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J&J Vaccine Rollout Plan; Two Protesters Killed In Myanmar Protest; Trump To Speak At CPAC; Funeral For Captain Sir Tom Moore; French Students Suffer Mentally From Lockdowns; COVID-19 Exposes Decades Of Neglect In Canada's Care Homes; Shortage Of Plumbing Supplies After Winter Storm. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired February 28, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. is on the brink of having three coronavirus vaccines available. We look at the impact this could have in fighting the coronavirus.

Reasserting his influence: Republicans affirm Donald Trump's hold over the party at a conservative conference. What this means for the future of the GOP.

Plus, we're following reports that police have opened fire on protesters in Myanmar and several people are dead. Details on a live report from the region.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. could soon have a powerful new weapon in its fight against COVID-19. On Saturday the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine.

The head of the National Institutes of Health spoke to CNN's Wolf Blitzer and laid out why this development is so crucial.


DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: Well, we have had two vaccines, now it looks like we are going to have three and that means we can get more doses into arms.

Even though the numbers of cases are coming down, they've kind of plateaued in the last week. We are not done with this. And the best way to get done is with this vaccine being added to the others.

This one, by the way, is a single dose so it's a little less complicated so you don't have to have that second dose three or four weeks later, it also doesn't require fancy freezers, it can be kept in the refrigerator so it has some real advantages there.


BRUNHUBER: The J&J vaccine has two more hurdles to clear with the CDC but that is set to start today. Jacqueline Howard explains how things will likely play out.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: Now that the FDA has authorized the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for emergency use in people 18 and older, we're next going to hear from the CDC.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is set to vote on how the vaccine will be used. The vote then goes to the CDC director to sign off and only then can shots go into arms.

In the meantime, here is what the initial rollout of the vaccine will look like. Johnson & Johnson says it has 3.9 million doses ready to go. About 2.8 million will go to states, 800,000 to pharmacies, 90,000 to federally qualified health centers and 70,000 to community vaccine centers.

Now what makes this vaccine different from the others that are authorized, Pfizer's and Moderna's, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered as just a one-dose shot and it doesn't require any special storage.

Here in the United States, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was found to have 72 percent efficacy, compared with the about 95 percent efficacy for Pfizer's and Moderna's. Johnson & Johnson's offers about 86 percent protection against severe COVID-19 and 100 percent protection against dying of COVID-19 -- back to you.


BRUNHUBER: All right. Let's bring in Oksana Pyzik. She's a global health expert at University College London.

Thank you so much for being with us. So we heard the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help protect more people faster.

So beyond, you know, the obvious, more vials, more shots to give, why is this great news for Americans?

OKSANA PYZIK, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, certainly this is well-timed news. As we know there has been globally a decline in coronavirus but the gains made in the U.S. have started to plateau as well.

And there are over of over 60 million Americans that would be high priority, high risk, that are still on waiting lists. And this J&J authorization means we can start immunizing individuals, whoever wants a vaccine, up to 20 million by the end of March, 100 million by June.

So all of this means that we have more tools in our kit to be able to protect people from COVID, reduce deaths and reduce hospitalizations. So this is an enormous gain because we are able to easily transport it, as we've already discussed.


PYZIK: And, again, it has really easy storage requirements as well. So overall, it does mean that we are going to have much more protection across the population.

BRUNHUBER: Now a recent study out of London shows adults between 20 and 49 could be the biggest spreaders of COVID-19.

So some have floated the idea that this J&J vaccine may be a better fit for young adults, that, even though they are at less risk medically because they're spreading it so much, giving them the vaccine could have a benefit to broader society there.

Any merit to this idea?

PYZIK: Well, we also have to think about demographics but also geographical demands as well. I think we shouldn't just be looking at age alone as the only aspect in the vaccine rollout strategy.

Certainly, this is -- we do see that there is higher rates of transmission amongst a younger generation. But looking at the sites and proximity to those sites is going to be the most important determinant on the vaccine rollout.

So in this instance, rather than reserving one type of vaccine for a specific age group, I think it's better to use the entire roster of vaccines based on, again, that geographical spread, availability as well.

Now the efficacy of the J&J vaccine is also looking good as well as it has shown to protect against the variants of concern. So that includes the B117, the U.K. variant, the South African variant. And we are looking for that, especially because it's predicted that the U.K. variant will overtake as the dominant strain in the U.S.

