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EMA to Report on AstraZeneca Issues; Health Experts Don't Advice to Jump into Conclusion; E.U. Launches Digital Green Pass; Mexico and Canada Don't Mind Controversies on AstraZeneca; Tanzania's President Died of Mysterious Illness; Brazil Seeing a Collapse in Healthcare System; U.S. Top Diplomats Meet With South Korea's President; Jordan Breaks Daily COVID Case Record; Several Asian Countries Continue AstraZeneca Rollout; Crisis In Myanmar, More Than 200 Killed Since February 1; Dutch Prime Minister Rutte Claims Victory In National Election; Second Tokyo Official Resigns; Child Abuse Report On English Football; Sarah Everard Murder A National Debate On The Problem; Harry's Talks With William, Charles Unproductive; Super Nintendo World Opens In Osaka, Japan; Dead Sea Historic Discoveries. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, European regulators are expected to clear up concerns today about the AstraZeneca vaccine as parts of the continent battle a third wave of COVID-19.

America's top diplomat is putting pressure on China to urge North Korea to denuclearize. We will have a live report from Seoul.

Plus, a sign pre-pandemic life may be getting closer in Japan. We will go live to super Nintendo world.

Good to have you with us.

Well, a few hours from now European drug regulators will announce whether the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is safe to use. At issue is whether the vaccine can cause rare but potentially fatal blood clots. AstraZeneca says it's aware of about three dozen adverse incidents out of 17 million doses in the E.U. and the U.K.

The company claims that's comparable to other COVID vaccines. Half of the E.U.'s members have stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine, pending an emergency review by the European Medicines Agency, that is due out today, very soon in fact. Despite the cautions, some U.S. health experts are skeptical the vaccine is to blame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The actual incidents of the clotting is not more than you would expect in the population in the absence of vaccines. So that's why they're insisting that the concern is not founded on the reality of what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And while we don't yet know what the EMA will say in its review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the World Health Organization is optimistic, the drugs benefits outweigh any potential side effects.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAM: The use of the vaccine far outweighs the risks, we know that vaccines that are out there are safe and effective and it is really important that individuals get vaccinated, when it is your turn, when you are offered.

MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHO HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: I think we need to be very careful that we don't end up overreacting and damaging the public and people's minds until we are absolutely sure that there actually is a problem. Right now, that is not certain and let's wait for the data to be looked out before we make any conclusions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And for the latest from Europe let's bring in CNN's Jim Bittermann outside of Paris and Cyril Vanier in London. Welcome to you both.

Cyril, let's start with you. The EMA ruling on AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine is expected very soon. What is the latest and what has been the fallout, and the damage done by this suspension?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The EMA's final assessment on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected in just a few hours. We already have a pretty strong hint at what they are going to say because they gave a preliminary assessment on Tuesday, which reiterated what has been the EMA's position all along, that the benefits of using the vaccine outweigh the risks, and that they have so far, found no evidence of a correlation between the vaccine and the severe health events, those rare blood clots including fatal ones that were reported in multiple European countries among vaccine recipients.

So, there has been no indication of new information that would change the EMA's assessment between Tuesday and today. It does seem, it does feel, like we are headed towards the EMA reinstating fully AstraZeneca. And I say this because multiple European countries have already signaled that they are poised to resume vaccinating with AstraZeneca, both France and Italy have said that if the EMA gives the green light. With the French prime minister even going on TV this week saying that he would get an early dose of AstraZeneca if it got the green light from the EMA. As far as the fallout, Rosemary, well, it's hard to know yet. We are going to find out.

In terms of the schedule of vaccination, countries like Spain have said that they are going to be able to make up the time that they have lost while they paused AstraZeneca, and that they will be able to vaccinate everybody on schedule.

It's -- it's a little bit hard to believe, how you can pause vaccination for an entire week when you are already going pretty slowly across Europe, and still meet your vaccination targets. Rosemary?

[03:05:07]

CHURCH: Yes. And other parts of the world are moving forward with AstraZeneca. Thank you so much for that, Cyril. Jim, to you now. In France, of course one of the countries that suspended AstraZeneca despite rising cases and deaths there. What is being said about that pause, as we wait for the final EMA ruling on the vaccine?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I think for the last couple of days, officials here, like the president himself as well as the prime minister have been trying to walk back the impact of that suspension. Because the president abruptly on Monday suspended vaccination, some people had vaccines in their hands and we're about ready to inject patients on Monday when the president suspended things.

