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AstraZeneca And The Blow To Public Confidence In Europe; John Magufuli Of Tanzania Dies; China-U.S. Relations Under Harsh Spotlight; E.U. Reveals Vaccine Passport Plans; Novelist: U.S. And China Could "Sleepwalk" Into A War; Brazil Facing its Greatest Health Collapse; U.K. Government: 25 Million People Have had First Vaccine Dosee; "Significant Institutional Failings" by English Football; Japan Opens Super Nintendo World after Multiple Delays; U.S. Federal Reserve Keeps Interest Rates Near Zero; Harry's Talks with William, Charles "Unproductive"; Dead Sea Scroll Fragments Found in Desert Cave. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Live around the world, this is another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

And coming up.

The politics behind the suspended rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and the blow to public confidence.

Official cause of death, heart failure. But speculation continues that Tanzania's COVID-denying president who called for prayer over vaccines is another unrecorded life lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the U.S. tries to reset relations with an increasingly strident China, the former supreme commander of NATO forces warns both countries could sleepwalk into a nuclear war.

The E.U. has revealed the first details about their COVID vaccine passports or digital green certificates and how they're expected to work.

With the northern summer just months away and with a tourism industry facing an uncertain future, it's hoped these passports will allow unrestricted travel within the E.U.

There are three different ways for travelers to prove they're COVID free. There's a certificate recording brand and place of vaccination, another option shows a negative test result but for the time being self tests are not allowed.

The third potential way is a medical certificate for those who've recovered from the virus within the past six months. E.U. officials are aiming to have approval for the passports by June.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: It shows or states whether the person has either been vaccinated or a recent negative test or has recovered from COVID and thus antibodies.

Secondly, the certificate will make sure that the results of what it shows -- the data and just a minimum set of data are mutually recognized in every member state.

And thirdly, with this digital certificate we aim to help member states reinstate the freedom of movement in a safe, responsible and trusted manner.


VAUSE: And in the coming hours, the European Medicines Agency is expected to release findings from an investigation of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

While E.U. officials say this will be the final verdict, it seems unlikely to end the controversies and debate which have swirled around the vaccine for months.

At issue this time is a potential risk of blood clots after inoculation. The drug maker says after 17 million doses just 37 cases of blood clots have been recorded, well below the number for the general population.

And experts from the E.U. as well as the U.K., the U.S., the World Health Organization have all weighed in saying if there is any risk, it is far outweighed by the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19.


MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, TECHNICAL LEAD FOR COVID-19, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The use of the vaccine far outweighs the risks. We know that vaccines that are out there are safe and effective and it's really important that individuals get vaccinated when it's your turn, when you are offered.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION EMERGENCY HEALTH PROGRAMS: I think we need to be very careful that we don't end up overreacting and damaging the product in people's minds until we're absolutely sure that there actually is a problem.

And right now, that is not certain and let's wait for the data to be looked at before we make any conclusions.


VAUSE: Even so, at least 16 European countries have now paused distribution of AstraZeneca.

But not Greece where the prime minister says he's at a loss to explain why so many countries have stopped the rollout at least for now.

The European Commission president taking aim at AstraZeneca but not over the safety of the vaccine which she claims she trusts.

CNN's Melissa Bell explains.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Amid much criticism, the president of the European Commission held a press conference striking a combative tone.

Whilst Ursula Von der Leyen recognized that it was regrettable that a number of European countries had chosen to suspend the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it was important, she said, that the science be allowed to speak.

But Ursula Von der Leyen went further than that taking on, once again, AstraZeneca over what she said had been under production and under delivery. Blaming it at least partly for the slow rollout of the vaccine programs here in the European Union.

Ursula Von der Leyen also urging other countries to take note of the need for reciprocity. She pointed out that the export ban that was introduced at the end of January as a result of that row with AstraZeneca over delivery delays had so far only led to one export block.

250,000 doses of AstraZeneca that were prevented from leaving Italy in order to head to Australia just a few weeks ago.


She warned, however, that export ban could be used again and that the European Union was closely watching reciprocity, that is what other countries are doing in terms of allowing vaccines to leave their soil.

She pointed out that the European Union has so far exported 41 million doses of vaccine to 33 countries. And then it would be keeping a close eye on other countries and whether or not they were allowing their vaccines or the ingredients of vaccines to be exported towards the European Union.

It was a particular dig at the United Kingdom with whom the E.U. has been embroiled in a row now for some weeks.

This of course, as the European Commission is under a great deal of pressure. Not only is its vaccine rollout program under considerable strain, COVID-19 figures continue to rise amid that third wave.

With restrictions notably here in Rome continuing to cause difficulty, not only for European people but crucially for European economies.


VAUSE: Joining us now, Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the University of California in Los Angeles. Also Dominic Thomas, CNN's European affairs commentator.

A big one for the Bruins tonight, the best of UCLA -- with us here. So thank you for both joining us.



