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Inside Pfizer's Vaccine Manufacturing Facility; Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine 100% Effective in Kids 12-15; Macron, Merkel Discuss Russia's Sputnik V Vaccine with Putin; Russia Registers World's First COVID Vaccine for Animals; Shipping Back to Normal Levels in Suez Canal; First Lawsuit Filed Against Trump from U.S. Capitol Officers; Quality Issue at Plant Delays Some of J&J's Vaccine; Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activists Convicted; New Wave in India as Festival Nears; Witnesses to George Floyd's Murder Express Regret and Helplessness; U.N. Special Envoy to Myanmar, "A Bloodbath Is Imminent". Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired April 1, 2021 - 00:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, as COVID cases rise, the French president says it's time for a new direction in its fight against the virus.

Plus, it was thought to be impossible but, in the vaccine race, Pfizer is proving anything is possible. A CNN exclusive, on the drugmaker's success.

After months of violence in Myanmar, the crisis is now spilling across borders.

We start with breaking news, a court in Hong Kong has just convicted nine prominent pro-democracy activists on charges of unauthorized assembly. Among them, media tycoon, Jimmy Lai. The other defendants include Martin Lee, Hong Kong's so-called father of democracy.

Lee and other democracy figures were charged with organizing and taking part in a protest in Hong Kong on August 18th, 2019. The judge says they will be sentenced at a later date with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Here's Will Ripley with more.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A father figure for a so-called leaderless movement. Jimmy Lai, mega wealthy media mogul revered by Hong Kong's youthful pro-democracy protesters. Targeted by Beijing's draconian national security law, devised to silence them.

RIPLEY: Do you feel that some aspects of the pro-democracy movement have pushed China too far and lost?

JIMMY LAI, NEXT DIGITAL: It's always the right thing to do, is to fight for your freedom because, without freedom, we have nothing.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Last, year the publisher of the Apple Daily was frog-marched out of his own newsroom. The Cantonese pro-democracy publication turned over by 200 Hong Kong police.

LAI: A lot of people are being intimidated. I think the laws intimidating in fact is very effective.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The catchall national security law bans sedition and even criticism of the central Chinese government as well as collusion with foreign powers, a charge often leveled against Lai.

Violators can face life in prison. As the imposition of the law led to mass arrests and the gutting of Hong Kong's legislature --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the point in taking part in any more Legislative Council elections?

RIPLEY (voice-over): -- the maverick media mogul publicly appealed to the U.S. for support. Before that, his ties to the U.S. won him a Washington meet and greet with the Trump administration.

LAI: They see the logic, they see the righteousness in it. It's like we had such a great support from the international community.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Lai has always acted with a sense of righteousness. Once a refugee from Communist China, he has courted controversy as a tabloidum (ph), always a thorn in Beijing's side, his lengthy rap sheet a badge of honor.

LAI: When there is democracy in Hong Kong, I will give up.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Jimmy Lai is still playing the long game.

You want the movement to continue but what cost to the young people who are not you, who don't have what you have?

LAI: We have to believe them, we are on the right side of the history. Given enough time, we will win. Time is our weapon, not violence.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Time, many here worry, is running out.


CHURCH: And Will Ripley joins me now on the line from Hong Kong.

Talk to us about what more you're learning and what's lies ahead.

RIPLEY: The maximum penalty for unauthorized assembly is five years in prison, if Jimmy Lai receives the maximum penalty, that means he would be 77 by the time he is released, not counting the other two September unauthorized assembly trials that he's facing, related to other protests in 2019.

As well as the national security law charge against him, he is charged with colluding with foreign forces, which could potentially put him in prison for life.

When I spoke with Jimmy Lai last year after his arrest, I asked him how he felt about the possibility that because of his involvement in the democracy movement, that he may go from running his media empire to sitting in a prison cell.

And he said he was OK with that. He said he was at peace with that. He didn't want to flee Hong Kong. He was here to make a stand and however the cards turn up, he said that he will accept it.

CHURCH: What about the other pro-democracy activists?

What's ahead for them?


RIPLEY: Well, there is a lot of -- a lot that goes into the trial. This is a 20-day trial. For the other notable defendants like Martin Lee or ex lawmaker Howard Ho (ph), they're facing a singularly grueling, not only judicial process. But remember, if they're charged under the national security law, they are denied bail automatically.

So these people have been sitting in prison for months. This is what people are being shown in Hong Kong.

