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Quest Means Business

Bitcoin Hits Record High after Tesla's $1.5 Billion Investment; South Africa Pauses AstraZeneca Vaccine Rollout over Variant Data; COVID Relief Bill May Get Some Tweaking But Likely To Pass; What's The Point Of Trump's Impeachment Trial?; COVAX Vaccination Distribution Critical To Developing Countries; South Africa's Decision To Pause AstraZeneca; World's Poorest Country Won't Even Have Its Healthcare Workers Vaccinated This Year; Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture

Aired February 08, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: U.S. markets could close at record highs once again. We're seeing enthusiasm from investors over stimulus.

Those are the markets and these are the main events.

Elon Musk makes a huge bet on Bitcoin. Tesla has bought $1.5 billion worth.

And South Africa changes course after a worrying study on AstraZeneca's vaccine.

And Janet Yellen says full employment may not be far away if the Biden stimulus plan gets passed.

Coming to you live from New York, it is Monday, 8th of February, I am Zain Asher and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, Elon Musk makes one of his riskiest bets ever, linking Tesla's fortunes to Bitcoin's. The world's richest man now

investing $1.5 billion worth of his company's money in the cryptocurrency. It is priced here at record high on the news, one Bitcoin is now worth

close to $43,000.00. It reached $44,000.00 earlier in the day.

Musk's bet on Bitcoin doesn't stop there, though. Tesla says it will soon let customers buy its cars using Bitcoin.

Paul La Monica is joining us live now, so, Paul, just walk us through how important is this move for Tesla. It is joining the ranks of other

companies like Micro Strategy for example, could we see other companies in addition to Tesla following suit here?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: I think, it is clearly possible, Zain. I mean, you have obviously Elon Musk now being the CEO of an S&P 500

company. He is the world's wealthiest individual. Clearly, what he does and says has some clout. So there could be other companies looking to do this

as well.

But this obviously isn't for everyone. There are clearly to be some CFOs and Treasurers out there who would really bristle at the notion of putting

cash that is usually in paper currencies, government-backed currencies or government bonds into something as volatile as Bitcoin or any other

cryptocurrency for that matter.

So, it is going to take, a company that has a bit of a maverick-like Elon Musk or Michael Saylor at Micro Strategy to really try and put corporate

cash into something like Bitcoin.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, because, I mean, Tesla has about $19 billion worth of cash on hand. So to invest $1.5 billion worth of that $19 billion, that is

no small change there.

I mean, do you think this is a wise move by Elon Musk just given as you say, how risky of a bet this is? Should they be investing in more safer

bets for example like bonds and paper currencies as well? What are your thoughts on that?

LA MONICA: Yes, I mean, obviously, Zain, they aren't putting all of their money into Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies and notably it is Bitcoin not

Dogecoin which Elon Musk has been personally touting on Twitter that Tesla is going to investing in.

I think this will be a bit of a dipping its toe in the water so to speak sort of moment for Tesla to see how things go. If it backfires, if for some

reason Bitcoin prices plunge and all of a sudden Tesla is looking at money that they have put into Bitcoin losing its value very precipitously, then

maybe they'll pull back a little bit.

But you know, if Bitcoin prices continue to surge the way they have been, then maybe Tesla will decide to put even more of its corporate coffers into

Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for that matter.

I don't think anything can be ruled out with Elon Musk who is not exactly the most predictable person in the world.

ASHER: Yes, anything is possible with Elon Musk. Paul La Monica live for us there. Thank you so much.

Tesla's announcement marks the culmination of Elon Musk's recent fascination with cryptocurrencies. He has helped push Dogecoin to record

highs just by tweeting about it as well. That cryptocurrency, which is based on a meme, is actually now up more than 1,000 percent this year-to-

date by the way.

Musk also propelled the price of Bitcoin by adding to it in his Twitter bio back in January. Back in December though, he called bitcoin, quote, "BS"

and last year, he told J.K. Rowling that he only owned a quarter of one Bitcoin.

Linette Lopez is a columnist for "Business Insider" who has written extensively on Tesla. She joins us live now from Miami via Skype.

Linette, thank you so much for being with us. So when you think about all of that --


ASHER: Hi. Just when you think about all of that, just the fact that he hasn't always necessarily been excited by Bitcoin. He has referred to it as

BS in the past. I mean, when did Elon Musk suddenly become Bitcoin's number one fan? When did that happen?