VAUSE: OK. Well, Germany seems to set off a domino effect here by suspending the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday. Major European countries were quick to follow.

According to "Science" magazine, the reason behind the suspension by German authorities was the discovery of seven cases of CVT -- which is basically vein clots in the brain -- which occurred between four and 16 days after vaccination.

And that an analysis suggested only a single case would be normally expected among the 1.6 million people who received the vaccine in that window of time.

So Anne, first to you. Given that small number of rare reactions during mass inoculations is not unusual, did the Germans make the right call here given we're in the midst of a pandemic and vaccines are in short supply?

RIMOIN: Well, it's really tricky. Because halting vaccination in the midst of a pandemic is very serious business.

First of all, it puts a lot of emphasis on what are very rare events. And what that means is that people are going to be focusing on these very rare events and not getting the benefit of these vaccines which have been proven in millions of people to be very, very safe.

Of course, monitoring the vaccines is critical. We must understand what side effects may occur but we still have to truly understand is this related to the vaccine or is it related to something else?

Or is this related to the vaccine in a very specific population? In which case, recommendations can be put forth that this is what you need to look out for, these certain types of people need to be very cautious about getting vaccine, et cetera, et cetera.

But full scale halting vaccine, that's a very serious thing to do in the midst of a pandemic.

VAUSE: The other possibility, it could be related to politics and so that's where Dominic comes in.

The president of Italy's medicine agency was quoted in a newspaper interview in Italy saying the decision to suspend the decision to suspend the vaccine was a political choice because other European countries had done so.

France was just days ago talking up the vaccine and made a sudden U- turn, the prime minister telling parliament France had to listen to Europe.

So how much of this is being driven by this desire for an appearance of a united front within the E.U.?

THOMAS: Yes. Here we are, John, another example of where you hope the European Union can be quick and rapid and flexible in its response and you see it hindered yet again by this bureaucratic apparatus.

So, of course, when Germany moves to do just about anything, other countries will follow. And I think the word "front" here is important.

You see a range of countries lining up, hiding and concealing some of the greater divisions that are shaping the discussion around these kinds of -- around these questions. And, in fact, more often than not leaders who are really seeking to deflect from their own inadequacies and shortcomings in dealing with this pandemic over the past year and pretending to have a kind of common front with the E.U., I think helps them here.

VAUSE: It was back in February last month, "The New York Times" actually report about fatal blood clots in those who had been vaccinated. It reported "36 cases had been reported to the government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System" -- that was by the end of January.

But here's the rub. It wasn't the AstraZeneca vaccine, rather it was after receiving the Moderna or Pfizer jab. So why would adverse reactions from one vaccine like AstraZeneca lead to suspension of an entire rollout while similar reactions from two other vaccines barely makes a mention?

RIMOIN: Well, first of all we've had many more vaccines distributed here in the United States. And you also have to remember that blood clots are actually very common; there's somewhere around between 250, 275 deaths from blood clots daily in the normal U.S. population.

And so we have to be really thinking about do these adverse events mean in context? Are they really greater than what's happening in the general population and are they related to the actual vaccine or not?

And so that's why we have this really great system of being able to monitor adverse events after vaccines. And there is this data that it is being monitored over time.

I don't think that there's been a big red flag because it's a very small number and it is being monitored and looked into at the same time.


RIMOIN: So I think we should all remember that these vaccines have been distributed now to millions and millions of people with very, very few side effects. Whereas this virus has the ability to cause very severe disease, death -- and in those people who even have mild cases, potentially long-term sequala or consequences.

So very important to put this all in context. VAUSE: Yes. And there's also now the question about public trust in

the AstraZeneca vaccine. With that, the British prime minister trying to boost some confidence with this announcement to parliament.

Here he is.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I'm pleased to discover -- I don't know whether the right honorable gentleman has had his -- he's had it. But it will certainly be Oxford AstraZeneca that I will be having.


VAUSE: The French prime minister also says he will get the AstraZeneca jab. So, Dominic, a vaccination program will rise and fall on the level of public confidence and trust. But how much damage has been done to AstraZeneca simply to give this appearance of unity?

THOMAS: Absolutely enormous, immeasurable, one could argue. And this is the product of months, weeks, of inconsistent messaging.

The big picture here, though. Let's not forget that the European Union invested massively in research and development of the vaccine and has been embroiled in a battle, a war, one could say, for weeks now with AstraZeneca.

And there is a real risk here that if this standoff does not end and if they don't find a way to move ahead with their common goal of getting people vaccinated, that they will end up undermining their mission.

Meanwhile, across the channel Boris Johnson -- and I hate to say this -- has been doing better than the European Union on this particular question.

He's clearly instrumentalizing this as a way to bolster his Brexit argument and this is very bad news for the European Union as an institution.

VAUSE: Very quickly, onto these vaccine COVID-19 passports, if you like, the green certificates. So Anne, to you. Now if you've been vaccinated in Europe, you actually are entitled to receive one of these green certificates.

