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CNN NEWSROOM

Spring Break Travel Soars As Restrictions Loosen; Most Of Italy Faces New Restrictions Monday; Brazil's Hospitals Pushed To Limit; U.K. Reels Over Sarah Everard's Murder; Soaring Numbers Of Unaccompanied Children At U.S. Border; AstraZeneca Seeks U.S. Authorization; Biden Directs All Adults To Be Vaccine Eligible By May; Vaccine Nationalism A Growing Danger; Hundreds Flee Myanmar To India; Vaccine Rollout Helps U.K. Seniors See Loved Ones. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 14, 2021 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So just ahead, urging caution, the U.S. makes progress vaccinating Americans but officials warn it is far too early to let your guard down.

Plus thousands of protesters turn out to pay tribute to a woman killed in London. A national reckoning on violence against women that's now raising concerns about policing tactics.

Also harrowing claims about children detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, unable to shower for days or even reach out to their parents

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: We do begin this hour with encouraging news for the country worst hit by the coronavirus but also a crucial, crucial warning: the U.S. is powering through vaccinations. CDC data shows that 1 in 5 Americans have now received at least one dose and more than 1 in 10 are now fully vaccinated.

But spring break is here and many states are easing back on restrictions. Travel is picking up to the level it was a year ago and people are letting their guard down.

Perhaps adding to an overall sense of relief, Americans are starting to receive those $1,400 stimulus checks as well from the Biden administration. So it may feel like the U.S. is emerging out of a dark winter into a hopeful spring. But experts still pleading with the public to stay vigilant. Here's Paul Vercammen with that, Paul.

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PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Coronavirus restrictions are loosening up from coast to coast but one of the nation's top health experts is warning governors if there was ever a time to put on a mask, this is it.

DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: I would just appeal to all of those leaders who have people's lives on their hands look at the data, take some risks with your political base if you need to but do the right thing.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Health officials are also deeply concerned Americans are letting their guard down by getting on planes in record numbers since the outbreak began and by clustering during spring break.

DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, HOUSTON: If you come to Texas, you would say, hey, the pandemic disappeared overnight. It is amazing. You go outside, all the clubs are packed, people not wearing masks, it's very disappointing.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): A key vaccine benchmark has been met in California so they will ease restrictions.

State officials announce they met their goal to vaccinate 2 million people in the hardest hit poor neighborhoods, teachers, agriculture workers and restaurant employees all eligible to get shots. The list expands to Californians with certain medical problems on Monday.

Also on the Golden State horizon, more reopenings of California movie theaters, museums, zoos, gyms and restaurants indoors on a very limited basis, the reason for restaurant workers to expect more tips, starting at midnight Sunday.

WAITER OROZCO, RESTAURANT EMPLOYEE: There were moments that we didn't have a lot of customers coming in, so you get frustrated sometimes. But right now, everything starts coming back with the vaccine and reopening, it feels more secure now.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): More good news on the vaccine front, the CDC says more than 100 million people have received a COVID-19 shot and age eligibility requirements dropping in many states. And AstraZeneca hopes to get emergency authorization approval for is vaccine at the end of this month or into of April.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The FDA scientists will review the data very carefully. They will get access to the complete file. And if they see any signs of any concerns, they're not going to give emergency use authorization to this vaccine.

VERCAMMEN: But in Mississippi, this memento is a touching and heartbreaking reminder that COVID-19 kills. Jeff Nabors suffered from heart disease, rushed to marry his sweetheart of 17 years.

SHERRY NABORS, WIDOW OF COVID-19 VICTIM: It wasn't what we had in mind, it was beautiful. It was beautiful and it was so touching and it was so perfect.

VERCAMMEN: But Sherry went from newly wedded to widow in days because of the virus that so far killed 500,000 people in the United States and counting -- Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.

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CURNOW: I want to take a look at the state of the pandemic outside of the U.S. New restrictions, as you can see, are set in Italy. They're set to start on Monday now that new daily cases are back on the rise.

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CURNOW: Most of the country's going to be affected here. That includes Rome, the capital, and Milan, its financial hub.

