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U.K. Vaccine Committee: Adults 18-29 Shouldn't Get AstraZeneca; U.K. Finds Possible Link Between AstraZeneca, Rare Blood Clots; Biden To Press Companies To Pay "Acceptable" Level Of Taxes. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 07, 2021 - 13:30   ET




RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome to the NEWSROOM live from New York. I'm Richard quest. Of course. We'll be back with the live coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin when the trial resumes in about an hour from now. We won't miss any of it. We'll take you back there as soon as the judge reconvenes. Whilst we wait of course now allow me to update you with other stories developing and making news around the world.

We start in the United Kingdom where the vaccine committees says AstraZeneca's COVID shot should not be given to adults under 30 years old. Drug regulators in the U.K. and E.U. have both confirmed a possible link between the shots and a rare instance of blood clots in the brain. The U.K. said the data shows a higher risk amongst young people. The E.U. authorities did not recommend any age restrictions.

All this follows weeks of confusing and conflicting guidance, as countries throughout Europe halted then resumed and then halted and restricted AstraZeneca doses. It's hampering the vaccine rollout across the E.U. and despite the warnings, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency insists the benefits of AstraZeneca still greatly outweigh the risks.


EMER COOKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY: This vaccine has proven to be highly effective, it prevents severe disease and hospitalization and it is saving lives. Vaccination is extremely important in helping us in the fight against COVID-19. And we need to use the vaccines we have to protect us from the devastating effects.


QUEST: Melissa Bell is in Paris, Salma Abdelaziz is in London, to put both sides to the story. I want to start in London because the -- not only are they announcing that there is this perhaps provisional linkage with blood clots but they put a restriction under 30 for the AstraZeneca use. How is that going to affect the rollout or the continuing vaccination in the U.K.? SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, if you ask U.K. health officials during that press conference, they continually reassured people, Richard, that the rollout will continue as planned. That they will still make the deadlines that they need to make, that they will still be able to vaccinate all the adults by the timeline that they had laid out, that this should have no effect more broadly on the vaccine rollout.

But what it could have an effect on and that's something that they can't simply predict is, as you said, so many weeks of confusion of back and forth, of pausing of trials, of changing of guidance and advice. And now you're seeing two different approaches, yet again, the U.K. saying that they advise against the use of this vaccine and adults under the age of 30. While the European Medicines Agency is saying that there's no specific risk factor, no specific age group that is at risk.

Although it might be more prevalent in women and in those under the age of 60. I think what's really difficult here, Richard, is just how rare these cases are. To give you an idea. Out of 20 million people that received a dose of this Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 20,000,079 people had these rare blood clots. 19 people unfortunately lost their lives. But what that means is it's extremely difficult to study because you have such a small group of people. One U.K. health officials saying it is vanishingly rare, Richard.

QUEST: OK. So Melissa, the E.U. has said, there is this link. They haven't introduced the same restriction in the UK. And -- but I wonder, the mere fact they have not done that. I mean, it shows another level of confusion.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Fully it reminds us, Richard that Europe has this other series of complications in dealing with this pandemic, Richard. And that is those competencies that are at the E.U. level and the ones that come down to the member states. And I think that's been one of the threads throughout this is that for the first time, they tried to do some of this public health policy at a European level for the first time.

So, European Medicines Agency back in January. And again, today with its latest advice recommended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, did not set an age limit. It was then the national agencies that had also to give their green light to the use and to decide on its parameters and its conditions who initially said that it should be more for younger people, then pulls it all together now have --- are changed in countries like France and Germany also, for instance, have restrictions and recommend that only older populations get the vaccine.

Although the cutoff is not as young as 30. So, there is this similar phenomenon, but yes, much more difficult to organize. And you've had this sort of cacophony over the last few weeks, as different agencies have come out at different moments with conflicting advice. And you can imagine, given the fears there had been when this all began with vaccine hesitancy that when it comes to this particular vaccine, none of this will have helped, Richard.

QUEST: Salma, back in the U.K. There's still great pride, of course in the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the U.K. is now also suffering the problem of prioritizing first shots and now having to make up the background three months later. Will this restriction on AstraZeneca make a difference?