It gives you the freedom of travel, if you like, from -- unrestricted. Bringing back liberties like social contact and the ability to move freely around the E.U.

But only five percent of Europe's population's been vaccinated, it seems liberty -- but for a small number?

RIMOIN: Well, vaccine passports in principle are not new. Those of us who have traveled globally understand the use of the yellow card, the WHO card, where you must have, for example, your yellow fever vaccine in order to enter several countries.

So vaccine passports are not new. It's something that could definitely be employed but you have to remember there's always workarounds to the system. So it's no guarantee, that everybody that has one is going to actually be vaccinated.

So not a new concept. Certainly, interesting to think about but how do you really make it work and avoid fraud?

VAUSE: Dominic, last word to you, we're almost out of time. But, again, this seems to be focusing on the divisions within the E.U. The southern, warmer member states in the E.U. really pushing for this, the bigger countries like France in particular saying hey, not so fast. There are some serious concerns over privacy and civil liberties.

THOMAS: Yes -- just be very quick here then, John. So ultimately you want the European Union operating in a multilateral fashion, you don't want breakout groups.

My main concern here is we're essentially seeing political leaders who are trying to balance business interests, opening up tourism, with the real health concerns. And what we've learned over the past year from listening to health professionals is that traveler circulation is a particular problem.

We still don't know enough about the inoculation period, we don't know about transmissibility for those that have being vaccinated.

And the last thing you want are people fortunate enough to have been fortunate enough to have been vaccinated or inoculated moving from region A to region B, thereby exposing people that have been undervaccinated and potentially even reproducing so many of the inequities that have characterized this particular pandemic.

So this is a story to follow. And it's still not clear as to the effectiveness of these passports in the European Union.

VAUSE: Thank you both. Anne Rimoin and Dominic Thomas, we appreciate it. Take care.

RIMOIN: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: North Korea says it will continue to reject nuclear talk with the U.S. until it rolls back quote, hostile policies.

Two senior U.S. officials are in Seoul meeting with their South Korean counterparts. On Wednesday, they once again called for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula saying Pyongyang's nuclear program must be addressed urgently.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us again this hour in Seoul.

It's interesting because on Tuesday while in Tokyo the U.S. secretary of state revealed that the North had rejected a number of offers to talks.

So is Pyongyang playing hardball here or is this just the normal state of play with a new administration in the White House?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to be honest, John, the new -- the normal state of play with a new U.S. Administration is to fire something, is to have a weapons test or a missiles test.


We haven't had that so far and that's surprised some people although U.S. officials told CNN the U.S. intelligence assesses they could be planning a weapons test. Which would be the first for President Biden.

But what we're hearing here is rhetoric from North Korea, we're hearing one of the top North Korean diplomats saying that they will not talk to the United States until they change their hostile policy. And there's no point in the U.S. continuing to try and talk to them until they have made that change.

This is something they have said many times in the past.

So although they are rejecting the United States, it is a new U.S. administration and they're certainly being a lot softer on them, shall I say, for want of a better word, than they have been with previous administrations.

With President Obama, with President Trump, they both saw weapons tests very early on in their new administration. So we'll have to see what happens there.

But Secretary of State Blinken had a press conference today with his secretary of defense and both of their counterparts, and he did point out once again how important it was to work together to try and prevent and stop this nuclear missile program.

And he also brought China into it as well. Even though during these trips to Tokyo and to Seoul, he's been pretty critical of China, he also pointed out that the U.S. needs China when it comes to North Korea.


ANTHONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Beijing has an interest, a clear self interest, in helping to pursue the denuclearization of the DPRK. Because it is a source of instability, it's a source of danger and obviously a threat to us and our partners. But China has a real interest in helping to deal with this.

It also as an obligation under the U.N. Security Council resolutions to implement fully the sanctions that the international community has agreed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HANCOCKS: So this afternoon, the two U.S. VIPs will be meeting with

the South Korean president Moon Jae-in. There'll be plenty to talk about there.

Clearly, even though North Korea has said it's not going to engage with the U.S., this is something that President Moon has been very clear, he wants to push very much.

And then, of course, it's on to talk about China. Secretary Blinken will be heading to Alaska to meet with his Chinese counterpart there and it will be the highest level contact between the U.S. and China that we will have seen since President Biden took power.

And given the fact that Secretary Blinken has had some pretty strong words against China, it should be an interesting meeting. John.

VAUSE: They should dress warm, we are told. Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

Well, Russia has recalled its ambassador in Washington after these comments from the U.S. president.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know him relatively well. And the conversation started off -- I said I know you and you know me.

If I establish this occurred then be prepared.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, ABC, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: So you know Vladimir Putin, do you think he's a killer?

BIDEN: Uh-huh. I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what price must he pay?

BIDEN: The price he's going to pay -- well, you'll see shortly.