BRUNHUBER: You talked about, you know, that age alone shouldn't be necessarily the sole determinant.

But that's kind of what they're doing in the U.K. now, right?

They made that decision that they shouldn't necessarily offer it to certain tranches of the population, the thinking there that the simpler the rollout out is, the faster the rollout will be.

And do you think maybe the U.S. should adopt a similar strategy?

Because the U.K. is a great success story when it comes to the vaccine rollout.

PYZIK: Certainly, when we look at the U.K., there has been a big number of people vaccinated already. So there is unquestionably success in that aspect. But when we also take a look at the WHO recommendations they

prioritize health workers even above and beyond organizing it by age.

The way that it works in the U.K. is that it was simpler to be able to organize the logistics element of getting jabs in arms by age because that's in every medical record; whereas, if we go by profession, because there was big outcry from police officers, teachers, people who were very concerned that they were not moving up that priority list -- and, again, there was a disagreement with that policy.

But again, the government turned around to say that we don't typically keep professions on medical records and that would slow down the organizational process.

It really also does depend for each country to look to where their strengths are and then having to pivot towards that. So in this instance, speed is certainly important, particularly due to variants.

So getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, while maintaining public health measures, would be prioritized. In the U.S., I would say we should be also looking at age but not necessarily just reserving one vaccine for one age group.

I think that also then we have seen this backfire in Europe, where the AstraZeneca vaccine is being widely rejected amongst some European states, due to leaders' early remarks about the dropped levels of efficacy in elderly populations, which turned out not to even be grounded in evidence.

So as a result, there are unused vaccines that -- despite the fact that they were scrambling to get access to them earlier. So I would caution against using just one vaccine for one age group because of unintended consequences and using the whole range of vaccines for individuals, again, sure, prioritizing by age but not by vaccine, if that makes sense.

BRUNHUBER: All right, listen, thank you so much for your insights there, Oksana Pyzik. We really appreciate it.

PYZIK: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Today is the deadliest day yet since mass protests began in Myanmar against the military coup February 1st.


BRUNHUBER: This new video is just in from Yangon.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): So these images were posted online. Reuters reports at least four people have been killed in the country today, as demonstrators defiantly protest the ruling military junta for a fourth week.

And authorities are intensifying their crackdown with hundreds reportedly detained this weekend. Here for more details is Kristie Lu Stout, joining us from Hong Kong.

A horrific crackdown there.

What's the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: A horrific and brutal crackdown is underway as police are using live ammunition on anti-coup protesters across Myanmar. In Dawei, a town in the south of Myanmar, there are local reports that three protesters have been shot and killed.

In Yangon one protester has been shot and killed. In Mandalay there are reports that another protester has been shot and killed.

That makes this day the bloodiest day of protests since the coup took place on February 1st. There are local news reports that five student protesters have been arrested. And we've been monitoring social media videos, social media video from Myanmar news outlets, in which we see these riot police move in on crowds of protesters.

You hear the shots being fired, you hear the sound of gunfire. You also hear the cries and the screaming of onlookers as they witness these scenes.

This comes a day after the Myanmar military dismissed Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations. He defied the military when he gave that impassioned plea to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, in which he called for immediate international action to reverse the coup.

In that plea, he used the three-finger salute, which is the salute that the anti-coup and pro democracy protesters have been using every day. And his plea earned him a rare round of applause from his U.N. colleagues.

We are also looking at the fate of the ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Tomorrow she will be in court via video link. She is facing one charge for illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and another charge of violating a natural disaster management law.

The military seized power in a military coup on February 1st. They said without evidence that she and her party won an election in November, that it was through fraudulent means. For three to four weeks now, 23 consecutive days, pro-democracy and anti-coup protesters have been taking to the streets.

As the police and the military use truncheons tear gas, water cannon, stun grenades, rubber bullets, live ammunition, these protesters are risking their lives in order to ask for what they want, the reversal of the coup. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: I mean, as you outline it there, the bravery we're seeing there is incredible.

But given the risks, I mean, why do the demonstrators keep coming back or do you think that this latest violence by police might change their resolve? STOUT: They are taking a huge, huge amount of risk, especially this day. We've seen so many lives being taken as a result the use of live ammunition.

These protesters they want four main things. They want a restoration of their democracy, they want the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. They want a reversal of the coup but fundamentally they want a return to the lives that they had before the coup took place.