In Spain, a mass vaccination campaign has kicked off in the northern region of the country. The local health service has called 19,000 people to give them their first dose. This comes as the country marks one year since its first coronavirus lockdown.

Al Goodman joins me from Madrid with all of that.

Hi, Al, good to see you.

What can you tell us?

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Robyn. As you say, this is the one- year anniversary of Spain's first coronavirus lockdown. It was an order back then that basically told everybody to stay home all the time, except to go for food, for medicine, to see the doctor or go to work.

Here in the Puerta del Sol, the central square in the Spanish capital in Madrid, it was empty then. It's empty now because it's daylight here. But at the time police were out, using drones to tell people to go home, to get off the streets.

A nightly curfew is still in effect. It ended a short while ago at 6:00 am local time on recent weekends in Madrid and other cities. In Madrid, police have been breaking up hundreds of illegal parties, of people gathering, mainly young people, getting fined.

The toll has been very tough in this year. Spain has the seventh highest number of cases of coronavirus cases in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.1 million and the 10th highest number of deaths, 72,000 according to Johns Hopkins.

The Spanish government has finally released figures on the number of elderly who died. About 40 percent of those 72,000 deaths, 30,000 of them were senior citizens in senior care homes.

And so many people in Spain know someone who's died or who has been very sick. In my case, I lost a Spanish journalist friend to the coronavirus. A neighborhood business manager had complications in my neighborhood, had to have some toes amputated. So you're talking -- you're seeing these kinds of things. The economic

toll also has been very tough, 16 percent unemployment. Spain's tourism industry, one of the top three international tourist destinations, along with France and the United States, here, they've seen the 83 million tourists who came in 2019, that dropped by 75 percent.

So as Spain looks ahead to Easter week, it's -- now the 17 regions of Spain are going to lock down, close borders. You can move around within the region. But for instance, people from Madrid cannot go to the coast.

But for the -- Spain's islands in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic Ocean, there will be some limited arrivals from international travelers. Back to you, Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks so much, Al Goodman, appreciate it, good to see you.

Brazil's COVID crisis is growing worse by the day, intensive care units pushed to the limits. Some hospitals are in danger of running out of oxygen. Matt Rivers is in Sao Paulo for us.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Brazil, we continue to see signs of just how stressed many health care systems in different states across this country are. The latest news on Saturday coming out of the northern Brazilian state of Rondonia.

The Brazilian attorney general's office says there's only enough oxygen to supply that state's hospitals for the next 15 days. The Brazilian attorney general's office sent a letter to the health ministry, asking them to adopt urgent measures to make sure that that supply does not run out.

The attorney general's office saying it's been difficult to procure oxygen supplies from other parts of the country because of how bad the rest of the country's health care systems are at this moment.

Earlier this year, in a place where we were reporting six weeks ago, in the Amazonas state, Manaus ran out of its oxygen supply. It made the outbreak there that much worse, leading to an increase in the mortalities we saw at that time.

That outbreak in Manaus foreshadowed what we're seeing in many other parts of the country. At our last count, on Friday, 23 of 26 Brazilian states, in addition to Brazil's federal district, were reporting ICU occupancy levels of at least 80 percent or higher.

Many of those states were also reporting ICU occupancy rates of 90 percent or higher. If you look here in the city of Sao Paulo and the surrounding metropolitan area, called Greater Sao Paulo, where we are right now, ICU occupancy rates are just shy of 90 percent and extremely concerning.

[01:10:00] RIVERS: While we know vaccinations across Brazil have been very slow, one person did manage to get his shot, his first shot this weekend. That would be former Brazilian president and potential candidate for the presidency once again in 2022, Lula da Silva.

Lula, as he is commonly known, took the opportunity after getting the vaccination to criticize current president Jair Bolsonaro and his administration, saying the president needs to stop being ignorant, saying the administration should be guaranteeing vaccinations for all people -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: We are seeing rage and grief in London over the murder of 33- year-old Sarah Everard and a fear that women in the country live with every day. Thousands packed into this public square, the same part of town where she was last seen.

She disappeared while walking home at night and was later found dead. A Metropolitan Police officer has been charged with her murder and kidnapping. For women in the U.K. and the world, Everard's murder is proof that their fear is real.