VAUSE: A Russian government source described the remark as ridiculous and said the state of relations with the United States will be under discussion once their ambassador is back in Moscow.

Next up on CNN NEWSROOM. The death of Tanzania's president; officially cause of death, heart failure.

That has not stopped the speculation, though, that the coronavirus has claimed the life of the long-time COVID denier.

Plus the last frontier. Officials from Beijing and Washington set to meet next week in Alaska. The Chinese delegation may best prepare for a frosty reception.


VAUSE: For more than two weeks, Tanzania's president has been missing from public view fueling speculation the coronavirus-denying, mask refusenik might have been receiving treatment for COVID-19.

But in a nationwide televised address, the vice president announced that John Magufuli had died from heart disease.

Magufuli had continually denied the virus was serious. In May last year stopped official reporting of the number of dead and new COVID infections to the WHO, declared an end to the pandemic.

He denounced vaccines, claimed God and herbal remedies and steam treatments worked better. The vice president Samia Hassan will assume the presidency becoming Tanzania's first female president.

Linus Kaikai is the director of strategy and innovation at Citizen TV. He is with us now from Nairobi. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us here.

I want you to listen to part of that official announcement from the vice president on state-run television that Magufuli had died.

Here it is.


SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN, ACTING PRESIDENT, TANZANIA (Through Translator): Today, on the 17th of March 2021 at 6:00 p.m., we lost our brave leader. The president of the republic of Tanzania, Honorable John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, who has died of a heart condition.


VAUSE: How certain can we be about that cause of death, that it was in fact this heart condition? He suffered from heart disease for a while but these rumors have been around that he was infected with COVID.

It wouldn't be surprising given that his chief secretary recently died from the virus, so too the vice president of the semiautonomous region of Zanzibar?

LINUS KAIKAI, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY & INNOVATION, CITIZEN TV: The one thing that they did last night was in a most unfortunate way to end speculation, to end the rumors of the last 17 days because people did not know.

Not Tanzanians and neighboring countries like Kenya; everywhere people were asking where is the president of Tanzania? And the sad news did come out last night that he had died.

There are, of course, again a lot of speculation. There's of course a lot of speculation on what else is out there? Because the information about COVID-19 in Tanzania has not been flowing freely since April 2020, that's nearly a whole year ago.

But we have reports of senior government officials getting infected, some dying, and now unfortunately the president himself, John Magufuli, dying.

Remember, the reason given there by the vice president of Tanzania is not COVID-19 but a heart attack.

VAUSE: Last month, as he paid his respects to his chief secretary at his funeral -- this is also someone who died from COVID-19 -- Magufuli talked down the seriousness of the virus and he urged everyone to simply trust in God.

Here's what he said.


JOHN MAGUFULI, FORMER PRESIDENT, TANZANIA (Through Translator): The economy continued to soar, despite COVID-19. Infrastructural projects continued being completed. We did not even impose a lockdown and even now we will not impose a lockdown because we know God is with us every day.


VAUSE: Assuming that COVID-19 was not the cause of death here, the pandemic and his denial of it will still be a very bloody stain on his legacy.

KAIKAI: To the bitter end, to the literal end John Pombe Magufuli, he proved himself a super skeptic of COVID-19.

He doubted the disease existed, he doubted it was making rounds in Tanzania. At some point in 2020, I think around June, he declared prayers and traditional methods of treatment had ended COVID-19. So to his very end, he was a skeptic.

In the last days of his appearance -- I think the last appearance was on the 27th of February this year -- he now turned his skepticism to face masks, mocking the use of face masks, saying that they could even be spreading the infection. So to the end, he was a super skeptic of COVID-19.

VAUSE: And, of course, that comes with a whole lot of implications and consequences for his country. But we don't know the cause of death officially, it's a heart disease or heart attack. But, of course, there's still these unanswered questions.

Linus Kaikai in Nairobi, thank you for being with us.

KAIKAI: Thank you.


VAUSE: Next stop for the U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will be Alaska. There he will meet in anchorage with China's foreign minister, Wang Yi.

The U.S. is already setting the stage to confront Beijing on security issues and human rights. With sanctions against two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials.


BLINKEN: China is using force and aggression to systematically erode the economy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet and assert maritime claims to the South China Sea that violate international law.


VAUSE: China is looking for a reset with the U.S. including an end to the troubling trade wars of the Trump Administration. But Beijing also making it clear the U.S. should stay out of its internal affairs. And for that, the translation is Hong Kong.


ZHAO LIJIAN, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN, CHINA (Through Translator): China has an unshakable determination to oppose U.S. attempts to interfere in Hong Kong matters, an unshakable determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests and an unshakable determination to implement the one country two systems policy.

The U.S. should immediately correct its mistakes and stop interfering in Hong Kong matters and China's internal affairs in any way.


