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Quest Means Business

Fresh Restrictions Across E.U. As Omicron Surges; Wall Street Down As Central Banks Tighten Monetary Policy; 12 Remaining Hostages Abducted In Haiti Flown To The U.S.; Possible Arson At Osaka Clinic Leaves Up To 27 Dead; Omicron Could Force U.S. To Redefine Fully Vaccinated. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 17, 2021 - 15:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: Well, right until the end of the week. It is Friday with an hour to go trading and we have not been disappointed

by the markets. They've been down all day, but a 600-point swing. There you are, they are. We are now down 380. So we are rallying marginally, but the

NASDAQ has been up and the other markets of the triple stock has been up as well.

So the markets, the big board is down, and others are up. The markets and the main events of the day.

Pubs closing early, parties being banned. European countries are locking down again and it is a week before Christmas.

Turkish stocks fall out of bed. There is a currency crisis that is now in the equity market. Contagion is everywhere.

And Dr. Fauci says the definition of fully vaccinated needs to change. I speak to the Chief Executive of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance.

Delighted to have you on board. Live from London on Friday, December the 17th. I'm Richard Quest, and yes, a week before Christmas, I mean business.

Good evening on the last full weekend before Christmas, countries across Europe are once again putting restrictions on their economies because of


In the past few minutes, France's Prime Minister has announced that big parties and firework displays on New Year's Eve will be banned. The

Taoiseach, the Irish Prime Minister announced from Sunday, all pubs and indoor venues would close at 8:00 PM. In Denmark, most nightlife is to be

shut down entirely as the country reports a record number of daily infections.

And here in the U.K., in Britain, the staggering impact of omicron is laid bare, a potential sign of what is to come for those other countries, which

is why we're going to focus on it.

More than -- get ready for this -- 93,000 infections were reported in the U.K. in the past 24 hours. It is a record for the third day in a row. Now,

the rolling seven-day average is close to one infection per thousand people. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has been

holding crisis talks with business leaders discussing the severe impact.

You'll remember, we told you last night, he cut short a work trip to California and exclusively, he told me last night that help is on hand.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: What I would say to everyone in the industry is there is support in place at the moment that

can help, for example, this year, all the way through to next spring. People are paying only around a quarter of their normal business rates

bills, so that is an enormous boost of cash flow.

Secondly, the hospitality industry is still benefiting from a lower rate of VAT all the way through to next spring as well.

And thirdly, we have cash that we have provided to local councils, about a quarter of a billion pounds is still available, and that can be distributed

to companies as required.


QUEST: Anna Stewart is with me. The Chancellor, we don't have any news from those meetings about whether there is going to be further measures.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, in fact, the meeting has wrapped up and we do have a statement from the Treasury. It's not what businesses are

going to want, because the government says the Chancellor's department of Treasury says: "We recognize how important the festive period is for so

many businesses, and the government will continue to engage constructively on how it can best provide ongoing support," and so on.

So more talks probably to come. But so far, no real action. So, there is some support that is a hangover from lockdowns past, but nothing new at

this stage.

QUEST: No, but there is a feeling they are going to do something.

STEWART: At this point, you'd think they might have to. If you just look at the sharp decline in 10 days of the omicron variant for hospitality

bookings, for pubs, cafes, restaurants declined by over a third. They expect that to decline even further in the run up to Christmas.

QUEST: I meant to show some pictures, but I forgot coming into work here. The local tube station deserted, the local shops deserted, except for

food shops. But there is nothing really going on. People are now very seriously concerned about omicron.

STEWART: It is a self-imposed lockdown. And you can feel it. It is a miserable bit if you're in London. You're absolutely right. It's a very

easy commute into work at the moment, but the fact of the matter is, nobody wants to be spending Christmas in self-isolation. Nobody wants to give it

as a very unpleasant Christmas present to their loved one.

So people are self-imposing a lockdown. So the government may say this is not their advice. They haven't told businesses to shut, but the reality is

businesses are suffering.

QUEST: Also, the anecdotal reality see is that every one of us now knows somebody who has got it, been exposed to it, is self-isolating because they

have been close to it. It feels like last year, but we've got the vaccines.

STEWART: Yes, and that is definitely an improvement. But the fact of the matter is, people we know have symptoms, don't have symptoms, work, doubly

vaccinated, some are triple vaccinated -- I mean, someone had three jabs, and still go COVID-19 in the last couple of weeks.