LOPEZ: Well, I think Elon Musk is more as always and ever a fan of Elon Musk and Elon Musk has figured out that when Elon Musk tweets or does

something in the market, the market quickly follows him.

So when it comes to Bitcoin or him tweeting about GameStop or game stonks or anything crazy that's been going on the last couple weeks, we're seeing

more that Elon understands his own power in the market and can use that to his own advantage and in this case, by investing in Bitcoin watching the

market follow him into the trade.

The question is, because Bitcoin is so volatile, how long does something like that last? And we don't know how long Elon Musk is going to stay

invested in Bitcoin either.

ASHER: Exactly. That is my next question: how seriously should we take this given Elon Musk's antics on Twitter in the past, given his personality

for being unpredictable, a bit of a maverick as you intimated. Should we be -- should investors be taking this that seriously?

LOPEZ: Maverick is a funny word for someone who paid $20 million to the S.E.C. for lying about whether or not they would take their company

private. He did that in the summer 2018, and he seemed to get away with it pretty much scot-free, and paid a parking ticket here in the United States.

So, maverick is probably not the right word. He is not necessarily known for being honest. In 2019, I believe he told investors that he would have a

million robo-taxies on the road by spring of 2020, obviously, that hasn't materialized and Tesla's auto pilot technology is still not even close to

being safe enough or something like that happen.

So, Elon is known for -- how shall I say, talking big but saying nothing.

ASHER: Okay, so based on that then, what should investors make of this move? I mean, it is quite a bold move to put -- it is one thing to sort of

lie and say you're going to take your company private when you don't mean to, it is another thing to invest $1.5 billion into Bitcoin.

What do you think investors should make of this move?

LOPEZ: I think they should wonder why he is not investing it in Tesla. Tesla is opening a new factory in Berlin, it is opening a new one in Texas.

It plans to expand throughout the market place. It could definitely use that money to hire engineers and equipment.

It has -- its cars themselves don't get the best quality rating and Tesla does its own repairs in-house, so that $1.5 billion could definitely be

used to fixing his own product.

So, the question is why is Elon Musk buying Bitcoin with his cash instead of investing back into Tesla? We know that Tesla Company has been selling

stock recently, not buying its own stock which companies are allowed to do in the United States.

So, that is what I would ask myself as an investor. Why isn't Elon taking this $1.5 billion and using it to grow Tesla and instead, it is playing in

the markets on something extremely volatile.

ASHER: Right. So, okay, yes, he should be investing it and he should be using it to grow Tesla, but aside from that, if he is investing $1.5

billion in something that is so volatile as you say, so speculative, who knows what is going to happen to Bitcoin a year or two from now, what would

the motive of that be? What is the long term strategy here? Is there a game plan at all?

LOPEZ: You can't really know and I know that even Tesla's biggest investors like this billionaire, Ron Baron, they have the same questions

for Elon. They don't understand the process behind this. They would like to see the logic.

For me, the logic it seems would be get these on the balance sheet and sell them if they increase in value and pick up some more cash. The question is

why does Tesla really need to do that when it has $19 billion in cash?

Tesla has barely been able to eke out an annual profit and has done that by selling energy credits to combustible car companies. Traditional

manufacturers don't have electric cars.

So now, we know that a lot of these older car companies are getting their own electric vehicles on the road. Tesla is not going to be able to rely on

that money as the years go on. So, Elon is kind of facing a little bit of a problem.

His revenues at Tesla are not growing fast enough to keep up with the expansion of the company, and as those energy credits dry up, he is going

to need to be able to grow that revenue and increase his cash pile so that he can keep up with the ambitions that Tesla has.

ASHER: Yes, a lot on his plate. Linette Lopez live for us there, thank you so much.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

ASHER: South Africa's AstraZeneca rollout goes on pause putting other governments on edge. We'll go through the data that led to South Africa's

decision and what it means elsewhere, next.



ASHER: South Africa has paused its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine based on new data suggesting the shot offers minimal protection against the

South African variant of COVID-19. The head of the country's COVID-19 Advisory Committee told my colleague Becky Anderson earlier that none of

this means they're giving up on the vaccine at all. Instead, they are going to adopt a much more cautious approach.


SALIM ABDOOL KARIM, CO-CHAIR, SOUTH AFRICA'S COVID-19 ADVISORY COMMITTEE: We would start by vaccinating about a hundred thousand individuals in the

first step. We would look at the hospitalization rates. Once we've done those vaccinations, and if we find that the hospitalization rates are below

the threshold that we are looking at, then we can be confident that the vaccine is efficacious and maintains its efficacy against hospitalization

at least and if so, we can proceed to continuing the roll out.