The fear is of simply walking down the street, as women, knowing you are not safe. The Duchess of Cambridge made a private trip to the memorial. A source tells us she wanted to pay her respects to Sarah and her family and that she remembers what it felt like to walk around London at night before she was married.

Not long after the crowds gathered, police broke up the vigil, citing coronavirus dangers. There were clashes, as you can see, as police handcuffed and dragged mourners away. The police response is outraging government officials and civilians alike.

For women, mourning a murder victim at a vigil, being pushed around by police is an ironic reminder of the misogyny and violence women say they face every day. Here's Nina dos Santos with that.

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NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): They came to remember a young woman whose life was cruelly cut short, only to be wrenched from their vigil by officers from the very force where her suspected killer served.

The death of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, while walking home, has plunged Britain into a moment of reckoning on women's rights and safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Essentially, women have a curfew now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as it gets dark out, you either have to be with someone or you have to be home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're fed up of having to worry all the time and not feel safe. And this has just proven our fears to be true.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Sarah vanished March 3rd while walking from one residential part of the capital to another at around 9:00 pm. Her remains were found last week nearly 60 miles away. And a serving London Metropolitan Police officer has been charged in connection with her death.

DOS SANTOS: What shocked so many is both the randomness of what happened to Sarah and the relatability of the circumstances under which she disappeared. She was last seen walking along this busy street in South London after having been to visit a friend, who lived nearby.

It wasn't particularly late and this isn't a particularly dangerous area.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The vigil for Sarah had been organized by women in the neighborhood where she vanished but was canceled due to COVID regulations. Yet thousands still came; their aim, to reclaim women's rights to walk where they want, when they want, without fear.

LUDOVICA ORLANDO, ORGANIZER, RECLAIM THESE STREETS: While maybe abduction is not as common as been said, being groped on a bus is. Being yelled at is. Being followed home is. And those are things that need to change because -- just because not all the stories don't end in tragedy doesn't mean they're not worth telling.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): On Twitter, women shared their stories.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can vividly remember getting harassed by a man who tried to assault me when I was 18.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On my walk home, a man in a car pulled up next to me to tell me I had --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 13, a man followed me and my friends down the alley and flashed us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to know (ph). Tracy Kidd (ph), Nellie Staffer (ph).

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): In Parliament one lawmaker shared the names of women who were killed in the U.K. this year. Among them, six who perished the same week Sarah went missing.

For David Challen, who campaigned to overturn his mother's sentence for killing his abusive father, there's a lot men in Britain can do to better understand and aid women's plight.

DAVID CHALLEN, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It's time for misogyny to be recognized as a hate crime. These are offensive acts on a sliding scale that creates harm and violence and trauma for women throughout their lives. They all have it in common and men are blind to it.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The scenes of police, arresting masked women holding a vigil despite COVID rules, sparked anger nationwide. And politicians from all sides demanded an explanation. The Met said they hadn't wanted to act.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we were placed in this position because of the overriding need to protect people's safety.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Sarah Everard's family said their daughter was beautiful and bright, a shining example to us all. In the senseless tragedy of her death, many hope her memory may guide the way for other women towards a safer path home in the future and away from scenes like these -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

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CURNOW: As Nina reported, London Metropolitan Police are defending their actions at this vigil, take a listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officers on the ground were faced with a very difficult decision. Hundreds of people were tightly packed together, putting a -- posing a very real risk of easily transmitting COVID-19. Police must act for people's safety. This is the only responsible thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: But London mayor Sadiq Khan said the police reaction is, quote, "unacceptable," saying, "Police have a responsibility to enforce COVID-19 laws but from the images I've seen it's clear the response was at times neither appropriate nor proportionate."

Meanwhile, British prime minister Boris Johnson sent condolences to Sarah Everard's family, tweeting, "I cannot imagine how unbearable their pain and grief is. We must work fast to find all the answers to this horrifying crime. I'll do everything I can to make sure the streets are safe and ensure women and girls do not face harassment or abuse."

Mr. Johnson said he lit a candle for Sarah with his fiancee and that he would be thinking of her and her family and friends.