STEWART: It is now a genuine concern, and even I am now thinking, oh, I might go to the pub, but I think I want to go outside. And can everyone do

a lateral flow test before they go? This is where we're at. Happy Omi- Christmas -- or not so happy.

QUEST: Well, I would do all, too, but I won't. But this is the last time I get a chance to do before Christmas, because you're working earlier in

the week and I'm working later in the week. So let me wish you the very best.

STEWART: Thank you, Richard. Merry Christmas to you. We file the Quest-Mas on Christmas on Christmas Day for CNN.

QUEST: As always.

STEWART: As always.

QUEST: The tradition continues.

We've got more traditions, by the way that we'll be looking at over the course of the program. The true cost of Christmas.

It is normally one of the busiest times of the year for London's bars and restaurants. Many are choosing to close early because of cancellations or

simple staff shortages. Customers and workers are testing positive.

According to the reservation data from Open Table, U.K. bookings have plunged almost a quarter this week compared to 2019. Globally down 15


It is reminiscent to the darkest days of 2020. In a moment, I'll speak to one restaurant owner who told me more than a year ago, the dire situation

he was facing.


ADAM HANDLING, OWNER, ADAM HANDLING RESTAURANT GROUP: For Tuesday, I had to close three of my places and actually terminated most of the staff on them

three. On Wednesday was my first day off I've had in months because I was a broken human being. I couldn't -- I couldn't get out -- I couldn't face

anything else what you've worked for 17 years, to be almost ripped out from under your feet in a space of a week.

But from today, I feel a lot more reassured that the other venues that I have and the staff that I've got with me will be able to survive three

months, and then hopefully go back to business. Business won't go as good as it was, you know, a month ago, but it's definitely a start.


QUEST: That was then. Now, the restaurant boss, Adam Handling joins us from Windsor outside London. Let's start, Adam. We've come a long way since

then. But how bad has the cancellations been in the last couple of weeks as omicron and the government's advices moved?

HANDLING: Hi, Richard. It has been a year. It's not good. Scaremongering from the government has cost over a thousand bookings in two days for my

restaurants, and split all over the country as well, not just the capital.

And the thing about them still seeing that there is support going on, you know, the VAT and the rates, that only works if we have guests sitting in

the restaurant. Other than that, that doesn't support us.

QUEST: Are you encouraged in any way by what you've heard from the Chancellor? That there are the existing and that they will keep reviewing

this, or do you feel either too little too late? Or you're just going to have to muddle through on your own?

HANDLING: You know, I would never like to be a politician in this time of year nor last, but it seems to be a repeating subject. They say something

first, and then they react later and that really does affect business, and I understand the priority is safety, for sure, for my staff, and for my

guests. That is predominantly all I really care about.

But when they advise not to go to restaurants, but don't close down, but then say the support there for VAT is stretched out to the summer or to

spring, sorry, what is to support? I have a full member of -- I have 200 staff to still pay full salaries for with no covers.

QUEST: And are you doing vaccine mandates? Are you insisting that your staff are vaccinated?

HANDLING: We're insisting that the staff are vaccinated, whether or not they do it, it is a personal choice. There are a few that are just dead

against it. I'm not too sure I understand why either, but it's their own choice and I have to go with that, really.

QUEST: And how do you handle that in terms of front-facing staff for, you know, going -- do you find them other duties back of house? Or can you

just have to muddle on through the mask and a test?

HANDLING: Sadly, it's muddle on with a mask and a test. Business has to continue. Viruses typically, as I'm told, stick around for seven years and

it's going to continually keep changing. It's going to continually keep advancing.

So I think when it becomes wintertime, and particularly next year, we're going to be sitting here having the same conversation and the same results

are going to be happening. I think we need to adapt now ourselves, play safe, but have the support and stop scaring people.

QUEST: And finally, how are you handling it all? I mean, you know when we spoke in 2020, that was just as the U.S. was locking down and things

were getting going. Well, you had the job retention scheme, you had the various scheme from the British. You stayed in business. Thank God, sir,

and congratulations to you for doing that.

But how are you handling it all, personally?


HANDLING: I'm good. A lot of my staff are off because they've got COVID. So, me and the senior team, we're working harder than ever. I don't want to

have to be forced to close because the staffing is a little stretched. So, we're all working our socks off to make sure that the guests that have

booked and the guests that are supporting our restaurants still get to celebrate their Christmas with us.

QUEST: Adam, I was looking back at the transcript of when we spoke, I promised to come and have a meal which I said I'd pay for, which I still

will, and it's a promise I'll repeat. Another of the promises that somebody can write down is looking forward to and you've got a large bottle

collection behind you, which I'm sure you'll do damage to.

