Return to Transcripts main page

Quest Means Business

One-Time Rivals Team Up on COVID-19 Vaccines; Global COVID-19 Cases Increasing for First Time in Seven Weeks; Hertz Plans to Exit Bankruptcy through $4.2 billion Investment; U.S. Sanctions Seven Russian Officials Involved In Navalny Poisoning; How And Why "Zoom" Became A Verb During The Pandemic; Cuba To Launch Its Own Vaccine; Abu Dhabi's Goal To Be A 100 Percent Safe Tourist Destination. Aired 3-4p ET.

Aired March 02, 2021 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Stocks are staging an afternoon comeback. Now they're trying to build on Monday's extraordinarily strong

gains. But as you can see it's a feeble attempt. Well I don't know. It was down midday and now we're back up a bit but it isn't really much enthusiasm

for the recovery. The markets -- those are the markets and these are the main events of the day.

Johnson & Johnson is teaming up with one of its oldest rivals to speed up vaccine production. We'll have that story in a moment.

The United States and Europe is sanctioning Russia over the jailing of Alexei Navalny, it won't do any good.

And Zooming, shares in Zoom are coming back down to Earth after earnings that beat expectations.

We are, of course, live in New York. It is Tuesday, it is the 2nd of March. I'm Richard Quest. You're most welcome. And of course I mean business.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

QUEST: Breaking news to bring you. The news is just coming in. The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have now been administered here in

the United States. It's the first vaccine that's been granted emergency use requiring only a single dose and refrigeration at normal levels. No mass

deep freezes.

J&J says four million doses are on their way to the states, and 20 million will be ready by the end of the month. The significance of course is not


Lucy Kafanov is at a mass vaccination center in Houston, Texas.

We'll talk internationally first. From the U.S. point of view, now the country has been doing remarkably well with Moderna and Pfizer, so give me

an idea of how J&J changes that equation even more so.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Richard. I mean, the advantage of the J&J, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as you point out it is

that single dose, and that is going to significantly ramp up the arsenal here in the United States in terms of getting Americans protected against

coronavirus, which of course has been spreading rapidly here as well as around the world.

Now, Johnson & Johnson said they have about 3.9 million doses that they're ready to ship basically immediately across the U.S. They're under contract

to come up with a hundred million doses by the end of June. Whether they'll be able to meet that target is a little less clear.

And here in Texas, they've already gotten 24,000 doses. Those are being split between the Houston area and the Dallas area. We know that this

F.E.M.A. location has already gotten their doses, although it's not clear whether those will be going into the arms of Americans or Texans, at least,


There are still a lot of logistical hurdles they have to work out. But the difference in this vaccine compared to Moderna and Pfizer is quite


As you point out, it's a single dose, so you don't have to worry about follow-up appointments and making sure that people can get that second shot

in the exactly right time.

As you also point out, the storage is different. It can be kept for up to three months in a regular refrigerator instead of those deep freezers, and

so it's a lot easier to ship and distribute to different sites.

Now, the efficacy is another difference. We are talking about 95 to 94 percent efficacy when you're talking about Pfizer and Moderna. That is

stunning. That is very, very high.

Johnson & Johnson only has about 66 percent efficacy, but if you break down those numbers, it's 85 percent efficient protecting against some of the

most severe and moderate cases of coronavirus.

And in trials at least, it was a hundred percent efficient at preventing deaths because nobody died from the vaccine -- Richard.

QUEST: Lucy, just briefly, that efficacy question, are we headed do you think to a situation where some people may say no, I want the Pfizer and

Moderna because I've seen this 94 percent number in the press, and even though it's a nuanced argument that actually J&J is just good, people are

obsessed about that 94 percent?

KAFANOV: It's definitely an issue scientists and White House officials are concerned about because if you look at the numbers, I mean, it does sound

like the other two are better, but again this is what health experts are trying to get out in front of the public about and trying to encourage

people to take whatever vaccine is available for them because again, at this point, we are just desperate to get as many people here in the U.S.

and across the world vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to prevent those most severe cases in order to make sure

hospitals, for example, are freed up and able to handle whatever patients come into them.

But yes, it is going to be quite a hurdle in convincing people to overcome their fear of taking a vaccine that at least on paper looks like it's a

little bit less efficient than the other two vaccines that are out there.

Not to mention the fact that you still have a significant chunk of the population, we don't know the exact numbers, but there is hesitancy among

some parts of the U.S. population in taking a vaccine in general that's been developed so quickly against a virus that's so new, so that is a

concern -- Richard.

QUEST: Lucy, thank you. Now, one of the extraordinary things about this whole vaccination business is how it's brought together two U.S.

pharmaceutical rivals, and not just two of them, but they're all set to join forces in the fight.