VAUSE: Retired Admiral James Stavridis is the former NATO supreme allied commander and co-author of the book "2034: A Novel On The Next War."

He is us this hour from Jacksonville, Florida. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: The latest five-year plan announced by Beijing -- just in context of your book -- it calls for preparation for maritime conflicts.

The "South China Morning Post" had an eye-catching headline recently, "Xi Jinping tells China's military 'be prepared to respond' in unstable times."

And just with regards to the book, the reality is over the past two decades tension between Beijing and Washington has been an upwardly spiking graph, trust and goodwill has been declining. And then you put your novel into that which does seem to sort of blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction.

STAVRIDIS: The idea of the novel is simply to be a cautionary tale. It would be all too easy for the United States and China to kind of sleepwalk into a war.

And I'll tell you where that tension will come -- And you've already mentioned it, it's the South China Sea which Beijing claims in its entirety as territorial waters, the entire body of water. It's the size of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea combined.

So from a U.S. perspective, that's an untenable claim and the United States will continue to push back on it, creates real tension. Could it flare up over the next decade or so? Unfortunately, I think so.

VAUSE: Yes. I want you to listen to China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, on what sounds like a threat to the U.S.


WANG YI, FOREIGN MINISTER, CHINA (Through Translator): For a long time, the United States has arbitrarily interfered in the internal affairs of other countries under the banner of so-called democracy and human rights, causing many troubles in the world and even becoming the source of turmoil and war.

The United States should realize this soon otherwise the world will still be at unrest.


VAUSE: Kind of a threat. The Biden Administration has put human rights and democracy back on the agenda and that's an obvious area of friction. But I can't imagine that would be a cause to go to war -- no one's going to war over the Muslims in Xinjiang, the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

I want you to talk a little bit more about sleep walking into a war. What's the process there that leads to this all out military conflict?

STAVRIDIS: Again, it is the territorial claim over the South China Sea. And what guards the northern entrance to the South China Sea? It's the island of Taiwan.

And there you could easily see a scenario in which the United States is operating in what it considers high seas, international waters, Beijing objects saying that these are internal waters. The prize in that competition becomes the island of Taiwan.

And as a result, a U.S. destroyer could effectively be approached, harassed, overflown by a Chinese vessel, a miscalculation could occur. A Chinese aircraft could be shut down. A U.S. vessel could be attacked by a Chinese vessel. These are miscalculations.

Neither nation has a real interest in going to war but like the first World War which was sparked by an action, an incident, an assassination in a small Serbian country, an incident on the South China Sea could indeed provoke a conflict, John.

VAUSE: And what's interesting is that there's always been -- the U.S. has always had this edge over China when it comes to the size of navies and the technology that the U.S. possesses compared to China.

But China already now has the world's biggest navy and there are still gaps in capability. But even so, here's Admiral Philip Davidson testifying before Congress last week.

Listen to this.



ADM. PHILIP DAVIDSON: As China continues to increase the size of the People's Liberation Army, AND advance their own joint capabilities. The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming more unfavorable for the United States and our allies.

And with this imbalance, we are accumulating risks that may embolden China, to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response.


VAUSE: It seems to me, in your book they kind of reach that point of technological equivalency in 2034. The reality is though it could happen a lot sooner than that, isn't it?

JAMES STAVRIDIS, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER IN EUROPE: It could happen sooner. Let's just put admiral Phil Davidson in context. He was my opposite number when I was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe. Admiral Davidson is the commander of all U.S. Forces in the Pacific and Indian Ocean -- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. He knows that of which he speaks.

And yes, that edge that the United States has enjoyed for decades is eroding and it's eroding rapidly. However, the U.S. still has some number of years to go before that balance tips entirely.

Admiral Davidson is seeking to hit a warning bell. I think it's an appropriate one, by 2034, when the novelist set the tables will be quite even. No deterrent exists at that point. It becomes, I think a moment of maximum danger. We approach it over the coming decade.

VAUSE: A cautionary tale and a warning, your novel is. And thank you very much. It's a good book and once again the title is "2034: A Novel of the Next War". Thank you for being with us, sir.

STAVRIDIS: Pleasure. Thanks, John.

VAUSE: Well, for the past year, it's almost as if the U.K. government did everything possible to make the pandemic worse, but now comes a huge success on behalf of all adults on track it seems to receive at least one vaccine shot, as stated by the prime minister's goal. More on that when we come back.



VAUSE: Brazil is now a global leader in new COVID infections according to the W.H.O. more than half a million people tested positive for COVID last week. A surge driven by more contagious and deadly variant, and a slow vaccination rollout. Less than one and a half percent of the population is fully vaccinated. More details now CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was just about one year ago that Brazil recorded its very first death from the coronavirus and right now things are unfortunately worse than they have ever been.

It was on Wednesday that Brazilian health officials announced that a new single day record had been set in terms of coronavirus cases, recorded more than 90,000 cases on Wednesday.

