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First Move with Julia Chatterley
Early Studies: Hospitalization Risk Lower with Omicron; Airline Stocks Fly Higher Amid Busy Holiday Travel; China Puts 13M People in Xi'an Under Strict Lockdown; Putin: NATO Must Guarantee Russia's Security Interests; Osterholm: U.S. Faces Imminent "Viral Blizzard"; Researcher: South Africa is Past Peak of Omicron Wave; How South African Scientists Discovered Omicron; Christmas Launch for Most Powerful Telescope Ever; Biden Touts Progress in Alleviating Supply Chain Problems. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 23, 2021 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Live from New York. I'm Julia Chatterley. This is "FIRST MOVE." And here's your need to know.
Omicron optimism. New research suggests the variant is less likely to cause severe illness.
Peak passed? Scientists say South Africa may be through the worst.
And lockdown limits. 13 million in China are unable to leave their homes after a COVID outbreak.
It's Thursday. Let's make a move.
A warm welcome as always to all our fantastic FIRST MOVErs around the world. It's great to be with you. Thank you for being so loyal this past
And it's the last session before Christmas at the venerable NYSE. A volatile holiday season that was truly hard to foresee. Remember, market
ups and downs are never the key. The best gift as always is the best gift of health and on that I think we'll all agree.
A special greeting to my family too who for a second Christmas Day I will not see. I'll you very soon, mom and dad. That I can guarantee.
Now enough rhyming repartee. There are green Christmas it could finally be. Look I couldn't help myself.
Stock market futures higher adding to a strong two day advanced. There's been plenty coming down the market's chimney this holiday season. A Powell
monetary punch in Omicron case crunch. A U.S. fiscal deal that lacks a final seal. And yet the S&P 500 just 1 percent from record highs.
Fresh data this week shows the U.S. economy is in a strong position before the Omicron surge with consumer confidence. In fact, at a six-month high.
And that I think is giving support to the markets. Along with promising new, but anecdotal health data on the relatively lower severity of Omicron.
That data helping to support the European shares. Airlines, the big gainers with British Airways parent IAG up more than 2 percent.
Asia also higher despite news of new Chinese lockdowns. And China warning that the Winter Olympics in Beijing will surely lead to infections too.
A busy hour to track, lots of polls to deck. Let's get to the drivers.
And we begin with those early Omicron studies levering cautious good cheer to new peer publication papers suggests the risk of hospitalization with
the variant is much lower than with Delta. One of those studies indicates it may even be 80 percent lower.
Jacqueline Howard joins me now.
Jacqueline, great to have you with us.
A number of new studies, three in fact, South Africa, England and in Scotland, non-peer reviewed and we'll continue to reiterate that point but
it seems that the symptoms of Omicron are less severe according to these studies than Delta.
JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: That's right. These studies add to the growing evidence that Omicron may be less likely to cause severe
illness compared to Delta.
So, the study out of Scotland showed that there was a two-thirds reduction in hospitalizations of vaccinated people who were infected with Omicron
compared with those who were infected with Delta.
So, I should say the studies add to evidence showing that if you're vaccinated that does increase your protection against both variants, but
this particular study showed a two-thirds reduction there in hospitalizations when it comes to Omicron.
And there was also data out of South Africa that is new data showing a reduction in hospitalizations and severe illness with Omicron compared to
And here in the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci presented some of this data in a White House briefing just the other day. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: In fact, it appears that in the context of South
Africa, there is a decrease in the severity compared to Delta. Both in the relationship and ratio between hospitalizations and the number of
infections. The duration of hospital stay and the need for supplemental oxygen therapy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD: So just to give you some numbers, Julia, the data that Dr. Fauci presented out of South Africa showed that when compared to Delta
infections, Omicron infections were associated with 70 percent lower odds of severe disease and 80 percent lower odds of being admitted to the
This is early data. It hasn't yet been peer reviewed, but it adds to the anecdotal news that we heard from doctors in South Africa who said that
they noticed some of the Omicron infections were milder compared to Delta. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: And Jacqueline, very quickly on this as well, any separation in any of these studies between the impact on the vaccinated and on the
HOWARD: I'll just say, Julia, that again these studies really emphasize the importance of getting your vaccine. One of the studies showed that the data
also, you know, showed having received a third dose of vaccine or booster shot was associated with a 57 percent reduction in the risk of symptomatic
Omicron infection when compared with being just 25 weeks out of completing your second dose. So, the studies really do show the importance of getting
vaccinated and if you're eligible getting your booster shot as well to really build up that protection against this emerging variant. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Message heard. Jacqueline Howard, thank you for that.