For example, others in Hong Kong who think about going out on the streets and protesting because they also could end up in jail for a very long time.

There is a palpable sense of change on the streets, outside the courthouse a couple of dozen members of the news media, no protesters, no signs. It's just a surreal difference, Rosemary, how it was during the summer of 2019 when many a mass protest movement, including Jimmy Lai, really thought they had momentum to make a change.

Well, there was certainly change but it wasn't the one here in Hong Kong that they had ever wanted. CHURCH: Yes, that's exactly why we're staying on right on top of the

story, as you are, keeping us updated with this breaking news. Will Ripley joining us on the line there from Hong Kong, we'll talk again very soon.


CHURCH: French president Emmanuel Macron says his country risks losing control over COVID-19, so he is ordering another nationwide lockdown even though he had been trying to keep the country open. CNN's Melissa Bell reports in Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A third nationwide partial lockdown the French president had to announce on television on Wednesday night, Emmanuel Macron also announcing that the French schools will be closing for the next three weeks. The new measures that had applied to part of France's 19 departments

had already been under partial lockdown, including here in the greater Paris region. That has now extended to the whole metropolitan France from Saturday.

This, of course, in the face of those rising COVID-19 figures that have been driven in a third wave, here in France, as elsewhere in Europe, by the new, variants and particularly the one first identified in the United Kingdom.

The French president speaking to, that explaining that that was what was behind the need to get people back under partial lockdown, Macron saying that of the more than 5,000 people currently in the ICU being treated for COVID-19, 44 percent are below the age of 65.

For several weeks now, French doctors and heads of ICUs have been calling for fresh restrictions and warning that once again France's health system stood on the brink -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: Peru is hoping to curb a surge in new COVID-19 infections with some drastic measures just in time for Easter weekend. Journalist Stefano Pozzebon has the details.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Peruvian government has imposed a new nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the resurging coronavirus in the Andean nation. Among the measures, according to a statement by the Peruvian council of ministers published on Wednesday, are a total ban on the use of private vehicles and a 24 hour curfew.

Domestic flights and intraprovincial public transportations are also to stop. This comes as Peru is experiencing an uptick of new cases just days ahead of the first round of presidential elections that are scheduled for Sunday, April 11th.

Despite the resurgence of the pandemic, the Peruvian presidency announced that the elections will take place as scheduled -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


CHURCH: India's latest wave of the coronavirus is coming at an especially challenging time. Huge crowds just celebrated the festival of Holi this week, marking the advent of spring.

There is also a major religious festival, that draws millions of pilgrims from around the country. Keep in mind, COVID infections in India have just recently spiked again after significant declines since October.

Now these festivals beg the question, could cases explode even further?

CNN's Vedika Sud is live for us in New Delhi.

Good to see you, Vedika.

What restrictions will the government put in place, if any, to reduce the spread of infections at this time and how is the vaccination rollout going as this all happens?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Good to be with you, Rosemary, so, yes, the biggest concern as of now, the Kung Mela (ph) starts. This is one of the biggest festivals across the world that has begun today.


SUD: It will carry on for a month; usually carries on for three months but, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it has now been told to the authorities of this festival that they have to reduce the amount.

They have millions of Hindus who congregate in the northern state of India for this festival. The authorities have demanded that everyone undergo COVID-19 tests 72 hours prior.

Also there's something called an epass to be given after they register with the proper documents. There will be COVID-19 checks done. There are almost 7,000 security personnel deployed. All of them will be vaccinated to make sure that they don't get this infection from others.

But still it does remain a concern, doesn't it?

You have millions congregating for the festival. Another big festival here in India, we can see lots of people congregating. And the government as well as state governments, most of them, had been to the public not to congregate for this festival, especially in cities like Mumbai and Delhi.

But in other places people went ahead and celebrated the festival. This comes at a time where, as of yesterday, India has recorded over 53,000 new infections in the country. Last year India saw almost 98,000 cases of COVID-19 in a single day.

Since arch, these cases have just been going. Let's talk about the reasons for this Rosemary before I wrap up. Obviously it has to do the festivals that are ongoing, everything would be watching with a close eye. There is a lot of skepticism. But there have been a lot of weddings. In India this is the wedding season.

There has been complacency because of the low cases, COVID-19 fatigue and all of these reasons put together, is the reason why today we've seen such a surge in cases in India. The doctors we've spoken to say this is a second wave that India is currently witnessing -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a very familiar story, unfortunately. Vedika Sud with the latest from New Delhi, many thanks.