And the consequences are that a lot of French are skeptical about AstraZeneca, according to a public opinion poll, it was taken right after the suspension, only 20 percent of the French had any kind of confidence in AstraZeneca. And that's going to be something that's going to be a real problem for the French because they're depending on AstraZeneca as one of their vaccines to help them face up to this crisis.

It's going to be a big day in terms of the COVID here in France, because the EMA news conference that is going to perhaps go some way to rebuilding confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But the second thing that's going to happen here, is about two hours after that, the health minister is going to go on television and explain exactly what new measures are going to be taken to combat the virus here.

Overnight the figures were dreadful. They went from 29,000 new cases on Tuesday, from Tuesday to Wednesday, to another 38,500 new cases overnight last night, and that spike is going to really alarm officials here, especially in the Paris region where the ICU beds are now overcapacity, they're transporting ICU patients outside of the Paris region.

So, they're going to have to do something. And at the very least it looks like there is going to be a weekend lockdown in the Paris region, it could be more draconian measures than that, there could be a lock down in other parts of the country, it could be a week day lockdown in outer France. A lot of different possibilities, we won't know them until about 10 hours from now. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. A lot of countries playing catch-up going forward. Jim Bittermann, many thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation across France. I appreciate it.

Well as countries work to ramp up vaccinations, many people are hoping a shot in the arm will mean that they'll be free to travel again. Now the European Commission has unveiled its plans for a vaccine passport. The digital green certificate would confirm if someone has been vaccinated, has received a negative test result, or has recovered from COVID-19. Its goal to allow safe travel around the E.U.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: With this digital certificate, we aim to help member states reinstate the freedom of movement in a safe, responsible, and trusted manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): The U.K.'s business minister says the British government is also considering vaccine passports that could be used for travel during the summer months.

We're now learning that the Biden administration is considering sending some doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada. The vaccine is still going through clinical trials in the U.S., and the company has not yet applied for emergency use authorization here, meaning tens of millions of doses are stockpiled just waiting for approval.

Both countries have made a request for doses, and Mexico says an agreement to get them could come as soon as Friday. Both countries are clearly sticking with the AstraZeneca vaccine despite concerns in Europe about blood clots. In fact, Canada is now recommending the vaccine for all adults, including the elderly.

CNN's Paula Newton reports from Ottawa.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Canada is taking a very different approach to the AstraZeneca vaccine despite what's going on in Europe. Canada is now recommending this vaccine for every adult over the age of 18. Now it held back on a certain recommendation for seniors wanting to see more real-world data.

The experts here now say they've seen that data, it comes from the U.K. And they say this vaccine is completely safe and effective for all adults. Saying that they do not see any kind of causal link between blood clots and this vaccine, and all of this comes at a critical time in Canada.

You know, the vaccine rollout here has been much slower than it has been in the U.K. and the United States and at the same time as those variants begin to dominate in Canada, a lot of public health officials are looking at an increase in hospitalizations and admissions to ICUs and beginning to wonder whether or not the vaccine rollout will really be enough in order to really mitigate the effects of a third wave.

[03:10:10]

They are keeping a close eye on data, but many people are also citing pandemic fatigue and wondering what more can be done given the more than a year now have so many lockdowns and restrictions that have been posed on so many Canadians.

Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.

CHURCH: We turn to Brazil now, which is dealing with a record surge in new COVID numbers. On Wednesday, more than 90,000 people tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to almost 12 million, that's according to Brazil's health ministry.

Matt Rivers is in Rio with more on this troubling trend.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was just 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 recorded 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 countries 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 analysis 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 Janeiro, Brazil.

CHURCH (on camera): And you can tune into the next edition of Amanpour for a worldwide exclusive interview with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva. President Obama once called Lula the most popular politician on earth, he is credited with raising tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty and he says he would not deny an invitation to run for president again after a top judge annulled his conviction for corruption.

Lula has blasted his success at Jair Bolsonaro for Brazil's response to the pandemic. He also wants President Biden to call an emergency G20 summit to provide vaccines to the world's poor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): I should say and I know that the U.S. has vaccines in a surplus, that they are not going to use all that vaccine. And maybe that vaccine, who knows, could be donated to Brazil or to other countries, even poorer than Brazil that cannot afford to buy the vaccine.

