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WHO: COVID-19 Likely Came From Animals, Not Lab; Suez Canal Traffic Resumes; Trial Begins For George Floyd's Killer; Thai Officials Turned Back Myanmar Refugees; ISIS Claims Responsibility For Palma Siege; Many African Nations Face Vaccine Rollout Challenges. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 02:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world, thank you for joining me, I am Robyn Curnow, here at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Ahead on CNN, the highly anticipated origin story of the coronavirus, details from the WHO's new report on how the pandemic started in Wuhan. Why the findings are already being met with a lot of skepticism.

Plus, dozens of people being killed Myanmar's violent military crackdown. Now thousands of people, trying to flee the country to escape but, reportedly, they're being turned back.

The complicated task of vaccinating the global population, I speak to the founder of private organization, getting vaccines to Africa, where many are still waiting for their shots.


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

CURNOW: Great to have you along.

We are standing by for the World Health Organization to release its report on the origins of the pandemic any minute now. According to an early draft obtained by CNN, it is expected to say that the coronavirus likely emerged from animals and not a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The study was written, in part, by international experts visiting the Chinese city, where the virus was first detected. But the trip was tightly controlled by Beijing and some scientists, questioning the independence of the study since it was co-written by Chinese researchers. Let's go to Kristie Lu Stout, following the story and has been right from the beginning.

Kristie, hi.

What are the headlines we expect and have seen, already? KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: CNN has obtained a draft of the 123 page report from the World Health Organization, digging into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's a lot of detail in there but frankly, no groundbreaking new insights. No smoking gun, as to the definitive origin for the pandemic. It says that the virus likely came from an animal, not a lab, and also said that the virus was spreading and in circulation for at most, one or 2 months before it was initially detected in December of 2019.

The report, by the WHO, has four sources of novel coronavirus, the most unlikely source is an intermediary animal host that was infected by a bat.

But what is that intermediary animal host?

That, according to the report, remains, quote, "elusive." The next likely origin story is a direct transmission, from an infected animal, like a bat or a pangolin. Possible but not probable source, transmission from cold storage of frozen food, which is a theory China has been actively pushing, over the last year. But also, an accidental lab leak.

And before the report is coming out they spoke to Dr. Peter Daszak, a member of the World Health Organization investigative team, a disease ecologist and he puts the focus firmly on wildlife and wildlife markets. Take a listen to this.


DR. PETER DASZAK, WHO WUHAN RESEARCHER: What we found is that market, also sold wildlife. And wildlife products and carcasses of animals and live animal of different types from farms across China. So there was definitely a pathway with animals coming into that market from all over China, including places where the nearest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in bats.

So what we found I think is pretty important evidence of a way the virus could have emerged from rural China into a big city like Wuhan and led to an outbreak.


STOUT: Very important to hear that from Peter Daszak, of the WHO Investigative team a disease, ecologist. He, effectively, confirms what CNN reported on in January of last year, that the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan sold more than just seafood and, critically, wildlife markets provide a pathway for the virus.

Now the investigative team, working on this report, have been dealing with the political quagmire. Rival theories about the origin of the virus, the United States, especially, under former president Donald Trump, saying it came from a lab in Wuhan. The Chinese saying it came from a U.S. Army base lab. As to that this report says that is extremely unlikely. I want to

bring up this segment, from the report, saying that it follows, quote, "There is no record of viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 in any laboratory before December 2019 or genomes that, in combination, could provide a SARS-CoV-2 genome. In view of the above, a laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely, unquote.

Independent researchers have been saying this for months.


STOUT: Genomic testing shows this is a virus that was not engineered in a lab but spread naturally among animals, very much like the coronavirus that started the SARS pandemic from almost 2 decades ago -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Kristie Lu Stout, thank you so much for that.

Right now, France has more COVID patients in ICUs than there were at the peak of the second wave back in November. Hospitals in Paris are the most affected. The government, warning new restrictions could be coming.