ASHER: People around the world are counting on the AstraZeneca vaccine. Governments and international groups have ordered about 2.3 billion doses

that's roughly the same amount sold by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson combined.

The African Union has the most riding on AstraZeneca. It has bought about half a billion doses on its own. The European Union is not far behind, and

has been fighting with the company to speed up deliveries, then there's the U.S. followed by Covax, Japan and the U.K. It has purchased 100 billion

doses and was the first country to authorize its use.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is very confident in all of the vaccines available in Britain. England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer told

people to get whichever shot they can.


JONATHAN VAN-TAM, ENGLISH DEPUTY CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: My thrust here is very simple: do not delay. Have the vaccine that will protect you against

the current threat and don't worry. You can be revaccinated.

For people who have had a full course of two vaccines, a revaccination is probably only going to only require one dose. That requires some science

work to confirm it, but that is my hunch. And you can be revaccinated, and we're taking a lot of steps behind the scenes to ensure that we can be in

that position.



ASHER: Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. So Elizabeth, South Africa is basically saying they are not necessarily giving up on the AstraZeneca

vaccine. They just want to take a pause, take a breather to make sure they really understand the efficacy of this vaccine before they proceed.

What are your thoughts on that approach?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Zain, I think that approach makes some sense. When they were thinking about the AstraZeneca

vaccine many months ago, it seemed like everything was going the way that one would expect.

But when they see now that the vaccine is really having a hard time with the South African variant in many respects that would give one pause which

is what they've chosen to do.

So let's take a look at what this study showed that has made South African health officials take this path down the road.

So this was a very small study of 2,000 people and what they found was that the AstraZeneca vaccine offered only minimal protection against mild to

moderate COVID-19, only minimal protection, so that makes one think, well, what about severe disease? The efficacy against severe disease was not

assessed in this study and that is why they're moving forward to try to assess it before they give it to their entire population.

So really, they are just trying to answer the question, all right, we have this variant out there that has really sort of changed the game in many

ways, and this variant is not just out there in small numbers in South Africa, it is a predominant strain in South Africa. We need to know does

this vaccine work against severe disease before we carry on with this vaccine rollout -- Zain.

ASHER: So given that this South African variant is now in more than 30 countries around the world, should other countries be adopting the same

sort of cautious approach as South Africa is?

COHEN: You know, I think each country is in their own situation, so if you're a country that is doing good surveillance and not seeing a lot of

this variant, that may make you go one direction.

But if you're doing good surveillance, which everybody should be doing and you don't see a lot of it, you know, that's a different decision than if

you are seeing a lot of it.

You know, everybody -- every country has to make their own decisions. It also depends on what else you have. If you're a country that has approved

other or authorized other vaccines and you have those and you have them in good supply, that might make you make one decision. If the AstraZeneca

vaccine maybe the only one you can get, that might -- make you go another way.

So really, this is the kind of thing where each country will be making their own decision, but I think the underlying truth to all of this, Zain,

is that this variant from South Africa does appear to be really posing a challenge to the vaccine.

ASHER: Elizabeth Cohen live for us there, thank you so much.

I want to bring in my next guest, Dr. Saad Omer who directs the Yale Global Institute of Health. He joins us live now. Dr. Omer, thank you so much for

being with us.

So we've got a South African variant, we've got a U.K. variant, we've got a Brazil variant. Is this what we can expect going forward that this virus

over time is sort of going to continue to mutate and really anyone manufacturing a vaccine really has to be prepared and ready for that?

DR. SAAD OMER, DIRECTOR, YALE GLOBAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: So, two things. First of all, widespread pandemic is a weird pandemic in the sense that the

more widespread it is, the higher the likelihood that within each transmission event that there is a cumulative probability, the chance of a

variant emerging goes up.

And so based on that, as long as we do not control this outbreak and it is a little bit of a paradox that vaccines are the most effective tool to

control this outbreak, but on the other hand, if it is a rampant outbreak, if it is a rampant pandemic, the likelihood of variants emerging goes up.

As long as we don't control it, these variants are likely to emerge.

However, we have strategies to deal with changing variants. We do that every year for influenza vaccines. So not all hope is lost, in fact, we

have a lot of things that we can do even if there is a situation where these variants keep on emerging.