QUEST: Sources in the White House says Merck is to help Johnson & Johnson produce its newly approved vaccine. President Biden is likely to announce

this rare collaboration in the next hour.

Now, you'll remember, we talked about it on this program. We had one of the executives at the company. Merck stopped working on its own vaccine after

disappointing earlier results.

Now, they're trying to create a partnership which is a sign that the vaccine race is entering a new phase of consolidation. Companies fall

behind in the development of their own, they are agreeing to pool.

You've got Johnson and Merck there, as you can see. The French drug maker, Sanofi announcing late January it will produce millions of doses with

Pfizer and the German, BioNTech. Moderna is getting help from Switzerland's Lonza.

Two laggards, Britain's GSK, GlaxoSmithKline and Germany's CureVac are also working together on vaccines that target new corona strains.

CNN's chief U.S. national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is in Washington.

Jeff, are they doing it sort of with a bit of a shove and a nudge from political leaders?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN U.S. CHIEF AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Richard, there's no question about that and the White House and President Biden are doing a bit

of the shoving and the nudging.

You know, it is good business for them, of course, because as you said, Merck was hoping to be one of these companies with this vaccine. They

didn't make the grade, if you will.

So they now are going to be a huge part of this by forming that collaboration with Johnson & Johnson. The White House -- we're going to

learn more about this in the next hour when President Biden is set to formally announce this in the White House.

He'll be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris as well, really talking about what is an unusual partnership. But they believe it is something that

will jump start really the sluggish nature of getting the vaccines really up to supply, up to snuff here.

Johnson & Johnson had planned to -- had promised more vaccines so far than it has been able to deliver. So they believe with this Merck partnership,

they will be able to get the ball rolling on more vaccinations, and that is the key here. This Johnson & Johnson vaccination, one-dose only. So that is

viewed as a stronger option.

But of course, now, there are three options here in the U.S. But the White House definitely played a role behind the scenes, publicly and privately

getting these two companies we're told together -- Richard.

QUEST: The attention now focuses -- there are two distinct areas. One is vaccine, but the other is that the C.D.C. and the N.I.H., they are all

continuing to remind people not to be complacent, that there is still a risk.

Look, I can tell you, Jeff, people are out and about. People are eating out. There is -- yes, people are still wearing masks on the streets here in

New York, but there's a mood change that the vaccines have arrived -- and well, you finish the sentence.

ZELENY: There absolutely is a mood change. As I travel across this country, you can see the mood change just in different parts of the


I happened to be in South Carolina just over the weekend and seeing there, you know, it's almost like this virus hasn't happened yet. All restrictions

have been lifted by the Governor there. So it is very much in the U.S., a red state and blue state phenomenon in terms of how strict the standards


But even in blue states, even in New York, here in Washington and other cities across the country, Chicago is lifting some of their restrictions as

well, bringing back indoor dining capacity to some 50 percent.

So all of these changes has health officials at the C.D.C. a bit worried because they did see a fall-off in the number of cases, but now they have

seen things essentially plateauing, but they're worried they're going to spike back up because of variants and other matters. So they are trying to

get more vaccines out.

Richard, No question, as we head into spring here in the United States, there is a sense that people are tired of this. They want to be outside.

They are doing as they please.

So the C.D.C. is starting to put out some recommendations really trying to, you know, ease things and recognize that people need some bright light, if

you will, some optimism at the end of the tunnel here. So that is one thing that they're trying to provide them.

But we'll see if this vaccination supply can get out there and provide enough herd immunity in time for the cases to increase -- Richard.

QUEST: Right. Good to see you. Thank you, Jeff Zeleny.

Now, talking about the vaccines, a fourth drug may soon be added to the U.S. arsenal. Novavax says it expects to seek EAU, emergency use

authorization for its vaccine in Q2.

It is cheaper and easier to store than some of its competitors. The early trials show it is effective against emerging variants.

Julia spoke to the company's chief executive earlier. He said the plans are already in place to deliver the vaccine to emerging markets.


STANLEY ERCK, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NOVAVAX: We think it's terribly important that the vaccine gets distributed globally and that you have equitable

access. And how we interpret that is to have tiered pricing so that we have pricing in the lowest income countries at one level and a different price

in the U.S. and Europe, for instance.

So we partner with Serum Institute. The Serum Institute is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. Two-thirds of the world's children get a

vaccine made by Serum Institute. Their price is as low as $1.00 or $2.00 or $3.00.


ERCK: So, we have partnered with them because we don't have the capabilities of a biotech company to distribute and register products in

low and middle income countries, but they do.

