means. We've had a very significant waves here, three of them in South Africa.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, there was expected to be a fourth wave in the coming weeks. The reason they are so concerned here is because

of the level of mutations on this variant as well as some early signs that it may be spreading fast. And I have to say these are early signs.

There is very little definitive about this variant. But because of that combination of factors, that something with a lot of mutations and

spreading locally relatively quickly, that is why they came out and became public very soon.

Despite these travel bans - or because of the travel bans, South African government has said they believe some of these decisions were too hasty and

the efficacy, CDC has said that these kinds of bans are unhelpful. But we have seen this before when difficult variants have emerged for countries to

close their borders. Julia?

CHATTERLEY: David, you raise such a great point. And it's the -- what we've seen in the past is a reluctance to report when you identify a variant in a

country. Because of the stigma, because of their response in terms of closed borders and restrictions. I think we do have to make the point here

that this has been incredibly quickly, we believe, reported by the South African government and they should be commended for that because the

scientific response now to identify what the implications are, will happen incredibly quickly as a result.

MCKENZIE: Well, it could give more tools in the toolbox in terms of combating this variant and certainly the South African scientists have been

praised for their swift release of information as it came in, within you know 72 hours, frankly. I just spoke a short time ago to the WHO official

who raised your exact point that they're worried that punitive measures brought in quickly might dissuade future countries and their scientists for

announcing these kinds of details because, frankly, again, this will have a devastating impact on South Africa's economy.

We, in this country, at least are heading towards peak tourist season. The UK is the main trade and tourist partner of South Africa. And just, you

know, as it happens, all through the day, I've received messages from people who are planning to come to this country. We've had to cancel those

plans. You extrapolate that out to the wider population and a country that was just recovering economically from the virus, you see how this will

pummel the tourist sector.


Again, it's this weighing up public health and the economy. At this stage we just don't know whether these bans are crucial or it's an overkill. Just

we won't know for several weeks.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, responsible behavior, but with potential devastating consequences, at least in the short term. We need the scientists to get to

work and understand exactly what this is. And that could take some time.

David McKenzie, thank you.

OK. Still to come on "FIRST MOVE."

France bans the UK from a key summit amid a standoff over the deaths of 27 migrants at sea. We've got the latest on that.

And of course, more analysis and explanation over what we are seeing around the globe and the latest on this COVID variant.

Stay with us. We are back after this.


CHATTERLEY: All right. Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."

And a quick look once again at the market impact that concerns about a new COVID variant first identified in South Africa and Botswana. And of course,

news that governments are tightening border restrictions on arrivals from South Africa and six other nations.

As you would imagine, U.S. futures under a bit of pressure here. We are down some 2.2 percent for the Dow. The Nasdaq not quite so bad, down some 1

percent. This was far worse overnight. And I will reiterate this.

It looks very painful at this stage. But actually, we were worse several hours ago. So, we're pulling some of this back.

Liquidity, remember, as thin as well following the Thanksgiving holiday. And that's when you tend to see this kind of outside moves. No escape

though in terms of what we're seeing figure off some 3 percent. The French markets off almost 4 percent as well. It's pandemic loses, the airlines,

the travel stocks, all those concerns that were already there in terms of the European session with the rising COVID cases they are seeing.

Energy, Brent Crude, WTI also under significant pressure. Key double whammy here. Not only losing ground as a result of potential future restrictions.

But already, we saw this week the release of strategic oil reserves that was already creating some downward pressure on the energy complex as well.

Some of the winners here. Gold up some 1.3 percent. You tend to see this flight to safety. When we see this kind of reaction and this kind of news

in markets, where flight to quality in terms of gold. We see a flight to safety in terms of bonds.

You are seeing bond year yields coming down as well as bond prices rise as people buy bonds for safety. And, of course, the Japanese yen a safety

currency as well gaining some ground, too.


OK. Let's move on, Ukraine's president is dramatically alleged that Russia is plotting to oust him in a queue - coup as the U.S. warns a Russian

invasion of the country is very possible.

Mathew Chance in London has more details for us.

Matthew, great to have you with us.

The Ukrainian president holding a presser today saying that they believe that they've got news of a potential coup that would take place as early as

next week. What more do we know? And did he directly suggest that the Russians were involved here?

Matthew, just checking that I have contact with you. Are you there?

OK. I think we got him.