So looking forward to coming and having a decent meal with you.

HANDLING: Perfect. I'll see you soon. Hopefully not another year.

QUEST: No, it won't be. I promise you that. Thank you very much.

We will continue, less than an hour before the closing bell and we're off 300 as the markets finish the week. Cantor Fitzgerald CEO Howard Lutnick

tell us what he feels is happening at the moment.


QUEST: Wall Street is deflated after a week of Central Bank warnings about inflation. All the major averages were down most of the day. The Dow

is off more than 600 points at its lowest as Central Banks on both sides of the Atlantic signal tighter monetary policy at different varying degrees of

strength, if you like.

Tech has had a good day, but it has been bad over the week. So, of course you get the idea, but over the course of the weekend, you will see where we

end. The major averages over the course, but we're still off for the NASDAQ, but we have regained if you like somewhat of our footing.

Cantor Fitzgerald's Chief Executive, Howard Lutnick is with me. Howard, good to see you sir. You're looking well.

HOWARD LUTNICK, CEO, CANTOR FITZGERALD: Well, thank you. You know, I had great news today. You know, I have non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and today, I had

my PET scan, my halfway PET scan and my doctor gave me great news that I was 95 percent resolved halfway through. So I'm feeling -- I'm feeling

great, Richard. This is the best I've felt in a long time.

QUEST: Mazel Tov. That is the best -- you know, I don't care how the market finishes today. That is the best bit of news.

But Howard, we do need -- what's going -- I mean, I realized with all that you've got, you may like it, but what's going on with this market. What is

it really -- I mean, are you worried -- I suppose for a man who's just got good health news isn't worried about much in the market. But you know what

I mean? Are you worried that there's something nasty out there in the market waiting to take it down?


LUTNICK: I think we all learned during the key parts of COVID when the government spends $1.2 trillion, you saw what it did to the market, right?

It saved the day, it drove it up.

You've got the government now just spent $1.2 trillion, and they talking about spending another $1.75 trillion. My opinion, don't fight the

government spending, $3 trillion. We used to run deficits that are $1 trillion. Now, we're running deficits on $3 trillion. It is so much money.

I think you're good until June because that is just so much stimulus. You just can't fight it, Richard. You can't fight that kind of money.

QUEST: All right, you can't fight it, but the underlying economics, inflation. I don't hear you worried about that.

LUTNICK: Well, no, no, no, listen, listen, you know, these things, you know, the economy is running on what? The world's easiest monetary policy

by the Fed. Right? Zero interest rates. The world's easiest monetary policy and huge stimulus package. It's like, like a pulp fiction, you know,

adrenaline pump right to the heart.

When that goes away, so the stimulus stops, right? This is the last one. They taper, you know, am I -- am I excited about post June? No, no, no. It

gets awful scary post June.

But if the adrenaline rush goes through June, after that, I think it's time to be a little scared.

QUEST: All right, and that it. On omicron, do you foresee basically telling your staff work from wherever you want for the foreseeable future?

LUTNICK: Well, I think most firms are telling their people go home. You know, go -- you know, go home. I mean, you know, it's ripping around the

northeast. You know, this is flu season and it is ripping around northeast.

The best thing is hospitalizations are not growing. I think as soon as people understand that hospitalizations are not growing. It's more mild.

It's not this rough and tumble thing. I think, you know, four or six weeks, we'll be back to where we were four or six weeks ago.

But I think there's a pause for four to six weeks here where people are just worried, a little nervous. They're going to send people home for the

next two to four weeks. Sure, but then I think it's coming back. I think we're coming back.

QUEST: You employ thousands of people. You have this problem. Not only do you want them in the office, but whether or not you basically say, you

get vaccinated or you don't have a job. Look, I'm not suggesting for a moment it is easy. I don't have to make those sorts of decisions.

Where do you stand?

LUTNICK: Well, New York -- look, New York State made it crystal clear. You can't have more than a hundred employees and have them work in your office.

Either everybody has to wear a mask and if anybody doesn't wear a mask, it's $1,000.00 per mask problem per day and you can have thousands of

employees with their mask below the nose and all sorts of stuff, or unvaccinated people cannot come to the office.

So, it's very simple. The unvaccinated people cannot come to the office because New York State made it so. Each state, we go by the State's laws,

but New York has made it dirt simple. You can't come to the office if you're not vaccinated. We have a big company, because you just can't.

QUEST: Howard, your SPAC-sponsored Rumble, which has taken on Donald Trump's Truth Social. Rumble is a video -- an independent or neutral, it

says videos site.

Are you uncomfortable? I understand these are arm's length. And I understand that you're the SPAC sponsor and you don't run Rumble. But are

you comfortable with -- I get that though, before you bite. But I mean, are you comfortable with Rumble having Truth Social with the potential for all

it brings?

LUTNICK: I am because, you know, look, neutral means you don't pick sides. I mean, that's what it means. So if Barack Obama wanted to come on Rumble,

they would take him in a heartbeat. I mean, imagine you're going to have the 45th President, you're going to have the 44th President, and you're

going to have the 46th President.

The key to being neutral is you take both sides. I mean, look with this company happened. YouTube started throwing people off, and Rumble went from

1.6 million users to 36 million in one year, one year. That is explosive growth.

I mean, Rumble is going to grow massively because people want a neutral internet. You want to talk to both sides, Richard. People watch your show

from all sides, that's the key. You don't want to just talk to one side.


QUEST: I agree, and that is what we love to have.

Finally, with your very good news on your medical front, and it is just brilliant. You've cheered me up endlessly tonight with that. But as you've

gone through this process, Howard, have you reassessed? Have you -- has there been a moment when you've thought there is -- I mean, and I say this

remembering that you went through 9/11, and I say this knowing that you have faced adversity and tragedy on a giant scale.

But does this change you in any way, do you think?

LUTNICK: Well, look, I learned as you correctly point out, and we know it together that 9/11 drove into me, you know. You've got to deal with people

that you love.

I want to work with the people I work with, because I care about them and I know them, I want to spend more time with my family.

I resolved all these things. I love what I do. You can hear it in my voice. You can see it in me. I love what I do.

And if you don't love the people you work with and people don't think of it that way, but if I took them all away, you'd cry like I get after 9/11.

If you work with people that you like, it makes your life better. It's okay to work with people you don't like, it's okay. I mean, I come on the show,

Richard, and I enjoy being with you. It is fun and it is a pleasure to be on your show.

QUEST: Likewise, well, wonderful news this evening. Thank you for joining us. I do like that painting behind you over your right shoulder.

We'll have a proper look at that one day.

Howard Lutnick, thank you for joining us.

LUTNICK: Thanks, Richard. Way to go.

QUEST: One Central Bank has been going in the opposite direction from its peers, cutting interest rates. Yes, you heard me right. Not only has

the Turkish Central Bank been cutting interest rates, the justification has been to tame inflation.

Well, the Borsa Istanbul 100 Index closed down more than eight percent. Trading was halted twice.

Mohamed El-Erian join me and we discussed whether or not Turkey could be heading for a full scale economic crisis.


MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR, ALLIANZ: So first, for Turkey, there are conditions under which cutting interest rates can promote

a better economic outcome, but Turkey is not in that world.

Right now, what Turkey is in the midst of is a self-inflicted currency crisis that today, we started seeing what's called contagion, which means a

bad thing happens here, and it contaminates other things.

So this is a currency crisis that if Turkey is not careful, will develop into full scale economic crisis, with loss of livelihoods being hurt.

QUEST: The President, Central Banker, the Treasury, they don't seem to care. I mean, in the sense of -- there seems to be some other hasn't yet

unknown policy that's being pursued here.

EL-ERIAN: Yes, and it's a puzzle to people, because not only is the economics clear on this, but the evidence on the ground is pretty


This currency has lost half its value. That means higher inflation. That means purchasing power of the Turkish people is being eroded. And in

addition to that, we are seeing disorderly volatility.

Today alone, Richard, today alone, the currency traded in a 10 percent band. That is enormous, and that in itself causes damage. So people are

scratching their heads as to what will it take until Turkey realizes that it needs to stabilize its foreign exchange markets.

QUEST: I need to talk about the more orthodox Central Banks. The Bank of England raised rates, a smidgen against the omicron variant. The markets

are absolutely -- the U.S. markets are having been buoyant, are now going through a tear. What's going on in the U.S. markets?

EL-ERIAN: So, a lot is going on in the U.S. market and have different interpretation. I'll give you my interpretation.

The U.S. market is realizing that inflation is going to be higher and more persistent than many expected, including the Fed. The U.S. market, in my

opinion, is worrying that the Fed is about to make a policy mistake by going too slowly, initially, in easing its foot off the monetary

accelerator and then having to slam on the brakes next year, so they are starting to worry about not just high inflation, but also growth in the


Now you see that very clearly in the bond market, and you're starting to see it in the currency market -- in the stock market.