And so, they took on that half of the world, and they have already reached an agreement with GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines to sell them

hundreds of millions of doses at $3.00 a dose, Novavax can't do that, but they could.

So that's how we get our product distributed globally, it is through them.


QUEST: A fascinating look at the economics. The reality, you've got the vaccines, but you've actually got to make them at a profit or at least at


Now, with the new availability of vaccines, the World Health Organization is warning it's no time for complacency. Global COVID cases are rising for

the first time in seven weeks largely because of the variants.

The Director General says new variants are to blame along with relaxed public health measures, exactly what we were talking about with Jeff


The director said if countries rely solely on vaccines, they're making a mistake.

Geoff Martha is the Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, the largest standalone medical device company in the world. It is interesting with this

complacency that is starting to come in. I hesitate to say it, but the officials can say as often as they like, we must be vigilant. People aren't


GEOFF MARTHA, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, MEDTRONIC: Thank you for having me on the show. A big fan of the show.

Look, I think now is not the time at all to be complacent or let down our guard because the vaccine is just around the corner, but there's still

issues out there that we really need to be careful about.

QUEST: I was looking at the standalone devices and the non-COVID medical cases. And more and more hospitals are now saying, no, we must give

priority to these non-COVID cases because if we don't, we're storing up even bigger problems in the future. Now this hits to your company, doesn't


MARTHA: Absolutely. Look, you know, we've actually partnered with many hospitals and physician groups around the world to do public service

announcements, to get the word out.

One, we worked out with the American Heart Association called Don't Die of Doubt. When you are feeling these symptoms, you really have got to go into

the hospital.

And I can tell you this, hospitals over the last year have really worked to innovate the way they practice medicine in order to safely care for these

COVID patients and in the non-COVID patients and to continue to conduct what they call elective procedures, which, Richard, I think you can agree

some of these aren't so elective like a stroke or a heart attack or something like that.

QUEST: The way in which you have adapted your company as a result of the pandemic, I mean the devices that you provide, the way in which they are

inserted or used and the way in which patients maintain and use them. Has COVID made a big difference?

MARTHA: Look, absolutely. I'll give you two examples. One, COVID has really focused us and opened our aperture to what's possible.

So rewind the tape back to the springtime frame of 2020, April and May. You know, ventilators were in very short supply and high demand and physicians

were asking for orders of magnitude and government officials, orders of magnitude of more ventilators than were out there.

Medtronic is responsible for about -- a little over a fourth of the world's share of critical care ventilators and we had to increase our production.

We were able to increase our production by over five-fold in a very short period of time and increase the capabilities that healthcare workers were

asking for in a short period of time because of partnerships.

So I heard you talking earlier about the partnerships in the pharmaceutical area about creating -- producing more vaccine. In the Med Tech space, we

had similar type of partnerships. At Medtronic, we actually partnered with some, I think, unusual bedfellows for us, SpaceX and Elon Musk helped us

with ventilators. Intel.

So I think that's a big one. We actually open sourced our ventilators out there to the technical community, to everybody really to see if we could

attract new partners to overcome some of the barriers. So that's one way that we chose to do it.

QUEST: How do you capture -- how do you capture and bottle that spirit? Because I do worry that a year from now, everybody is maybe not fully back

in their old silos, but that the mentalities will you know -- it will just drop back to where it was.


MARTHA: Look, that's a great question. I know, you know, myself, our leadership team, our Board of Directors, that's something we're very

focused on is we don't want to go back to the way it was. Do we want COVID to go away? Absolutely. It's been terrible for so many reasons.

But we've learned such valuable lessons, and to go back to the way things operated before would be a crime. I mean, with this level of focus, with

these types of partnerships and just seeing the world a bit differently, we've been able to innovate at a much faster pace and much broader scale.

So it's something that I agree it's going to be difficult to avoid that, but it's something that we're really focused on.

QUEST: The idea of ESGs and ESG initiatives and the whole scoring following on from the Bank of America, Brian Moynihan initiatives, there is

an argument that says, yes, very important but it is more important that we focus more on the pandemic.

I am guessing some will tell me it's not an either/or, you've got to do both. But the reality is can you do ESGs at a time of crisis?

MARTHA: Well look, one thing we've been talking about inside Medtronic is 2020 taught me the power of "and." You know, you could do one thing and

another and kind throw out the word "or" and really focus on the word "and" and this is one area.

You know, for us, we talked about how important innovation is, technology and clinical innovation to improve health outcomes including for COVID

patients, but for many other conditions that we are involved in.

Innovation is still a people game, right? It relies on people to drive this innovation, and we need to attract the best people. And today, the best

people want to work for companies that stand for something, stand for something beyond just making a profit.