So, one suggestion that I would like to make to President Biden through your program, is it's very important to call a G20 meeting urgently, it's important to call the main leaders of the world and put around the table just one thing, one issue, vaccine, vaccine, and vaccines.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And you can watch Christiane's interview with former Brazilian President Lula da Silva on Amanpour today at 7 p.m. in London and 3 in the afternoon in New York.

Well Tanzania's president has died after disappearing from the public eye for two weeks. He was a prominent coronavirus skeptic and there had been rumors he had gotten infected. Details live from Johannesburg coming up.

And high-level talks are underway in South Korea right now, as U.S. officials say tackling North Korea's nuclear program is a top priority. Coming up, we will go to Seoul to hear what's the talks have accomplished.

[03:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): Tanzania's president, one of the world's most prominent coronavirus skeptics has died at the age of 61. The vice president says John Magufuli died from a heart condition he's had four years.

CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg, he joins us now live. Good to see you, David. So still a lot of rumors about his death swirling, why is that?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's because Magufuli disappeared some weeks ago after, in fact, having every week gone to a church services without masks, frequently derailing against what he saw as conspiracies around COVID-19. And there were also talk from the opposition and sources within Tanzania that he was very sick with COVID-19.

That of course is not confirmed, but given all the circumstances that play, and the secrecy with which the government did its business, many people are skeptical that in fact it was only a heart condition that led to his death.

Just a few days ago, on Friday, the prime minister had said that they must stop those rumors and he was working for the Tanzanian people, something that many people don't believe, frankly. And for months now, in fact almost a year, Magufuli has been working against any kind of the normal expected ways of dealing with COVID.

He issued a lockdown, he wanted no part of vaccines, for a very long time he said people shouldn't wear masks, and citizens lived in fear of some of this. People in Easter last year were burying their young loved ones, (Inaudible) the cover of darkness and that level of sort of secrecy has continued. It is very unclear what the situation of COVID is in the country because they stopped counting the cases in April last year. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And, David, what is his legacy?

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly, regional leaders including recent just a short time ago, the Kenyan president have lauded him as a powerful leader in East Africa. But the reality is a little bit more complicated. Magufuli came in, he was known as the bulldozer, he came into on a mantle to stop corruption, stop government wastage, he did do some of that.

But as the years progressed and certainly into his second term, he was accused by human rights group of being extremely autocratic, increasingly so clamping down on the press, civil rights organization, charities and rolling back progress in women's health issues significantly.

And really, it will be the COVID his legacy that people will think of in the future. Because he said people shouldn't seek treatments, he said people should go to stadiums to celebrate the matches, football matches in Darussalam and elsewhere, that people should take herbal remedies, and also steam baths and that God would clear people of COVID.

So of course, should it in the coming days or weeks be confirmed that he had COVID, it would be deeply ironic. Other senior leaders have gotten sick, And really, despite the pressure from WHO, from catholic leaders within the country, he only recently rolled back some of the strident anti-COVID measures rhetoric, somewhat. And many in Tanzania that I have spoken to who were often too afraid to talk out in public say that it has had lasting damage for the country.

CHURCH (on camera): All right. David McKenzie joining us live from Johannesburg, many thanks.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are meeting at this hour with South Korea's president. It is one of the last stops on their Asia trip, which has largely focused on China and North Korea.

[03:19:59]

The U.S. and South Korea have reaffirmed their commitments to address Pyongyang's nuclear program. And the top U.S. officials says China plays a critical role in achieving denuclearization on the peninsula.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. 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 is 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 has an obligation. Under the U.N. Security Council resolutions to implement fully the sanctions that the international community has agreed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): North Korea says it has rejected offers from the U.S. to start talks.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is following the latest developments from Seoul. She is with us now live. Good to see you, Paula. So, what's been the response to North Korea's comments there? And what all can these talks accomplish?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, Secretary Blinken was asked directly what his response was to those comments, he didn't engage directly with them, but he has admitted that the U.S. has been trying to engage with North Korea since mid-February, including using the New York channel and other channels as well.

But Pyongyang, through one of its top diplomats really shut that down through a state-run media saying that unless the U.S. changes its hostile policy, something we have heard repeatedly from Pyongyang, then there is no point in meeting and that they wouldn't have any interaction with the U.S. at all.

Now, what Secretary Blinken and of course Secretary Austin have had to do while here in South Korea and also in Japan, that previous trip, is to walk a fairly balanced line between what we have heard from the secretary of state criticizing China heavily, saying that they are acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad, and then acknowledging that they do actually need China when it comes to dealing with North Korea.