On to airline stocks now, flying higher as always today as expected to be one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season. And across Europe,
new travel restrictions don't appear to be slowing things down either.
Anna Stewart has been checking it all out for us.
Anna, great to have you with us.
Glass half full versus half empty, I think, on Omicron at least where investors are concerned.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Yeah. Looking at European industries today. Only modestly higher actually, but some of the good news from that study or
their multiple studies that have come out. Suddenly fills into airline stocks today, and they're of course the ones that have been severely
punished throughout December ever since Omicron was identified. So, showing you those today.
Leading STOXX 600 early this morning, easyJet, IAG, Wizz Air, Lufthansa, all still higher. They've fallen off actually from the highest we saw
earlier today. All of them were actually about a percent higher still. And they actually inching back towards price levels we haven't seen since
November 24th which is when Omicron was first discovered. And actually, Lufthansa, this morning did pass that point.
I think there was clear hope here that in addition to the human health impact of Omicron perhaps being less severe than Delta there's also a hope
here that the economic cost could be less too if it results in fewer restrictions. But plenty of if's, plenty of but's, plenty of curbs, this is
early days. New data. Not peer reviewed studies and of course the transmissibility of this variant particularly we're seeing it here in the
UK could still be quite a big threat in terms of health care systems. Julia?
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And very quickly, Anna. I know you're driving off now to Devon for Christmas with the two cats and we have to remind our viewers
what your cats are called. Because I do think its genius names.
STEWART: Oh yes. Claude Meowei (ph) and Pablo Porcasso (ph). Makes total sense.
CHATTERLEY: Of course. Anna, Merry Christmas. Thank you.
STEWART: Merry Christmas, Julia.
OK. Past the peak. That's the message from a top scientist analyzing data from the nation where the Omicron variant was first identified. South
Africa is one of the few countries on the continent where cases are down compared to last week with a decrease of around 20 percent.
Larry Madowo joins us now.
Larry, great to have you with us. Fingers crossed from this one. But we do seem to be seeing that case count falling now.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's falling quite precipitously, Julia. And this is the first bit of good news. I have spent most of this month
reporting in South Africa, the height of this Omicron wave and this is the first time that I'm now seeing a lot of South African research scientists,
epidemiologist, virologists, all of them confident enough to say they think South Africa has now surpassed the peak of cases. Part of the reason is
because the epicenter of this outbreak has been in the Gauteng province. That includes the very popular city of Johannesburg and case numbers are
dropping there. But they're also seeing a drop in new detected cases across the country in many of the provinces and they think that's promising.
And so, what they're saying is this could be because of two reasons. One, because vaccination numbers are increasing. And two, because of natural
infection. This spreads so fast within the community that a lot of people got natural immunity and that has helped. So, now it has many people got
sick which means there wasn't a strain on the health care system. They will know that many people in hospital and very few people ended up dying,
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And that's a key question, isn't it, whether natural immunity in community played a part here and/or the level of vaccinations
or otherwise. Larry, and this a follow I wanted to ask you. Is it encouraging people, this latest wave and what we've seen, to go get a
vaccination if they haven't already?
MADOWO: And so, that's the controversial question in South Africa. And I actually did a story about that because there are people in South Africa
who don't feel convinced and they think the government, or their employers shouldn't be asking them to get vaccinated. And what's on major South
African companies, banks and insurance companies, telco, have done is institute vaccine mandates. To say, if you come to work on January 1st, you
need to be vaccinated or you need to test regularly or you might get fired.
But there's still a whole number of people who think that this is not undemocratic or it's against their rights and you've had these arguments in
Western Europe and the U.S. as well. So, it's still an uphill battle that the government is dealing with trying to convince enough South Africans to
get vaccinated and the South African government itself now considering a vaccine mandate just to go against all these vaccine misinformation and
conspiracy theories that have really seeped into the population.
CHATTERLEY: Yes. We're no stranger to that all around the world.
Larry, great to have you with us. Thank you so much for that.
To China now and admitting the Winter Olympics could mean new COVID outbreaks. Beijing is doubling down on its zero COVID policy for now with
13 million people in the city of Xi'an under strict lockdown.
Our Selina Wang reports.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Chinese city of Xi'an and its 13 million residents have been put under strict lockdown. The city has
recorded more than 200 COVID-19 cases since December 9th. Residents are largely banned from leaving their homes, but one designated person from
each household will be allowed to leave every two days to buy groceries. Otherwise, residents are only allowed to leave in the case of a medical
emergency or for quote, "urgent or necessary works." That's according to the local government.