Health officials ALSO reported more than 2,600 additional deaths from the coronavirus. That is second most all-time for a single day behind the previous record which was set just yesterday on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, we heard from the country's most important medical research institute, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation also known as FIOCRUZ, they talked about the current situation talking about how grave it is and they said quote, "The situation is the greatest health and hospital collapse in the history of Brazil."

And if you look across the country right now, the latest analyst from CNN shows all but one of 26 Brazilian states showing ICU capacities in those hospitals at 80 percent or more.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


VAUSE: In the Middle East, Iraq and Jordan are reporting their highest daily case count since the beginning of the pandemic. Iraq reported more than 6,500 new COVID cases on Wednesday and despite that the government is planning to ease restrictions because the country is facing some economic challenges.

And Jordan broke another daily coronavirus count record with more than 9,500 new cases on Wednesday. The two imposing restrictions and suspending mosques and church prayers, closing nightclubs, bars, public schools as well as gyms.

The U.K. says more than 25 million people, almost half of all adults have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. And officials say they're on track to reach the prime minister's target of at least one jab for every adult by the end of July.

CNN's Cyril Vanier reports now from London.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 100 days after the U.K. started its vaccination roll out, 25 million people here almost half the adult though population have received at least one doze of the coronavirus minority vaccine.

The rollout has gone faster than expected and so far has been a tremendous success for the U.K. 90 percent of those who are extremely vulnerable have been administered a dose and all the over fifties are expected to be offered won by mid-April. The British prime minister calls it an incredible achievement, one that was badly needed.

The U.K. has the second highest COVID death rate per capita in the world. Mr. Johnson who himself required intensive care treatment last year was accused of ordering a lockdown too late costing many lives and highly contagious variant first identified in the U.K. plunged the country deep into a third wave only three months ago.

But a strict lockdown and an efficient vaccination program have cut the number of daily infections from 60,000 in January to just 5000 today. And Boris Johnson seemed pleased to announce that he would soon be receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. A vaccine that made headlines this week after a majority of European countries temporarily suspended it over safety concerns.

Both the U.K. and the E.U.'s health regulators have said there is no proof the vaccine causes severe side effects.

Boris Johnson writing in an op-ed on Wednesday, it is safe and works extremely well.

Cyril Vanier, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: A dark day for the beautiful game with a new report of finding child sexual abuse was a result of inexcusable, institutional failings with in England's Football Association.

CNN World Sports gone Don Riddell has details


DON RIDDEL, CNN WORLD SPORTS; The details of this independent report are just extraordinary. It runs to some 710 pages, detailing the historic sexual abuse of children in English football. And the sports' governing body in the country is singled out for some damning criticism.

The report says that more than 600 children were impacted and the English Football Association showed significant institutional failings in delaying the implementation of child protection measures between October 1995 and May of the year 2000. The review concluded that the FA acted far too slowly to introduce appropriate and sufficient child protection measures. According to the findings, as of last August, there were at least 240 suspects and 692 survivors, concluding that a great deal of abuse occurred between 1970 and 2005.

In response, the FA said in a statement, quote, "Today is a dark day for the beautiful game, one in which we must acknowledge the mistakes of the past and ensure that we do everything possible to prevent them being repeated. Today, I address the survivors directly as the people that matter most. To them I say you have the deepest admiration of the FA. Your bravery throughout this process has been incredible. Your voices have been so powerful, no child should ever have experienced the abuse you did."


RIDDELL: Some of the players who were abused bravely spoke about their trauma a few years ago, but to see it all laid out in this report, and the vast numbers of children who were abused means that the game is today confronting the sobering reality of its past.

Back to you.


VAUSE: After the break, forecast of an incredible economic boom in the U.S. the likes of which not seen in 70 years. But with that expect higher prices. More on the forecast and market reaction when we come back.


VAUSE: Well, after multiple delays because of the pandemic, the doors of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan are now open. The park is a larger than life sized replica of the company's most famous games featuring characters like Mario and Yoshi.

More (ph) from CNN's Selina Wang who's outside Super Nintendo World in Osaka first. You know, this is something which I know you are still wearing the mask, but it's almost like kind of a normality thing here, kind of the stories we're used to hear.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, honestly, if it weren't for these masks and COVID-19 restrictions, this energy and excitement almost makes me forget that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. There's actually still a line of people hours after the opening still waiting to get into experience this life side regression of the Mushroom Kingdom.

And I've been speaking to attendees here and many of them have been playing Nintendo Games since they were kids. And some of they say that it's absolutely emotional to walk in there and see the childhood games really coming to life.

Now this park was supposed to open last, year ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and of course just like the Olympics, it's been pushed back by about a year because of the pandemic. And there was an expectation that this was going to bring an influx of tourism and boost economic activity.

But capacity here is limited. There are COVID-19 restrictions in place but none of this is stopping the excitement that we are seeing here today.