Stand for -- take a stand on social issues or whether it be climate or an inclusion, diversity and equity. Companies can't be silent on this anymore

or you're not going to attract the best people.

So, it is the right thing to do for our society, but it's also good business.

QUEST: We'll have you back, Geoff. We'll have you back because what you're talking about of course is stakeholder economy, which we take a great

interest in here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. We will talk about that as the year moves on. I appreciate your time tonight, sir. Thank you.

MARTHA: Thank you, Richard.

QUEST: Marriott's new CEO is telling me vaccines are crucial to kick starting the global travel industry. Tony Capuano shares his hopes of the

recovery. He joins us after the break.



QUEST: U.S. markets are mixed today after their biggest rally in months. The Dow has seesawed off through the session and we are still seesawing.

When we started, we were up, and now, we're down, which gives you exactly the momentum of the day.

I'm guessing very small movement of trades. There's not a lot of -- well, there is no direction, which is exactly what you're seeing there.

The bond market is giving most of the concern after yields rose last week and tech and real estate stocks are down the most. That's the reasons why.

Marriott's new Chief Executive has told me vaccinations are the key to boosting global travel. Speaking to me earlier, Tony Capuano said, he will

be encouraging his own employees to get the shot.


TONY CAPUANO, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL: We're quite engaged with governments and tourism officials around the world.

I think maybe the frustration, we wish we had all the tools available to solve all of these challenges ourselves. We feel like we've pulled most of

the levers that we can pull in terms of offering touchless experiences so our guests feel safe, in terms of working through our loyalty program to

drive demand and enthusiasm for travel.

But ultimately, I think broad distribution of the vaccine, more open borders are going to be critical, and we only have so much influence in

achieving some of those goals.

QUEST: Where do you stand on vaccines and vaccine passports? It's going to turn into the debate as to whether or not -- I mean, can you see an

occasion where some of maybe your luxury resorts or some of your resorts will say you can only stay here if you've been vaccinated or you have a

negative test?

CAPUANO: Well, it's a little early to talk about where the notion of vaccine passports, if you will, will go. I do think vaccinations are the

key to unlocking all the pent-up travel demand that exists. Vaccinations both for travelers and for employees in the travel industry.

We've not yet taken a position where we're going to require vaccinations of our associates, but we will be announcing some changes later this week to

incent and encourage our associates to get vaccinated.


QUEST: You can see more of my interview with the Marriott Chief Executive tomorrow. We will be discussing his vision for the company and of course,

paying tribute to his predecessor, the late Arne Sorenson.

Hertz could exit bankruptcy as soon as this summer according to a $4.2 billion investment opportunity from two firms.

Well, Hertz was struggling before the pandemic. It has been hit hard by the drop in air travel and car rentals. Last year, it lost $1.7 billion in


Paul is with me. Paul, who is investing and why?

PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, you have these two investment firms that have also created a fund dedicated to the travel industry, and

the hope is that with this investment in Hertz that it is a bet on the eventual rebound in travel.

We're seeing obviously companies -- again, the airline sector and, you know, the broader leisure business. You just spoke to the new CEO of

Marriott, you know, the hotels and Airbnbs of the world are trying to make a big comeback. So could Hertz do so as well, post-bankruptcy? I think it's

a going to be a bit of a challenge because obviously they face competition from the likes of Avis and Enterprise, but also Uber and Lyft as well.

QUEST: That's the issue for those companies. There hasn't been -- well, I suppose the bankruptcy of Hertz is part of the shakeout. But if you think

about it, Avis bought Zipcar and so is already in the car sharing. You've got Uber, Lyft, and a whole variety of others, which begs where does Hertz


LA MONICA: Yes, I think it's a great question because let's be honest, Richard, Hertz was struggling before the pandemic. So obviously, there are

a lot of companies in the travel and leisure business that have been disrupted by COVID-19, and it's maybe not a one-time event, but it's an

unusual circumstance that really led to such a sharp downturn in travel, and, you know, overall business.

But Hertz can't blame COVID-19 entirely for its woes. This was a company that as you pointed out, was struggling because of competition from rivals

and just wasn't really doing a good job of attracting consumers.

So I think the question for the new owners is going to be how do you turn things around? If people are willing to travel, be it consumer with family

or corporate travelers, why would they choose a Hertz rental car as opposed to something from a competitor or just getting a ride share from an Uber or

Lyft, which you know, may be as inexpensive. And you know, if you're on a corporate travel budget and you're expensing it anyway?


QUEST: A tale I know only too well. Paul La Monica, thank you.

The U.S. is taking its first major punitive action against Russia since Biden became President. The new sanctions have just been imposed and it's

over the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. We have the details after the break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.


QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS as you and I continue this evening.