Now still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, regret, guilt and helplessness. Witnesses of George Floyd's death describe what they felt when they saw the Black man dying at the hands of police.





CHURCH: We saw another day and emotional testimonies in the trial of the death of George Floyd on Wednesday. Witnesses expressed regret as they described what they did and didn't do when they saw Floyd getting arrested by police.

One man even broke down in tears when he was shown footage of the confrontation. CNN's Sara Sidner reports from Minneapolis.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixty-one-year old eyewitness, Charles McMillian took the stand breaking down in sobs after prosecutors played this body camera video of George Floyd interacting with police.

GEORGE FLOYD, VICTIM: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.


FLOYD: Mama. Mama. Mama.

CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS: I feel helpless. I don't have a mama either and I understand him.

SIDNER (voice-over): McMillian is the man you hear on the video begging Floyd to give in to police before Floyd is taken to the ground.

MCMILLIAN: Just, I have had interaction with officers myself and I understand once you get in the cuffs, you can't win. You're done.

SIDNER (voice-over): McMillian told the jury he regularly walks his neighborhood. In fact, he bumped into Officer Derek Chauvin there five days before Floyd's arrest.

MCMILLIAN: Five days ago, I told you the other day, go home to your family safe, that the next person goes home to their family safe, but today, I got to look at you as a maggot.

SIDNER (voice-over): On this day in court, the jury also saw George Floyd alive, watching not seen before surveillance video from inside the Cup Food Store. Nineteen-year-old former cashier Christopher Martin took the stand to explain what was going on leading up to police arriving.

QUESTION: Do you recall what it was that you sold to him? CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, FORMER CASHIER, CUP FOOD STORE: A pack of cigarettes. He seemed very friendly. Approachable. He was talkative. He seemed to just be having average Memorial Day, just living his life.

SIDNER (voice-over): A scene from everyday life, but the jury knows they are watching a dead man walking. In less than an hour, Floyd will be struggling for his life under then Officer Derek Chauvin's knee.

Martin says Floyd seemed high.

MARTIN: When I asked -- asked him if he played baseball, he went on to respond to that, but it kind of took him a little long, so it would appear that he was high.

SIDNER (voice-over): And paid for cigarettes with an odd looking $20.00 bill.

MARTIN: I assumed that it was fake.

SIDNER (voice-over): He testified the store policy is if a cashier accepts counterfeit money, it comes out of their paycheck.

MARTIN: I took it anyways and I was planning to just put it on my tab, until I second guessed myself and as you can see in the video, I kept jamming it and then I eventually told my manager.

SIDNER (voice-over): The manager of the store asked another employee to call police on Floyd after the teenage employees confronted Floyd at his car twice.

When police eventually detained Floyd, Martin heard a commotion and went outside.

MARTIN: George was motionless, limp and Chauvin seemed very -- he was in a resting state.

QUESTION: What's going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief, then guilt.

QUESTION: Why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.

SIDNER (voice-over): And for the first time, we hear Chauvin explaining on his body camera why he restrained Floyd.

DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: I am going to control this guy because he is a sizable guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, get in the car.

CHAUVIN: It's like -- it looks like he is probably on something.

SIDNER (voice-over): The jury then saw the excruciatingly close video from several angles, all of it from officers' body cameras.

FLOYD: Mama, I love you.

SIDNER (voice-over): It takes several minutes before you hear an officer, just one, question Chauvin's tactics.



LANE: I just worry about the excited delirium of whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why we have an ambulance coming.


CHURCH: Our thanks to Sara Sidner for that report.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is going on a hunger strike to protest his treatment in prison. The vocal Kremlin critic says he's been denied access to a doctor and medicine and instead is tortured with sleep deprivation.

Navalny made the claims in a handwritten letter, which his team posted on Instagram. The Russian prison service says Navalny is receiving all the medical care he needs and is being treated like any other convict.

To a stark warning from the U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, quote, "a bloodbath is imminent."


CHURCH: Her message came in a private meeting at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday but the decision ended with no sign of agreement on what specific actions the council would take.

An activist group says 536 civilians have been killed since the February 1st coup. Meantime, the military has declared a cease-fire. But it only appears to refer to actions against armed ethnic groups, who have warned, a wider conflict is looming.

Excluded from the junta's peace offer, anyone who, quote, "disrupts government security." Ivan Watson joins us now from Hong Kong with more on what's happening in Myanmar.

Ivan, what does this cease-fire mean?

Is Myanmar on the brink of civil war right now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's deeply disturbing and I think the warnings coming from the special envoy about an imminent bloodbath, the appeals coming from within the U.N. system itself, from the secretary-general, who's calling for more unity and action on Myanmar, from the special rapporteur, who is calling for an arms embargo and then the results of the U.N. Security Council meeting, which were pretty inconclusive, China coming out with a statement, saying that it does not support sanctions, even though the writing is on the wall.

We are seeing those red flag signs that the chaos that is escalating inside the country has growing risks of spilling over into neighboring countries.


WATSON (voice-over): The deepening crisis in Myanmar is starting to spill across borders. Thousands of civilians crossing the river between Myanmar and Thailand to escape airstrikes carried out by Myanmar's warplanes.

They're from a region controlled by the Karen national union. It's the oldest of dozens of armed ethnic militias that have fought off and on against the military in Myanmar for generations.

This is a patchwork of just some of the militias that operate in Myanmar's border regions. Two months after the coup, the deadly crackdown on anti-coup protesters in the cities have sent people fleeing to these militia enclaves, including the one controlled by this man.

YAWD SERK, SHAN STATE ARMY (through translator): We stand with the people. If they are in trouble and run to us seeking help, we will take care of them.

WATSON (voice-over): Yawd Serk is the leader of the Shan state army. In an interview with CNN, he denounced the coup.

SERK (through translator): If the military continues to shoot and kill people, it means the junta have simply transformed themselves into terrorists.

WATSON (voice-over): In the cities and towns of central Myanmar, the death toll amid the anti-coup protesters continues to grow.

WATSON: Do any of you have the training or background to lead a grassroots political protest?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, none of us. I work in an office. I was department head.

WATSON (voice-over): This man, who asks not to be identified for his safety, is the leader of the protest movement in a neighborhood of Yangon. In just two months, it's gone from organizing festive but passionate gatherings, with costumes and signs, to desperate efforts to defend barricades from the heavily armed security forces.

The protest leader says he's hearing growing calls for armed attacks.

WATSON: Do you support violent attacks on the military?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all because, like I said, it won't accomplish our goal. WATSON (voice-over): He said some demonstrators have made largely

unsuccessful attempts to carry out what they call "car wash" operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A car wash operation is throwing Molotovs at a moving or stationary vehicle or whether there's army personnel in it or whether it's an empty truck.

WATSON (voice-over): Demonstrators in Yangon tell CNN there are some efforts being made to arm anti-coup protesters and to send activists to receive combat training in enclaves run by militias, like the Shan state army.

SERK (through translator): If they don't have training, we will train them.

WATSON (voice-over): Myanmar's military doesn't want to keep fighting these well trained rebels. Instead, on Wednesday, it called a unilateral cease-fire for one month. No such mercy for civilian protesters, who soldiers and police continue to kill with impunity, driving ordinary people towards radicalization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When ordinary civilians like us, all these workers like us, started taking arms and get maybe training for six months and start shooting people, I guess civil war would be unavoidable.


WATSON: So Rosemary, the announcement Wednesday night from the military for this unilateral cease-fire was addressed to those ethnic armed organizations, not to the protesters.

The announcement went on to say, quote, "The military will suspend its operations unilaterally from April 1st to April 30th for the cease- fire.


WATSON: "Except for defending from actions that disrupt government security and administration."

So there's a large caveat there. Will be watching closely to see how this is potentially implemented on the ground. In the meantime, activist organizations at least two more demonstrators were killed on Wednesday.

And there are calls for setting up a transitional government by one of the main opposition groups to challenge the military; the military calls that high treason.

CHURCH: We will stay on the story, of course. Ivan Watson, bringing us the latest from his vantage point in Hong Kong. Many thanks.

The drugmaker behind the first Western COVID vaccine has pulled off what once seemed improbable, already delivering hundreds of millions of doses. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside Pfizer's manufacturing facility, his exclusive report just ahead.

Plus, as governments scramble to get enough COVID vaccines for humans, Russia has just registered the first doses for animals. We will explain.




CHURCH: Welcome, back everyone.