WANG: Here we go. Entering Super Nintendo World through the Warp Pipe, follow me.

And here we are, a life sized replica of Nintendo's most popular games. You've got Yoshi's Adventure, Bowser's Castle, and Peach's Castle and all the iconic characters.

After nearly a year long delay because of COVID-19, this theme park in Osaka's Universal Studios Japan is finally open to the public. We're getting a sneak peak before the big crowds come in.

But this is how things look during COVID. Your temperature is taken at the entrance. Hand sanitizer is everywhere. Masks are required at all times except for (INAUDIBLE).

So I can interact with Mario and Luigi but there are rules against touching. And one of the few places in this whole park where I can take my mask off or in this photo-op area with Mario and Luigi.


WANG: And actually on the ground here there are markers to prove that I need to be a certain distance away from them. So I am being socially distant from Mario and Luigi.

Park officials say that this all cost about half a billion dollars to construct and more than six years to develop. Now the gaming industry and Nintendo Especially got a big boost during the pandemic, as more people were stuck at home inside, playing Nintendo games. Games that become real life in this park.

The whole park is interactive, You can even compete against other people here, and just like in the Mario video games. I've got this power up band on my wrist and I can just punch up on these blocks and I get points in the Mario app on my phone.

And this is what many fans are most excited about, Koopa's Challenge, a real life Mario kart race through Bowser's castle.

All right, I'm about to get on a real life Mario Kart ride. I've got to put on the augmented reality headset here, clip it in. All right. Let's go." The augmented reality headset got a little bit of getting used to but I was racing through the Mushroom Kingdom, got to save Princess Peach, Mario and Luigi.

I think of playing that video game very soon., I think I might have a fair that are the real life version. For Nintendo, this is an important step beyond its core business of video games and consoles. It's cashing in on its treasure trove of intellectual property and iconic characters.

Here in this store, and in the restaurant. Pinocchio's cafe, we're here in the Mushroom Kingdom and Mushroom themed food is everywhere. It looks like a cartoon food, but it's edible.

She told me when I saw all this I got emotional. I've been playing Nintendo game since I was small. It's not exaggerating to say that Mario games raised me, this is all beyond my expectations, she told me. I feel like I'm in the Mario world. "I get worried about COVID when I take off my mask to eat," she said, but the park is taking safety protocols, so I feel safe.

Japan's borders are still closed so international travelers aren't allowed in this park yet but there are plans to open Super Nintendo world superintendent world in Florida, California and Singapore.

Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, says he wants the whole world to come visit when the pandemic is over.


WANG: And John, this theme park opening happens as the global theme park industry has been struggling, and out there opening a passport around the world.

In fact plans to open super NINTENDO world in Orlando have reportedly been delayed until 2025. Now, when I asked this We asked the CEO of universal studios depend when they plan to return other Nintendo games and bring them to life here. He wouldn't say what game in specific, but he did say they are going to continue to invest in this park, John.

VAUSE: Selina thank you. Selina Wang there, live for us in Osaka. Go have fun. Don't talk to us. Bye.

Well, as the coronavirus winds down and with the commitment to keep interest rates at near zero. The U.S. Federal Reserve is forecasting an economic boom, dramatically increasing projections through growth this year. Wall Street responding with new record highs.

Let's go to CNN's John Defterios in Abu Dhabi for more on this.

Ok. You know, the U.S. Central Bank chairman, he kind of ruled out raising interest rates for what at least two years. It seems that he was out to set a pretty clear message or may be two messages.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes. I think that is the case, John. And there is always a danger to be that declarative when it comes to monetary policy in case you need to retreat.

But I think you're right it is not one message but two. We're going to continue buying bonds to support liquidity in the market. And interest rates will probably stay low until 2023. There is an exit strategy and I'll mention that in a second but the

gauge here is job creation because more than nine million Americans are still without work right now, and the unemployment rate is at 6.2 percent.

Beyond the growth and looking to get that unemployment rate down in 2023 down to 3.5 percent which is almost full employment for those wanting to work.

And Powell suggested here after the Fed board meeting, they're now looking at the forecast, John. But this time around it's the absolute Park Avenue (ph). Let's take a listen.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We want to that the labor markets have moved -- labor market conditions have moved, you know, they have made substantial progress towards maximum employment and inflation has made substantial progress toward the 2 percent goal. That is what we're going to want to see. Now, that obviously, includes an element of judgment.


DEFTERIOS: And that is the caveat that we're talking about here, John. But let's get the investor reaction in Asia and it's green across the border with pretty healthy gains, because we saw a spike in the last 90 minutes of trade after the Fed Board meeting yesterday.

And this is carrying over to Asia with gains of nearly 1 percent in Japan. The Hang Seng index is up nearly 1.5 percent and all green across the board here with Seoul up eight-tenths of 1 percent.