CHATTERLEY: So do you anticipate, I mean, because it is a global pandemic. I mean, it is once in a blue moon type situation. Do you anticipate that

because yes, it is possible that we will have different variants?

We, as a population, the global population now have to be prepared that we will have to take this vaccine once a year like the flu shot? Maybe once

every six months? Is that what everyone can expect here?

OMER: I don't think it is a done deal. I think the data are still emerging. But we do know that we need to be prepared for several vaccine

based options.

For example booster shots, change of strain, and so on and so forth, and multiple vaccination strategies to combat this.

I don't think we are quite there to say that this will be an annual shot or a six-month shot, etcetera. But I do think we need more tools in our tool

box to combat these emerging variants.


ASHER: You've got companies like AstraZeneca now scrambling to change their vaccine formula to make sure that it works against the South African

variant. Take us sort of behind the curtains of that process, I mean, what is that process like? How hard is it to sort of -- you've invested so much

time and money? The best part of the entire year, billions of dollars into coming up with a vaccine and then, at the last minute, you have to sort of

change the formula because there is now been this new strain.

How long can it take for a company like AstraZeneca to come up with a new vaccine or a different version of the vaccine? And what is that process


OMER: So the company itself is in a better position to comment on the specific timeline, but I do know that it is unlikely to take the same

amount of time as it did the first time around.

First of all, there are a lot of things that have been streamlined just by developing this vaccine once over. The other thing is -- the hope is and

there is some discussion of coming up with regulatory frameworks that allow companies to do the so-called bridging studies, meaning they don't have to

repeat these large Phase 3 trials again, but they can use immunological markers, to say that, and do smaller trials, and therefore faster trials to

evaluate these different strains with the same vaccine backbone.

So I do think that it will take some effort to come up with a vaccine that directly targets the strain, but we are talking about months, not a whole

year that it almost took for the process.

ASHER: So the entire world was hoping that 2021 was going to be the year that everything got back to normal. You know, clearly it is going to take

time especially in Africa where there is a new South African variant. I am curious, what does the variant do for reopening timelines for various

economies especially in Africa?

And what does it mean for the travel industry? Because even if you get your population vaccinated with a Pfizer vaccine or Moderna or AstraZeneca in

the U.K. for example, if various other strains continue to pop up then that means if people travel outside the country to Brazil, to South Africa,

various other parts of the world, there is always a risk of them now re- infecting the home population with another different strain.

So what does it mean for the travel industry now?

OMER: That is a really good question. So two things: first of all, I think it means that we will have to work a bit harder to control this pandemic

through vaccination and through other measures. But it doesn't mean that all hope is lost and it doesn't mean that our existing tools will be

completely ineffective.

So we may need a higher level of coverage, we may need to tweak our vaccination strategies. But we have these strategies that are likely to

eventually work.

And I think we can reasonably say that even if 2021 is not as good as we had hoped for it to be, it would certainly be much better than 2020.

So coming to your question about travel, look, a lot of us have been saying that short-sighted approach that certain countries are taking which is to

hoard vaccine doses or only to think about their own population, is not only sort of unfair and unjust based on the overall global equity, but

also, it is not the smartest strategy.

Because if you have a fully vaccinated population in one country, and there are many other countries where this virus is running viral, as I said, the

likelihood of new variants emerging goes up, and because of that, your own protection because of sort of potential threats to efficacy goes down.

So I think it is in everyone's interest to take a deep breath to make sure that countries that are looking at their own populations also have a sane

approach to global vaccination where it is ensured that a high level of coverage is achieved in most countries so that everyone's risk of these new

variants and their consequences goes down.

ASHER: Dr. Saad Omer, live for us, thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.

All right, we are just hours away from the start of Donald Trump's second impeachment trial. When we come back we'll share with you the latest

arguments from his defense team. That's next.



ASHER: Hello, everyone. I'm Zain Asher. There is more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when Donald Trump's lawyers are giving us a glimpse at the

former President's defense plan hours before his historic second impeachment trial begins.

And I'll ask the CEO of Oxfam Great Britain how concerns over AstraZeneca's vaccine could impact plans to inoculate developing economies. Before that

though, this is CNN and on this network, the facts always come first.

Texas Republican Congressman Ron White died on Sunday following a coronavirus diagnosis. He was tested positive about two and a half weeks

ago and also was battling cancer as well. White is the first sitting Member of Congress to die after contracting COVID. He was 67.

Myanmar's new military leader is promising to hold a free and fair national election. The Army seized power last week. This was the coup leader's first

televised address. He claims last year's elections were unfair because of the pandemic.