Xi'an has also shut down all schools, public, transport and facilities except for essential service providers.
This is the fourth time a major Chinese city has been placed under strict lockdown. The first was back in early 2020 when Wuhan -- ground zero of the
pandemic went into lockdown. With the games now less 45 days away, the country is doubling down on its zero COVID strategy. Cities are locking
down and mass testing residents in response to just a handful of COVID-19 cases in the country. Olympic participants will have to be in a strict
bubble and tested daily. If they are not vaccinated, they'll have to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival. If China pulls off the Winter Olympics
successfully, it would be a propaganda win for its handling of COVID-19 and for its authoritarian system.
Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.
CHATTERLEY: Let me bring you up to speed now with some of the other stories making headlines around the world.
President Vladimir Putin says Russia's future actions in Ukraine will depend on the United States and NATO. He says Russia's security interest
must be guaranteed. President Putin said NATO had broken pledges not to expand eastward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Not a single inch to the east, they told us in the 90s. And what do you know, they cheated.
They just deceived us blatantly. Five waves of NATO expansion. And there you go - they're now in Romania and Poland, weapons systems appeared. This
is what we're talking about. It is not us threatening someone. If we come to the borders of the USA, of the UK maybe, they came to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Hong Kong's last public memorial to the victims of the China's Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 has been removed under the cover of
darkness. The "Pillar of Shame," quote, as it was called stood at Hong Kong University for more than 20 years. But last October, their pro-Beijing
legislators said it had to go. The Danish artist who created the sculpture has expressed his shock at its removal which happened overnight when most
students are off campus for the holidays.
At least four people have been injured in an explosion at an ExxonMobil plant in Texas. The sheriff's department is calling it a major industrial
accident. The company says the fire broke out at its refinery in Baytown.
OK. Still to come here on "FIRST MOVE."
Genomic geniuses. The crack team of speedy South African scientists first alerted the world to the Omicron variant. We'll speak to the man who leads
And the final frontier gets one step closer. We speak to the European Space Agency as its most ambitious telescope ever made gets ready for liftoff.
That's coming up. Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
No time for grinches or even scrooges on Wall Street. Futures still showing Christmas tree green on the screen. U.S. stocks wrapped up some sweet candy
cane gains Wednesday with the S&P 500 and the tech - tech heavy Nasdaq up more than 1 percent a piece.
And speaking of tech, chipmaker Intel, the latest U.S. company caught in the human rights tensions between Beijing and Washington. Intel apologizing
in China for a letter sent to suppliers telling them not to source products or labor from the Xinjiang region where China has been accused of human
rights abuses against minorities. Chinese media calling the letter absurd. A Chinese pop star even quit as Intel's brand ambassador and Intel
spokesperson tells CNN that it will continue to make sure its global sourcing complies with applicable laws and regulations around the world.
In the meantime, a viral blizzard is coming. That's a stark warning from my next guest who says millions of Americans are likely to be infected by
Omicron over the next three to eight weeks and it will challenge healthcare systems. He says 10 to 30 percent of healthcare workers in the U.S. could
also get infected during this time.
Joining us now is Michael Osterholm. He's the director of Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Sir, great to have you on the show with us, even with such concerning news.
Describe what you mean by a viral blizzard, first and foremost.
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM. EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, first of all, thank you for having me with you today.
As you have witnessed in other countries around the world, once Omicron starts to take off, at least for three to eight weeks you could expect to
see major increases in case numbers. And we're seeing that here in the United States right now. It's been remarkable just in the last five to
seven days how many metropolitan areas are now reporting widespread Omicron outbreaks.
So, I think this is unfolding much as we've seen throughout Europe and South Africa. And now we're seeing in a number of other African countries.
So, basically, we have to be prepared for what's coming these next few weeks.
CHATTERLEY: We were just talking anecdotally on the show about studies that have been done in Scotland, in the UK, also in South Africa, to your point,
that have been hit before the United States suggesting that the severity of the disease seems to be lower when compared to Delta. Do you expect
anecdotally again to see the same things in the United States?
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think that it is the case. In fact, that there is a real likelihood that we're going to see over the course of the next several
months around the world the situation where the cases overall are milder. However, what I think is often missed in that conversation is the fact that
there are going to be so many more of the cases. That even if a smaller percentage of them actually have severe illness, the absolute numbers of
people who are severely ill and needing hospitalization could actually be higher.