DEFTERIOS: Look at the U.S. futures. They're pretty flat, trying to struggle and hold on to the green arrows here. But we did go into record territory with gains of three-tenths of 1 percent to over half a percent across all three major indices on Wall Street.

VAUSE: You know, you touched on this. What we're hearing from the fed is that there is this commitment to keep interest rates close to or at their target of near zero. Ok. That is the commitment. That doesn't mean they're going to do it because there are obviously situations in which policy could change.

DEFTERIOS: You should really understand the economic policy. There's always a back door for a federal bank chief, right, John.

And I think the one gauge here, beyond the employment creation they want to have is inflation. Let's take a look at the two key players internationally that have spoken over the last week. Jay Powell of the Federal Reserve, Christine LaGarde, the head of the European Central Bank.

They said inflation will go up. In fact the U.S. Federal Reserve said the original target in December was 1.8 percent. They said that it will go up to 2.4 percent.

But he also suggested in his comments, we have to have the hard evidence and that the 2.4 percent is transitory. That is the same thing LaGarde said at her press conference last week as well. It will go up and then at the start of 2022 it will go back down again. So no major threat at this stage.

VAUSE: At this stage. It seems, the emerging markets editors have back doors as well.

John thank you. John Defterios in Abu Dhabi. Take care. See you John.

VAUSE: Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, hopes for a royal reconciliation. The latest on conversations between Prince Harry and the royal family.


VAUSE: The royal rift between Prince Harry and his brother and father the future kings of England, apparently no closer to ending. American journalist and friend of Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King says talks between the Duke of Sussex, Prince William and Prince Charles have been unproductive.

CNN Max Foster has our report.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Trust is clearly breaking down even further between the Sussexes and the rest of the royal family, if there could be even more of a break down after that big Oprah Winfrey interview.

But the Queen has asked the family to try to work this out privately. Next thing we know is that Gayle King is on U.S. TV on CBS saying she'd spoken to the Sussexes and they have had a conversation with William they revealed that. Also a conversation with Prince Charles but that they had not worked out to be productive.

Basically, frustration on the Sussex side, that there appear to be leaks on the royal family side. But I have to say, over here in the U.K., this Gayle King comment was seen as leaking as well. This is really where we are on this story.

Some frustration as well on the Sussex, according to Gayle King about how no one has actually spoken to Meghan about this yet.

Meanwhile, lots of talk about Meghan's future political career. She's not talked about it but other people seem to be talking about it including former President Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If that happened, then I think I have an even stronger feeling towards running. I'm not a fan of hers. I think that what she talks about the royal family and the Queen, I happen to think I know the Queen, as you know. I've met with the Queen and I think the Queen is a tremendous person. And I'm not a fan of Meghan. FOSTER: There had been rumors for some time about Meghan's future

political career but I think that's really based on the type of work that she's been doing and the sort of political comments that she has expressed in the past.


FOSTER: But we'll have to wait and see whether or not 2024 is really an option in the presidential race for her.

Max Foster, CNN - Hampshire, England.


VAUSE: Actor Elliot Page is now the first trans man to appear on the cover of "Time Magazine". The "Juno" and "Inception" actor gave his first interview to the magazine since revealing his gender identity last year. Page says for a long time he felt a disconnect between how the world saw him and how he saw himself. He tells the magazine if we could just celebrate all the wonderful complexities of people the world will be such a better place.

For the first time in almost 60 years, new pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been unearthed in the Judean Desert. Israeli archeologists say they found fragments of the religious manuscripts inside a remote cave.

With details here's CNN's Hadas Gold.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the most amazing thing I encountered, I have found, I have seen in my life.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In these remote caves near the Dead Sea, Israeli researchers found dozens of fragments of a Dead Sea Scroll bearing biblical text. Written in Greek and dating back nearly two thousand years these new pieces of a biblical book have been unearthed for the first time in over 60 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we found is new parts of the puzzle of this rather large manuscript. The manuscript is of a translation into Greek of the 12 minor prophets from the bible.

GOLD: Archaeologists have been working in these caves and cliffs of the Judean Desert since 2017 to prevent the looting of antiquities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A survey in this scale was never conducted in the Judean Desert. We surveyed more than 100 kilometers of the cliffs of the Judean Desert, and you can see the results.

GOLD: More historic elements were found. A 6,000-skeleton of a child, rare where coins and a complete basket thought to be the biggest and oldest intact basket in the world.

HAIM COHEN, ARCHEOLOGIST: We're looking at A basket which is about 10,500 years old. And it's kind of huge. It contains between 90 to 100 liters and it's still whole, intact.

GOLD: Centuries of hot and dry climate means this basket made from plant material, may yield new information on how products were stored before pottery was invented.

From just a few millimeters to a thumb nail in size, these fragments may look small but experts say they could provide a huge insight into the history before and after the time of Jesus.

Hadas Gold, CNN -- Jerusalem.


VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Thank you for watching.

Please stay with us. Rosemary Church is up after the break with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM.