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Police Identify Boulder Supermarket Victims; Israeli Election Exit Polls Project No Clear Winner; Brazil Sees Over 3,000 Daily Deaths; AstraZeneca Stands By U.S. Vaccine Trial Results; Myanmar Protesters Call For "Silent Strike"; Activists Helping Myanmar Refugees Cross Border; White House: North Korea Missile Tests Pose "Low End" Threat; Houthi Rebels Reject New Saudi Ceasefire Proposal; U.K. Reflects On Loss, One Year After First Lockdown. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 24, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, deadlock again. For the fourth time, Israeli voters look set to deny Benjamin Netanyahu a sizeable victory, meaning no end to political gridlock and a possible fifth general election within months.

After two massive shootings in less than a week, U.S. President Joe Biden now pushing for a ban on assault style weapons.

And the question being asked about AstraZeneca, is there anything else they could possibly get wrong after claims of cherry-picking data and misleading statements over the efficacy of its COVID vaccine?


VAUSE: Sixty-one: that's the number which has eluded the Israeli prime minister now for a fourth time. those seats needed for a majority in Knesset, and once again, according to revised polls, Netanyahu and his coalition of right-wing parties may have a bloc of up to 60 seats. That's one seat short of a majority.

So with yet another election failing to deliver a decisive victory for Netanyahu, the political stalemate which has gripped the country for the last two years is likely to continue. Once official results are in, the Israeli president will be choosing the party leader he believes has the best chance of forming a workable coalition government, with months of political horse trading.

A fifth general election could be a real possibility. Elliott Gotkine is in Jerusalem at this early hour.

Netanyahu's party set to be the biggest in the next parliament, which means he is likely to be tapped by the president just as he's been tapped three previous times to begin coalition negotiations. ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does and I have to tell

you that I don't know if you remember the last elections, you and I were having this exact same conversation in almost the exact same scenario, the only difference is that last time Netanyahu claimed a great victory and this time he's claiming a huge victory.

On both counts though he is somewhat getting out of himself. Because as you say, those exit polls do suggest more political deadlock. There are a number of permutations that may be why Netanyahu in a speech to supporters, kind of said that wants the same right-wing values as the government that he wants to put together, which seem to be a clear reaching out of the hand to Gideon Saar, who used to be part of Netanyahu's government. He was a minister in, it but then broke away and has vowed not to sit in a government led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

There's another permutation out there, according to exit polls, the Joint List of mainly Arab parties is projected to win perhaps 8 or 9 seats. Since no Arab parties never formally sat in a governing coalition in Israel in its history, whether government of the left or center or right, that seems highly unlikely.

VAUSE: After this fourth election, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, is there now at least some call for election reform?

This was the lowest voter turnout in almost a decade.

GOTKINE: Well, Israel's electoral system, as we can see, is kind of proportional representation. So the seats that people win in the Knesset or parliament are based on the number of votes.

And even in some countries around the world, there are constant debates of whether this would be a better way forward to kind of more fairly represent the electorates' votes, rather than having like in the U.K. situation.

There will inevitably be some calls for electoral reform. President Reuven Rivlin, the one who taps the party leader that he thinks has the best chance of forming a governing coalition, when he cast his ballot yesterday, he was lamenting the fact that Israel was continually going into these elections with seemingly inconclusive results.

I think right now we are still talking about exit polls. Once you've got the final results, they may be different, they may suggest that Netanyahu can push things over the line. They may even suggest his opponents may be able to push things over the line. There are so many permutations and scenarios.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the wiliest of political operators. That is why he is Israel's longest serving leader. At this point I certainly wouldn't rule him being able to pull something out of the hat. That, John, of course, is why his supporters call him the magician.

VAUSE: Yes, absolutely the Houdini of Israeli politics. Once again, we will be talking about a fifth election. Elliott, we'll see.


VAUSE: America's intractable struggle with gun violence is once again focus of the U.S. president, calling for an assault weapons ban after Monday's mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.

We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that down when I was a senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time. And it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.


VAUSE: The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is charged with 10 counts of first degree murder and his first court appearance is due on Thursday. Motive still unclear but his brother says Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was paranoid, may have been mentally ill.

The brother also says that he was not very political or religious but his schoolmates bullied him for being a Muslim.

There are tributes now for the 10 victims gunned down inside a grocery store, as well as the parking lot. The shopping center is turned into a makeshift memorial with cards, flowers and other remembrances. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has our report.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The victims going about their daily lives in a grocery store, customers, employees, some there to get their COVID vaccine. The 10 lives lost from all backgrounds and ages, from 20 to 65 years old.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Our hearts ache for those who lost their lives.

SERFATY (voice-over): Among them, 61-year-old Kevin Mahoney. His daughter posted a tribute on Twitter to the man she calls her hero.

"My dad represents all things love. I am so thankful he could walk me down the aisle last summer. I am now pregnant. I know he wants me to be strong for his granddaughter."

And 25-year-old Rikki Olds, a manager at King's superstore, she was raised by her grandparents. Her uncle describing her as charismatic, a strong, independent young woman, a shining light in this dark world.

And 51-year-old officer Eric Talley, a husband, a father of seven, who, within minutes of the first 9-1-1 reports of an armed man inside the store, ran into danger. He was the first officer on the scene and then shot and killed.

BIDEN: When the moment to act came, Officer Talley did not hesitate in his duty, making the ultimate sacrifice in his effort to save lives. That's the definition of an American hero.

SERFATY (voice-over): Talley had been in I.T. before becoming a police officer but at age 40, pursued a career change, joining the Boulder police force 10 years ago.

CHIEF MARIS HEROLD, BOULDER POLICE DEPARTMENT: He didn't have to go into policing. He had a profession before this but he felt a higher calling. He was willing to die to protect others.

SERFATY (voice-over): Today, Talley's police car parked outside the Boulder police station, becoming a memorial and a procession of his fellow officers honoring him Monday evening. Boulder police tonight revealing the other 7 victims.

HEROLD: The families of the victims have been notified.

SERFATY (voice-over): 20-year-old Denny Stong; 23-year-old Neven Stanisic; 49-year-old Tralona Bartkowiak; 59-year-old Suzanne Fountain; 51-year-old Teri Leiker; 62-year-old Lynn Murray and 65 - year-old Jody Waters; lives lost, families shattered.

HEROLD: Our hearts go out to all the victims killed in this senseless act of violence.

SERFATY (voice-over): Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.



VAUSE: Stunning change in tone and substance, Brazil's president has announced this will be the year of vaccinations, promising a return to normality very soon. Jair Bolsonaro also defended his response to the pandemic even his cases are soaring and the daily death toll reaching record highs. Report now from CNN's Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, another brutal day for Brazil on Tuesday, with health officials announcing yet another single day record had been set for the most coronavirus deaths recorded, more than 3,200 deaths recorded by officials here on Tuesday. That's the highest such figure so far.

And it's the first time since this pandemic began that Brazil has recorded more than 3,000 deaths from the virus in a single day. Part of the reason that is so high is because of what is happening in the state where we are right now, the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest state. Health officials here announced on Tuesday that more than 1,000

coronavirus deaths had been recorded. That's the first time since this pandemic began that they've recorded more than 1,000 deaths.


RIVERS: And it's roughly 50 percent higher than the previous single day record, which had been set last week.

Meanwhile, news out of Brazil's supreme court where president Jair Bolsonaro had brought a case against several governors across the country, these governors had put in place lockdown measures to try and stop COVID-19 from spreading as rapidly as it is right now.

Bolsonaro had argued that only he had the power to put in place certain measures. But the supreme court basically throughout that case ruling in favor of those governors. The supreme court saying, in part, "a totalitarian vision is not appropriate in a democracy like Brazil," that the president is responsible for the, quote, "larger leadership," the coordination of efforts aimed at the well-being of Brazilians-- Matt Rivers, CNN, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


VAUSE: New restrictions have been announced in Europe to try control new outbreaks of the coronavirus. Cases up 16 percent from last week in the Netherlands. The Dutch prime minister has extended restrictions until mid April, something he had hoped to avoid.

Norway also tightening restrictions with new rules, which include an alcohol ban and mandatory quarantine after unnecessary trips abroad. Employers must allow staff to work from home, whenever possible.

France reporting nearly 16,000 new cases on Monday, more than double reported last week. The number of ICU patients at a 4 month high. President Emmanuel Macron says increasing vaccinations is now a number one priority.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Now the heart of the battle over the next few weeks and months will be vaccination, morning, noon and night. I can tell you, I will be mobilized, the government will be mobilized and all I know of the medical staff, everywhere in France, will be mobilized in this battle.


VAUSE: Just days after the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine received a green light from European regulators, it's once again under fire, this time not for safety but rather on how effective it really is.

The U.S. review board says they released data that may be outdated on, Monday AstraZeneca claimed its vaccine has 99 percent effective against preventing COVID symptoms, 100 percent effective when it comes to severe disease. But the top U.S. expert says outdated information will not help boost confidence in the vaccine.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: It really is unfortunate that this happens. This is really what you call an unforced error. The reality is, this is very likely a good vaccine. But this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy.


VAUSE: AstraZeneca is planning to apply for emergency use authorization in the U.S., early April.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner is a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University in Washington D.C., he joins us now.

Dr. Reiner, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: OK, here is part of a brief statement released Tuesday by AstraZeneca, maybe you can translate it for us.

The numbers published yesterday were based on a pre-specified interim analysis with the data cutoff of 17 February. We have reviewed the preliminary assessment of the primary analysis and the results were consistent with the interim analysis. We are now completing the validation of the statistical analysis.

OK, bottom line. Did they or did they not cherry-pick data, according to the most recent?

It's pretty much either a yes or no answer, isn't it?

REINER: Yes. I think this is really unfortunate. So let me drill down. The bottom line is this. It appears that AstraZeneca publicly presented data, top line data, on Monday, which was locked at about the middle of February.

That data did not include events that occurred after that cutoff date of the last month or so.

The Data Safety Monitoring Board, the independent panel of advisers, who monitor clinical trials, objected to not including any subsequent events in the final presentation. And that's what the whole row was about, because new cases in either arm can affect the safety or the efficacy analysis. And that's what the DSMB wanted presented and that's what we are now promised over the next couple of days.

VAUSE: And, this is being described as sort of an unforced error by AstraZeneca? Not being there first, this is a point that Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University's School of Public Health tweeted, "From everything I know, the AstraZeneca vaccine is a good vaccine. From everything I know, AstraZeneca's incompetence at communicating trial results, working with regulatory agency, et cetera, is stunning."

And to that point, U.S. trials were suspended because 2 volunteers fell ill and it took AstraZeneca 7 weeks to get information to regulators so trials could resume.


VAUSE: At the end the day vaccine makers all make a successful rise and fall on public trust. Given all the problems this company has already had, when the most recent data, according to "The Washington Post" shows an efficacy of between 69 percent and 74 percent, why use the old data to get that number to 79 percent as claimed in Monday's press release?

It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

REINER: It doesn't make any sense to me, either, gilding the lily. This vaccine has been beset with unforced errors from the beginning. There were concerns about cases of transverse myelitis earlier on in the fall, which did cause the European trial and the U.S. trial to be put on hold, the U.S. trial for several weeks, as you said.

More recently, there have been questions about blood clots. The World Health Organization now saying they are confident it's not a problem. But several countries in Europe put on hold the use of this vaccine.

And now, we see this confusion with top line efficacy and safety data from the U.S. trial. From the very beginning, there was a problem with dosing of their vaccines, a fortuitous mistake, which led to a reduced first dose, followed by a full dose, second dose, to result in the best outcomes.

This confusion has set the vaccine back months. The big question is whether any person in the United States will ever see this vaccine, as the United States has enough of the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for 400 million Americans. There's only 330 million Americans.

It's yet to be seen whether the AstraZeneca vaccine will ever go into the arms of Americans.

VAUSE: That's a big issue because of all the problems so far. FDA approval was almost a chance of redemption for AstraZeneca. Keep in mind, many saw the vaccine as a global workhorse against the pandemic, made cheaply, easily and quickly. There is a lot hanging in the balance right now, not just for the drugmaker but for everyone else.

REINER: That's right. We need to not just vaccinate the industrial world. We need to vaccinate the entire world. And we need vaccines that are not only affordable but are easily transportable. The AstraZeneca vaccine just needs an ordinary refrigerator and it's stable for many months.

This is one of the vaccines most people thought would be ideal for most parts of the world. Even with all the flawed communication, it's a fine vaccine and should be used around the world.

The 60 million doses that are sitting and waiting to go into arms can save lives outside the United States and should be shipped out if we aren't going to use it.

VAUSE: That seems to be the tragedy of all this. It's a safe and effective vaccine, with problems around, it but the vaccine is pretty good.

REINER: This is a good vaccine. The company has stumbled badly but this vaccine cannot be relegated to the dustbin. It must be administered to folks around the world and the company needs to get their act together.

VAUSE: They have about 48 hours to do that. A lot is riding on that. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you.

Still to come, the dangerous journey from a brutal military lockdown in Myanmar to India, one family's story.

Plus, why the White House is not too bothered by North Korea's first armed weapons test in a year.





VAUSE: Protesters in Myanmar are calling for a silent strike on Wednesday. Businesses are asked to close and residents to stay indoors. According to Reuters, the nationwide strike is in response to the death of a 7-year-old girl shot and killed by security forces as she was in her home on Tuesday. Paula Hancocks now live from Seoul with the very latest.

This is the youngest victim so far of the crackdown by the military. And the story is tragic.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is and it's the youngest fatality as far as we know. What we heard from the AAPP, a local advocacy group and local media in Myanmar now, the girl was in her father's arms when security forces kicked the door down. They then asked if all the family was present.

The father said yes, according to the older sister. And the security forces said they didn't believe him, shot at him and hit the 7-year- old girl and she was killed.

We have spoken to the doctor who saw the body after this happened. He confirmed that she had in fact been shot and was horrified at what had happened, despite the fact that we had spoken to the doctor before and he had seen many of these types of injuries.

There was a statement from Save The Children, saying, "We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protesters," also pinpointing this particular report, saying that this girl was at home and it's something you would expect to have been safe.

Many of the Save the Children and other children's advocacy groups calling for a stop to this violence in particular against minors. What we are seeing on the streets of Myanmar is something very different.

As you mentioned, there's calls for a silent strike, calls for everyone around the country to stay indoors, not go outside and not go and open their businesses. We've seen on social media a number of images, showing deserted streets in many of the big cities.

One of the groups has said silence is the loudest scream, trying to make a point to the day after a 7 year old casualty.

VAUSE: Paula Hancocks in Seoul with the very latest, thank you.

With the military crackdown in Myanmar showing no sign of letting up, many are making the difficult decision to leave, a risky journey over the border into India. That is where Vedika Sud has met with one family.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Behind me is the Myanmar international border. It's one of the 4 northeastern states in India that shares a border with neighboring Myanmar. Ever since the military junta took over, hundreds of people have been fleeing the country.

CNN spoke with the 36-year-old pregnant woman who crossed into India along with a 5-year-old daughter and her husband, who she said was a police officer. Here is their story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): A close call for this woman and her family, pregnant with her second child, she crossed from Myanmar into India, along with a 5 year old daughter and husband. We are not giving her name, since she fears for her family back home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): She says her husband, a police officer, refused to shoot at his own people as ordered by Myanmar's military junta. With 3 bags of clothes, little money and the Bible, the family fled their home town in the peak of night.


SUD (voice-over): Undertaking in almost 200-kilometer long journey on motorbike and on foot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD: This border crossing between India and Myanmar has been closed for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Indian officials say more than 400 refugees desperate to flee the military junta crackdown have crossed over with the help of local activists.

SUD (voice-over): This man from the ethnic community is one such activist. He fears being identified by security forces, so we are not giving his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): A strong network between activists and relatives of refugees on both sides of the border helps facilitate their escape but not without risks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): He says the relief refugees feel after escaping the clutches of Myanmar's military junta is short-lived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): The family is given temporary shelter by a group of volunteers. She hopes to return with her daughter and unborn child to their country some day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).

SUD (voice-over): But the escalating violence in Myanmar could make their stay as refugees in India a long one.

SUD: We've spoken to 2 more people who crossed into India from Myanmar. They claim the military junta has ordered the police to shoot at protesters. CNN cannot independently verify these claims or the claims made by the woman or local activists. We did reach out to the Myanmar embassy for response but have not received any so far.


VAUSE: A fire which swept through a refugee camp in Bangladesh has left at least 11 people dead. With hundreds still unaccounted, for there are fears the death toll will rise. Survivors returned on Tuesday, many searching the debris of what was once their homes for anything of value. The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society says it's launching one of its biggest relief efforts. Nearly 1 million Rohingya living there fled Myanmar after a violent crackdown 4 years ago.

Next hour, I will speak with the head of the Human Rights Watch Asia division for details on the situation.

Houthi leaders have rejected a Saudi plan to end the conflict in Yemen.

What are they demanding before they come to the bartering table?



VAUSE: The White House has described a recent missile test by North Korea as a low-end threat. According to South Korea, two cruise missiles were launched early Sunday, the first known weapons test by the North since Joe Biden took office, the first in about a year, as well.


CNN's Selina Wang following details of the story from Tokyo. So why is the White House just so cas? Why are they relaxed about this?

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well John, this was expected, widely expected. You have the U.S. administration officials calling it part of, quote, "normal testing." Experts have called this mild and fairly routine.

This is a key piece of information, though, for why we're seeing such a dismissive reaction. Now one senior administration official told CNN that North Korea had launched short-range projectiles, possibly artillery or cruise missiles, not ballistic missiles.

So that is a key critical point, and it explains why the Biden administration is brushing this off, saying, that it's not going to stop U.S. engagement in diplomatic -- pursuing diplomacy with North Korea.

But this does, as you say, represent the first time that North Korean leader Kim Jong-U.N. is challenging the Biden administration as he's currently outlining his plan for how to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. Now, take a listen here to what Biden said to reporters earlier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On North Korea, sir, do you consider that to be a real provocation by North Korea?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, according to the Defense Department it's business as usual. There's no new -- there's no new wrinkle in what they did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it affect diplomacy at all?



WANG: Now, the U.S. has been waiting for North Korea to send some kind of message to Biden to prove how important North Korea is in the region, but interestingly, North Korea has been quiet since the weekend.

It normally uses this as an opportunity to tout its military prowess or its ability to stand up to the U.S., but it has been quiet, so that has been puzzling to U.S. officials.

VAUSE: Also, what about the timing of the tests and the status of Biden's North Korea policy here right now?

WANG: Well, North Korea does traditionally do some very strongly provocative action early on in new U.S. and South Korean administrations. And experts have noted these tests around when Trump and Obama were put in office, and they've also noted that, compared to those tests, this was actually less provocative.

As you say, that strategy Biden is preparing to outline right now, that is expected to be publicly announced in just the coming weeks. It's expected that Biden is going to take a different approach from previous administrations.

You had Trump, which took a very top-down approach, directly meeting with the leader. Then you had Obama's administration, which refused engagement unless North Korea changed its ways.

Now, none of those policies really worked in terms of stopping North Korea from advancing its -- its weapons systems, stopping it from repressing its -- its citizens. And we know that Biden is going to be taking this multilateral approach, working with allies in the region.

But experts say that is going to be challenging, partly because you have China, which is probably best positioned to influence North Korea, and now seeming to not want to take as much of that active diplomatic role that it did before.

So a big question to watch, John, moving forward is what role China is going to play in all of this, especially as the U.S. increasingly sees China as an adversary -- John.

VAUSE: Selina, thank you. Selina Wang there in Tokyo with the very latest.

Well, a Saudi-proposed cease-fire in Yemen has been dismissed by the Houthi rebel leaders as just not enough, because it doesn't lift a maritime blockade completely. This proxy war between the Saudis and Iran has killed more than 100,000 people, according to a monitoring group. And now the country is verging on famine.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has details.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yemen's Ansar Allah Houthi rebels have rejected a U.N.-backed Saudi proposal to bring to an end the six-year-long conflict in the country.

The Houthi vice foreign minister told CNN that first and foremost, there needed to be a lifting of the Saudi-imposed blockade on Houthi- controlled sea and airports.

Saudi Arabia's former minister had said that the plan would come with an immediate cease-fire and a lifting of the humanitarian blockade. But it seems that the Houthi movement wants to see action first.


This may sound like it's disappointing in terms of the potential for peace talks, but in fact, given that the two sides haven't even been talking about peace for a very long time, this actually counts as the beginnings of a positive step.

Saudis' proposal comes after a CNN investigation showed the devastating impact on the humanitarian crisis there. A Saudis sea blockade at the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida.

We were able to prove that not a single oil tanker had been allowed to dock in Hodeida for the entirety of this year.

For now, the two sides are both, we are told, thinking about how to move forward. And for the first time, in a long time, they are at least talking about peace talks.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Khartoum.


VAUSE: Ethiopia's prime minister has admitted that Eritrean troops entered the northern Tigray region and committed abuses. This follows numerous denials from both countries, but human rights groups have been documenting the killings, as well as atrocities against civilians, including rape and torture.

The U.N. now is calling for an independent investigation. Tuesday, the Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, claimed the rapists would be held accountable. But then, seemed to deflect the blame.


ABIY AHMED, ETHIOPIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Civilians could be highly harmed in these types of situations. The best solution would have been not to start a war. There will always be collateral damage in a war, once you start a war you cannot claim there's no slapping in the face. Foul only exists as a rule of engagement in the boxing ring. War is a very bad thing once you are in it.


VAUSE: He added that Eritrean troops crossed the border simply to prevent rocket attacks from the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front.

A year on since the U.K. began the first of many COVID lockdowns. When we come back, honoring the thousands of lives that have been lost since then due to the pandemic. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: One year on since the first COVID lockdown, many across the U.K. stopped to remember the thousands of lives which have been lost. A year on, they held candle vigils on the doorsteps of their homes. A year on, landmarks lit in yellow to symbolize hope and support.

One year on, a lantern was placed outside No. 10 Downing Street to remember those who died. Westminster Abbey, lit up in blue lights to honor the healthcare workers from the National Health Service.

CNN's Phil Black takes a closer look at how the pandemic has changed life in Britain and how many are just simply trying to cope from a year of unimaginable pain.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a small moment in an extraordinary time. One day of reflection, one minute of silence. A desperately insufficient window for considering all that's changed and all that's been lost.


But within the pandemic's grip, this is a rare collective moment to pause and remember, to try to understand how it came to this.

It's one year since the unthinkable became the every day, one year since British life with its vibrant energy, its wealth of shared joyous experiences was stripped back to something unrecognizable. Far poorer, disconnected, lonely.

A year of knowing death is all around. The relentless numbers failing to convey the collective loss and suffering behind them.

A time of grief, where the rituals of grieving are twisted and stretched. The comfort of togetherness forbidden, or simply beyond reach.

Like so many essential human experiences, the sorrow of mourning is now often shared and processed through images on a screen.

A year of COVID-19 renewed Britain's love for its health service and those who risked their lives preventing its collapse, whose faces show the strain of long, exhausting shifts, working to save others.

But a long year that started with publicly celebrating their efforts on doorsteps every week has evolved into a quiet acceptance. Or worse, an expectation they will keep doing whatever is necessary, regardless of the cost.

Other workers rarely considered in normal times have also found some appreciation for their vital roles and the risks of carrying them out during a pandemic.

While the virus has become another force, exposing ingrained inequalities through its disproportionate impact on people of color. After one year, everyone knows the suffering imposed by the pandemic is not equal, but everyone has suffered and lost something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, my darling.

BLACK: We've lost time, especially time together.


BLACK: Opportunities to celebrate and feel joy. Jobs, businesses, education. Psychotherapist Julia Samuel describes them as living losses.

JULIA SAMUEL, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You feel frightened. You feel furious. You feel numb. You feel confused. You feel in denial. You feel all the different things. And you can feel them all the same time. And yet, you look out of the window, and nothing's changed.

BLACK: Britain's year of COVID is only one chapter in a global saga, that incomprehensible change and pain that is still being written. One day of reflection is utterly inadequate, but it's a start.

Phil Black, CNN, Essex, England.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN. I'm John Vause, and I will be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM at about 15 minutes from now. In the meantime, WORLD SPORT is up next after a short break.