Here in the United States, we still have a large number of people unvaccinated who are surely at high risk for serious illness. And we're
seeing many breakthroughs right now in individuals who even who had their three doses of vaccine, which is not good news on one hand.
On the other hand, I think they're less severe because of that and the vaccines are protecting them from being severely ill, hospitalizations and
deaths. So, I think that we are going to see this milder spectrum. But I'm not sure that that by itself is going to really make the big difference in
terms of what happening to our healthcare systems.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. It's interesting, I know certainly one of the takeaways for me from looking at all three studies that we've seen just in the last
few day is that there's a timing mismatch in the data collection. On data that we're comparing for Delta, the collection period is sort of April to
November. And then obviously, for Omicron we are looking sort of November/December data.
It gives you a six-month period to have greater immunity just simply by people getting COVID in the interim. Do you think that makes a difference
in terms of the comparisons of what we're seeing that greater degree of immunity perhaps in some way lessening the impact of the virus in people
OSTERHOLM: No, that's a very important point. And there are other factors like that just trying to compare two populations. For example, where one
may have an older age overall than the other one, that by itself could have an influence on just how many people have severe illness, in which the
diseases could be exactly the same but appear to be different.
The "Financial Times" did a very important analysis yesterday where they actually compared cases of Delta that are occurring now against cases of
Omicron that are occurring now. And there, they did see still this sense of a reduced severity. But again, it's not in the numbers that would offset
necessarily the increase in cases that will occur with such widespread transmission.
You know, I have to say in my 46 years in the business, I have not seen what I see happening right now in the United States in terms of just the
number of families that are being impacted by Omicron just in the last day. I have learned of five different friends, colleagues, families -
OSTERHOLM: -- where a student came home from college, thinking they were not infected because they had taken a test several days before. And now,
they transmitted the virus to people in those families. That's remarkable to see how fast that's happening.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. I mean, there's a few things here. There's -- it's again, it's anecdotal. I'm hearing the same thing that people are doing rapid
tests and it's not picking it up. That the PCR tests aren't picking it up for a number of days too. And I think if we bring it back to the symptoms,
there's this perhaps suggestion that if you just get a runny nose, oh it maybe a cold. Is the best advice to people here, if you have any form of
illness or any form of feeling not normal to any degree, you almost have to assume you have COVID and act accordingly.
OSTERHOLM: I think so. I think that's a very important point. Because in the end, what are we trying to do? We are trying to prevent severe illness,
hospitalizations and deaths. Those people who are immune compromised, those people who have underlying comorbidities we call them for having serious
illness including having high body mass indexes. You know we don't have to have those people get infected and find out that yes, indeed, Omicron still
can kill those people.
And so, I think that that's the important message is we can help each other right now. And one of the points that keeps getting made is getting
vaccinated. Yes, yes, yes, get vaccinated. But remember, it takes even after three doses of vaccine 10 to 14 days after that third dose before
really seeing the vaccine protection kick in. So, if you're just getting your first dose today, don't think you can get it this morning and go to
some social event tonight and be protected. That's not going to happen.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Immunity takes time to build. You said something recently and I wanted to ask you about it. You said, mother nature may have helped
in a twisted way by delivering a strain that's less severe but highly transmissible so it can outcompete the severe Delta.
Your point here was - it sort of gives a greater degree after this of natural immunity without having perhaps the same degree of severe illness
that we've seen in the past. Can you put it into English for viewers please? Perhaps what it means after this?
OSTERHOLM: Yeah. You know we don't really know.
OSTERHOLM: You know, one of the big challenges is the fact that what is going to be the next new variant? You know last April and May, I said
numerous times that I thought that the darkest days of the pandemic could still be ahead of us. And I think a lot of people at that time were not
comfortable with those statements. They thought that I was being extreme and scary.
Well, now we see what we have happening with both Delta and with Omicron. What I would continue to be very concerned about, what's after Omicron? And
that's why we need to continue to do research on vaccines that we call pan coronavirus virus vaccines, meaning they cover multiple different strains.
And so, you know, we can't assume we're going to be out of the woods after the -- you know, this Omicron surge passes. We're still going to be living
CHATTERLEY: Michael, Bill Gates said similar thing that perhaps we haven't seen the worst of the pandemic yet, but he still reiterated as he said in
the past that he believes the pandemic ends in 2022. Do you disagree based on what you just said there?