ABDELAZIZ: I think it could very well make a difference, Richard. I know from being at vaccination centers myself across the country that people did take great deal of pride in the Oxford University vaccine. I saw people asking for it themselves trying to prefer it over other vaccines.


ABDELAZIZ: But now, this -- again this guidance that says yes, the vaccine is safe but we're not using it in adults under 30. At one point, health officials being asked, well, how did you come up with the age 30? What if you're 31 or 32 or 33? Where does it end? Who do you speak to?

How do you begin to analyze this just as an average person, an ordinary person? So you can imagine in the moments in which people are meeting with a nurse for that short window, that 10-minute window to get their vaccine, they're told they have the Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine.

How does that play out? What are the concerns and fears that they may play -- that they may play out to that healthcare official giving them the job? And does that mean that people could be turning away the vaccine? Does that mean the rollout couldn't be slower? It's only time can tell really, Richard. But they say health officials here say they have enough supplies to continue the vaccine rollout as planned here.

QUEST: So, back to you, Melissa in Paris. Now we know the way the vaccination has been going in the E.U. Data is now shows the E.U. missed a key vaccination target to get doses 20 percent of the elderly and healthcare workers by the end of last month. Not surprising other countries, some countries looking for Russia to help. Bavaria is planning to buy two and a half million doses of Moscow Sputnik vaccine.

It hasn't yet been approved by regulators, and is expected to receive the doses in July. So, what's the significance in your view? Hungary already went with the Chinese and the Russian when they were allowed to. But now Bavaria?

BELL: Well, Bavaria has made it clear that they're going to wait on the EMA's advice and only then will the purchase go through. But what's interesting about it, Richard, is that this state, the state of Bavaria has decided to go it alone. So far, you're right. It had been countries like Hungary that had been choosing or turning towards Sputnik or the Chinese vaccine and other European countries as well.

They've been breaking away from the European Union. Sort of fed up with a slow process that had seen vaccine deliveries painfully slow over the first few weeks of all this. They decided to leave that E.U. mechanism for signing the contracts, the procurement mechanism and go it alone.

At this time, Bavaria doing the same, clearly showing that it wants to get its hands on supplies and is prepared now to go and negotiate directly with the vaccine makers in order to ensure that that happens. It tells you a lot about where the vaccine supplies are and how desperately they're needed.

QUEST: Melissa in Paris, Salma in London. Both, thank you. The president of the World Bank says the vaccine inequality could cause lasting damage in the developing world. David Malpass told me rich countries must provide more doses to help them recover from the crisis.


DAVID MALPASS, PRESIDENT, WORLD BANK: Yes, this is a scarring that is intense and will be -- and is part of the unfairness in the world, the inequality. What World Bank is doing is providing financing directly to the countries so they can buy from whoever has supply. That might be COVAX which we're not a member of but we're supportive of them as they -- as they're able to get supply, that -- helping share that with the -- with the poorer countries is going to be critical.

But in today's G20 discussion there was -- there was an observation from one of the finance ministers that they have contracts with multiple manufacturers, including COVAX but they haven't gotten any deliveries from COVAX. So, one of the challenges is to start those deliveries, have them be done in a fair and equitable manner. World Bank is putting substantial funding and also very importantly, the systems to do the vaccinations.

Countries -- the poorer countries don't have the capacity to do this quickly. So we've got to get the vaccines to them early so they can get started. It's going to take months and months to vaccinate populations. And that's critical for saving lives.


QUEST: And more the interview with David Malpass tomorrow here on CNN. As we continue now making the case for a massive investment in American jobs and infrastructure. President Joe Biden is to speak soon in Washington. Also, Jeff Bezos comes out in favor of guidance corporate tax hike. Saying he understands concessions are necessary to boost American infrastructure. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.



QUEST: President Biden is to make his case for what the White House is calling an historic investment in American jobs. The President is to speak anytime now, around his $2 trillion infrastructure plan and how he intends to pay for it. The President will face a tough sell trying to convince Congress to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 To 28 percent. Phil Mattingly is in Washington. Phil, it seems like only a few years, but it is only a few years since you and I talked about when the rate went down.