And rescuers in India are searching for more than 170 people after an avalanche of water and rocks crashed through a dam. Authorities say at

least 26 people are confirmed dead in the disaster. It happened when part of a Himalayan glacier fell into a river on Sunday.

The Australian Open is finally under way in Melbourne after a three-week delay and high drama over the quarantine of dozens of players. Thousands of

tennis fans came out to watch the first grand slam of 2021 although the crowd was about half its usual size.

On the courts, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams both easily won their rounds.

Markets don't seem to be too affected by concerns over the emerging COVID variants. The Dow is on its sixth straight day of gains and on track for a

new closing record.


If it can do it again tomorrow, that'll tie the longest streak since August. The (inaudible) and the Nasdaq also on pace for new records as

well. As you can see that, the Dow is up 177 points also. Democrats could unveil a key part of the president's -- President Biden's $1.9 trillion

stimulus package at any time now.

Committee members are expected to lay out details and a proposal to boost the child tax credit to at least $3,000 per child. The White House says

it's encouraged -- the process, rather, is moving so quickly.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our expectation is that this week's House mark ups will track closely what the president has proposed.

But there will, of course, be adjustments to strengthen the bill and tweaks as a result of the legislative process, which he's quite familiar with,

having served there for 36 years.

Which is exactly how the process is supposed to work.


ASHER: The U.S. Treasury Secretary is warning of high unemployment for years to come if Congress doesn't pass President Biden's stimulus plan.

Here's what she told CNN's Jake Tapper.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: There's absolutely no reason why we should suffer through a long, slow recovery.

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have a timeline, though, for full reemployment?

YELLEN: Well, I would expect if this package is passed that we would get back to full employment next year.


ASHER: John Harwood joins us now live at the White House. So, John, how divided are democratic lawmakers about the threshold or who exactly should

receive the $1,400 in direct stimulus payments?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's some disagreement but nothing that appears likely, Zain, to threaten the passage

of the bill.

President Biden has expressed openness to moving down the threshold from $75,000 and $150,000 per couple as he originally outlined, not clear where

that's going to end up.

You've got debate among liberal democratic economists about the level of need for checks for that large a number of people, especially considering

the fact that previous stimulus payments have been saved by a significant number of people.

The idea is to get to the other side of the pandemic and offer relief, savings seems to undercut that argument.

But there seems to be little doubt that it will be adjusted. That price tag probably will come down from $1.9 trillion to something, maybe $1.7

trillion, something in that neighborhood.

But we're going to have to see as they move through both the House process over the next couple of weeks and then the Senate.

ASHER: And a CBO report just came out basically saying that raising minimum wage to $15 per hour would actually lift 900,000 people out of

poverty -- so that's a good thing there -- but would actually cost 1.4 million jobs in this country at a time, of course, when this country

clearly cannot afford to lose more jobs.

How much really will that create much more of a street fight between Republicans and Democrats over this issue?

HARWOOD: Well, the street fight may be obviated by the fact that the minimum wage increase has a good chance of being ruled out of this bill by

the Senate parliamentarian.

The process, the legislative process, Democrats are pursuing which gets around a Republican filibuster, does not require Republican votes, has very

strict rules about the kind of measures that can be included.

President Biden said in an interview a few days ago that he did not think the minimum wage increase would qualify under those rules. We don't know

the answer.

Bernie Sanders, the Senate budget committee chair, wants to make that happen but the House is not expecting it.

Clearly, the minimum wage is a source of debate between the left and center right of the Democratic Party because of concerns about job loss buttressed

on the other side with the ability to lift people up who work full-time out of poverty.

The case for a minimum wage increase is weaker when you have a weak labor market like we have right now.

And again, I think those factors together with the parliamentary issues which will be ruled on mean this is probably going to be taken out of the

immediate equation for this COVID relief bill.

ASHER: All right. John Harwood, live for us there. Thank you so much.

Donald Trump's legal team says that he was speaking metaphorically when he told a crowd outside the U.S. Capitol to fight like hell.

That is part of the defense outlined in a pretrial briefing filed just a few hours ago. Trump's second impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on


Let's talk about it with CNN's political commentator, S.E. Cupp, host of "S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered." S.E., good to see you.


So listen, we know how this movie ends, we know that it's virtually --


ASHER: -- impossible for the Democrats to get 17 Republican senators onboard in terms of convicting president -- former president, I should say,

Donald Trump.