So, Secretary Blinken has been saying that all allies need to work together to deal with the nuclear missile program of Pyongyang but also pointing out something that we really haven't heard U.S. diplomats talk about very much over the past four years. And that is the human rights record in North Korea. He has repeatedly mentioned that in all of the press availability he's had here, as well.

One other interesting point to make, Rosemary, when the two of them did meet with the South Korean President Moon Jae-in there were some comments at the top of the meeting, and one of those comments from President Moon was that he welcome to the return of diplomacy and alliances.

And that was a key point of this meeting as well. It wasn't just to talk about China, or just to talk about North Korea, it was what President Joe Biden had said he wanted to do from day one which was to rebuild the alliances that the U.S. has around the world, Rosemary? CHURCH (on camera): Many thanks to our Paula Hancocks joining us live

from Seoul.

Well after talking about China for much of his trip, the U.S. secretary of state will be traveling to Alaska to meet with that nation's foreign minister Wang Yi. The U.S. is expected to confront Beijing on security and human rights issues after its sanctioned two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing's ongoing crackdown on the city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLINKEN: China is using coercion and aggression to systematically erode the autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse (Inaudible) to death, and (Inaudible) claims of the South China Sea that violate international law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): China is looking for a reset with the U.S. including an end to the troubling trade wars under the Trump administration, but Beijing is making clear, the U.S. should stay out of what it considers its internal affairs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZHAO LIJIAN, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): China has an unshakable determination to oppose U.S. attempts to interfere in Hong Kong matters, and unshakable determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development rests, 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 Kg matters and China's internal affairs in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): Chinese diplomats say they do not have high expectations for the talks, adding that one conversation will not resolve all of the two countries differences.

Well, Russia is not very happy about some recent comments from U.S. President Joe Biden. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He will pay a price. We had a long talk, he and I. I know relatively well, and the conversation started off I said I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred then be prepared.

[03:25:02]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: So, you know Vladimir Putin, do you think he is a killer? BIDEN: I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what price must he pay?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): A Russian government source tells CNN the remark is ridiculous, and the whole state of relations will be discussed when the U.S. ambassador returns to Moscow. The foreign ministry says the Kremlin will have to look at ways to improve ties which has been at a dead end in recent years.

Well the U.S. Military in Afghanistan says it carried out numerous airstrikes against Taliban targets during the past several days. The U.S. reports hitting three sites in Kandahar province where it says Taliban fighters were actively attacking Afghan security forces.

The Taliban condemned the airstrikes as a violation of the year-old Doha agreement, but the U.S. says it has the right to defend Afghan troops under attack.

The airstrikes come as Taliban and Afghan officials meet for peace talks in Moscow in the coming hours, and Turkey already has announced it will host another round of talks next months in Istanbul. The tentative date for U.S. forces to withdraw from Afghanistan is just around the corner.

The Trump administration had set a May 1st deadline for the U.S. to be out of Afghanistan, but that withdrawal is now under review by the Biden administration.

And still to come, while some countries roll out vaccines and looked to life after COVID, others are dealing with record infection numbers.

Coming up, we look at Jordan where there is a warrying surge in new cases. And in Myanmar, growing concerns as the military intensifies its crackdown on dissent, the details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Well, for a second straight day, Iraq has reported a record high number of new COVID-19 cases. The country's health ministry said 5,663 infections were recorded on Wednesday, the highest daily case count since the pandemic began. And despite the recent surge, the government still plans to ease restrictions, citing the economic challenges faced during the lockdown.

Turkey is also seeing a surge in cases. The country reported almost 19,000 new infections Wednesday. That its highest daily increase this year, and comes after the government began easing COVID restrictions earlier this month.

And a new record has been set in Jordan where almost 10,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total past a half million according to official data.

[03:30:00]

Jordan now has the second highest number of confirmed COVID cases in the Arab world after Iraq. For more on the rising number of COVID cases in the region, let's bring in Jomana Karadsheh who is in Istanbul. Good to see you Jomana. This is just so unfortunate isn't it? To see these spikes. Talk to us about what has gone wrong here across parts of the Middle East, and specifically in Jordan?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, as you mentioned there, Rosemary, we are seeing numbers going up in these different countries being blamed on the new variants, especially the variant first identified in the U.K. and also the fact that these countries really can't afford to keep their businesses, their economy shut down. A lot of loosening in restrictions in these countries, including Turkey, and Iraq.