In the last 10 years, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, that was when sanctions eased and foreign direct investment poured into the country. New economic opportunity came into the country, internet and social media was introduced for the young generation there.

This is why the protesters returned to the streets, day after day, risking their lives, because of what they want. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. Well, thank you so much for that. Of course, we will keep following this developing story. Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. Appreciate it.

Donald Trump's Big Lie about a stolen election is getting a lot of traction among conservatives, it's a toxic message but one the ex- president will probably repeat again when he addresses CPAC later today. A preview just ahead.

Plus Trump's near mystical hold on his supporters. We will discuss what his speech could mean for the future of the Republican Party. Stay with us.






MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I hear President Biden saying, America's back.

Back to what?

Back to pallets of cash to the ayatollah so he can build missiles that threaten us?

Back to apologizing when Iranians tell our sailors and soldiers to take to their knees at gunpoint?

You all know these four years are going to test us. I'll be with you in the fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: That was Donald Trump's former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, making light of the global turmoil of the past four years while glossing over the facts there. Pompeo even boasted that "The New York Times" labeled him the worst secretary of state in U.S. history.

Former president Trump will close out the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, later today. Trump has been saying for months that he won the election and there's no reason to think he won't say it again at CPAC. Here is CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Even though Donald Trump is a defeated ex president, this is a Trump love fest at CPAC. When you walk around the corridors of CPAC and talk to people inside this conference, you'll run into Trump world figures, like the longtime adviser to the former president, Roger Stone.

We even caught up with former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. We tried to ask him if he still stands by the statement that he made after the election, that there would be a continuation or transition to another Trump presidency. He declined to talk to us.

But all day long, in fact throughout this conference, you'll see speaker after speaker making the case that the future of the Republican Party depends on Donald Trump. Here's one example earlier in the day.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most popular Republican figure in Congress today is Kevin McCarthy.

Let me tell you who the least popular Republicans are in the party today. There are those few.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's tittering out there, I just want you to know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are very few Republicans, the least popular in our party, the ones who want to erase Donald Trump and Donald Trump supporters from our party. Let me tell you, let me tell you, if that happens, we won't win back the majority in 2022. We definitely won't win back the White House in 2024 if we erase Donald Trump.

We have a leader right here, I'm a conservative leader and you and I both know, Matt, and for decades, the conservative leader fights with the Republican leader. Not anymore, because Kevin McCarthy is the right leader for the right time to win back the majority. He's going to be the best Speaker of the House we've had in a generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA (voice-over): And when you try to talk to CPAC attendees and ask them whether or not Donald Trump in fact lost the election or whether he had anything to do with the violence that took place on January the 6th at the Capitol, you are often met with hostility, irate attendees who don't want to take those kinds of questions.

As for the former president, as he is preparing for this speech on Sunday he's down at Mar-a-lago meeting with former advisers. In fact, tonight, he is having dinner with his former acting Director of National Intelligence, Rick Renault -- Jim Acosta, CNN, Orlando.


BRUNHUBER: For more, let's bring in Thomas Gift, the director for the Center on U.S. politics at University College London.

Thanks for being here.

So far this weekend at CPAC, what stood out for you?

Was it the reverence for Donald Trump?

The pervasive extent to which the lies about the steal persist?

THOMAS GIFT, DIRECTOR FOR THE CENTER ON U.S. POLITICS, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, all of the above, Kim. For me, the most memorable thing from CPAC so far is definitely the golden statue of Trump. It's the perfect metaphor for the decadence of the GOP under Trump and the fealty that so many of his followers display toward him.

But in terms of the content, I think you have to look at two speeches, one by Matt Gaetz and one by Ted Cruz. They're different embodiments of the exact same message. Gaetz called the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party its main attraction.

Cruz said that Trump isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

I think that's important because it shows what the zeitgeist is, namely, among their circles, Trump isn't subordinate to anyone within today's GOP, especially within the eyes of voters.

I think that reflects the infrastructure behind Trump in terms of right wing media and Republican allies on Capitol Hill, willing to support basically whatever he does. So I think all of that support hasn't dissipated much and we are seeing that front and center here at CPAC.

BRUNHUBER: You know, one thing I found interesting was that President Biden wasn't the huge -- you know, he didn't have the huge bull's-eye on him that one might expect a Democratic president to have.

Why is that?