So what is the point of this, what is the point of this impeachment trial?

CUPP: Yes. I think there's a couple points. One is accountability. It is something of import to hold even a former president accountable for the

things he did.

And I think Democrats believe they owe it to their voters who voted Trump out to go through that process.

Number two, I think this being the first real accounting of what happened after Joe Biden's election; the lies, the conspiracy theories, possibly

pressuring other election officials to change the vote and then what happened on January 6th in that Capitol insurrection, this will really tell

us for the first time through witnesses and evidence and what appears to be with record -- phone data and videos, what happened in those two months.

And that has huge consequences even if it ultimately doesn't end in Trump's conviction. There might be civil suits filed after this on behalf of people

who were maybe injured or duped in the course of Trump's incitement, or other lawmakers.

So I think it is important even if as you say, Zain, we know how this is going to end.

ASHER: OK. So it's important to get a full accounting of what happened. As you say, there could be civil suits filed as a result.

But if Trump isn't convicted, technically he is going to be allowed to run again. Donald Trump is basically a Godfather for the Republican Party right

now. Is there any other way for Republicans to move past Donald Trump between now and 2024?

CUPP: There are ways. They have to want to. And as you say, they've not really figured out how to quit him yet. There are some breakaway factions

who seem to realize this guy was bad for us. And by measurable -- by any measurable standards, right?

We lost the White House, we -- Republicans lost the House and then the Senate and in the course of four years our brand was immeasurably damaged.

We may not win another national election again for years because of the damage Trump did to the party.

So there are some people who recognize that.

But there are far more Republicans in congress who still believe that Trump is influential even outside of the White House, they want his money, they

want his donors, they want his voters. And so there is still this fixation, this addiction, to him.

ASHER: So going forward -- I mean, if you look at the Democratic side right now, there are lots of stars, I think, in the Democratic side.

You've got Bernie Sanders, you've got Elizabeth Warren -- obviously, she didn't win this time -- but you've also got Kamala Harris, I think her

political future's extremely bright. Who can the Republicans groom between now and 2024 to rival Donald Trump?

On the Democratic side, Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic Convention in 2004, by 2008 was president. So it doesn't necessarily take that long to

groom someone. Who do they have who can be the next star?

CUPP: I really can't answer that. There are some Republicans I like -- Adam Kinzinger in the House, I followed his career for years, I think he's

one of the good ones and has certainly been very vocal against Donald Trump.

I don't know that Republican voters are looking for that, though. So I think we have to watch the electorate, the Republicans can groom whomever

they want but if voters are still really attached to the brand that Donald Trump cultivated over the past four plus years, that person will almost be

irrelevant just as the 17 other candidates who ran for president against Donald Trump became.

He took up all the oxygen. He slayed them every other day till he was the last man standing. So it's a huge heavy lift, Zain, and this is something

that the party's going to be dealing with and having to sort of confront.

Not just for the next four years, I believe for the next many years.

ASHER: And I actually can't -- if Donald Trump does end up running again, which I assume he will in 2024, I just can't wait to see who has the guts,

who has the audacity, to actually run against him.

S.E. Cupp, live for us there. Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

CUPP: Thank you.


ASHER: South Africa is scrambling to get other vaccines in the pipeline after having to pause its AstraZeneca rollout.

We'll discuss the wider inequities of vaccine availability, next.


ASHER: South Africa is hoping to get some shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of the week.

Their vaccination drive is facing a sudden shortfall after the AstraZeneca rollout went on hold because of a troubling new data.

The vaccine initiative COVAX has put most of its chips on Johnson & Johnson purchasing half a billion doses but they have considerable stake in

AstraZeneca as well with 170 million doses on order.

That means that any limitations in protection would impact the less wealthy countries COVAX is working to vaccinate.

The CEO of OXFAM, Great Britain, Danny Sriskandarajah joins us live now from London.

Danny, thank you so much for being with us.

So just the fact that there's been this troubling new data on the South African variant and the fact that it might not -- that the AstraZeneca

vaccine might not be as effective against it, where does South Africa go from here, do you think?

DANNY SRISKANDARAJAH, CEO, OXFAM GB: I think what's happened in South Africa is going to be of huge importance to the rest of the world,

particularly poorer (ph).

Because, as you said, the AstraZeneca vaccine is one of the few that is going to be widely available to poorer countries. In fact, AstraZeneca and

Johnson & Johnson are the only two major pharmaceutical companies that have made an open commitment to supplying vaccines at cost.