Matthew, just explain what the Ukrainian president said today, and whether or not he directly said he believed the Russians were involved in this

potential coup?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He -- this allegation, first of all, was made in an extended press conference that -

Well, I can hear you very well. Can you hear me?

CHATTERLEY: Matthew, I've got you.

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, I hear you very well, Julia. I just don't know whether you can hear me. But look, I mean, the context that those remarks were

made, they were made during an extended press conference that Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, has been sort of engaged in for the past

several hours in the capital - in the Capital Kyiv.

He basically said that look, it's been identified by the Ukrainian Security Services that there will be a coup that's been planned against Ukraine and

the Security Services have listened in to telephone calls made between Russians and Ukrainians to organize that coup.

One of the people who was mentioned by the Ukrainian president was a businessman in Ukraine, in fact, Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, his

name is. He's you know an oligarch in the country, essentially a rich businessman who controls massive economic interests throughout the country,

particularly in the east.

It's said that Rinat Akhmetov was the person that was being spoken with to organize that coup. Although, there was no direct implication made that Mr.

Akhmetov had anything to do with it at all. And of course, there has been no evidence presented by Volodymyr Zelensky for the allegations and for the

claims he's made about this coup.

He said it was going to take place within the next few days, on the 1st and the 2nd - or the 2nd of December. But you know Julia, I think you have to

look at it within the context of Ukrainian politics. And what's going on right now is it was a broad crackdown being staged by President Zelensky

against oligarchs in the country to try and you know take away some of their political power and some of their economic power as well.

There are two things with that. The first is that there a genuine - it's a genuine sort of fifth column in Ukraine. People who are - who are believed

to be working in the interests of the Russian state to undermine Ukraine and there is a sense of legitimacy and purpose in cracking down on those


But the criticism of President Zelensky is he's gone beyond that line. And that he is using this sort of reason to undermine the oligarchs to crack

down on individuals who are critical of him, who pose a threat to his - to his continued power and to his popularity.

And so, you know there is a sense in which Volodymyr Zelensky is being accused of you know sort of abusing this authority that he's got and

abusing these anti-oligarch laws to crack down on people who are critical of his - of his government.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. This press conference raising many more questions.

Matthew, thank you for joining us there. And I apologize for the slight issues with the connection there. I will let you go, thank you. Matthew

chance there.

OK. Let me bring you up to speed now with some of the other stories that are making headlines around the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron says an open letter addressed to him on Twitter from the British prime minister is quote, "not serious." And now,

France has disinvited Britain from intergovernmental meeting on the migrant crisis. 27 migrants trying to reach the UK died on Tuesday when their boat

capsized after leaving France.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now.

Nic, great to have you with us.

I think we should provide our viewers with a context over the tweet that was sent out by the British prime minister as well. And that the suggestion

was that France really needs to do more and accept those migrants back if they come as a deterrent, but not having them all as part of this

discussion today surely is not going to help find a solution.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It doesn't appear to be. This sort of fractious relationship between Britain and France that has

been going on -- ongoing really perhaps you can say since Brexit particularly overfishing rights in the English Channel, also the UK

replacing France to build submarines for Australia. That's really her relations.

But over this migrant issue, it's been festering for some time. The prime minister tweeted and wrote an open letter to the French government last

night to President Macron, in fact, specifically, saying that he wanted to improve the coordination and cooperation with France over handling

migrants, crossing the Channel so there wouldn't be another catastrophe, horrible catastrophe as we saw on Wednesday when 27 people died. He said he

wanted better cooperation, maritime patrols, better surveillance, aircraft, better technology used, better intelligence sharing. And he again put out

what it said the previous day to the French, the prime minister saying that he wanted British border force officials on the ground in France patrolling

with French policemen.

The French had already said no to that. The Home Secretary stood up in parliament subsequent to the French rejection and said it again. Then

followed by the prime minister's letter. So, it's been a sense of tone deafness perhaps on both sides. Certainly, a case of talking past each

other. The relationship between the British Home Secretary Priti Patel and her opposite number in France is also a fractious and very difficult

relationship as best we know.

And so, this has sort of culminated at this moment with this very important meeting of home secretaries, interior ministers, if you will, to handle the

migrant crisis more broadly around the Channel. And it will now appear is going to absent - the key player from the UK.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. Nic Robertson, thank you very much for your context there.