Cuba's efforts to develop its own COVID vaccine. We have a report.

And lockdowns help Zoom grow from an obscure video calling app to an industry leader. What next? Zooming long after the pandemic is over. We'll

talk about that. We'll do it all after I've updated you with what's going on in the world, because this is CNN and on this network, the facts and the

news always come first.

Hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted last week at gun point have been released. The regional government spokesman says, the 279 girls are in good

condition and no ransom was paid. This was Nigeria's third mass kidnapping of boarding school students since December.

The F.B.I. Director, Christopher Wray is debunking conspiracy theories about the January insurrection on Capitol Hill. He said there's no evidence

the rioters were leftist extremists dressed up as Donald Trump supporters. Wray testified before lawmakers today and warned domestic terrorism

continues to threaten U.S. security.

Calls are growing loud in New York for the Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign after a third woman made accusations against him.

"The New York Times" reported the latest allegation involving an unwanted physical advance at a 2019 wedding. Two other women have already accused

Cuomo of sexual harassment.


Meghan Markle is seeking more than $2 million in court fees from a British tabloid after winning her privacy claim against it. The Duchess of Sussex

sued the publisher of "The Mail" for printing parts of a letter she'd sent to her father.

The high court judges have dismissed the publisher's application for appeal.

The United States is imposing sanctions on seven senior Russian officials over the poisoning of the dissident Alexei Navalny who's now, of course, in


The targeted officials include the director of the FSS, the Federal Security Service, and two deputy defense ministers.

The Biden Administration's accused the FSB of poisoning Navalny with a nerve agent last year. It coordinated its response with European allies who

have imposed similar sanctions of their own.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The announcement we're making today was done in harmony with the E.U. announcement. It was not meant to

be a silver bullet or an ending to what has been a difficult relationship with Russia.

We expect the relationship to continue to be a challenge, we're prepared for that. And we're neither seeking to reset our relations with Russia nor

are we seeking to escalate.


Kylie's with us at the State Department, Kylie Atwood. . Does it make any difference? I can hear viewers saying, all right, so they've sanctioned

people who weren't going to come to the United States, and I'm not sure it makes a difference anyway. Does it?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's a good question and it's one actually just posed here at the State Department to the State

Department spokesperson, Ned Price.

And he said that the actions undertaken today, these sanctions that the U.S. rolled out in conjunction with the E.U. have a sizable impact on

Russia. He's making the case that this isn't just kind of a distraction and a small action that's being taken. It is significant.

And we should note that this is the first action that the U.S. has taken against Russia for the poisoning and imprisonment of Navalny, the Russian

opposition leader.

And President Trump failed to undertake these sanctions. They were prepared for him, he failed to roll them out and so the Biden Administration is

trying to make a point in actually following through on this.

Now we also know, however, that the Biden Administration is reviewing a number of other misdeeds by Russia. And we do expect that they are going to

take action on those things such as the SolarWinds hack and putting bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.

So this is just the beginning of the Biden Administration's Russia policy, this is definitely not the end. And we will watch to see if this has any


QUEST: But we're now getting an idea -- this is probably the second in the short time of the administration -- we had, of course the MBS decision on

how they were going to respond there, a difficult one with an ally.

Now you've got the Moscow one. Not an ally, per se, but strategically extremely important. Can we draw any themes here, can you see any signs of

how this administration thinks about these issues; are they pragmatists or are they matters of principle?

ATWOOD: Well, at this point they're trying to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to being an administration that says that they will

stand up for human rights.

So we've seen that, carrying out action when it comes to the Khashoggi murder, when it comes to the poisoning of Navalny but they are inching

closer to the people who are in control of those countries, they are not going after them.

So as we have well covered here, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was not sanctioned by the Biden Administration despite those around him being

sanctioned. And we're also seeing something like that happen right now in Russia.

Even though the U.S. has not definitively said that they believe that President Putin was behind that poisoning carried out against Navalny, they

have gone after two folks who are in the Kremlin today.

There are two of President Putin's deputy chiefs of staff who are on this list of those that are sanctioned. So they are getting closer and closer to

the people who appear to be in control of these actions that were taken.

QUEST: Kylie, good to have you at the State Department for us tonight. Thank you.

Cuba could be on the verge of a breakthrough in the fight against COVID. It's aiming to mass produce its own vaccine for distribution at home and



Our correspondent in Havana is Patrick Oppman. And as he now tells us, Cuba's planning to market the vaccine to tourists in hope of turning its

economy around.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cuba hopes this is what the pay off looks like to a big gamble.

While many other developing countries have competed with richer nations to import vaccines against the coronavirus, Cuba has been making its own


In March, two out of four potential vaccine candidates made in Cuba will begin their third and final trials (ph). If the trials are successful,

Cuba's will be the first vaccines that were developed in Latin America.