GIFT: Well, I think that there's just too much wrangling occurring right now within the Republican Party between establishment figures and the Trump wing of the party. I mean, I think they're almost more at war with one another than they are with Democrats, which really says something about how splintered the party is.

Now I think that this may just reflect the state of the GOP in kind of the aftermath of this election. And both sides are trying to stake out their agenda and kind of forge a way forward to say that they are what the GOP represents.

But it is notable, I think, the absence of the name Joe Biden at CPAC. Certainly he has been mentioned some. And Republicans are going after him when they can. But he's not been as front and center as you might expect.

BRUNHUBER: Is any of this perhaps that he's a white male and that other targets, AOC, Nancy Pelosi, you know, Hillary Clinton and so on, were much more toxic to this crowd?

GIFT: That's potentially the case. I mean, I think that this crowd really craves red meat. And when you start talking about certain progressives on the far Left side of the political aisle, it's more likely to rev up the kind of constituency that we see at this sort of event.

It's unclear. I think ultimately most of this is just trying to figure out within the party where it wants to go next. I mean, some of these are convenient targets. They're easy targets and maybe right now Joe Biden, with relatively high approval ratings, isn't the most likely person to send a message to.

We'll see. I expect that to change going forward.

BRUNHUBER: Let's look forward now, the main event, Trump himself tonight.

What do you expect to hear from him?

GIFT: Well, I do think, Kim, that this is a notable speech for Trump because CPAC is this high-profile venue, the first major public event he has attended since leaving the White House. I think he will try to use it as a launching pad for his post-administration agenda.


GIFT: I expect the speech to essentially take on the look and feel of a Make America Great Again rally. No topic is going to be off limits and we will see Trump tack back and forth between criticizing the Biden administration and Democrats and railing against establishment Republicans.

And, of course, it wouldn't be a Trump rally if he didn't continue to allege widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. So I'm expecting more or less a reprise of his greatest hits.

And I think that the reception will be tremendous because this is a CPAC audience and, even despite Trump losing the election and all the mayhem of the Capitol insurrection, Trump continues to be the most popular figure within the party.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. Well, we will all be watching of course. Thanks so much again for your insights, Thomas Gift, always appreciate it.

GIFT: Thanks, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Ahead on CNN, England pays respects to a 100-year-old war veteran, who rose to fame for his extraordinary fundraising efforts during the pandemic.

Plus education during COVID lockdowns. Why French officials are raising the alarm about students' mental health. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: And welcome back to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

For a recap of our top story, a major development for the U.S. in the fight against coronavirus. The Food and Drug Administration has approved an emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine. It has two more hurdles to clear with the CDC, which will begin later today.


BRUNHUBER: After that, Johnson & Johnson says it's ready to begin shipping doses immediately. This is the third vaccine to receive an emergency use authorization in the U.S.

President Biden hailed authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. He says, the more people get vaccinated, the faster the country will overcome the virus. But he also warned that the fight is far from over. CNN's Arlette Saenz traveled with the president and filed this report.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Biden praised the FDA's emergency authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as this vaccine adds another tool to the country's toolbox in defeating the coronavirus pandemic.

He released a statement saying, this is exciting news for all Americans and an encouraging development in our efforts to bring and end to the crisis.

He went on to thank the scientists who developed this vaccine and talked about the importance of vaccinations and, also, maintaining social distancing and handwashing during this pandemic.

He added, at the end, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But we cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable. We must continue to remain vigilant, act fast and aggressively and look out for one another. That is how we're going to reach that light together.

Now the White House has been working for quite some time for the rollout of this vaccine once it's approved. They are planning to ship 3 or 4 million doses over the course of the next week.

And the president has said he wants to ramp up manufacturing of this vaccine, as there are now 3 vaccines that will be available to Americans in the coming months, as the pandemic continues to rage -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Wilmington, Delaware.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden is calling on senators to take quick action to pass his sweeping coronavirus relief bill. House members approved the legislation early Saturday morning. It was mainly a party line vote. Every Republican and two Democrats voted down the nearly $2 trillion stimulus package.

After the vote, the president said the country is one step closer to helping Americans in need but the Senate has to move fast.


BIDEN: We have no time to waste. If we act now, decisively, quickly and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. And the people of this country have suffered far too much, for too long.

We need to relieve that suffering. The American Rescue Plan does just that. It relieves the suffering. And it is time to act.