And President Trump now is going to go back up. But all we had a situation here where we're really that -- really just haggling over the number. It's going up. It just depends on how much.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think on this piece certainly. Clearly on the corporate side, the pay for is for this very significant infrastructure and jobs package is going to come from increasing the corporate rate.

I think there are other elements to it as well. Global minimum tax, obviously, is something that's been proposed reducing subsidies for fossil fuel companies is a piece of it too. But the crux, four, five, $600 billion to pay for this proposal will come from increasing the corporate rate. I think you hit at a key point here, Richard. Obviously, you think back to 2017 when we were talking about this, it went from 35 percent down to 21 percent.

The Biden administration says that we're not putting it back to 35 percent. We're proposing just putting it up to 28. But 28 is still among the highest corporate rates in the world if that's where it sits. And this gets to where you're -- what you're talking about right now. I think when I talk to administration officials, and certainly when I talk to Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, they believe there's a sweet spot. Somewhere between 25, 26 percent.

I think when you talk to corporate representatives as well, executives, they say we could probably live with 25 percent. So I think the expectation is 28 is probably not where things are going to settle. But keep in mind, Republicans are pretty much opposed to any increase whatsoever. And that makes what -- you're going to hear from the President today all the more important because he's really reaching out right now two Democrats on Capitol Hill, trying to keep them united.

And one of those Democrats, Joe Manchin, has made clear 28 doesn't fly for him. 25 is where he thinks it should be.

QUEST: Just remind us, for those of us not so familiar with the minutiae of congressional procedures. Is this something the President can do with his -- just about no majority?

MATTINGLY: It is. And I think that's, you know, while the President is -- says he's making a good faith effort to bring Republicans on board, the initial reaction from Republicans, I haven't spoken to a single one or heard from a single one who supports what the President has put on the table. Keep in mind, this is just the first of a two-part proposal, which in total will be north of $4 trillion in spending.

And the second part of this proposal will include tax increases on individuals of incomes over $400,000, also a non-starter for Republicans. The mechanism, the budget mechanism that they used on the COVID relief package that was signed into law only required simple majority vote in the United States Senate. They are planning to use that same mechanism here if no Republicans are willing to come on board.

I think the big question in using that mechanism is because of Senate rules and I'm not going to wander us down that rabbit hole too deeply but not everything can be included in the proposal that the President has laid out up to this point.


MATTINGLY: So, there are a lot of tough decisions to make. I think one final point that I think is really important to understand here, this isn't COVID relief. This isn't something the President's going to put on the table. And Democrats are going to unify and past pretty much as is. This is going to be a months long process. The details here are extraordinarily important. And Democrats across the board, kind of across the ideological spectrum have very different ideas of what the endgame here should look like.

So, this is going to be months long. And I think what you're going to hear from the President today, it's kind of laying the groundwork for the negotiation in the debate ahead.

QUEST: Phil Mattingly in Washington. Phil, thank you. Now the IMF, more generally, when it comes to taxation, says that countries should consider additional taxes specifically to reduce inequality from the pandemic. The changes would be temporary and the IMF said it spring meetings, the extra taxes could be in the form of personal income tax raises or levies on company excess profits.

So called solidarity taxes have been used before in Germany, Australia, and Japan. The world's richest man says his company is willing to pay more in so-called solidarity taxes to help with the U.S. recovery efforts. Jeff Bezos of Amazon says he backs President Biden's corporate tax hike and understands in his words, concessions are required. However, he didn't necessarily sign on to the full 28 percent the President is seeking.

Forbes has named Bezos the richest billionaire for the fourth year in a row. Calculating that his wealth -- that the world's wealthiest people made over five trillion during the pandemic. Clare Sebastian is with me now. Clare, there is a -- an acceptance that the rich will pay more. It is how where and when that seems to be the difficulty. Bezos says but I noticed New York City, New York has already introduced its millionaires levy that is proposing. So where do we stand?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, I think the bottom line in all of this be at the U.S. plan, the various plans from the IMF. And what we see in terms of momentum from big companies like Amazon, is that there's a push in the wake of this pandemic or indeed as it -- as it continues to try to reduce the income inequalities that are being exacerbated by this.