QUEST: Do you believe that Jay Powell -- I mean, I listened to his statement. I listened to the press conference. He is basically saying, you

know, we think there is time on our side. Do you think there is time on their side?

EL-ERIAN: No. You know, I've been arguing for a long time that inflation is not transitory. Chair Powell finally retired that word a few weeks ago, it

took way too long, and in the meantime, we lost that huge window where they could have started taking action without hurting the economy.

Now, that window still exists, Richard, but it's very narrow, and I don't think they are going fast enough and I worry that that window is going to

close on them.

Just think of what we just heard on omicron. That also has an impact. So they should have moved earlier. Late is better than never, but they have to

move faster now because they are so late.

QUEST: Do you think that there is something very nasty waiting to happen in the market?

EL-ERIAN: I hope not, but there is something potentially nasty that can happen to the economy, and therefore can happen to the market, and it's a

word that you don't like hearing called stagflation.


EL-ERIAN: Where growth comes down and inflation goes up.

QUEST: I was talking about stagflation with you six months ago. We've got it in the U.K. Nobody wants to admit it, Mohamed, but look at the U.K.

The Bank of England says inflation will be six percent, growth is virtually zero by -- in Q4. Even if you get one percent of growth, a half a percent,

de facto, you've got a stagflation.

EL-ERIAN: Right, and why is it that no one was admit it for two reasons? One is we don't have good policies to deal with stagflation. And two is,

the marketplace hates stagflation, because you get hit on both sides. So, people don't like talking about it.

I view it as a risk, not the baseline. I have to stress, it is a risk, but it is a risk that is growing in importance.

QUEST: Yes, but it's the same sort of risk that deflation was after the Great Financial Crisis. It's sort of the specter hovered around and it

hovered around with sufficient force that it did impact economic activity.

EL-ERIAN: And we are seeing behaviors change. It will be a tragedy, Richard, if we repeat the mistake coming out of the global financial

crisis, which is we win the war. The war then was against the global depression. The war today is against COVID, but we end up not establishing

the peace of high inclusive and sustainable growth.

And I worry that if we're not careful, once again, we will win the war, but failed to establish the peace, and then we lose more resilience for the

future, so this is a critical time policy-wise.


QUEST: Mohamed El-Erian, a good lively discussion there.

Omicron is spreading with such vengeance in the United States, booster shots might become part of the protocol. The CEO of GAVI, if booster shots

become mandatory, then the developing world arguably, there is vaccine inequality 2.0.



QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest. A lot more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight. Omicron is changing the definition of fully vaccinated. The CEO of Gavi

Vaccine Alliance and what that will mean for the developing world. And the U.S. warn of have a blizzard of COVID cases. Holiday travels particularly

to search. We will get to all of those stories but only after I've updated you with the news headlines. This is CNN. And here news comes first.

Dropped hostages released on Thursday in Haiti are now in the U.S. According to sources in Haiti, security forces (INAUDIBLE) they were flown

on a coast guard flight. 17 missionaries were initially kidnapped by a gang in October. U.S. official also said a ransom was paid but not by the United


Well, then two dozen people are feared dead in a fire in Osaka, Japan. It happened at a mental health clinic. It's housed in this building. At least

28 people were injured. Osaka Police are investigating as a possible attack.

The English Premier League is postponed four more matches because of COVID. That brings the total to nine in time for the holidays. Traditionally is

the busiest period for the league season. Clubs will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide how to proceed amidst the latest surge.

Omicron is moving so fast in the U.S. and it could also change what it means to be fully vaccinated. At the moment, two doses of Pfizer or Moderna

and about 14 days is the required definition. President Biden's top medical adviser, Dr. Fauci says two doses aren't enough against Omicron. The

booster shots needed. And Fauci says changing the definition of fully vaccinated to third shot is a possibility.


ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, right now, it is a bit of semantics in that fully vaccinated for the

purpose of the regulations and requirements that people have as to be what are you considered as being fully vaccinated, but there's no doubt that

optimum vaccination is with a booster. I mean, there is no doubt about that.


QUEST: If the U.S. moves for booster shots as the standard regimen, poorer nations already struggling could -- excuse me, could struggle even more.

Dr. Seth Berkley is with me, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as it's always, good to have you. Thank you, sir. When boosters came along, people

like yourself warned that it would come at the cost of the developing world as vaccines would be.

Now the developed world said no, no, there is (INAUDIBLE) there's enough to go round. If they change the definition, what happens?