An update on one of the cases that sparked anti-racism protests across the U.S. and around the world last summer.

It has been a year since Breonna Taylor was gunned down during a botched police raid on her apartment. Her long-time boyfriend has filed a federal lawsuit against the Louisville, Kentucky, police department and the officers involved in that raid. He's seeking damages for violations of his constitutional rights.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Louisville on Saturday to mark the anniversary and to demand police reforms. Taylor's mother says she will never give up the fight to see the officers involved in the raid face criminal charges.

Still ahead, warnings of a humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. Why so many migrants are making the journey right now.

Plus emotional scenes of families in the U.K. finally reuniting with their elderly loved ones.

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CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So U.S. officials are struggling to deal with soaring numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the border with Mexico. Things are so difficult, the Homeland Security chief has ordered federal emergency officials to help.

Border facilities are overwhelmed and CNN has found children are staying in custody longer than the three-day limit. Child welfare advocates say the situation at one government-run tent facility is becoming a humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, lawyers spoke to some of the children this week. They say the children are terrified and worried because they can't speak with family members. Here's Rosa Flores at the U.S.-Mexico border. She asks some migrants why they've made the journey to the U.S.

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ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the faces of the immigration surge on the U.S.-Mexico border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): Maria Mendoza (ph) is from El Salvador and hopes to reunite with her family in Maryland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): Roxana Viberes (ph) from Honduras says she lost everything during a recent hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES: She said that her dream is to have a house. And that that's why she made the trek to the United States.

FLORES (voice-over): Maria (ph) and Roxana (ph) are among the tens of thousands of migrants who've been encountered by U.S. border authorities in recent weeks. One area, alone, saw over 5,000 migrants enter over an eight-hour period last week.

According to a federal source, to expedite processing, authorities started fingerprinting them under this bridge. Many of the unaccompanied children and families are bused to this new temporary immigration processing center in Donna, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): Maria de la Rosa (ph) lives across the street and says buses packed with people arrive around the clock. And at night, she hears children crying.

MARIA DE LA ROSA, DONNA, TEXAS, RESIDENT: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES: You're scared?

DE LA ROSA: Yes.

FLORES (voice-over): From there, some migrants are dropped off by immigration officials at bus stations, like this one in Brownsville.

That is where we met Roxana (ph), Maria (ph) and her 6-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): She said she evaded a snake during her journey to the United States and fell off a raft while crossing the Rio Grande.

FLORES: Why is there a surge right now, you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): Both Maria (ph) and Roxana (ph) say they learned from news reports --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): -- in their home countries that the Biden administration is allowing migrant women with children to enter the U.S. --

FLORES: And you believe that that was true?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Si.

FLORES (voice-over): -- which is not entirely true. The Biden administration says it's allowing unaccompanied minors to remain in the U.S. pending immigration cases. And some families are allowed in on a case-by-case basis.

That perception could be driving some of the surge, which has over 3,700 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody in jail-like facilities. Health and Human Services is caring for about 8,800 unaccompanied minors, while they're reunited with family and is even considering using a NASA site to expand bed space.

FLORES: How is it to be a mom?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): And some non-profit migrant shelters like La Posada (ph), where Maria Hernandez (ph), a migrant from Nicaragua is staying, have seen a spike in the flow of mothers, children --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

FLORES (voice-over): -- and pregnant women.

Cindy Johnson has volunteered to help thousands of migrants across the river in Matamoros and collected hundreds of postcards with their story.

CINDY JOHNSON, VOLUNTEER: This child is saying that they witnessed people dying, people getting beaten.

FLORES (voice-over): Cindy says she scanned them and sent them to then candidate for president, Joe Biden.

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FLORES: What was the goal of sending these letters to Biden?

JOHNSON: The goal was, they wanted them to see the humanity.

FLORES (voice-over): Rosa Flores, CNN, along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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CURNOW: John Sandweg is the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was also the former acting general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Good to see you, sir. Thanks for joining us.

How concerned are you about these record highs in children arriving in the U.S. and also the worsening conditions?

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Well, obviously it's concerning. But this is part of a trend we've seen over the last five years. I think it's something that's perfectly manageable.

And the Biden administration seems to be doing what is needed, which is surging resources to deal with the problem. Long-term, though, this is a manageable problem. Really, just it's a problem in and of itself, just because of the unique nature of children, who are crossing the border without any adults.

CURNOW: Let's talk about these children. It seems to be the fact that it's the amount of children, the number of children, who have been making this journey and crossing, rather than the sort of general population of numbers of people coming over.

Why is that?

Why are we seeing these kinds of numbers right now?

SANDWEG: You know, one of the things we haven't done very well as a government is having funded the portions of our border security apparatus that deal with unique populations and vulnerable populations, like children, like families.

So it doesn't take much of an uptick for there to be resource constraints and problems, where, suddenly, Health and Human Services, the U.S. agency responsible for placing them in shelters, is overwhelmed.

In terms of why this is happening now, I think it's two factors. One is the Trump administration over the last year have been pushing these kids to wait in camps in Mexico. The Biden administration understandably said we're not going to continue that policy.

So you had a lot of kids already staged in northern Mexico, Central American kids, ready to come across, hopefully to be reunited with parents or other family members as it was.

But two, of course, is just the mass desperation we see in Central America, where you continue to have a security crisis, you continue have no economic opportunity. You have families who are separating themselves voluntarily, parents coming up here, earning enough money, sending it home to bring their kids up.

That's the fundamental root of the problem right there.

CURNOW: CNN's also reporting that many of these women and children say they made the journey because they heard the Biden administration was allowing in women and children.

How is this sort of non-Trump approach, non-hardline approach, a more humane policy making the situation worse?

And also critically could become much worse in the coming months, if, at least, the basic messaging is not dealt with here as well?

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SANDWEG: The administration is trying to get the message out. Everybody who comes across that border is placed into deportation proceedings. We need more resources to make sure those proceedings move more quickly.

But the fact is, everybody who comes across the border is placed into deportation proceedings and their cases will go forward.

The real problem hee are the smuggling organizations, which make a tremendous amount of money lying to people to get them to come across that border and into this country.

A lot of what we're seeing are the smuggling organizations spreading false narratives about the Biden administration policies. It's a very difficult message to counter. You see the administration putting out a lot of messaging to say, don't come. But it's difficult to counter what the smugglers are telling the people on the ground.

CURNOW: Thank you very much for joining us, John Sandweg, appreciate you, thank you very much.

SANDWEG: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: New York governor Andrew Cuomo is digging in, despite increasing pressure from his own Democratic Party to resign. Cuomo is facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted advances.

The state assembly is conducting an impeachment probe and the New York attorney general has begun an independent civil inquiry. As of now, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers in New York have called on Cuomo to resign, along with 16 Democratic U.S. representatives from New York and the two Democratic senators from the state.

You're watching CNN. Coming up, another row about Europe over coronavirus vaccines and it's not making the E.U.'s painfully slow rollout go any faster.

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CURNOW: Welcome back to CNN. It's 32 minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining me, I'm Robyn Curnow.

Reuters is reporting that AstraZeneca will ask the U.S. to authorize its coronavirus vaccine this month or in early April. It's already being used in Europe. But as Melissa Bell reports, the vaccine rollout in the E.U. has certainly not gone as planned.

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MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A fresh row in Europe over vaccine deliveries and procurements, six European countries writing to the European Commission to complain about the way they say the vaccines are being distributed amongst member states.

The European Commission has replied, saying the process has been entirely transparent. But it is a row that follows several days of division over the question of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Several European countries have either paused the rollout of the vaccine altogether or paused batches of it out of fears in some countries about the relationship that might exist between blood clots and being inoculated with the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency, AstraZeneca itself, the World Health

Organization and the French national health agency have all said it is safe to use. This, of course, as supplies continue to be a problem here in Europe, with the vaccination campaign continuing to be rolled out at a far too slow pace.

This as COVID-19 figures in some countries continuing to rise, this as new variants really spread much faster here in France, they now represent two-thirds of all new cases. The variant first identified in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy is also now in the majority of cases.

Italy on Monday will move into a fresh stage of lockdown for part of the country and then, for Easter weekend, an entire lockdown for the entire country. In France, there are now more than 4,000 people in ICU. That is the highest figure since November -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: U.S. President Joe Biden is vowing to keep the country ahead when it comes to vaccinations, hoping to make good on his pledge on when Americans can expect to receive one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing that I will direct all states, tribes and territories to make all adults, people 18 and over, eligible to be vaccinated no later than May 1.

We're going to go from 1 million shots a day that I promised in December, before I was sworn in, to maintaining, beating our current pace of 2 million shots a day, outpacing the rest of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CURNOW: But many countries just don't have the means to produce or procure their own vaccines.

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CURNOW: And while the U.S. has pledged billions to help fund vaccines for others, it's resisting exporting U.S.-made doses. The World Health Organization program, COVAX, is trying to close this vaccine inequality gap.

Johnson & Johnson's vaccine is among of list of those that will be shipped to countries in need around the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Joining me from Kensington, Maryland, is Tom Hart, the North American executive director of ONE, an organization dedicated to ending global poverty and disease.

Tom, lovely to see you, thanks for joining us on the show. The U.S. and the U.K. particularly have stormed ahead with vaccinating their people.

While there is a push to share, do you understand why the Biden administration says Americans first, we can talk about sharing doses later?

TOM HART, NORTH AMERICAN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ONE: I absolutely understand the political instincts and the duty of a politician to protect his or her citizens first.

But right now the United States has done more than that. We have almost 500 million more doses than we need in order to vaccinate every adult and child in the United States. We know those doses are coming.

What we need urgently is a plan to share those doses that we don't need so that other countries that don't have them can plan and get them into arms as quickly as possible.

CURNOW: Government also clearly realizing that supply networks and the global production is fraught with challenges. There are a number of instances, whether here in the U.S. or in Europe, where there are stories of vaccines sitting in warehouses, which is also why we're seeing more governments -- Denmark, Austria partnering with Israel in recent weeks -- deciding that, actually, they want to get out of the global supply chain business. They want to produce the vaccines at home.

HART: Right.

CURNOW: How important is that or how concerning is that?

HART: I can understand the instinct, absolutely. When you're desperate to get vaccine to your people and you can't get it because global supplies are going to only a few countries, who are hoarding the doses, you think about, how can I manufacture it myself?

So it's a completely understandable instinct. It will be challenging to build up that capacity for highly technical vaccine production very quickly. But we certainly hope and encourage that to happen wherever it can.

I mean, look. We all need to understand that we have to beat this pandemic just as quickly as possible because, every time someone else gets infected, that's another opportunity for a mutation. And the more that that happens and the longer that happens -- we've been very fortunate so far.

The variants seem to still be impacted by the vaccines that we have. But we've been lucky so far. We don't know how long we'll continue to be lucky. So we're really -- want to make sure those countries that have secured doses, that are manufacturing doses very, very quickly, make sure they protect the most vulnerable in their populations for certain.

However, to also plan to share those extra doses with those places that don't have them.

CURNOW: There's so much talk about vaccine nationalism.

How can it be overruled or how can global supernational community spirit be implemented in times of such deep national crisis?

HART: Sure. I don't think that there will be any great dictate from someone outside the nation. It is actually the nation itself and its people understanding that we are all in this fight together.

And I think, unfortunately, this virus has shown us again and again that, when we try to handle it, when we try to close our borders or quarantine our way, it still makes its way through.

I think there's an emerging awareness that we can't keep ourselves apart from what's going on outside our borders. And so it really does make sense to work together, to have the most efficient vaccine distribution and equitable distribution that we can, so that we can end this pandemic just as quickly as possible.

So we really hope that the G7 will start; we hope President Biden, newly in office, will join his other global leaders in the G7 and the G20 to say, we're going to take this step and we all want to do it together because only by working together are we going to be able to end this as quickly as possible.

CURNOW: How much concern is there across the world, there is some sort of coverage, patchy, if it is, perhaps, Asia, India in particular, but Africa seems to be the one place where there is really a dearth of any prospect of getting massive vaccinations out.

How can that be overcome?

HART: Well, we're big supporters of this collaboration called COVAX, which is an international collaboration, which would pool resources together to both purchase vaccines from big pharmaceutical companies.

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HART: Its aim is to cover 20 percent of the poorest countries, including many in Africa, of their vaccine. And the African Union is working with speed right now to purchase its own. In fact, it's secured 300 million doses on its own by pooling its resources among its partner countries to purchase vaccines.

So people are not waiting around to take a handout. They're doing everything they can. But the hottest commodity on Earth right now are these doses. Those countries that have more than they need, need to make accessible the surplus, so that places like Africa can purchase them.

CURNOW: Tom Hart, really good to speak to you. Thanks so much for talking to us.

HART: Thanks so much, take care.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CURNOW: Coming up on CNN, a police officer tells us why he left Myanmar when the military took over and why he's afraid for his life and his country.

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CURNOW: The ongoing violence in Myanmar is impacting its neighbors. Hundreds of police and government officers have crossed the border into India to escape the crackdown by Myanmar's military junta. CNN has spoken with a police official, who is in hiding, telling Vedika Sud about the disturbing situation in his country.

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VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Violent scenes on the streets of Myanmar ever since the military junta staged a coup forced this police officer to flee to India. He said he didn't want the blood of his country men on his hands. CNN is not disclosing his identity for his own safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When more than five protesters gather and we can't break the crowd, we have orders to shoot.

SUD (voice-over): He says the orders by the military to arrest and shoot protesters were unacceptable to him. That's when he decided to escape, leaving behind his parents and siblings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They provide us with 100 bullets for G3, 100 bullets for M13, 100 bullets for 94, 50 bullets for 12 and 50 rubber bullets.

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SUD (voice-over): CNN cannot independently verify this officer's allegations. We called Myanmar's embassy for comment. We were asked to email questions but we have not received a response.

The officer is one of almost 300 people, mostly police officers, government officials with families, who fled Myanmar and crossed into India's northeastern state of Mizoram after the military crackdown. Most refugees are supported by local activists.

Myanmar and Mizoram share a porous border that stretches more than 500 kilometers. The recent influx of those fleeing Myanmar is a growing concern, says the chief minister, Zoramthanga. The decision of their repatriation lies with the Indian government.

ZORAMTHANGA, MIZORAM CHIEF MINISTER: What they have to do is only to give them food and shelter because this is humanitarian point of view. Beyond that, everything depends upon the central government of India.

SUD (voice-over): The officer, who is currently in hiding, says people back home are living in fear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Civilians have to guard their neighborhoods through the night. They're already facing so many issues.

SUD (voice-over): Myanmar's military says its officers have been attacked. And the secretary of foreign affairs says it has been trying to maintain law and order. Authorities have been exercising utmost restraint dealing with the violent protests, he said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I want to see my family but only after dictatorship ends.

SUD (voice-over): He once dreamt of serving his country but now lives in constant fear, the fear of being handed back to Myanmar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If we are sent back to Myanmar, our life is in danger. There are no guarantees. We might be killed.

SUD (voice-over): With Myanmar in the midst of an intense political turmoil, the wait to return home could be a long one -- Vedika Sud, CNN, New Delhi.

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CURNOW: Coming up here at CNN, families are being reunited in the U.K. We'll show you some of the emotional scenes and explain why they're able to happen now.

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CURNOW (voice-over): Hearing the great Yo-Yo Ma perform Bach's cello suite is an amazing experience under any circumstances. But people at a clinic in Massachusetts got a real treat when he gave an impromptu performance after getting his second COVID-19 vaccine shot.

He played during the 15-minute observation period, surely an unforgettable moment, especially with live music just so rare during this pandemic.

And families are finally being reunited with elderly loved ones in the U.K. after months of pandemic lockdown. It's one of the benefits of an impressive vaccine rollout there as Phil Black shows us many of the emotional reunions.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From its earliest days, the pandemic has stood like a barricade, blocking David Alexander's sense of duty and love for his wife ...

DAVID ALEXANDER, SHEILA'S HUSBAND: Hello, my darling.

BLACK (voice-over): -- until this moment.

D. ALEXANDER: Hello.

Do you know who I am?

I'm David.

Do you know David?

Your husband.

SHEILA ALEXANDER, CARE HOME RESIDENT: Oh.

D. ALEXANDER: It's a long time since I've seen you.

BLACK (voice-over): Sheila has dementia. She rarely speaks. So David can't know what this reunion means to her or what she thought and felt through the long stretches where he wasn't allowed to visit. They have shared their lives for more than 55 years.

But this is only the second time they've sat together during the pandemic. It is almost five months since Sheila last heard David's voice ...

D. ALEXANDER: I've got you a few little flowers out of our garden.

BLACK (voice-over): -- or felt his touch.

D. ALEXANDER: Even with gloves on, it is better than what they arranged before. So, I guess you have to be thankful for what you've got.

You all right, love?

BLACK (voice-over): Emotional reunions, poignant and joyful, taking place in nursing and care homes across England because, as vaccines roll out, residents are now allowed one designated visitor.

SARA DOLAN, RENEE'S GRANDDAUGHTER: Lovely to see you, darling.

RENEE DOLAN, CARE HOME RESIDENT: Yes, and you.

BLACK (voice-over): For Renee Dolan, it's her granddaughter, Sara.

R. DOLAN: It's my first time seeing her in such a long time.

S. DOLAN: I know, but listen, listen, I'm going to come back next week as well.

R. DOLAN: OK.

BLACK (voice-over): After so many months apart, the need for physical contact and comfort is overwhelming. But there are still rules. No hugging or kissing; they can only hold hands. In this moment, that limited gesture is loaded with feeling.

R. DOLAN: Oh, it means everything to me. Everything. I'm going to cry.

S. DOLAN: It's OK, don't worry.

R. DOLAN: Thank you, darling.

S. DOLAN: OK, thank Mommy.

ANDREAS CHAPMAN, HOWARD'S DAUGHTER: Hello. How are you?

BLACK (voice-over): Howard Chapman and his daughter, Andreas, say, in normal times, they don't usually hold hands but these aren't normal times.

HOWARD CHAPMAN, CARE HOME RESIDENT: To us have somebody like this.

A. CHAPMAN: Yes.

H. CHAPMAN: My lovely daughter.

What's your name?

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A. CHAPMAN: Yes, which one are you?

BLACK (voice-over): In the Manor Hall Home nursing home ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you excited to go out today, George?

BLACK (voice-over): -- there is a buzz of anticipation. Some of the residents are leaving the grounds for the first time since last summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're quick on your feet this morning.

BLACK (voice-over): It is only a small excursion.

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BLACK (voice-over): A drive through the nearby countryside, followed by tea in a park near a local beach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now we can explore that big place, can't we?

BLACK (voice-over): its more freedom than George Baulch thought possible.

BLACK: How are you doing today? GEORGE BAULCH, CARE HOME RESIDENT: Very well. We have been locked up for weeks and weeks and weeks. Never thought that we would actually get around again for us. You come here and you realize how big England is. You've almost forgot how big this place is, really.

BLACK (voice-over): Many of England's elderly were lost to the pandemic. And so many more have been forced to endure heartbreaking confinement. Their restored freedoms are modest but they allow the possibility of hope for more time with loved ones ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I love you. All right. See you next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, darling.

BLACK (voice-over): -- and more walks by the beach -- Phil Black, CNN, in southern England.

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CURNOW: Oh.

Take a look at this simple power of a hug from a granddaughter to a grandmother.

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EVELYN SHAW, PRESCRIPTION HUG RECIPIENT: Well, the hug was -- my daughter and granddaughter came to my apartment to give me a little gift they said, and the gift was the prescription from the doctor.

And when I read it and it said, "You are allowed to hug your granddaughter" -- here it is - "You are allowed to hug your granddaughter," I -- something happened to me.

Because my granddaughter had completed her COVID protocol. But I was not going to let her in. I was definitely not going to let her into my apartment, even though I had completed my -- my COVID -- my vaccines.

Because I was stuck. I was stuck -- I was stuck in -- in COVID-land. And having this prescription from my doctor gave me the courage to let her in.

And there we were standing in my apartment just hugging and hugging and crying and crying for the first time in a year.

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CURNOW: Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'll be back in the next hour.