BRUNHUBER: Irish prime minister Micheal Martin is condemning the violent protests in Dublin against COVID-19 restrictions.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Three police officers were injured and 23 people were arrested during Saturday's demonstrations in the city center. Some protesters are accused of throwing fireworks and spitting at the police.

Mr. Martin says the protesters, quote, "showed a complete lack of respect" to the people who have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic. Ireland has one of the world's strictest lockdowns.


BRUNHUBER: It was a very different scene in Italy. A recent drop in COVID infections has made Sardinia the country's first restriction- free zone. The island will no longer be subject to curfews and nonessential shops, schools and gyms are free to reopen.

This comes as other regions of Italy are tightening up their COVID restrictions.

In England, Captain Sir Tom Moore was laid to rest and honored at a funeral service on Saturday. He rose to fame last year by raising millions of dollars for the U.K.'s National Health Service by walking laps around his garden for his 100th birthday.

He died earlier this month after testing positive for COVID-19. Let's go to London. I'm joined by Scott McLean.

You can't help but be touched by his story and his final sendoff.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right, Kim. In this day and age, it's hard to find people who are universally admired. But Captain Tom Moore seemed to fit that description, especially as he attracted worldwide fame over the last 12 months of his life.

He didn't set out to be famous; he only set out to help his country at the outset of the pandemic by raising a small sum of money, just 1,000 pounds. Well, he ended up raising millions by, as his daughter said at his funeral service yesterday, walking into the nation's hearts.


MCLEAN (voice-over): This is the last lap for Captain Tom Moore. With his casket draped in the Union Jack, it was the final farewell for the 100-year-old national hero.

He died on February 2nd, after testing positive for the coronavirus.


MCLEAN (voice-over): He was a father, a grandfather, military veteran. But he is remembered most for walking the lengths of his garden 100 times, with the aid of a walker, a challenge for him to mark his 100th birthday and inspiration for the rest of us, during some of the darkest days of the pandemic.

He raised nearly $45 million from donors in 163 countries for National Health Service charities. He earned international fame and a knighthood for his efforts. Members of the Yorkshire Regiment, the modern version of the unit he served in World War II, carried his coffin.

The firing party performed a salute. And a plane from the World War II era, did a flypast. Only his immediate family could attend the funeral, because of coronavirus restrictions. A quiet service, for a man whose small act of service, resonated around the world.

LUCY TEIXEIRA, MOORE'S DAUGHTER: Daddy, I am so proud of you. What you achieved, your whole life and especially in the last year, you may be gone but your message and spirit, lives on.


MCLEAN: And, Kim, his funeral ended with a song that he says described the way that he lived his life, "My Way" by Frank Sinatra.

Before he died, he wrote a few last pieces of advice, like "Don't put off important things like forgiveness," "Life is too short to carry around anger and hatred."

He says he didn't have a secret to old age. He says that he always ate whatever he wanted and never paid much attention to health advice, words that make 100 seem a lot more attainable to us.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. Wise words there.

I want to ask you, on a more serious note, some news out of the U.K. where a new testing strategy is being rolled out.

What can you tell us about that?

MCLEAN: Yes, Kim, so the government announced just today that it's actually quite an ambitious testing strategy that they are going to be rolling out very shortly, essentially allowing all families of school- aged, even college-aged kids to test themselves twice a week.

So the government says that, for schools to reopen in a week and for the economy to gradually reopen, mass testing is going to be key to making sure the virus doesn't come back, despite all of the vaccinations that are taking place.

But this is a lot of tests. A family of four, for instance, testing themselves twice a week would need 416 COVID tests in a single year -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Wow. All right. Thank you so much, Scott McLean in London. Appreciate it.

In France, the health minister warns of a looming mental health crisis facing the nation's youth. The country has been under lockdown on and off for nearly a year now. And it's taking a huge toll on students. CNN's Melissa Bell reports.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 23-year-old Yasmine Al Bydeoi (ph), it was last autumn that her dream of studying in Paris hit the reality of the pandemic.

YASMINE AL BYDEOI, STUDENT (through translator): I was starting my studies and thinking, I'm going to arrive, make loads of friends, join lots of students' societies, try lots of activities. And then boom. I'm stuck in a house, all alone, between its 4 walls.

BELL (voice-over): So Yasmine took up painting instead. But the pandemic has also cost her her peace of mind. Before, she could teach Arabic classes to make ends meet.