DR. SETH BERKLEY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, GAVI, THE VACCINE ALLIANCE: Well, it's good to see you, Richard. And first to say the critical issue

right now is there are still 43 percent of the world's population that hasn't received a dose of vaccine. Primary vaccination is the critical

thing to do. Of course, we know that Omicron is spreading very rapidly two- day doubling times, but we think the existing vaccines provide protection against severe disease and death.

So what we want to see is around the world, make sure every person who's had high risk gets those vaccinations then of course you do raise an

important question.


BERKLEY: Will this need to change the regiments in those countries to having boosters as well to prevent infection? And of course, some mild


QUEST: But the -- at the moment, boosters are not mandatory. If boosters become part of the U.S. definition of fully vaccinated, do you fear that

will suck up sufficient vaccine to make it difficult in the developing world?

BERKLEY: Well, there's no question that will happen. We're already seeing dose donations which have generously been provided, slowing down in some

cases, and even some people saying maybe I need to take some of those back. Of course, if there's a lot of pressure on the companies to provide more

doses for wealthy countries, it undoubtedly is going to have an effect globally.

Now, of course, we're in a different place now. Since the last time I saw you, we've allocated 1.4 billion doses in the developing world, we'll have

eight to 900 million delivered by the end of this year. So we're beginning to cover those high-risk populations. But we're not there yet. And

inequities still exist.

QUEST: The ability to vaccinate those countries, now we know because we heard about it on last night's program, that one of the key issues is to

build infrastructure in Africa, in central Latin America, where the -- where the vaccines are needed, build the infrastructure and deliver that

way. Are you any more optimistic that this is happening on a sufficient scale than when we've spoken before?

BERKLEY: Well, of course, the interesting thing is that, in fact, developing countries have more experience in delivering vaccines in

campaigns in large numbers than exist in the wealthy countries. But normally, they have six months to a year to plan for it. And they have

adequate finance and technical assistance. Nobody's ever tried to do this now in every country at the -- in the world at the same time.

So the real challenge is to try to figure out what are the barriers in individual countries and work with them. We estimate 20 to 25 countries

really have an absorption problem. Now, the rest have already tripled their rate of absorption, and we expect they'll be able to continue on that curve

up. One other point on your -- on your question on the variants and Boosters is the real thing that would make a crisis of an equity 2.0 would

be if the world is required to have new variant vaccines if you shift to a different vaccine.

And of course, our hope would be that vaccine would be made available to north and south simultaneously. But if not, we could see a situation where

those vaccines were hoarded in wealthy countries, leading to more inequalities in the South.

QUEST: Oh, be realistic, Seth. You know, that's exactly what's going to happen. I mean, I don't want to be the Grinch. But we're already seeing,

for example, the new Pfizer vaccine that has been tweaked that will be given as boosters. I'm guessing that's not going to be shipped out to these

other countries anytime soon. And more importantly, do you -- or as important, do you fear, for instance, that now Johnson and Johnson is no

longer a preferred vaccine in the United States? It's going to be palmed off on others.

BERKLEY: Well, it's interesting on Pfizer. We have a very strong relationship with them 1.3 billion doses. And the nice thing about an mRNA

vaccines, if they make a switch, they can just put the new vaccine into the production facilities and continue to provide it. So I'm not so sure that

we won't get vaccine at a similar timeframe. In terms of your questions on Johnson and Johnson, you know, the real issue here, Johnson and Johnson as

a single dose vaccine is fabulous in fragile settings, in places where you have to get in and out quickly and want to do a campaign versus having a

stayed to course regiment that's, you know, a month apart.

If we can't use that vaccine, that'll be a problem. Right now it's a very popular vaccine. And so if there are more doses available, that will be a

good thing,

QUEST: Right. It's a good thing. You don't feel it in some places there would be a view that this is a second class vaccine, because basically the

CDC said we don't want it.

BERKLEY: Well, I think it's interesting to look at the difference in different places. So, the Pfizer vaccine requires minus 80 degree

temperatures, as we've discussed before, it requires a special dilutant, special syringe. And so it isn't the vaccine for everybody. And so what we

really want to provide countries with is a portfolio of vaccines. Sometimes a single-dose vaccine is the best you can get other times having a very

high efficacy vaccine that requires ultra cold chain is OK.


BERKLEY: It's getting multiple vaccines. We just had a new class of vaccines get approval today, the Novavax vaccine, which is an adjuvant and

protein, similar to what we use for flu, what we use for pneumonia, for meningitis are very well known vaccine, stable, long-shelf life and normal

temperatures that may be a great vaccine for the developing world. We'll have to see.

QUEST: Seth, I don't know how to keep going, you keep going all the time. If I was wearing the hat, I'd take it off to you, the work that you've done

over the course of the (INAUDIBLE) I'm very grateful that you always find time to talk to us. Thank you, sir.

BERKLEY: Thank you. Nice to see you, Richard.

QUEST: At least one health expert in the U.S. is warning of a COVID blizzard fueled by Omicron and busy travel, no shortage of people traveling

Christmas a week away. The rush is underway. The officials of the USA have to 21 million passengers will fly between -- over the holiday period close

to pandemic era record over Thanksgiving last month. Pete Muntean is at Reagan National Airport.

From what you can see, is there any -- is there any caution to people seem to be that little bit more wary because of Omicron?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think people are a bit more wary here, Richard, but it does seem like things are getting busier all the time. You

know, just think of the numbers. United Airlines says starting today through next Thursday that will be the busiest period over the holiday

travel season. You mentioned the TSA projections, 21 million people projected a pass through security at America's airports between December

23rd and January 3rd.

And just look at yesterday, 2.06 million people, password security at America's airports. That's the highest number we have seen since December

5th. So really a kickoff a little bit early to this holiday travel season. The real question here and you bring it home, Richard, is that whether or

not the Omicron variant and the increase in infections will cause these numbers to go down a little bit.

You know, airlines say they've seen a bit of wavering in ticket bookings since the Omicron variant started to make headlines. United Airlines CEO

Scott Kirby says yes, cancellations have gone up a little bit but not near as much as when the Delta variant hit over the summer. Here's what he said.


SCOTT KIRBY, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, UNITED AIRLINES: 2022 is still going to be a recovery year for the industry because, you know, we're not past --

COVID isn't over yet. COVID is never going to be over but it's still in the probably pandemic phase instead of the endemic phase.


MUNTEAN: You know, what so interesting here, Richard, is that the CDC is now providing free-at-home coronavirus test kits to some international

travelers as they arrive here in the United States. It's a limited test and a few different airports. Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis, Miami, the CDC says

more soon, it says it's imperative for passengers to get tested three to five days after arriving here in the U.S.

But the bottom line, Richard, according to the Transportation Security Administration, wear a mess. That's the federal rule until March 18th,

2022, also be patient and be flexible. They were saying if you've not booked your tickets already may want to consider booking for Christmas day

itself. That's when the numbers are projected to be the lowest, Richard.

QUEST: Right. But the, you know, the CDC. There's never -- well, at the beginning there was but not since a requirement for that five-day test.

It's fine to say it's nice to have it. But returning to the U.S. really is nothing more than the antigen 48 hours out an attestation form. And that's

really it. But listen quickly, Pete, what about the CEO of Southwest who's tested positive after testifying without a mask?

MUNTEAN: Yes, this is so interesting, Richard. You know, I was at the Senate hearing where Southwest CEO Gary Kelly testified. We are told that

he tested negative before the hearing, then tested positive with a PCR test, after the hearing. Well, totally as mild symptoms that he's doing OK

right now, all of this just out from Southwest Airlines. But what's so interesting here, Richard, is that all of these executives who were

testifying during the Senate Oversight Committee hearing about federal funding that the government gave to airlines, they were all testifying

unmasked, Kelly included.

And it came just after he made some comments saying that he didn't believe masks were all that effective in the clean environment. He says a heavily

filtered air of a passenger cabin. We know over and over again. Scientists have been telling us, it's very early in the pandemic that it has to be a

layered approach. It has to be mask plus the heavily filtered air on board an airplane. So we will see as this develops most of the CEOs have already

been tested and tested negative who are also at that hearing, Richard.

QUEST: Pete Muntean (INAUDIBLE) thank you. Now to an annual QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tradition. Thing, some things are back. It's more relevant than

ever when inflation is soaring, we count the cost of spoiling your true love.


QUEST: Yes. It is the QUEST MEANS BUSINESS 12 days of Christmas. Coming up.


QUEST: This year, we've seen supply snarl ups leading to rising prices and shipping demand. But you and I talked about this on this program. It's

skyrocketed. Consequently container space is at a premium nothing was go to waste. One company is set out to unblock global shipping. And they're using

Blockchain. Eleni Giokos explains in Think Big.


ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These bright-colored steel boxes have one mission to go from point A to point B. Constantly on the

move. Every year, millions of shipping containers are packed with some of our favorite items and transported across the seas.