Meanwhile, England has begun relaxing its COVID measures. Stay-at-home orders, lifted on Monday. Two households, groups of up to 6 people, can now meet outdoors.

Just a little while ago, the U.S. passed 550,000 coronavirus deaths. That is according to Johns Hopkins University. New cases up more than in half of all states. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave an emotional warning about the jump in these new infections. Take a listen to this.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth and I have to hope and trust you will listen.

I'm going to pause here, I'm going to lose the script I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now I'm scared.


CURNOW: In Brazil, infections are rising among most adults. New reports, showing more than 500 percent increase among people in the 30s and 50s. For those in their 40s, cases are up a staggering 600 percent.

Another story we're following here, at CNN, the Suez Canal was back in business again. But the saga of the gigantic ship that blocked the waterway for nearly one week, is far from over.

Shipping companies and exporters, we know, are still counting their losses. Investigators, still trying to find out why the Ever Given ran aground, in the first place. Here's Ben Wedeman, with more, from Cairo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At last, the Ever Given is on the move again. It took a flotilla of tugboats and a massive dredging effort to free the container ship from Egypt's Suez Canal.

The salvage team was able to shift the stern in the early hours on Monday, adding momentum and jubilation to a nearly weeklong effort. Then, trepidation, as winds and currents swung the ship back slightly across the canal. Finally, coming unstuck, not long after. The head of the Suez Canal Authority, welcoming the developments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Thank you. I say, congratulations to Egypt, as we accomplish this mission successfully and in a shortened period. I thank you.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): A beast, the size of a skyscraper, the 400 long meter ship, jammed one of the world's busiest waterways, stranding billions of dollars of cargo on more than 300 ships, including, livestock, oil and even IKEA furniture, costing Egypt $14 million every day in lost transit fees alone.

Dozens of vessels, diverting to the Cape of Good Hope around Africa, adding over one week of sailing time. The exact reason behind the Ever Given stranding remains unclear. Egyptian authorities and the charter company say the ship will move to the Great Bitter Lake for further inspection and investigation.

For now, a collective sigh of relief as traffic resumes on the Suez Canal -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


CURNOW: Thanks to Ben for that, let's go straight to John Defterios, tracking these developments from Abu Dhabi.

John, lovely to see you. Certainly, a huge backlog set to deal with in the Suez and very differing views on how fast it can be cleared up.

What lessons do you think have been learned here about supply chains and how quickly the line of vessels can pass through?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: This is a great point about the supply chains and I will circle back to that. Let's talk about the volume of vessels we have stuck in the canal that Ben was talking about there.

We swelled up to 422 and we learned overnight, the Suez Canal Authority is saying, they can get 113 out by the close of the workday on Tuesday, that is today. That is ambitious because, at the maximum level, they can handle around 90 vessels, so they are kind of pushing the envelope here, if you will.

There isn't much agreement from the international community. Maersk is the big shipping, line, said it will take 5 or 6 days to clear. Lloyd's List, suggesting the same. The target for Egypt, to get it done by midday, on Friday.


DEFTERIOS: They want to prove, they are back into business here. To your point, Robyn, where you asked me on the supply chains, if we look at 4 categories here, the strains, toilet paper, obviously that was being hoarded by many consumers, all around the world during the COVID-19, remaining a challenge.

Apparently, coffee, crisscrossing from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Ethiopia.

Furniture that Ben talked about, IKEA, some of the products, just not making it to the shelves, in the immediate future. It will be solved, of course.

Oil and gas, no spike in gas prices, there isn't a shortage of oil or gas. It was a strain for Syria and Lebanon, because they're having an economic crisis and can't even pay for the fuel. So that was in short supply.

Solving the supply chain, if you didn't solve it during COVID-19, with this shock, with the closed artery, will we learn the lesson?

What they are saying is, you need to build a bigger cushion in. Manufacturers don't like to hold supplies or inventories, because it costs money. But if we're going to have that many ships touring the world, you will need to have to solve it in a very different way.

This is where this is been coming from for almost a generation, a just in time approach. I haven't seen it change yet. Maybe the second shock in a year, leading to some major reforms, coming forward.

CURNOW: Let's hope so. Let's talk about the Suez. The Suez is vital to Egypt, as we both know, on the revenue side and to feed into its port.

How has the country fared during this crisis?

DEFTERIOS: I have to say, they responded quickly, Robyn. It actually surprised me with the elasticity of its response. They were quite flexible and transparent, when it came to information on social media and press conferences. The Suez Canal Authority, feeding information to the different press about the number of ships and the progress.

They did dredge quickly, they had tugboats that couldn't handle the job, they had to bring two extra super tugs, coming in from Holland and Italy, to actually unlock the Ever Given. That was the positive side of it.

There will be questions raised about safety right and this investigation going forward.

How transparent will it be? This is a major project for president al-Sisi $8 billion spent between 2015 and '16. To widen the canal but this remains a choke point in the south. They then had these 2 free ports, in the north and the south as well. Again, promising jobs to the Egyptians, smooth services for international companies and he's delivered on part of it.

But does this set back that effort and do they have to come back to re-prove the business model?

The blueprint?

To make it a success?

I think it will be a lot of questions asked about that.

Are they trying to cram too many vessels into the canal and rush during a sandstorm?

Maybe the product of the investigation that we have ahead -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Always good to speak to John Defterios, live, in Abu Dhabi, thank you so much.

The long-awaited murder trial, having begun for a white police officer, charged with killing George Floyd, a Black man, in Minnesota.

It comes nearly a year after Floyd's death sparked protests worldwide, reigniting the Black Lives Matter movement. For months now, activists have been demanding social justice reforms, as well as police accountability. Omar Jimenez was in Minneapolis for the first day of the trial. A warning, his report does include disturbing video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As prosecutors opened their case, seeking justice for George Floyd, they began with the unavoidable: playing in full the 9 minute and 20-second video of officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee to Floyd's neck, as he slowly loses consciousness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll see he does not let up and he does not get up, for the remaining, as you can see, 3 minutes and 51 seconds. During this period of time, you will learn that Mr. Chauvin is told that they can't even find the pulse of Mr. Floyd, that you can believe your eyes that it's a homicide, it's murder. You can believe your eyes.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Prosecutors say they want a fair trial but one where evidence leads their arguments and one that proves Chauvin was anything but innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nelson (ph), do you wish to open at this time?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The defense argues that officer Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do and the evidence is far greater than 9 minutes in 20 seconds, highlighting what will be a central battle in this trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was Mr. Floyd's actual cause of death?

The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and Fentanyl and the adrenaline throwing -- flowing through his body.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, also argued the surrounding crowd had an impact on Chauvin's behavior that day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're screaming at him, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): In the end, Nelson says the only just result is not guilty.

That's not how the family of George Floyd feels, who started the day kneeling in silent protest, representing the time Derek Chauvin's was on George Floyd's neck.

PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE'S BROTHER: They can't sweep this under the rug, this is a starting point. This is not a finishing point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The testimony you're about to give will be the truth and nothing but the truth.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The starting point for prosecutors, the 9-1-1 operator who dispatched the officers to Cup Foods on May 25th, 2020. Jena Scurry officers pinned Floyd to the ground for so long she thought the real-time video she was watching froze and she alerted a sergeant to voice her concern with what was happening.

JENA SCURRY, 9-1-1 OPERATOR: My instincts were telling me that something's wrong, something has -- not right. They don't know what but something wasn't right.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): While Donald Williams, who witnessed Floyd pinned from just feet away, told the court his mixed martial arts background informed him that Chauvin was tightening his knee on Floyd's neck.

DONALD WILLIAMS, WITNESS: Every time he showed his movement, he's pushing that pressure down on his neck, from the shoulders to the knees.

JIMENEZ: We've continued to see protests throughout this entire process, outside of the courtroom proceedings. This, in particular, is outside of the government center where the trial has been taking place over recent weeks.

When you look at this moment, in particular, this is one that has been a long time coming for people here in this community. Understandably so, they are watching it closely as a result.

Now day one of opening statements and witness testimony, wrapped in the middle of testimony from a third witness that was called. It's going to pick up the next day, Tuesday, with the end of that witness testimony -- Omar Jimenez, CNN, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


CURNOW: Coming up on CNN, an agonizing wait as families wait for word for relatives who survived the terror attack in Mozambique.

Plus, the sounds of defiant protests in Myanmar as the escalating violence there pushes thousands across the border. We have a live update.




CURNOW: A funeral for one of the many victims of the military crackdown in Myanmar, an advocacy group said 14 people were killed on Monday in protests against the coup, now activists are calling for a civil disobedience campaign of throwing garbage onto the key street intersections.

Also, a rebel group said Thailand turned back 2,000 Myanmar refugees who fled an airstrike on the weekend. They say the refugees are hiding in the woods. One villager described what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Last night we were not aware that jet fighters were coming. And they randomly bombed all of a sudden, then left.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Late at night, the jets came again and, afterwards, we heard gunshots. We heard that the jets will come again.


CURNOW: Ivan Watson following all of this, he joins me from Hong Kong.

What do you make of these images and witness statements about these refugees on the border?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is clearly the internationalization, the beginning of the internationalization of this crisis in Myanmar, Robyn, where you have an escalation of fighting over the weekend, involving one of the many ethnic armed organizations that have been off and on battling the military since it became an independent state basically for generations.

And escalation of fighting over the weekend, the military using airpower and airstrikes for the first time in that region in some 20 years for 2 subsequent days, Saturday and Sunday, prompting a flow of people who were already living in a camp, along the border to flee by the thousands across the border into Thailand.

And then this video that was released by the Karen national union, the ethnic armed organization, purportedly of some 2,000 refugees being ordered back across the river into Myanmar, escorted by security forces from Thailand.

You can see the uniforms of a wildlife conservation organization, there is a Thai wildlife sanctuary there. And also uniforms that have been identified to us as Thai army rangers.

Now the Thai government has come out, denying that it has pushed refugees back into Myanmar because that would be a contravention of international law, according to the United Nations.

But this is the first kind of a sign, Robyn, of the deterioration and, again, as I would submit, the internationalization of the crisis. It is striking how quickly it is happening, less than 2 months since the military coup of February 1st.

CURNOW: (INAUDIBLE) should be a critical issue at the United Nations as an upcoming Security Council meeting, are we expecting any movement particularly because we know Russia and China have a veto here?

WATSON: Certainly there are appeals coming from the highest levels of the U.N. Take a listen to the secretary general talking about an unexpected general meeting on Wednesday?

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: We need more unity in international community. We need more commitment in the international community to put pressure, in order to make sure that the situation is reversed. I am very worried. I see with a lot of concern, the fact that apparently many of these trends look irreversible. But hope is the last thing we can give up on.


WATSON: Now Robyn, there was a United Nations fact finding mission 2 years ago after the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims from the west side of Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh. It concluded that one of the measures should be an arms embargo on the Myanmar military.

That never happened. It is still not in place, even after there are estimates of more than 400 civilians killed in just the last 2 months. Most of them over the course of the last month.

Will you see unity in the U.N. Security Council? Probably not. In fact, on Saturday, when the military held itself a parade, on the same day that it was butchering more than 100 people across the country, peaceful protesters, the Russians were the only foreign delegation that attended that parade.

And the military dictator, who assumed power after wiping a civilian elected government from power and throwing their leaders into detention, he called Russia a trusted friend.

So that gives you a sense that there might not be unity in the U.N. Security Council, when it meets again to discuss this rapidly escalating, rapidly deteriorating crisis in Myanmar.

CURNOW: Great reporting, thank you for keeping us posted on this latest development. Ivan Watson, in Hong Kong, thank you Ivan.

The United Nations is condemning the terror attack in Mozambique. ISIS fighters in central Africa claim responsibility for it. Dozens of locals and foreign workers were killed on Wednesday. Many are still missing. We go straight to David McKenzie, David, live in Johannesburg with more on all of this.

There was a suggestion that this kind of attack could be expected.


CURNOW: Were people surprised?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think anybody who was following the situation closely, Robyn, was not surprised whatsoever. You had this gas installation that is being built, it was suspended because of the insecurity in the region, right there in the northern parts of Mozambique on the border of Tanzania.

The rains have stopped and the so-called fighting season, anybody who is following this believe it will happen again. This group, designated as ISIS affiliated by the U.S. government, has become increasingly sophisticated.

You have this horrific attack unfold last Wednesday when 3 different groups of these terrorists moved onto this town in Palma, creating havoc. People describing scenes of drivers being pulled out of their trucks, from food supply trucks and executed on the scene.

Many people, Mozambicans and foreign nationals fled into a large area, they hunkered down. But it does seem that given that it was believed there can be an attack at some point, the level of security organized by the multinationals said it was insufficient.

Many questions asked how it can come to this. Much of the response did not come from the Mozambican military but from a small group of private military contractors that came in in Russian built helicopters to fend off the attack as well as taking people, 2, 3 at a time away from immediate danger. And towards the oil facility or the beaches near there.

So people, both Mozambican and foreign nationals are still missing. It is unclear what he security situation is at this time, Robyn?

CURNOW: It is still so unclear what actually played out.

What do we know about this convoy of these foreign workers and expats who are trying to get out of the hotel?

I think there was some air cover by these helicopters but not many of the cars, vehicles made it out. A lot of people still missing.

What do we know about what played out?

MCKENZIE: What we know based on private contractors and/or witnesses on the ground that I have spoken to have since made it up, there was a scene or a possible plan to get people out of the hotel, onto the beach and to be spirited away by boats. When they got to that scene, the boats were not there.

They then came up with a plan, it seems, to get a convoy out by the road. Some 17 vehicles and a convoy out of the area, going towards safety. That is a long way away. But soon after leaving the hotel, there was an ambush by these insurgents, these people were sitting ducks; 17 vehicles there, 7 got through, several people in the convoy that got through were killed or injured. And they were taken away by eventually by the contractors.

There was also -- is believed that a real amazing response from passing by vessels who happened to get to the town of Palma to the beach area and take people to Pemba. Hundreds, thousands of people who have come to Pemba, to the safety of the regional capital.

The question remains, how was this allowed to happen given that it was anticipated?

And what happens next?

This group that started out as a ragtag group of young men, some years ago, who would attack police boats with machetes, still very serious, now have grown into a sophisticated terror group that does appear to have the upper hand in the fight of this part of Mozambique.

CURNOW: David McKenzie, thank you for bringing us the new details. Keep us posted if there are new developments, we appreciate it.

Coming up on CNN, the shameful side of the vaccine miracle. While rich countries of 100 million doses, Africa goes wanting. We have that story and live report, that is next.





CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow, live, from Atlanta and as countries around the world are struggling to contain the pandemic, we want to take a closer look at Africa.

Confirmed cases and deaths, on the continent, relatively low compared to many parts of the world, as you can see from this map. But there are fears new, more infectious variants could lead to deadly new waves.

This is because Africa, also, has extremely low rates of vaccination. Seven countries, not even receiving vaccines, according to the World Health Organization. Wealthy countries, we know, securing billions of doses while many poorer countries, simply, being left out.

So Africa is relying on COVAX, an initiative bringing together government and manufacturers, to ensure a vaccine will reach the poorest in an equitable way. Still, there is a stark divide.


DR. TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The gap between the number of vaccines administered, in rich countries and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing, every single day. And, becoming more grotesque, every day.


CURNOW: So far, at least 44 African countries, receiving vaccines through COVAX or other agreements, 32 of them, having begun vaccinations. COVAX has supplied 16 million doses to the continent but that only covers around 1 percent of the population.

I want to talk about this more of Gregory Rockson in Ghana, he is the cofounder and CEO, of mPharma.

Gregory, hi, lovely to see you again. We chatted a few years ago and it's lovely to see you again. I want to talk about what your company is doing. It's the first private sector led vaccination program in Africa.

How many shots, in, arms are you aiming for in Ghana, where you are?

GREGORY ROCKSON, CEO, MPHARMA: Thanks for having, me Robyn. We are aiming to vaccinate 2.5 million Ghanaians over the next 12 months. It has been done through an employer led cross saturnization (ph) program, where employers are taking on the burden of financing vaccine access for their employees, which is needed to cross subsidize in the governments, all efforts to vaccinate the poor and the vulnerable, in Ghana.

CURNOW: This is amazing work, that I know you are doing, because you are very involved in drug and pharmaceutical distribution, on the continent. I want to talk about that for a moment but I also want you to react to this interview I did here on CNN, just a few days ago. I spoke to a U.S. based doctor and vaccination expert and he said something powerful, that struck me. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are in one big village and we call it Earth. As long as there is one area that is, still, out of control and on fire, we are all in danger.

We are not just about getting the U.S. vaccinated, after we do this or maybe while we do this, a lot of the first world countries, really, need to step up and help places like Africa, certain places of South America and underdeveloped countries. It is for not only their good but everyone's good.


CURNOW: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez makes sense.


CURNOW: How can this be implemented?

ROCKSON: It makes complete sense. The virus, as we know does not adhere to nationalities. Unfortunately, if we do not get vaccines to other parts of the world, like Africa and Ghana, we would not be getting -- we would not all be safe. I think what we need to do to address this is a supply gap, a financing gap and a structure gap.

On the supply side, quite unsurprisingly, there are no doses available in the short to medium term. COVAX had to announce, recently, that they hope to resume supplies, in May, because of the supply embargo that countries like India have placed on future vaccine supplies as they focus on their own, domestic, needs.

There is a financing gap as, well we would need billions of dollars to vaccinate the whole of Africa. Ghana needs over $200 million to vaccinate the entire population and that's just in year one.

What if we need additional boosters, after the first round of vaccinations to keep immunity going?

There will be a requirement that countries mobilize domestic financing and support, to be able to continue to vaccinate their population.

Finally, there is an infrastructure gap, infrastructure from the sense of getting to remote areas, we need the culture for infrastructure but also, the people who can provide these jobs to people.

CURNOW: So this is where you are very involved in at least trying to alleviate that, in Ghana and across the continent.

But this lag to vaccinate, for all those reasons in many African countries, is it also just about richer countries being selfish?

Or, do many of these governments need to take responsibility for bad planning or ineffective distribution, in the same way European countries have mismanaged the rollout?

ROCKSON: I completely agree with you. There is just an extent to which we complain about wealthy countries. I think that any leader would want to prioritize their people. I cannot blame the U.S. and the, West for doing that.

I think we need to stop treating African leaders with kid gloves and have them take ownership of protecting their people. Let them talk about many African countries, of last, year trying to negotiate vaccine supply deals with manufacturers to secure doses, to protect people.

But guess what?

All of them were leaving the direct responsibility to COVAX and, unfortunately, when you have one channel that is facing problems, then it puts your entire vaccination program at risk. Yes, African leaders have as much blame in what we are currently facing, as what, other countries have.

Gregory Rockson, always good to speak to, you cofounder, CEO of mPharma, thank you for joining us on CNN.

ROCKSON: Thank you.

CURNOW: Still ahead, Kathmandu already one of the most looted cities in the world, now smoke from a rash of wildfires forcing schools to close and causing airports to divert flights. We have that story, next.





CURNOW: Schools in Nepal's capital were closed until Friday, as thick smoke, from nearby wildfires, blankets the city. Take a look at this. The airport has diverted flights and the government, urging people to stay indoors and avoid burning garbage. Some, residents complaining on Twitter of itchiness and stinging eyes.


CURNOW: Thanks to you all for watching CNN, I am Robyn Curnow, "WORLD SPORT" starts after the break, enjoy.