DR. DAGMAR GARCIA RIVERA, CUBAN SCIENTIST: And the main objective of this clinical trial is to show the clinical efficacy of our vaccine candidate.

After that we could be in condition for start a massive immunization in Cuba or in some other countries in the world.

OPPMAN: You believe that everybody in Cuba, the 11 million people who live here could be vaccinated by the end of this year?


OPPMAN: Well, Cuba is only now just beginning to vaccinate people on a large scale as part of the third trial and scientists tell CNN they have

already produced more than 300,000 doses of Sovereign 2, one of their vaccine candidates -- could eventually make millions more doses each month.

The pandemic has all but destroyed Cuba's economy. Beaches that are usually full of tourists are now empty.

The vaccine, though, could help change Cuba's fortunes as researchers here say they could produce enough to sell overseas and even market vaccination

vacations. Offering the vaccine to tourists as a way to restart the Cuban tourism industry.

It may seem unbelievable that a poor island where there are shortages of food and basic medicines like pain-killers and antibiotics can create a

cutting edge vaccine, but Cuba has produced its own vaccines going back decades.

Cuban (inaudible) had the same U.S. sanctions that isolated the island, forced Cuba to become a biomedical pioneer. Cuba has been following

established protocols in providing updates on their vaccine development, international observers say.

DR. JOSE MOYA, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (Speaking in Foreign Language):

OPPMAN: This is very good news and we are following these results carefully, he said. First, because the Cuban population will directly

benefit from their vaccine candidates. And this at some point could cut (ph) transmission in the country.

Cuban scientists say island likely could not afford to import vaccines from abroad and pursued multiple vaccine candidates in case some did not pass

the trials.

If Cuba ends up with more than one working vaccine it could allow doctors a greater arsenal (ph) to wipe out the coronavirus here.

DR. TANIA COMBERT, CUBAN SCIENTIST: I also think at the end we might be able to implement what we call prime and boost. Which is using some

vaccines for the first doses and then boostering or re-immunizing with a second vaccine candidate (perhaps) in order to enhance the previous immune


OPPMAN (On Camera): Iran is carrying out large-scale trials with Cuban vaccines. And Mexico's expected to begin trials.

As the world struggles with vaccine shortages, other countries may be calling soon.

OPPMAN (On Camera): Patrick Oppman, CNN, Havana.


QUEST: Now as we continue to focus on the recovery, particularly as it relates to travel and tourism, another country looking to rebuild after

COVID, we'll be talking to Abu Dhabi launching an ambitious new safety program.

Joining us is the chairman of the department of tourism and culture.

After the break.


QUEST: IATA, the global airline body, says international travel -- traffic, as it's known, plunged 86 percent in January; 86 percent compared

to before the pandemic.

That's not to say there isn't pent-up demand, you and I have talked about this many times.

There was a surge in bookings between the U.K. and the UAE late last year after the countries opened up a travel corridor. That was before the

variants were reported and corridors were closed down again.

It's something the Emiratis are keen to capitalize on, Abu Dhabi setting the goal of becoming 100 percent certified safe destination.

Mohamed Al Mubarak is the chair of Abu Dhabi's department of culture and tourism. The chairman joins me now.

Chairman, the idea -- we know there's pent-up demand and the evidence has been there. But I wonder the reality of trying to open up in very difficult

circumstances when, after all, we saw what happened in Dubai just at Christmas.

MOHAMED AL MUBARAK, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE & TOURISM, ABU DHABI: You're absolutely right, Mr. Quest. The fact of the matter is people want

to travel again, there's pent up demand for that.

We just need to make sure that basically it's in the safest manner. Here in Abu Dhabi, from day one, we took the safety measures extremely seriously,

not just for the tourists coming in but also for the residents here in the UAE.

We made sure that all our tourism sites whether it's hospitality or entertainment or our cultural sites are really at the highest level of

safety measures.

So we created a program called the Go Safe program which basically means rigorous testing, testing for all staff members at least once a week,

making all the safety measures within the assets themselves from cleansing, from touchless, from pay mechanisms to be very easy but at the same time


Now moving forward to the next stage of this is how do we make sure that the tourists flying in from all over the world are safe and have the

experiences of a normal world which we have expected in the past?

And we take that extremely seriously. At the moment more than 80 percent of the staff that is working within the tourism sector has been vaccinated and

close to 100 percent of our staff on our national airline has been vaccinate.

This is just one step --


AL MUBARAK: This is just one step (inaudible) from a tourism world.