Now the most alarming situation we are seeing currently is in Jordan. They are reporting this devastating wave, where you are seeing stunning numbers in a country of about 10 million people right now, reporting anywhere between 7,000 to close to 10,000 cases on a daily basis, the number of deaths rising hitting a record this week with 82 deaths reported.

And the government is blaming this, Rosemary, on the variant first identified in the U.K. that began spreading in Jordan earlier this year in about January. And also on people not abiding by the restrictions that they have in place, including some of the most basic ones like wearing masks.

And you know, there have been recommendations from the scientists in the country that Jordan need some sort of a circuit break. That they need to put in some sort of a full lockdown to try and bring down this surge. But the government has really been resisting it, because they've used this card really early on in the pandemic. For months they shut down the country, and it cost their economy so much.

And there is so much anger among the population because of the economic situation right now, that the government really can't risk that and can't afford this sort of lockdown. So they've put in some measures recently, extending the nighttime curfew, suspending Friday prayers, church mass, shutting down some sectors, but many people would tell you, and scientists in the country, that this is too little too late.

It is a bit of a Band-Aid situation to what is going on in the country. Really dire warnings that we are hearing from the government saying that the country's health care sector is being pushed to the brink, right now. They basically, you have got several hospitals in the kingdom that are saying that they have reached full capacity, and over the past year, they have increased capacity by establishing field and military field hospitals across the country, those are starting to fill up to.

So there's a lot of concern that unless they do something, and do it fast, that the country's health care sector will not be able to cope with what is going on right now, Rosemary.

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. This is a big concern, Jomana Karadsheh bringing us the very latest. Many thanks.

Well, several countries in Asia continue to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccine despite many European nations pausing its use, while they investigate potential side effects. At the same time, the World Health Organization says the vaccines benefits outweigh its risks. CNN's Kim Brunhuber has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): To the sound of snapping cameras, Thailand's Prime Minister because the first person in a country to get AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. His shot in the arm kicks off its news across the nation.

PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, THAI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I've been ready to get vaccinated for quite a while, I'm thankful for all the medical staff who have been working to get the vaccine for the Thai people. Today, I'm boosting confidence in the vaccine for the general public.

BRUNHUBER: Thailand is continuing AstraZeneca's rollout after a brief pause following European reports of bleeding, blood clots and low platelets counts found in a small number of those who receive the vaccine, while it's has been suspended in more than a dozen E.U. countries, most of Asia seems to be deeming its safe. Indonesia is the regions only nation to say AstraZeneca's vaccine, is currently suspended. But from Thailand to India, to South Korea to Australia, vaccinations campaigns continue in the fight against coronavirus.

PAUL KELLY, AUSTRALIA CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER: In any large vaccine rollout, we do expect to see unusual events and we monitor very closely and carefully for those. But this does not mean that an event that happens after vaccination has been given, is indeed due to that vaccine. So we do always take it seriously, we do investigate but in this situation, I can absolutely say that I remain confident in the AstraZeneca vaccine, that it's safe.

BRUNHUBER: AstraZeneca, meanwhile, is doubling down on the safety of its vaccine, it says that of the 17 million people vaccinated in the E.U. and the U.K. so far, blood clots were quote much lower than what would be expected to occur naturally in the general population.

[03:35:12]

The World Health Organization said in a statement Wednesday, that it believes quote, the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks. That may be especially true in countries like India, where COVID deaths continue to rise. In a pandemic that's claimed more than 2.5 million lives, worldwide Kim Brunhuber, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): The U.N. high commissioner for human rights tells CNN, more than 200 people have been killed in Myanmar protest since the military coup on February 1st. Protesters have packed streets for more than a month speaking out against the takeover, and the U.N. says that the death toll could be even higher.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE BACHELET, U.N. HIGH COMMISIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: We also have seen in the protests from the beginning to now, that the repression has changed, at the beginning, there were sort of that targeted persons who were shot.

But then they will use snipers and we have seen photographs of wounds that are in that head, in the neck, or in the shoulders, that clearly show that they were trying to kill those people. And also we have seen now the use of semi automatic and other automatic rifles shootings indiscriminately to the crowds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): And amidst the violence growing concern for residents in Myanmar's largest city Yangon after the military sealed off key areas and imposed an information blackout. The U.S. Secretary of State talked about the situation in Myanmar during his trip to Seoul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We are witnessing a dangerous erosion of democracy around the world, including in this region. The military is attempting to overturn the results of a Democratic election, brutally repressing peaceful protesters and gunning down people who are simply demanding a say on their government's future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): Joining me now is Pavlo Kolovos, the outgoing head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres in Myanmar, we appreciate you talking with us.

PAVLO KOLOVOS, OUTGOING HEAD, OF MISSION FOR MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES IN MYANMAR: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: Now. You just returned to the U.S. from Myanmar after serving as head of mission for two years, how has the military takeover that caused so many deaths and injures impacted the work of Medecins Sans Frontieres in the midst of a pandemic?

KOLOVOS: Well this crisis has created a tremendous amount of uncertainty and concern especially for our patients and the most vulnerable people in Myanmar.

CHURCH: How are hospitals and the health care system in Myanmar coping with the increased number of injured protesters, as well as patients suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms? KOLOVOS: Well I think, the (inaudible) clinics are still running but

what this crisis have done has really impacted the functioning of most public health facilities. People in general rely on those public health facilities for basic emergency care as well as treatment of chronic diseases.

In terms of the protesters, and the violent scene, I mean, certainly people have not been able to go to emergency rooms in the same way because the public health system and the public hospitals are generally close these days. So it creates a lot of concern for people's abilities to just access health care in general.

CHURCH: And what's tends to be the biggest challenges for your organization?

KOLOVOS: Well, one of the biggest challenges for us right now is being able to see -- you know, just keep up with the needs for the most vulnerable people. And with the public health system falling apart, with all the demonstrations and the general crackdown, yes, doctors aren't able to come in to the hospitals.

And so we see that patients, people for example who have had HIV are no longer able to receive their drugs because the facilities are impacted by the crisis, and anybody who is seeking kind of any sort of emergency care, victims of violence and such are also much less likely to be able to receive adequate care.

CHURCH: Right. And in the midst of the military crackdown and COVID- 19, of course, how difficult has it been for Medecins Sans Frontieres to give assistance to the Rohingya people?

KOLOVOS: Well, our activities with the Rohingya have not actually been directly impacted, at the moment. We have been able to maintain the limited access that we have had.

[03:40:06]

The Rohingya, as you know, have been suffering from discrimination and neglect and persecution for many decades, and after the 2017 crisis there was a big upending of their situation in Myanmar. So we've had difficult access but we have been able to maintain our clinics.

Right now, our biggest concern is that we have to rely on a collaboration with the public health system, with the ministry of health for emergency referrals, and right now that is not functioning the way that it needs to. So we're very concerned about the lives of our patients who need that emergency care.

CHURCH: Pavlo Kolovos, thank you so much for talking with us and for all that your organization and you are doing. Thank you.

KOLOVOS: Thank you.

CHURCH: In the Netherlands, an apparent victory for Prime Minister Mark Rutte, he is on track for what will be his fourth consecutive term after winning the most seats in Wednesday's election. Exit polls even show his conservative party picking up three seats, the far right party, the second largest, is expected to lose two, Mark Rutte he has been in power now for more than a decade.

Well, just ahead, a dark day for English Football, its governing body is accused of failing to protect young players from sex abuse. That damning report, next.

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CHURCH (on camera): And this just in to CNN. The creative director of the Tokyo games has resigned over derogatory comments he made about a female performer. The Tokyo games website says Hiroshi Sasaki, he is standing down over quote, inappropriate and highly regrettable comments, this comes after another top executive Yoshiro Motto, step down as president of the organizing committee, because of sexist remarks he made.

It is being called a dark day for the beautiful game. A new report slams England's football association for not doing nearly enough to keep children safe from sexual abuse. And it says there is no excuse for the institutional failings. CNN's world sport Don Riddell has the report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): 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 there has 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.

[03:45:04]

The review concluded that the F.A. 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 F.A. said in the 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 we have the deepest admiration of the F.A. Your bravery throughout this process has been incredible. Your voices have been so powerful, no child should ever have experienced the abuse you did.

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. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): Thank you for that. Well, British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is calling for a wholesale change of attitude in his nation, on the issue of violence against women. The killing of a young Sarah Everard has sparked demonstrations and a national debate on the problem. In parliament the labor leader pressed Mr. Johnson on whether the U.K. had reached a turning point on the deep rooted problem the Prime Minister agreed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think that he is right frankly, that unless and until we have a change in our culture, that acknowledges and understands the women currently do not feel that they are being heard, we will not fix this problem, and that is what we must do. We need a cultural and social change in attitude to address the balance Mr. Speaker.

And that is what I believe all politicians must now work together to achieve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): Sarah Everard disappeared while walking home on March 3rd, her body was later recovered. A London metropolitan police officer has been charged with her kidnap and murder. She was 33.

The royal rift between Prince Harry and his brother and father the future kings of England, is apparently no closer to ending, American journalist and friend of Oprah, Gayle King, says talks between the Duke of Sussex, Prince William and Prince Charles have been unproductive. CNN's Max Foster reports.

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MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Trust is clearly breaking down even further between the Sussex's 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 had t ask 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 Sussex's and they have had a conversation with William, they revealed that, also a conversation with Prince Charles, but they had not worked out to be productive.

Basically, frustration on the Sussex side that there appear to be leak on the royal family's side, but I have to day, there appears 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 side, according to Gayle King about how Noah has actually spoken to Meghan about this yet.

Meanwhile, lots of thoughts about Meghan's 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 OF AMERICA: If that happened, I think I have an even stronger feeling towards running, I am 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 sometimes about Meghan's future political career but I think that's really based on the type work that she has been doing in the sort of political comments that she has expressed in the past. 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): Next, from the united kingdom to the mushroom kingdom. Come along as we visit, Mario and his friends at Japan's super Nintendo world, which is finally open after multiple pandemic delays. Back in a moment.

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[03:50:00]

CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, a giant playground for children of all ages is finally open in Osaka, Japan. Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan is a colorful replica of the company's most famous games, featuring such familiar and oversize characters as Mario and Yoshi. The amusement parks debut was delayed since last year because of the pandemic of course. And CNN's Selina Wang is outside Super Nintendo World is Osaka, she joins us now live. Good to see you. So, how did the opening go?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary there has been so much excitement and energy here today, if it weren't for the masks and COVID-19 restrictions it would almost feel like we were not in the middle of a pandemic, there's still long lines here, people pouring in and I've been seeking to attendees who say that they almost feel emotional walking into this place which looks like a real live creation of their childhood games.

Now, this park was supposed to have open about a year ago ahead of the Tokyo 2020 games, it was -- along with the Olympics expected to bring in an influx of tourists to boost economic activity, but capacity here is limited, and in fact the state of emergency in Osaka was only recently lifted, but none of it is dampening the excitement that we're seeing here today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WANG (voice over): 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 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 is 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. Mask is required at all times except for unmasked reasons. So I can interact with Mario and Luigi but there are rules against touching. And one of the few places in this full park where I can take my mask off are in this photo op area with Mario and Luigi.

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 distance 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.

[03:55:02]

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, next to Princess Peach, Mario and Luigi. I (inaudible) played to video game version of Mario Kart, I think it might have a fair slightly better at 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, the park is taking safety protocols, so I feel safe.

Japan's borders are so close, so international travelers aren't allowed in this park yet, but there are plans to open Super Nintendo World at Florida, California and Singapore. Mario's creator (inaudible) says he wants the whole world to come visit when the pandemic is over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WANG (on camera): It is a joyous opening here today, but it does come as the global theme park industry is struggling, and parks are reopening around the world. In fact, France to open Super Nintendo World in Orlando reportedly delayed until 2025. Now, I asked the CEO of Universal Studios Japan, when they plan to bring other Nintendo Games to life, he wouldn't give any specifics but did said that they are continuing to invest in this park for the future. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): You are having way too much fun on that assignment. Selina Wang many thanks, joining us live from Osaka.

Well, for the first time, in about 60 years, new pieces of the Dead Sea scrolls have been unearthed in the Judean Desert, Israeli archaeologists say they found fragments of the religious manuscripts inside a remote cave along with many other ancient artifacts. CNN's Hadas Gold has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER (voice over): 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.

OREN ABLEMAN, SCROLLS RESEARCHER, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY: 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.

EITAN KLEIN, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY: Surveys on this scale were 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 year-old of a skeleton of a child, rare coins and a complete basket thought to be the biggest and oldest intact basket in the world.

HAIM COHEN, ARCHEOLOGIST, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY: We're looking at the basket which is about 10,500 years old, and it's kind of huge, it contains above between 90 to 100 liters, and it's still 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 thumbnail 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): Fascinating isn't it? Thanks so much for your company, I am Rosemary Church, CNN Newsroom continues next with Kim Brunhuber.

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