SHEIKH AHSAN TARIQ, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CUBEX GLOBAL: A simple cubic meter of space on a shipping container at this point is the world's most

traded commodity.

GIOKOS: The issue is because of the pandemic backlog, prices have gone up. Owners of the containers can't afford to let any space go to waste. So

filling up every square foot is essential to be profitable.

One company has found a solution.

TARIQ: Cubex Global is like but for ocean freight. You can buy, sell and bid empty inventory in any container from any shipping point in

the world to anywhere.

GIOKOS: Using Blockchain technology, Cubex Global is selling unused space on shipping containers for better efficiency and savings. If you look at

shipping for decades, it's been running in a very analogue method. 30 percent of global shipments today are delayed because of human error. There

are 12 different documents that humans have to fill up. And because maybe of a mistake, sometimes even entire ships are delayed. We are able to take

that element of human error out.

GIOKOS: By digitizing the process, Tariq says Blockchain also provides more security and transparency. Maritime business experts say it's a new school

of thoughts for the industry.

PETER LANGEN VISITING PROFESSOR, COPENHAGEN BUSINESS SCHOOL: I think that sharing the container itself is not new. What is new is that if you have

kind of digital technologies, the digital model really makes it much more efficient to share cargo and therefore also more economical for shipper.


GIOKOS: A high-tech option for an industry that has been slow to change its system over the years.

TARIQ: It's as simple as booking a ticket from any country to any destination. So you pick your port of origin, port of destination, you

enter the load, and then it takes you to the next form and then you see all the lists. I'll show you the most economical route. Cheapest one, the

fastest one.

GIOKOS: Economical and cheap. These are words some people want to hear these days, with some shipping rates 600 percent higher than just one year


TARIQ: At Cubex Global, the big idea is to build a platform which is more sustainable, which is cheaper and more accessible to everybody in the


GIOKOS: A solution to maximize container space and getting some of our favorite items shipped at a more friendly price. Eleni Giokos, CNN.


QUEST: On last night's program, Paul Krugman told us inflation was frogalicious. I'm here to tell you it's also extremely Christmassy. The

annual survey from PNC is out the 12 days of Christmas. Oh, next.


QUEST: If you thought inflation was going to affect your Christmas plans, you will be absolutely right. Especially if you're looking to spoil your

true love this year. In other words, Maestro, music. There you have the 12 Days of Christmas. Now every, PNC Bank calculates the true cost of

Christmas. Adding up the cost of everything listed in the song from the partridge in a pear tree to the pipers the, drummers, the lot.

This year, things are at a record high. Three quarters of the items went up this year in green here. Nothing when down. Some of the big ticket items

like the birds and the geese and their French ends and the turtle doves and the partridge in a pear tree. Well, their feed costs more and so did the

cost of their handlers. So they were up by as much as 57 percent. For calling birds then you have the live performance back in action after 20.


QUEST: The lords a leaping, the pipers drumming, well at last they had concerts to perform at. So up, went their prices to five goals and

(INAUDIBLE) put it all together. And that's what drove a huge rebound in the Christmas price index from 2020. So, the value of the lot. And you have

to buy some of it many times because you had to buy each day it went whopping up the true cost of Christmas.

It means, $180,000 all in all is 5.7 percent. It sounds like a lot. Remember the real inflation numbers in the United States are even higher.

Merry Christmas to one and all. Some traditions just have to be repeated. Five golden ring. Four calling birds, three French hens --


QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment, Howard (INAUDIBLE) summed it all up for us today when he said when -- I mean, thank goodness for his own good news

with his health. And then I asked him what it all means. He says what it really means, of course, his colleagues. The colleagues that you work with

every day, the colleagues that go to bat for you and that you support, and they support you every day.

And Times of crisis like COVID, the colleagues that are working from home. And tonight, let me give thanks to those colleagues. Those colleagues on

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS, in the studio here in London, the studio in New York where we're broadcasting from as well. The colleagues who are at home,

writing scripts, designing graphics, doing research that have really done some tremendously difficult things.

And it's only by realizing what they're doing, what I'm doing and what you're doing, all coming together at this time of the year. Well, I think

we can all simply say that. Well worth stopping for just a moment and giving thanks. And as we do so, let me thank you for being here. I'm off

next week. I'll be back in time for Christmas day. Some traditions continue. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in


Whatever you're up to over this holiday period, I hope it's profitable. The closing bell on Wall

Street, I thank you for being with us.