And so while it's right for the authorities to take care about judging the efficacy of vaccines, it will be hugely disappointing that the only two --

one of the two viable options for developing countries at this time when we're seeing vaccine apartheid is not going to be widely available.

So it really is worrying both for South Africa and the rest of the developing world.

ASHER: So South Africa said, you know what, we are going to pause the AstraZeneca vaccine. Obviously, the data -- there's so much that's unknown.

We know that it doesn't necessarily work against sort of mild and moderate sort of symptoms for COVID-19 with this new variant, it's a bit iffy about

how protective this vaccine is against more severe cases.

But South Africa has basically said listen, we are going to put distributing the vaccine on hold, we're going to put on a pause on it until

we discover more data, we learn more about the efficacy of AstraZeneca.

Is that the right response? What are your thoughts on that?


SRISKANDARAJAH: Well, look, I think it's exactly right to test this, expecting these sort of hiccups or holdbacks in what has effectively been

an amazing, startling, remarkable process of designing, creating and rolling out these vaccines.

But the real issue for me, the real tragedy, in some ways, is that we're facing such a crisis as humanity and yet we're depending on a few

pharmaceutical companies acting almost like an oligopoly to help make decisions about where and how this vaccine should be distributed.

I think -- it's deeply unfair to me that rich countries have so far secured something like three times their population's worth of vaccines while in

poorer countries by the end of the year we're expecting only one in 10 people will have access to the vaccine.

If we're going to crack this pandemic as a world population then we need a far better strategy of sharing technology, sharing the science, pooling our

resources and knowhow so that we can roll out vaccines far more effectively than we're currently able to do.

ASHER: You bring up a good point. Africa, a continent with a population of 1 billion people dependent, completely dependent, at the mercy of two

pharmaceutical companies -- and now basically one pharmaceutical company because a lot of people are hesitant about AstraZeneca.

So, yes. Europe and the United States have a lot more vaccine doses than they perhaps need. But what is the solution here, how do you make things

much more equitable and fair between the rich and the poor?

SRISKANDARAJAH: I think the solution's already out there. The World Health Organization has common protocols for accessing technology and sharing

technology, for creating pool distribution mechanisms.

So far, very few of the big pharmaceutical companies have been shown willing to contribute.

I think a second key is much greater transparency. We're dealing with a vaccine where almost every single dose is being purchased by governments

acting in the public interest or international agencies, and yet the whole process is shrouded by secrecy, by contracts that we can't see.

And, of course, the last thing we need is much greater public awareness about -- to push big pharmaceutical companies to move.

Yes, they're doing a fantastic job. But for me, the true heroes in this piece are the taxpayers like you and me, Zain, who have paid billions of

dollars to contribute to the science and the development of these vaccines.

And yet -- and yet -- short-term shareholder interest holding long-term public good to ransom. And we have to build public pressure on these

pharmaceutical companies to move on their position.

ASHER: Right. So public awareness, public pressure on these pharmaceutical companies and, of course, transparency is key in all of this.

Danny, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

Few places illustrate the severity of Africa's COVID crisis like Malawi, one of the poorest nations on earth.

Doctors Without Borders is fighting to get vaccines to healthcare workers but it looks like that could happen long after young and healthy people in

the West have had the jab.

David McKenzie has more.


DAVID MCKENZIE: Here too, COVID-19 is inflicting its most painful toll.


Your emotions are very blurred. You don't know when to be the doctor that's lost patients and then to be the family member or friend that's lost people

and you're bereaved. Quite bereaved.

MCKENZIE: Dr. Tamara Phiri has a simple message for those who think COVID- 19 is only severe in the Northern Hemisphere or that vaccines are only urgently needed in Europe and the United States.

PHIRI: Now we're going onto this second wave which is a lot harder. So I think it's going to be a long year.

MCKENZIE: I follow her on a round in southern Malawi's largest hospital where shifts are measured in days not hours.

PHIRI: This tent here is used to disinfect the dead bodies and I think that's one of the most traumatic things.

We see people die all the time, but not like this. Not at this rate, not this many people who were well just a week or two ago. Yes, so it can get

quite brutal.

MCKENZIE: In the last available space outside, plastic tents are being erected to handle this and future waves.

These are the few extra resources.

PHIRI: We have basics, we don't have fancy treatment. We can't ventilate our patients, we don't have the capacity to ventilate.