So we hear from Jeff Bezos from Amazon very interesting that he came out, given that Amazon has been something of a poster child for not paying the full whack of corporate taxes. And the fact is, Richard, you might -- the cynic might say that he can come out and say this because he hasn't been paying 21 percent, so why would he pay 28 percent. In fact, if we look over the past few years, last year, Amazon paid 9.4 percent as an effective federal income tax rate.

That was well that -- and that profits went up 84 percent to 21 billion. In the years prior to that they paid even less. 2019 was about 1.2 percent. Before that their tax rate was negative. So while their taxes have been going up, they are still very far from that headline rate. And I think the same applies to a lot of big corporations, but he is coming out. And he is saying we are supportive of this.

They're not exactly saying what exact number they might be supportive of and not addressing the other parts of the tax plan, the loopholes and the sort of offshoring that the President is trying to discourage. But while we see big business groups, Richard, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable opposing this, there are others coming out. The CEO of Lyft speaking to our Poppy Harlow this morning, says that he is broadly supportive of the infrastructure plan and of using corporate tax as a way to raise money for that.

QUEST: Is this one of these things, Clare Sebastian, where everybody can say, oh, yes, I support this. Oh, yes, very good idea. And then once the detail starts coming out, the haggling begins. And actually, it all ends up in a mess.

SEBASTIAN: You know, I think that's part of the reason why we're seeing very broad comments from these CEOs, as I said, with Jeff Bezos, he's not addressing any of the particular numbers simply sort of broadly showing support for this. But a company like Amazon does have the power to bring others along with it. So, that is one thing. And I think, you know, looking at the timing of this as well.

Amazon is facing a union vote in Alabama that could spread nationwide and lead to changes for the company if that roads are successful. They're also facing tighter regulation. So this is potentially a moment for companies like that to garner some goodwill to show that they can be part of the solution in terms of reducing inequality when we come out of this pandemic.

QUEST: Finally, the momentum to get this done, the IMF today basically saying that they -- well, not basically said that there should be some form of solidarity taxes. But on the back of yesterday statement from the IMF's chief economist, that the leading industrial countries won't suffer any significant scarring. It's the developing world again that's going to bear the brunt here.

SEBASTIAN: Yes. And I think that's why when the IMF has come out in support of things like a solidarity tax, they're saying that really interesting, Richard, that countries and companies should do this regardless of whether or not they actually need to to raise revenue.


SEBASTIAN: The IMF has said that there isn't really a looming debt crisis particularly for developed economies. But if higher (INAUDIBLE) can be taxed more and if big companies can pay more of their -- than their fair share, even just temporarily that will sort of show willing, will show goodwill on the other side of this. And I think that's a critical point because the IMF has been very clear that is the most vulnerable that are bearing the brunt of this and that will see a sort of prolonged crisis whereas places like the U.S. are going to come out of it much quicker.

QUEST: Clare Sebastian in New York. Clare, thank you. Now, before we take a break, I want you to take a look at a moment in International Leaders Summit that descended into a game of musical chairs.


QUEST (voice-over): So much for a seat at the table. The first female president of the European Commission was relegated to the couch. The wanting of chairs. It was a meeting with the Turkish president and the European Council President and now you are over on the left. Ursula von der Leyen was -- this is -- this isn't they all take their seats initially. So there you have Charles Michel, the president of the council and the Turkish president.

And he asked, where do I sit? Well, you sit over on the sofa, madam President. Seated across from a lower level official. Now in the past, the three presidents have been seated together.


QUEST: Investigators are offering new details about the car crash that severely injured Tiger Woods. Official say his car hit a tree, went airborne and did a pirouette. Live in Los Angeles to hear more about how Tiger Woods was traveling twice the legal speed limit.


QUEST: Hello. I'm Richard Quest in New York. We are awaiting the trial of Derek Chauvin to resume. The former Minneapolis police officer is on trial for killing George Floyd last summer when he was kneeling on his neck.

Before the lunch break the jury has testimony from a special agent who investigated Chauvin's actions during the fatal incident. We'll take you back to the trial when it resumes in the next 20 minutes half an hour.