AL BYDEOI (through translator): In the end, the two difficult things to deal with are the financial side and then the psychological side. So for the financial side, there is help from authorities, from associations, food distributions.

But from the psychological side?

Really, we are on our own.

BELL (voice-over): After nearly one year of lockdowns and restrictions, French authorities are warning of a third wave not of COVID but of mental health issues, including among the country's more than 1.5 million university students.

A recent poll, carried out by a mental health charity among 18-24 year-olds in France showed that 3 out of 10 had considered suicide or self harming.

KOSTAS KOURIS, PSYCHOLOGIST: You are building your life, you're projecting down the road, you want to become this, you want to do this and that and then, boom, you can't do anything. You're stuck.

So we have to let them know, right now, we're in the middle of the storm but have still visualize where we're going to go. Otherwise, we will be stuck in the storm, with no vision. That creates despair.

BELL (voice-over): But despair isn't necessarily the only difficulty. For some, the time of their lives meant to be the most footloose and fancy-free, has become a matter of survival. The line here is for a food bank, set up in the heart of Paris by students who realize that some of their classmates were no longer able to eat.

BENJAMIN FLOHIC, STUDENT (through translator): We are the sacrifice generation.


FLOHIC (through translator): Not only can we not have a social life or go to class or get a great quality education, on top of that, we find ourselves in this extremely precarious situation.

BELL (voice-over): Flohic says that many students who have been able to turn to their parents in time of need, could no longer do so. Their parents, too, he says, have lost their jobs.

BELL: The students coming in aren't just offered food but also psychological support. This food distribution center can help 500 students, every week. But the organizers say that the demand is, in fact, at least 10 times that -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


BRUNHUBER: There were hugs and tearful scenes after more than 3 dozen people kidnapped last week in northwestern Nigeria were freed. The group includes 27 students, teachers and family members. They were taken in a late-night raid by gunmen reportedly wearing military fatigues. One student died in the attack.

Their release is the latest in a series of abductions; just before their freedom was announced, more than 300 schoolgirls were abducted by gunmen in another area of Nigeria.

Texas struggles to return to normal after severe winter storms. With ruptured pipes across the state, demand for plumbers is high but supplies are lacking. We will have more on the challenges Texans face.

Plus the pandemic has also exposed how some seniors in Canada have been mistreated for years. We're hearing stories of people wasting away, hungry and in pain. We will be back. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Many Canadians are angry at the sluggish pace of Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations in the country. But this week the prime minister said Canada will get 6 million vaccine doses within a month.

The nation also approved two versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But that won't erase the shame of the nation's horrible treatment of seniors in care homes, which the pandemic made worse.


BRUNHUBER: As CNN's Paula Newton told us, families who lost loved ones want answers.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For days and weeks and even now, COVID-19 has mercilessly killed thousands of Canadian seniors living in long term care homes. At one point, as seen here, even the military was called in to help.

Many families say it was not just the virus, it was gross negligence by the nursing homes and governments that regulate them.

NADIA SBAIHI, GRANDDAUGHTER OF NURSING HOME VICTIM: It was quite shocking to see that that was happening. There were, for several days, people could not get a hold of their loved ones.

NEWTON (voice-over): Nadia Sbaihi's grandfather, Rodrigue Kennell (ph), died of COVID-19 last April at his nursing home, just outside of Montreal.

Dozens of others, dying there as well, as nursing home employees, overwhelmed and understaffed, were on their own because the government banned all visitors, even family, as the virus was spreading.

SBAIHI: I regret those last days. That, to me, is something that we were robbed, particularly in the first wave, where we were not allowed to see our loved ones. And our loved ones died alone.

NEWTON (voice-over): Hilda Slaugherov (ph) did not die of COVID-19. But she did suffer just the same, her family says; 102 years old, living with dementia an in room camera, placed there by her family, painfully documents how she wasted away. Unable to feed herself, too weak to even hold a glass of water and her family says staff was, seemingly, too swamped to notice.

NICOLE JAOUICH, DAUGHTER OF NURSING HOME VICTIM: I was looking to my mother through the camera and she was breathing so heavily and she was -- and she was -- you could see, she was in pain.

NEWTON: How upsetting is it for you to know that your mother, essentially, starved to death?

JAOUICH: It was heartbreaking for me to know that I wasn't there. And that when the last 6 weeks of her life, she starved. Nobody was there to comfort her, to explain to her. That was the most heartbreaking for me. And to think that she really felt abandoned, that's, for sure.

NEWTON (voice-over): Government investigations, some still ongoing, found dramatic staff shortages of residents neglected and without adequate medical attention. The situation that so many of these care homes were so grave, Canada called in troops, in the spring of last year, to help with what was becoming a humanitarian disaster.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau calling it a national tragedy.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: In Canada, we shouldn't have soldiers taking care of seniors.

NEWTON (voice-over): Yet, what the soldiers said they found, shocked many. A scathing report, detailing chronically understaffed facilities, with little protective equipment, rotten food and the elderly, bewildered and neglected.

PATRICK MENARD, LAWYER: Multiple people, did not receive even the most basic care, including help to feed themselves or to drink or baths or anything. Many people died as a result of that.

That decision of the government to prevent family caregivers from going in and to not provide for adequate personnel, provide even the most basic care, that decision is completely unforgivable.

NEWTON: Nothing will bring back their loved ones.

But what do they hope will happen now?

MENARD: I think we need to take a very long look at ourselves, collectively and think about the way that we have treated our elderly population, not just during the pandemic but over the past 10, 20, 30 years.

NEWTON (voice-over): And that is the reason that families continue to speak out. Government leaders, across the country, are now vowing to change the way seniors are cared for, acknowledging that this pandemic has laid bare a system that, families say, was inhumane. Nicole says it was what her mother would have wanted of her.

JAOUICH: I held her hand and they were so cold and I was warming her hands and she squeezed my hand 3 times. This was such a moving moment for me. I told her, Mommy, I did not abandon you, I tried my best to be with you.

NEWTON (voice-over): I asked Nadia if it bothered her that her grandfather's last days were not what he deserved.

SBAIHI: It's not about my emotions, that's not why I'm doing this. It's not what this is about. It's to give a voice to those who don't have one. Voices weren't heard.

NEWTON (voice-over): Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.






BRUNHUBER: As Texas tries to return to normal, the demand for plumbers continues to grow, as hundreds of people try to get broken pipes and damaged water heaters fixed. CNN's Miguel Marquez has more.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas Plumbing Supply used to be just for the pros, plumbers. Now it's everyone scouring stores everywhere for parts to get the water flowing.

ALFRED WEBSTER, HOME REPAIR CUSTOMER: I'm so tired of running to places trying to find pieces. That's the thing about the job, you've got to go here and there and there and there to find just one piece. And if you go in Lowe's right now and Home Depot, them shelves are like skeletons. There ain't nothing in there. Nobody got nothing.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Alfred Webster works nights and has spent the last four days trying to fix busted pipes.

MARQUEZ: You fix one leak and then you find another over there.

WEBSTER: I found about five leaks.

MARQUEZ: Five leaks so far.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): More than a week after a Texas-size chill brought two days plus of subfreezing temperatures and widespread blackouts, the hard reality of no running water, pipes shattered and ruptured across the lone star state.

GLENN FULLER, TEXAS PLUMBING SUPPLY: In five days, on some items, we sold more in five days than we sold the entire year last year.

MARQUEZ: Really? FULLER: In five days on certain items.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Modern Plumbing Company has fielded 7,000 inquiries, done 800 jobs and has another 500 on the books. There are 14 crews working 24/7.

JOSH HOLLUB, MODERN PLUMBING COMPANY: We have a very strong network of plumbers. And they are proud people and they're working hard. And a lot of people are going through and pulling the same strings that we are trying to get things done for folks. And I'm proud to be part of that.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): And it's not just plumbers and plumbing supplies running short. The need for water and food growing.

TOMEKA BREWSTER, BIBLE WAY AND HOUSTON FOOD BANK: There has been so many families that have come through still not -- they don't have water. They don't have -- some families may not have lights. It's been a great, great need since this winter storm.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The Houston food bank on some days serving up more than a million pounds of food and water.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): With the pandemic, with the storm, how tough has it been?



What are you out of?

What are you missing?

ROUGEAU: The thing is water and bread and lunch meat and baking something besides and canned goods -- everything.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The cold weather and storm long gone, the aftermath only now coming into sharp focus -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Houston, Texas.


BRUNHUBER: As you just saw there, many Texans are still struggling to recover after that extreme weather. If you'd like to help, you will find a list of vetted organizations at

And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber and I will be back again in just a moment for more news.