OK. We'll be back after this with the market opens. Stay with us.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."

And I have to say, it is nice to see smiling faces there at the New York Stock Exchange despite some of the broader concerns.

U.S. markets today are opened for a shorter post-Thanksgiving session, which also matters, too. And investors are using the little time they have

today to move away from riskier assets into some of the safe havens as we've discussed.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are opening lower. As you can see there, the Dow down some 2.2 percent. There are worries, a new COVID variant could

potentially put another spanner in the works of the global economic recovery.

The Nasdaq is also down but not by as much with the situation favoring some of the post-pandemic stock winners or the pandemic stock winners that we've

seen. And, of course, that favored the technology stocks.

One already measurable consequence, some countries restricting flights from South Africa. Keeping misery on the already battered travel sector. Morocco

is the latest one now to ban travelers from South Africa.

Richard Quest joins us now.

Richard, great to have you and your insights on the show.

I've mentioned already, thin liquidity, because it's a post-Thanksgiving holiday session. Real nervousness and the lack of clarity about what we're

dealing with here. It all spells trouble for financial markets.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Oh, today, without doubt, and across Europe, you're seeing that with 2 to 3 percent falls. And

I am guessing that you are looking at similar sort of numbers at least at the open in New York. This is going to be ugly.

Today is going to be an ugly day because of the one thing that you and I have said more times than we can shake a stick at. Markets hate

uncertainty. And what they have now been -- had dumped on them is a huge amount of uncertainty.

This new variant, which doesn't even have a name yet, you know sort of a nickname, and we don't know how bad it's going to be. We don't know the

sort of restrictions. We are seeing travel restrictions already. The EC president have underlined as call for more restrictions, travel


So, I think -- I think, look, anyone who went through 2020 is not going to be frightened today in the market. But they're going to be giving pause for

thought. Is this a buying opportunity? Is this a wait and see? Is this a do nothing?

CHATTERLEY: Yes. I mean, there is a wait and see element here. Because we have to wait for the science. What we saw with the Delta variant was it

swept around the world.

QUEST: Right.

CHATTERLEY: We learned to deal with it. With this one, it may or may not be the case. We don't know about vaccines efficacy. There are so many

questions and things that we don't know.

Go on. And the question is whether given that we're at record highs, we're right at the end of the year, you take money off the table. And you don't

need to worry about those questions, you just take profits, or do you wait and see.

QUEST: Problem for the retail.

CHATTERLEY: Because there are implications about telling here too.

QUEST: Well, the problem for the retail investor is this market is already on its way down. So, unless you've got sizable - excuse me - unless you've

got sizable profits already baked in. You're going to lose 3 percent today off that.

Do you take - do you - do you lose that now and hold for a better? Or do you just ride it out?

I think the more difficult question is when to get back in. Anyone who saw the sharp losses of 2020 and regrets not having bought more or seen a

turnaround, even if you don't turn the bottom of the market is going to say, is this 2020 redux. Is this an opportunity?

Now look, I'm not being Pollyanna her nor I'm being uncaring about what we're about to see. I'm simply putting in terms of an investor strategy

where you have to make decisions where there is a wall of cash still looking for homes and the market is about to take a tumble. Is this the

tumble that you have been waiting for?

CHATTERLEY: Yes. Whether it's something that we are about to see or not see, quite frankly. And I think that's a part of the challenge.


CHATTERLEY: And Richard, if we go back for days, sitting at record highs for stocks in particular in the United States.


CHATTERLEY: But beyond, we were looking for a catalyst either to justify going higher or to perhaps see us pull back a little bit and see some kind

of natural correction that does happen in these markets.

The question is, what is this?

QUEST: Yes, exactly. And the new - the new equation for this variant is how we live with it. In 2020, we didn't know what we were doing. We were

literally knee-jerking our way around the crisis. We now have the vaccines. We have extremely extensive testing. We know a lot more about what works

and what doesn't.


So, if you go pandemic to endemic, which is what this is, how do we live with it?

I was out for dinner last night in New York and things were pretty normal. The question to ask, how is this -- how is this new variant going to affect

this new normality which is already different from the normality we had last year?

CHATTERLEY: Yes, such a great point. We have learned to deal with this on so many levels and the fact that we are even discussing this.


CHATTERLEY: That we know that there is a new variant out there. That the scientists are jumping on board. That's very different from what we have

seen in the past.

Thank you, Richard. Reasons to be optimistic. And we need to talk about those.

Richard Quest, as always there, thank you.

Now, at the moment as Richard and I were discussing, we're still trying to understand what the new COVID variant may or may not mean.

Here's what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Biden just told CNN.


FAUCI: When you look at a mutation it can give you a hint or a prediction that it might evade the immune response. What you need to do is you need to

get that particular sequence of the virus, put it in a form in the lab where you can actually test the different antibodies so you can have a

prediction that it might evade, or you can actually prove it.

Right now, we're getting the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually directly test it. So

right now, you're talking about sort of like a red flag that this might be an issue, but we don't know.

Once you test it, you'll know for sure whether or not it does or does not evade the antibodies that we make.


CHATTERLEY: OK. Let's get some more context on this.

Joining us now Dr. Paul Sax. He's professor of medicine for Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Sax, great to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.

Two questions as Richard and I were discussing there on what we don't know yet, degree of transmissibility, degree to which this may or may not evade

our vaccines and our current anti-body treatments. How concerned are you?

DR. PAUL SAX, CLINICAL DIRECTOR, BRIGHAM AND WOMEN'S HOSPITAL: Well, the biggest concern Dr. Fauci mentioned is that there are quite a few mutations

in this variant compared to what we had before. And we also see that in South Africa, it is starting to out compete the Delta variant.

But remember, that's in the context of where Delta had already dropped substantially. One of the great unknowns about COVID-19 is that countries

and regions go through these cycles of increased cases and decreased cases. And we like to think we know what causes it, but sometimes we don't. So,

under very low case numbers, this variant has emerged in South Africa quite quickly.

The issue about vaccine evasion is a very important one. But I don't believe that the vaccines are going to prove useless even if it does have a

certain degree of vaccine evasion. Remember our immune system is much more complicated than just antibodies. We also have several immune responses.

I think it's important to note that the people who have been identified with this variant, some of them have been completely without symptoms,

which means that the vaccines are still doing the work of preventing severe disease. So, while I very much look forward to seeing those experiments

that were mentioned, taking people's blood, and seeing whether it neutralizes the variant. I really feel there is cause for optimism that the

vaccines are going to continue to protect us. So, I cannot stress enough the importance of vaccination for protection.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And we need to calm down, I think, at this stage. To your point, there is no evidence today to suggest that the vaccines that have

already been taken and the hope is that more people would take these vaccines that that won't provide some degree of protection against the most

serious forms of this virus.

SAX: I completely agree. And the other thing that's encouraging is that the occurrence in the variant was reported and it allowed there to be

collaboration internationally. So that's very, very important that we'd be able to work together. And I hope that these travel restrictions don't

discourage places from reporting if they do see something potentially concerning.

CHATTERLEY: So, do you think we're being too precipitous in announcing these restrictions on board? I think from a nation's perspective, you

understand, particularly I think for Europe at this moment that's already seeing a renewed wave of COVID cases. Are you saying you think it's too

early to make these restrictions purely from a perspective that you don't want people to be afraid to report when they find the variant?

SAX: Well, you -- just for the -- so far, travel restrictions have not been very effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, with certain

exceptions. I mean, there are obviously places like New Zealand and island countries, where travel restrictions have been effective. But minus that,

you know, already this variant has been seen elsewhere, it would not surprise me at all if we hear about other countries where it has been


Encouragingly also, we have a PCR tests that may be able to give us an early signal of whether this is spreading. So, I think we'll know a lot

more in the coming week, whether this has already started to spread. And also, whether it is causing more disease.

CHATTERLEY: What about mask wearing?


Is this a reason for people and you've already said it, look, get a booster shot, I think, if you are eligible, get the vaccine if you haven't already.

Should people be considering particularly on what you said about the potential for this to already have spread to consider wearing masks once

again inside.

SAX: I think it's very reasonable for people to choose to do that. Masks indoors in crowded areas can be very helpful and protecting people and also

preventing spread to others.

I don't know that it makes the sort of next leap, which you should go back to mask mandates. Clearly, we have moved beyond the place that we were in

2020 when we really didn't understand how the virus is spread.

But I think it's very reasonable. Especially for people who are immunocompromised to wear masks indoors to protect themselves. And I think

that's something that we're going to be seeing globally for some time now.

CHATTERLEY: And I want to address the worst-case scenario, in order, I think, to just address the signs that we have available. To your point, the

good news is we know that scientists are going to be looking at this. That the World Health Organization are going to be looking at this. And we do

have vaccine makers and we'd had them on this show that have said, look, we're at the stage now where we are looking at perhaps tweaking the

vaccines that we have to better tackle variants of concern.

Are we at the stage now, Dr. Sax, in your mind where if this were a very concerning variant, that we needed perhaps to address in terms of altering

a vaccine? Are we able to do it? It may take some time. But we're able to do it.

SAX: So, when -- Julia, you're absolutely right, one of the great things about the mRNA technology is that alteration of the vaccines that it

addresses potentially more vaccine evasive variants is quite doable. And also, we know that surrogates of vaccine protection very well. So, we could

test that rather rapidly and then bring them out into clinical use.

I do feel like right now would be premature to do that. So far, there has not been a variant that has really shown our vaccines to be much less

effective. What's made our vaccines less effective was the initial strategy that we used to give people two doses.

If we had given people three doses at the outset, probably it would have been better. Especially if it had been spaced out. We now know that giving

that third dose does increases your antibody levels substantially to levels that are even higher than people who have recovered from COVID-19. So, yes,

the vaccine manufacturers can do that. The scientists can do that. It is too early to do so.

If I can mention one thing that is going to also be very important, some parts of the world do have monoclonal antibody treatments available. That

is one area where we really do need to look very carefully at this variant. Because the monoclonal antibodies work directly by attacking the parts of

the virus that appear to be mutated in this particular strain. So, we want to see is do these monoclonal antibodies to neutralize this variant. That

would be important going forward.

CHATTERLEY: And that we hope that's addressed and very quickly as well in their analyzing the data on this.

Just to wrap up, Dr. Sax, I think the key takeaway for people here has to be, remain calm, remain vigilant and the best way if you want to panic

about this, panic by booking yourself a vaccine appointment.

SAX: Julia, you said it very well. I completely agree. Until we get more information, the best thing we can do is get yourself vaccinated. Because

that's the best protection that we have right now by far.

CHATTERLEY: Dr. Sax, great to chat to you, sir. Thank you so much.

SAX: You are welcome. Thanks for inviting me.

CHATTERLEY: Dr. Sax, clinical director for Brigham and Women's Hospital. Thank you for joining us, sir.

OK. Coming up after the break.

A tale of two islands and one superpower. Why Taiwan is following China's actions in Hong Kong with trepidation. That's next.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."

Relations between Taiwan and China at their lowest point in decades. China has been ramping up pressure for the island to unify with the mainland.

Meanwhile, many in Taiwan have been watching the crackdown in Hong Kong, fearing that the territory's fate could hold clues to their own as Will

Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hong Kong and Taiwan two islands claimed by China less than 500 miles apart, they might

as well be different worlds.

In 2014, student led protests broke out in Hong Kong and Taipei, both taking aim at Beijing's communist rulers.

Taiwan's Sunflower Movement occupied the legislature for weeks. In Hong Kong five years later, it was only a matter of hours, two similar events,

drastically different outcomes.

(on camera): If you had done the exact same thing, but you're in Hong Kong, where would you be today?


RIPLEY (voice over): In 2014, Lin Fei-fan was a student protests leader. Today, a political leader. He says all of his activist friends from Hong

Kong are either in exile or in jail, targeted by a sweeping national security law, a law imposed by Beijing last year. With the stroke of a pen,

many of Hong Kong's freedoms promised for 50 years under one country two systems' erased.

(on camera): What does that mean for Taiwan?

FEI-FAN: I think that tells us that we must prepare, the threat for China is very kind of very escalating at a quite serious level.

RIPLEY (voice over): Fears are growing; China may use its massive military to forcefully reunify with this self-governing Island. Those fears helped

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen win reelection by a landslide last year.

(on camera): So, you don't believe that China even if they promised one country two systems would actually deliver that here in Taiwan?

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: This is an issue of credibility there. And the Taiwanese people have said very clearly that they don't accept One

country, two systems as the formula for resolve the Courtrai issue.

RIPLEY (voice over): Opinion polls shows support for Taiwanese independence at its highest point in decades. Students like Samuel Li afraid for their

future. Afraid the world's only Chinese speaking democracy could become the next Hong Kong.

SAMUEL LI, TAIWANESE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Those protesters who are just as young as me, getting tear gassed and, you know, getting beat up by the

police. I mean, that's just outrageous and devastating to watch.

RIPLEY (on camera): What do you think is inevitably going to happen?

LI: The Chinese government taking over Taiwan is going to be inevitable in my lifetime. I believe.

RIPLEY (voice over): He worries this tale of two islands could have the same sad ending.


CHATTERLEY: OK. We are back after this. Stay with CNN.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."

With a final look at what we're seeing across financial markets as the world assesses and grapples with the potential impact of a new coronavirus

variant. As you can imagine, travel stocks taking a bit of a beating at this stage.

Airbnb and Uber opened up some 6 percent lower. Airbnb is off those lows as you can now. Delta Airlines in the meantime down almost 9 percent as we

already see new travel restrictions appearing around the world.

Of course, not all stocks are falling. And we've been here many times before. The traditional pandemic winners are all outperforming today.

Vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer both rising as you can see. A new variant likely to mean even greater demand perhaps for vaccines and

potentially new versions or more boosters as we have discussed.

And stay at home stocks doing well too. The likes of Zoom and Peloton also big gainers as investors bet that the new variant could mean more work and

play from home.

Too early to say. Christine Romans joins me now.

Christine, the first thing I'll say, and I said it many times in this show. It's the day after Thanksgiving, liquidity is far reduced. You're going to

see outside moves on these days. And we were sitting at record highs. There is lots of things to consider today.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And markets overreact. That's what they do. They overshoot. And so, we should be

prepared for next week to be different as there is more information, right?

I mean, this is going to be key finding out. Can it evade immunity? Can it evade vaccines? Are there may be simple fixes for current vaccines to

address this if those first two questions I ask you have a negative answer?

So, there is a lot we don't know quite yet. And this rush to safety makes total sense with the S&P 500 of 25 percent this year. And the operating

assumption before yesterday was that the U.S. economy is leading the world and the U.S. economy is roaring into the end of the year in pretty good -

in pretty good shape despite inflation and COVID exhaustion and COVID fatigue in this country. The economic engine was humming here.

So, what does this new information mean? It means there is more uncertainty, market data uncertainty, you are having these big selloffs. I

was noting, you talked about some of the stocks that are going - that are higher. You know Netflix is higher, Amazon just turned negative. It's

holding in there pretty steady.

You can see how markets are trying to think what the world would look like with this new - with this new variant and if this new variant is something

that causes you know travel to stall and causes people to sort of hunker down and stay home again.

There is also this - this sort of school fallout. People this morning are talking about whether the United States, in particular, would ever go back

to the conditions we saw a year ago, whether that it would really ever happen again, even with a new variant.

So, there is a lot of talk about that and there is talk about what this means for the Fed and the Fed's tapering and eventual Fed rate hikes. So,

there is just a lot of different elements to explore here with not a lot of new information.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And Build Back Better. Don't forget that, too. Huge. As we do like to jump several weeks and months ahead. But for today, at this

stage, we all need to take a breath, I think. And there is much uncertainty. And we need to acknowledge that. Whatever is reflected in

financial markets.

ROMANS: So much for the quiet holiday Friday.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. I know, rest, everybody, please, this weekend.

Christine Romans, you, too. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: Thank you.

CHATTERLEY: OK. And before we go, a final thought from me.

This morning, heart sank when the "FIRST MOVE" team were news of this new variant emerged. And I am sure many of you felt the same.


There are so many unknowns and uncertainties. It's hard to know what to think. But as we said many times on the show, until the facts arise, here

are a few things to bear in mind. We have had nearly two years of this. Two years to learn about the nature of COVID-19, finds vaccines, build supply

chains and strengthen international scientific cooperation. We are better prepared than ever to respond to whatever the challenge this pandemic

throws our way.

Personally, I'm taking a breath. And I am waiting until we get more data on what threat this variant poses. And I am putting trust in science to find

the right solutions when they're needed. I would urge you all to sit tight, hug your friends and families and wait for the facts.

And, of course, we will always be here to bring those to you on CNN.

That's it for the show. Stay safe. "Connect the World with Becky Anderson" is next. And we'll see you next week.