MCKENZIE: And there's no one else to step into the wards, just Dr. Phiri and her fellow Malawian doctors who for months have battled the virus that

now, because of a new South African variant, is only getting worse.

PHIRI: I don't remember feeling like this in the first wave.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: I'll just feel your pulse here.

MCKENZIE: Doctors Without Borders is fighting to get vaccines to Malawi and, at the very least, into the arms of health care workers like Phiri.

One of just three remaining specialists covering four full COVID wards, the other five all out sick with the virus.

PHIRI: Literally, the country is bleeding and people are dying and all the systems are really strained with this particular wave.

MCKENZIE: Some countries have ordered many times the number of vaccines than the size of their population. What impact could that have?

MARION PECHAYRE, HEAD OF MISSION, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: The issue right now is more a time issue than a quantity issue. The health system falls

apart. It's not only people dying from COVID that we're going to have here, we're going to have excess mortality related to other diseases.

MCKENZIE: Hope is still being kept alive if only because of Dr. Phiri and the nurses and the workers constantly delivering precious oxygen thanks to

the wards.

But Phiri says to survive as a doctor at Queens also means being a realist.

PHIRI: We had to accept that our situation would be different.

You have to come in mentally prepared and you have to tell yourself that I'm going to be well and I'm going to look after myself, and we'll deal

with what we have but we'll do our best.

MCKENZIE: After all, her skills as a doctor are honed by the years of never carrying a full arsenal of weapons.

Twenty-year olds in Europe might get vaccines before you get a vaccine.

PHIRI: Sure.

MCKENZIE: How does that make you feel?

PHIRI: It's brutal, but it's reality.

MCKENZIE: Why would this moment be any different?

MCKENZIE (Voice Over): David McKenzie, CNN, Blantyre, Malawi.


ASHER: Coming up. Farming is getting a high-tech overhaul. How drone technology could make agriculture more efficient.


ASHER: Whether they're being talked about in ads during the Super Bowl or being embraced as the future of delivery, drones have helped revolutionize

the business model of some companies.

Now the airborne tech is being used to help an industry that is usually focused on the ground; agriculture.

Eleni Giokos has more.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From 3-D mapping to deliveries, construction site management to rescue operations, the commercial use of

drones is soaring around the world.

But, as drones take to our skies, entrepreneur Rabih Bou Rashid believes their biggest potential is on land.

RABIH BOU RASHID, CEO, FED DRONE-POWERED SOLUTIONS: The next big idea is improve on many aspects of the agricultural phases.

GIOKOS: In Dubai, Bou Rashid runs one of the world's top drone service providers operating drones for the construction, mining, infrastructure,

and oil and gas industries.

But he is now shifting his focus to agriculture, betting drones can make the sector sustainable.

BOU RASHID: We're making sure that we're not wasting water, we're not wasting feed, we're not wasting things. So that's what the drone brings

into the table (ph).

GIOKOS: By using smart sensors, 3-D mapping systems, and thermal cameras, Bou Rashid says drones can check the precise amount of water crops need,

detect early diseases, and feed plants without wasting fertilizer.

BOU RASHID: When you use drones, you can calculate what exactly has to be fed, what doesn't need to be fed and precisely just -- take care of these


You could easily increase your crop by let's say 5 percent or 10 percent when you using drones for early detection.

GIOKOS: The agriculture drone market could be worth as much as $5.7 billion by 2025, according to research by Markets and Markets.

While the use of drones in this sector is still niche, Bou Rashid believes as the technology becomes more advanced and efficient, farmers will adopt

more readily.

BOU RASHID: You can see that there's going to be demand for sustainable ways to go forward.

What the drone does is bring this to marginal farmers, bring this technology to everyone.

GIOKOS: More drones may soon glide over cities and make deliveries at our doorsteps.

And with continuing advances in technology, could also make a positive difference in the lives of farmers around the world.

GIOKOS (Voice Over): Eleni Giokos, CNN.


ASHER: There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street. We'll have the final numbers and the closing bell right after this.


ASHER: There are just moments left to trade on Wall Street, and it's looking like a record day all across the board.

This is the sixth straight day of gains for both the Dow and the SE 500 (ph).

And in the components, it is Disney leading the way, up more than 4 percent to lead the index. Chevron and Goldman Sachs also slightly up as well, each

posting gains above two percent.

Nike, Merck, and Visa trail index (ph), each down about one percent each.

That is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Zain Asher in New York.

Let's get to Washington no where Democratic senators are laying out the rules of impeachment trial of Donald Trump.