QUEST: Right. Now with that in mind, are you in favor and -- this is the big issue in travel and tourism today -- are you in favor of vaccine

passports or do you see that as vaccination and testing as being a way forward?

AL MUBARAK: You have to get the best of both worlds. The fact of the matter is, like I said, the whole world is working right now on how we can

come back to normal. And when it comes back to normal of course travel is a major component.

We've been working from day one with IATA, our national carrier's been working from day one, and making sure what are the guidelines of these

vaccine passports and how do we make sure people have choice?

As far as I'm concerned, it's all going to be about how easy it is for travelers. And I think the vaccine passports are just going to be a sort of

checklist of what are the needs and the expectations from each airport from around the world.

It does not mean if you're not vaccinated, you won't -- please won't basically have you come in but you might just have more rigorous guidelines

i.e. more testing and maybe some sort of quarantine from the destination you're reaching to.

QUEST: OK. Now interesting, the UAE, if we look at these numbers. The UAE, you're sort of just behind your new diplomatic partner, Israel, in terms of

the vaccine doses per 100 people with six -- the two of you, particularly UAE, you are a long way ahead of the rest of the world, U.K., U.S. and



Now that is a good thing for your people and your citizens and your hospitality industry.

But the risk element of opening up -- and I'm wondering do you see any opportunity of vaccination holidays?

AL MUBARAK: When you mean vaccination holidays, you mean people coming in and being vaccinated while they're in Abu Dhabi or in the other Emirates?

Is that your question, Mr. Quest?

QUEST: Yes, it is. Because we were just hearing from Cuba how they are looking forward to doing something similar. But I'm just wondering as

countries move forward in this regard everybody's looking for the key that opens up travel.

And I wonder whether that is a potential -- or maybe not.

AL MUBARAK: We have to look at the science. The science of the matter is that every single city or every single country is looking for the 70 to 75

percent threshold in vaccinating its populous.

I think once countries reach that sort of comfort level I think the opening up to others will basically be a much more simpler matter.

QUEST: And as you open up, when do you think you will get back to anything like you were -- which, of course, is one of the world's leading tourist


AL MUBARAK: I think it's -- my humble opinion is probably you'll start seeing hints of that towards the end of the summer. And to really start

seeing close to normalcy, probably towards the end of the year.

QUEST: (Inaudible) with us, sir. I appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us.

AL MUBARAK: Thanks very much. It's a pleasure.

QUEST: And thank you for staying up late. It's nearly 1:00 in the morning there. I appreciate it.

AL MUBARAK: I mean -- HBO Max makes it easy.

QUEST: Thank you. HBO Max, that'll keep you entertained. Part of same company. All part of AT&T. Thank you, sir.

Now if you can't travel right now, there's always Zoom with or without filters. It's becoming the cat's meow in the videoconferencing world.

After the break, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.


QUEST: Zoom shares have fallen back after a stunning surge on Monday. Look at the way they're doing at the end of a difficult trading day.

And you can see they're down eight percent but this is just all relative compared to how they've Zoomed up after the company crushed expectations

with its latest earnings.

Revenue, 42 percent growth is what they're looking for even as life returns to normal.


Now, Zoom has had an incredible 12 months doing what few companies have ever managed to do.

It's a verb; I'll have a zoom, are we zooming? Along with its success on Wall Street, it's also proven to be a winner on the web.

Let's dial back on some of those Zoom moments. Who could forget a cat by any other name?


H. GIBBS BAUER: I can hear you. I think it's a filter.

JERRY L. PHILIPS: If it is, I don't know how to remove it. I've got my assistant here, she's trying to. But I'm prepared to go forward with it.

I'm here live, I'm not a cat.


QUEST: That was not a cat, and Jackie Weaver is not Brittney Spears, no matter what she said during that chaotic Handforth Parish Council. Remember

that meeting.


JACKIE WEAVER: This is a meeting called by two counselors.

ALED'S IPAD: Illegally.

WEAVER: You may now elect a chairman.

ALED'S IPAD: No, they can't because the vice chair's here. I take charge.

WEAVER: Are you --

ALED'S IPAD: Read the standing orders. Read them and understand them. Do me.

WEAVER: Appalling behavior.


QUEST: That behavior. And finally, I think this is the piece de resistance. This stunning moment last week.

A California doctor performing surgery during a Zoom traffic court hearing where the judge said he felt so uncomfortable by it that he immediately

adjourned the case, after finding out what was going on.

For more what's made Zoom an iconic brand, Shelly Palmer is with me, the CEO of Palmer Group. Good to have you, Shelly.

Now I can forgive Zoom just about almost anything because they have become the backbone of the many ways -- whether it's a Zoom Save the Night last

year, Christmas, whatever it might be -- just the weekly calls.