OSTERHOLM: I don't disagree. I just hope that's true, but I also realize hope is not a strategy. And so, in that sense, we still have to be prepared
for the fact that we could see new variants emerge. Ones that may not be more transmissible but now may have new mechanisms for evading the immune
So, all of the protection that we've accumulated over the course of the last two years you know may not be nearly as helpful if a new variant
emerges. So, I think, that's what we have to be constantly looking at.
So, on one hand, we've got to deal with the right now the next two to eight weeks here in the United States, but we got to also keep an eye in the
future and say what are we going to do if another new variant emerges? Let's not get caught flatfooted.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Hope is not a strategy.
Michael, great to have you with us.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
CHATTERLEY: We will have to act responsibility, have a happy holidays.
OSTERHOLM: You too. Thank you very much.
CHATTERLEY: Michael Osterholm, thank you. We'll speak again soon. Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University
of Minnesota there.
OK. We're back after this with the market open.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
And back to our top story now. And as we've heard, encouraging signs about the rapidly spreading Omicron variant first detected in South Africa.
Scientists there say they've passed the peak of the Omicron outbreak which doesn't compare to the chaos when the Delta variant swept through the
CNN's David McKenzie has more.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dispatched south of Johannesburg, paramedic Mohammed Rasool says Omicron is nothing like delta.
MOHAMMED RASOOL, PULSATE EMERGENCY: During then it was only COVID! COVID! COVID! COVID! COVID! and nothing else.
Will you be able to walk sir?
MCKENZIE: We were with them during the chaos when the Delta wave of COVID- 19 ripped through South Africa. Severe patients crashed quickly. Rasool's team spent hours looking for hospital beds, charities like gift of the
givers rush to set up field clinics scrambled to distribute oxygen concentrators to save lives. With Omicron, they say they haven't sent out a
RASOOL: It's a patient that complain of tightness in chest.
MCKENZIE: Crystal says they call out now for less severe patients, like this 46-year-old who tested negative, but he's still suspected of having
RASOOL: After five minutes, check the chest.
MCKENZIE (on camera): But there's been a surge of cases of COVID-19 with Omicron. But there hasn't been a surge in severity or hospitalization this
kind of call out is pretty typical.
What advice do you have for other countries that are facing Omicron wave?
NICHOLAS CRISP, ACTING DIRECTOR-GENERAL, SOUTH AFRICAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: Don't panic. This is it -- you will ride the wave for this use of
oxygen, far fewer people being admitted despite the high numbers of cases, very high transmission of people getting mild illness not even getting
diagnosed at home.
MCKENZIE (voice over): It's still unclear why it's seemingly milder, or whether that will translate globally. Scientists here believe up to 80
percent of the population in South Africa may have had COVID-19 before, likely providing a shield of immunity against severe infection. Vaccine
coverage also plays a major part.
CRISP: This would have been an absolute nightmare if it was Delta. So, I think we can just be very grateful that it has not been as devastating as
it could have been.
MCKENZIE (on camera): But there's still reason to be cautious. It seems.
CRISP: Yes. Well, we've learned with COVID generally you never let your guard down.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): For a brief moment, though, Rasool dares to hope.
RASOOL: Severity of the illness is not that as it was. So, I'm actually quite optimistic about it.
MCKENZIE: David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
CHATTERLEY: The genome of the Omicron variant was first logged by South African scientists in mid-November. On the 26th of the month, Omicron was
declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization that we now know so much about Omicron, thanks to the swift action of the South African
And joining us is the man who leads them. He's Tulio de Oliveira. He's the director for the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South
Tulio, first and foremost, I just want to say thank you to you and your team for the work that you do on a continual basis and of course, for
raising the flag. We're now more than a month on. What are your observations today in light of the decision that you made and the work that
TULIO DE OLIVEIRA, DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR EPIDEMIC RESPONSE AND INNOVATION: Thank you for the invitation.
So, our observation now is that we did the right thing. Why we did the right thing is because it was very important for both South Africa and the
world to have a very early detection of such variant, as many of the bickering of program before being highlighted. It's a very transmissible
variant, but through vaccination previous immunity and hospital preparation, we are seeing a much lower-case fatality ratio and disease
severity. And a lot of that is about acting quick and very fast with the sense of urgent to new pathogens in our case, a new variant.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. And it is an incredible response time. I mean, you raised the flag. It was designated a variant of concern within three days. Within
48 hours, governments had acted for better or worse. And within three weeks, I believe, it was in 87 different countries. Just based on what you
know already and your experiences of identifying these variants, how long do you think it was circulating before it was found?
DE OLIVEIRA: OK, so the first thing, yeah, as you highlighted, the whole response from we, finding the first genomes, confirm it with the hundreds
of genomes across dozens of clinics, hundreds of kilometers away in South Africa. And I personally talking with our President Ramaphosa was 36 hours.
So, it's a -- be able to identify, validate and communicate to very high- level officials.
As we do analysis and we have not only done that in South Africa, but we have been aided by all the top scientists in the world there. We believe
that the date of origin of the most recent common necessities say when this variant has generated in an individual that following up population is
around 10 of October of 2021, with intervals between beginning of October and end of October.
So, it was really, really recent variant. We do not know where it came from. It can come from South Africa or can come from anywhere in the world
especially as it emerged in Johannesburg with some of the biggest airport in Africa. So -- but what we know is that in general this variant is less
than 1 1/2 months old.
CHATTERLEY: Yeah. Just interested to get some sense of the timeline in light of the actions that governments took. And I know you were very
critical of the decisions to close borders on African nations including South Africa and the idea that perhaps it was a month and a half already in
progress tells us something very important.
Do you think there's a deterrent effect having been created by that with people perhaps who in the future may identify variants but be cautious
about raising the flag because they're afraid of the response that will take place on their own nation, in your case, on South Africa.
DE OLIVEIRA: Yes, yes, yes, of course. Just one simple correction. When we identified the variant in South Africa that was 23 of November of this
year, we had only a few hundred cases a day in the whole country.
DE OLIVEIRA: So, it was not a widespread variant in South Africa and again could easily be introduced here. In relationship to the travel ban and the
reaction that's very detrimental for not only South Africa, but for global health in general. In the case luckily, these were found in South Africa
that we have a very transparent and honest government as I talked to our president, he says within half an hour you're going to a press briefing
with our minister of health.
And second, we are very used about dealing with epidemics and pandemics. We had 20 years of HIV and TB epidemics which also caused a lot of
discrimination for South Africa. So, I would almost say that we have quite a thick skin to deal with that and to be quite activist and fight against
But imagine if that emerging a country that, not have the same transparent government and need a scientist that are used to deal with the epidemics,
we could have a global pandemic emerging and which people knowing that was emerging and not raising the alarm because of the repercussions.
CHATTERLEY: Tulio, you raise a very important point and that's why I ask, because I want people to understand what took place in South Africa and the
decision to be open and the timing was incredibly fast.
I also wanted to ask you something else because you have been very pointed in your concerns about lack of vaccine access to parts of the world. And
the World Health Organization said this week that we can't boost our way out of this pandemic because you have got parts of the world that aren't
getting access to one vaccine.
Do you feel that Africa as a continent has been let down by COVAX, by the World Health Organization, by those that are behind that, providing funding
and not getting more access to vaccines, a first dose, in that part of the world especially before other nations get boosted?
DE OLIVEIRA: Yes, yes, yes, absolutely. And that's something that we are starting to be quite vocal around over a year ago and not only me, but also
Jeremy Farrar, the head of the Welcome Trust and Dr. Tedros, the director of the World Health Organization. Not only we have been left behind, but we
have been treated extremely unfairly.
So, for example, Botswana, which is not a poor country in Africa, they have ordered a million of doses of the Moderna vaccine, paying twice the price
as available to the developed country and still today they are waiting for their vaccines. So, what we have found is that a lot of time Africa even
when they pay for the vaccines, they get in the back of the queue.
And unfortunately, what we'll have to learn that if one treats with such a discrimination and I would say almost like racism, Africa, unfortunately,
we're going to derail the whole advance of the pandemic, the global pandemic. And we have been quite vocal that we have a global pandemic, and
we have -- we need that global response.
And the Omicron may not be the most lethal. It's of course the most transmissible variant and may not be the big one. Neither the big variant
nor the big pathogen. And I really think that modern ever a wake up (AUDIO GAP) the world to take it very seriously the global health security.
And in the same way to not only -- to not punish countries that identify pathogens and variants because that will derail their honesty, but to
support and have a financial mechanism and a support mechanism that we act global to prevent pandemic and as we identify new pathogens and variants,
we become very clear and very quick. So, for example by our early identification of Omicron, we have potentially saved hundreds of thousands
of lives in the U.S. because you have time to boost your population. You have time to put in some response and you have time to prepare your
So why should we be punished for that? I think that South Africa and Africa should be rewarded for this transparency.
CHATTERLEY: I think you raised an important point, which is we are one world fighting this pandemic and we have to work together, or we'll never
get through it appropriately and safely.
Tulio, thank you so much for your time. And I can't verify your point about Botswana, but I promise you I'll look into what's going on there in terms
of cost of vaccines.
Tulio de Oliveira there. Sir, thank you. The director for the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa. Once again, sir, thank
you for raising the flag, to you and your team.
OK. Up next, could this be the closest thing to a time machine that mankind has built? How the most powerful space telescope ever can unlock the
secrets of the universe.
Stay with us.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
And U.S. stocks are up and running on a special day on Wall Street. It was the final trading day before Christmas and all through the NYSE house
investing creatures are stirring, be they bull there or mouse. Actually, we are seeing some reindeer cheer following Wednesday's more than 1 percent
rise for tech stocks, but a lump of coal move for Chinese tech giant JD.com shares falling after Tencent move to distribute a more than $16 billion
stake in JD to shareholders as a one-time dividend. That is 84 percent of its JD.com stake call it an end of a gift duplicate Chinese regulators
worried about broader tech consolidation. Tencent shares meanwhile rising 4 percent on the news in Hong Kong today.
Now it's a secret that the universe has kept longer than time itself. How the cosmos came to be. Now humanity is about to get a glimpse like never
before as the most powerful telescope ever built is launched on Christmas Day. The James Webb Space Telescope will take images of some of the
earliest stars and galaxies formed in the face after the big bang. It's 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope. That's to its ability to
detect light beyond the visible spectrum.
Gunther Hasinger is the director of science for the European Space Agency which is working alongside NASA on this historic mission.
Gunther, fantastic to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
I think the best comparison I've seen made of this. Is that it's a time machine because we physically are going to look back and I'll get his
right, 13 1/2 billion years.
GUNTHER HASINGER, DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: Billion, yes.
CHATTERLEY: I got it.
HASINGER: Yes, good morning. Good morning, Julia, very nice to be with you. And indeed, we are looking back in time. It is almost like looking into our
mother's womb and look how we have been born.
CHATTERLEY: Wow. Talk to me about the science of this. I mean this is 25 years in the making, I believe.
HASINGER: Yes. So, the first ideas were already made before the Hubble Space Telescope even was launched. And now we are 20 years later. And we
are now just a few days maybe -- two or three days before the thing goes up. And indeed -- indeed it is a very powerful machine. And it is not only
able to look at the first moments in time but it's able to look for planets around other stars. To look whether there may be signs of life in the
atmosphere of these planets. So, it will transform our knowledge and it's fascinating.
CHATTERLEY: I mean, I have read it's as big as a tennis court. I've mentioned it's 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.
Just explain some of the capabilities here too because I talked a little bit about the light, it's got an ultra-sensitive infrared camera which I
believe could identify the queen's face or Abraham Lincoln depending on where you're watching from on a penny at a distance of 24 miles.
HASINGER: Yes, so indeed. I hope you hear me.
CHATTERLEY: I can.
HASINGER: OK. Sorry.
Indeed, it's powerful because the mirror is three times bigger than Hubble's mirror. So, it collects 10 times more light, but then also the
telescope is cool so that it doesn't radiate in the infrared itself and that makes it 100 times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope. And
indeed, we can then - because you know, the universe is expanding and the distant light is getting redder and redder and it's getting lost off our
eyes, but we can look into the heat radiation -- the infrared radiation and we can basically pick up the very first stars in the universe.
CHATTERLEY: Wow. I mean, in terms of the logistics of this, just talk me through that. Because it's going to take a while for the telescope to be in
position and I have also read it has to execute 344 single points of potential failure, so maneuvers in order to unfurl that mirror you just
mentioned and deploy the five thin layers of the sunscreen effectively which keeps it cold and dark.
HASINGER: Yes. So indeed, it's actually 300 or something like that mechanisms. So the single point failures fortunately are only about 50 or
59, but this is enough to really let us --
CHATTERLEY: Keep us nervous. Yes.
HASINGER: -- cling on our fingernails that obviously it works.
And so, the first thing that happens only a few minutes after the rocket releases the telescope is that the sun -- the solar panels are unfolded.
And so, then we have power. And then it takes a while, the antenna has to be folded out so that we can communicate and then already the very delicate
sunscreen which is a tennis court sized structure, very seen cop ton layers, plastic foil, five different layers, they have to be pulled out and
stretched. And that takes roughly until early January and then the telescope -- the mirror itself is unfolding like an altar, like a
((INAUDIBLE)) and there's a central part which is fixed and then the other part is folded. So, then the telescope will be complete.