QUEST: But what do they do next, Shelly Palmer.

PALMER: They have a lot to do next because we are slowly but surely doing two things. One, we're kind of getting back to normal and two, we've also

figured out what it means to zoom, the verb, as you brought up.

So they haven't really innovated the product very well and a lot of people are nipping at their heels.

There are plenty of new platforms that are allowing you to do things like blur the background -- like I've got my background blurred, I'm doing this

with a camera -- but Invideo (ph) can do it in the computer without you having to have an expensive camera like I have here.

There's all kinds of new optics, there's all kinds of new tools and tricks. And Zoom, to be fair, while they are the darling, absolute darling, of

every online meeting and most consumers can use it, Richard, they haven't really innovated, they've just been catching up.

QUEST: Right. But, of course, you've got the bigger -- you've got these like Microsoft Teams which is sort of a behemoth --


QUEST: Yes. But that's sort of -- and you've got WebEx, cisco's WebEx, which arguably has a better security protocol and is used by more

officialdom. But we all still go back to Zoom because it's easy to use.

PALMER: That's right.

QUEST: But how do they make money from us? Because, all right, I've got the Zoom so I don't have to have a 40-minute free call, I can go longer,

I've bought a subscription. But how do they make money otherwise?

PALMER: Well, they're going to have to become more a service company. Microsoft has added Teams all kinds of ways, right? Teams is now just the

central focus of a meeting inside of a Microsoft environment, Zoom doesn't have that luxury.

So they're going to have to build out some services that people will pay for. Because right now, free Zoom is a lot of fun and most people have free

Zoom. You pay for Zoom if you need to do a webinar, you pay for Zoom if you need to go longer than 40 minutes but most people don't.

So Zoom is an amazing company. They have the best interface, it's easy to use. Everyone, including grandma knows how to use it -- I don't mean to

call out grandma but metaphorically, everyone knows how to use Zoom.

Are you on mute, still a problem. Zoom basically is the band-aid or the Kleenex of online meeting. They definitely have to start innovating,

Richard --

QUEST: All right.

PALMER: -- because Microsoft and Google have corporate and I don't know Zoom's going to get there.

QUEST: But then you've got Facetime --


QUEST: -- which is already built into the apps.

PALMER: Indeed.

QUEST: And you've got WhatsApp already built in --


QUEST: But if I'm having a vid conference with several people, I don't think to do that. But if I just want to talk to a friend, I might -- you

see where I'm going with this?

PALMER: You have a lot -- yes, no. You have a lot of options -- that's the whole problem, right? That's why Zoom's earnings is amazing, but they can't

take themselves for granted right now. And you can't just say they're the only game in town.

There have always been other ways to communicate with video. People are motivated to do it now, so they've learned to do it.


QUEST: So final question, Shelly.


QUEST: I first made my first Skype video call what 10, 15 years ago -- 12, 14, it's been around donkey's years. How did Zoom get a March on Skype

which, owned by Microsoft at the start of the pandemic, Zoom became the verb --

PALMER: (Inaudible).

QUEST: -- when we used to say oh, I'll have a Skype with you?

PALMER: Yes. It's really simple. The video quality of Zoom was head and shoulders above the rest and the experience was easy, and also head and

shoulders above the rest.

And by the way, UI user interface and UX user experience counts for a lot in the digital world. And they had everybody beaten -- and they still do,

by the way. Hands down.

QUEST: But --

PALMER: There's nothing better or easier to use than Zoom right now. It's not going to stay that way, but right now they're enjoying an awful big

lead on the competition from just a visceral experience.

QUEST: Right.

PALMER: Better video, better interface.

QUEST: (Inaudible). Oh, sorry. We're muted. Shelly Palmer, thank you.

PALMER: (Inaudible).

QUEST: I promise you we'll all (inaudible) as being muted.

We'll have a "Profitable Moment" after the break.


QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment". The issue of vaccine passports, green passes, whatever you want to call it, travel pass, common pass. That

is the big issue in the travel and tourism industry. And there's no consensus yet on what it means.

What I do think needs to happen is that the world bodies, the UNWTO and the WWTTC along with anybody else who has a view on it, needs to get in on this


We cannot afford the sort of mess that the first year of the pandemic left with travel and tourism. Recovery is round the corner, policies are being

put in place now.

And that means, yes, vaccine passports in some cases, testing in other cases because of the haves and the have-nots around the world.

Nothing would be more damaging to the travel and tourism sector to manage to mess up and screw up the recovery as they've done so far in many ways.

That's why coordinated response is necessary now.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in New York.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable. The day is done, the Dow is finished. The bell is ringing.

And we're off heavily. Look at that. Last few moments of trade and it all went pear shaped.