CHATTERLEY: And how long is that going to take until it's in position, unfurled, and then can start taking pictures and sending them back to
HASINGER: Yeah, so we say that after the launch, which is already exciting enough, there will be about 29 days of terror. It will take 29 days before
the telescope arrives in its final position. But then it still takes a few months before everything is working because the telescope also has to cool
down. It had to get cold. All the instruments have to be tested and the mirrors, the very fine-tuned mirrors have to be established. So, it takes
about six months before we can really see the very first science data.
CHATTERLEY: Oh, it's going to be so exciting. And what about human or robotic intervention along the way? If something goes wrong, how capable
are we of tinkering along the way?
HASINGER: You know, unfortunately, not at all. So, you know, Hubble was able to be serviced, it was constructed to be serviced. It is near earth
where astronauts could go, where James Webb goes, nobody -- no astronaut can go. We could dream -- we could dream of robotic mission maybe, I don't
know, five, 10 years from now. But so far, it is not planned to be serviced. So, I think only -- I mean, we really have to keep our fingers
crossed that everything works.
CHATTERLEY: Never mind - never mind fingers, I'm keeping everything crossed.
And I don't think I have ever done an interview where someone smiles the whole way through, which you have. And I think I have joined you in that.
What are you most excited about seeing going to in six months' time?
HASINGER: So, you know I love black holes. I studied black holes for most of my career. And I'm currently working together with my colleagues on a
theory where the black holes could actually be the dark matter which is absolutely fascinating. It would solve several puzzles with one go, and
James Webb is the first one that could in principle get a glimpse of these. So, if my theory, our theory is true, then there should be many more
galaxies at earlier times than we are currently expecting. And so, James Webb probably will be able to shoot this theory down or maybe not.
CHATTERLEY: You and I have a date, come back please and talk to me on this show when we start to see some of those images and then we'll talk it
through again. Super exciting times and everything crossed. Sir, thank you for joining us.
HASINGER: Thank you very much, it was a great pleasure.
CHATTERLEY: Gunther Hasinger there, from the European Space Agency. Mine too, sir. Thank you.
And breaking news now. One new update in the battle against COVID-19. The United States has just authorized a second pill to treat people who have
been infected with COVID-19.
Merck developed the pill, and the U.S. has already ordered 3 million courses of the drug. The company says they believe the new drug will be
effective against the Omicron variant.
The first antiviral pill from Pfizer was approved in the United States yesterday.
So, more hope, and more "FIRST MOVE" after the break.
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to "FIRST MOVE."
U.S. President Joe Biden says his administration is making progress in resolving supply chain issues. Bottlenecks have created a shortage of
consumer goods and pushed up prices. Biden met with executives in the distribution sector Wednesday including the CEO of FedEx for an update. It
came as the Omicron variant threatens to put new pressures on the flood and flow of goods around the world.
But despite fears of a major shipping crisis, deliveries in the United States have actually held up pretty well before Christmas. According to the
analytics firm ShipMatrix, for the week beginning December 5th, deliveries were on time for the vast majority of deliveries from FedEx, UPS and the
U.S. Postal Service. Most delays were only by one day. ShipMatrix says that carriers were able to add capacity and many shoppes placed their orders
early or in person.
And finally, on "FIRST MOVE."
It's the time of year to ring out the old, ring in the new and send greetings to business leaders who never fail to outdo.
So, to Jeff Bezos, we wish you a Blue Origin rocket fueled 2022. So many VIPs experiencing the view. Jeff, just ask and I'll join the crew.
To Elon Musk congrats on being "Time's" "Person of the Year." You are a game changer it's clear, but your stock sales meanwhile caused quite an
To Mark Zuckerberg, we hope your holiday is simply meta. And as for your policing of your website next year, we hope you do better. I guess I sound
like a New Yorker.
Jack Dorsey, bitcoin bull in first holiday season exclusively at square, don't tell us you hide your crypto wallet passwords behind your facial
And finally, to NFT arts sensation Beeple whose line of work confounds most people. We hope your gifts like your rise remain inexpungeable. And if
you're lucky, your presence will also be entirely non-fungible.
That's it for the show. If you've missed any of our interviews today, they will be on my Twitter and Instagram pages as always. And as always to you
and for the whole year through, stay safe.
"Connect the World" with Becky Anderson is next. And I'll see you next year.