Some of the stories we are following this hour: president Emmanuel Macron has ordered another limited lockdown for France as he seeks to contain a third wave of infections. Like France, several countries around the world are seeing a rising number of infections, some averaging more than 80,000 new cases a day.

For many, the vaccine rollout has been slower than expected. But in places like the U.S., the number of fully vaccinated people keeps growing.

Pfizer announced on Wednesday that it came through with the 120 million COVID vaccine doses it promised the U.S. by the end of March. The global goal of Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is 2.5 billion doses by the end of this year. The total so far, 232 million.

And you can see all the places their vaccine is already being administered around the world. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside the Pfizer factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Here's his exclusive report.



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year ago, a process you are watching didn't even exist. And for Mike McDermott, Pfizer's president of global supply, the novel virus meant he needed a novel approach to vaccine manufacturing.

MIKE MCDERMOTT, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL SUPPLY, PFIZER: This has been an amazing 12 months, nothing like I've ever experienced in my career.


GUPTA: Remember, until the end of last year, no vaccine using mRNA technology had ever been authorized. And now I'm getting an exclusive look here in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at how Pfizer, in partnership with BioNTech, has produced millions of these vaccines.

MCDERMOTT: Sixty million doses are surrounding us, hugging us right now. Imagine the impact that this room will have, just the doses that are in here today, on U.S. citizens and patients around the world.

GUPTA (on camera): It gives you goosebumps.

(voice-over): While Pfizer has more than doubled its output from a month ago, now producing at least 13 million doses a week, it's still not enough for McDermott.

MCDERMOTT: By the middle this year, we're at 13 million doses. We'll be at 25 million doses in a couple months.

GUPTA (on camera): So a hundred million a month.

MCDERMOTT: A hundred million a month.

GUPTA (voice-over): And he's doing that by continuing to look for novel solutions, and even seemingly simple ones. They found that their suppliers couldn't provide enough dry ice, so they decided to produce their own.

MCDERMOTT: High-vis jackets so we can see each other. Hard hat.

GUPTA: That also means that you are now seeing things that President Biden didn't see when he was here just five weeks ago in February.

MCDERMOTT: This is our new formulation suite.

GUPTA: Here's part of how they scale up so fast: these prefab formulation suites. They're all built in Texas before being brought here.

MCDERMOTT: If we built it wall by wall onsite, it would have taken us a year. By doing it modularly, we can cut that in half.

MCDERMOTT: If you want to get on one side I'll get on the other.

GUPTA: And yes, as I found, it really is as easy as pushing it into place.

GUPTA (on camera): Man, that's amazing.

MCDERMOTT: That was pretty smart.

GUPTA (voice-over): But for McDermott, it really all came down to this key part of the process.

MCDERMOTT: There's never been a commercial-scale mRNA vaccine. So everything you see here is custom designed.

GUPTA: Remember, what makes up Pfizer's vaccine is basically mRNA housed in four different lipids, which is really just fat. And this tiny tool, called an impingement jet mixer, makes it possible.

Now, this is going to sound too simple, but here goes. On one side, mRNA is pumped in. On the other side, lipids. And they are forced together with around 400 pounds of pressure.

Out comes a lipid nanoparticle, which McDermott says is the perfect package to deliver mRNA to your cells. That's the vaccine. (on camera): But when you start to really scale it up like that, how

confident were you that it is going to work?

MCDERMOTT: So the first time somebody showed me this impingement jet mixer, I said, you can't be serious. How could you put billions of doses through here?

So my confidence level was actually quite low, not that it could be done. I knew it worked at this scale, but how could you multiply it?

GUPTA (voice-over): Not only did McDermott crack that code and is now on his way to producing billions of doses for the world, his life has now come full circle.

MCDERMOTT: Because as a kid, my dad worked for NASA. He was lucky enough to be in mission control in Houston when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, right, that amazing moment.

NEIL ARMSTRONG, NASA ASTRONAUT: -- a giant leap for mankind.

MCDERMOTT: And the day when we shipped the first doses out of the sites, It rushed over me, like that was -- that was our moonshot.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Kalamazoo, Michigan.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Just extraordinary, isn't it? And Pfizer and BioNTech also came through, with the news many parents have been waiting for. Trial data shows their vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing severe illness in children ages 12 to 15.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The companies of Pfizer and Moderna and others are putting a lot of effort in to show that the vaccine is safe and effective, as you know, on kids.

We hope that by the end of this year, we'll have enough information that we can safely vaccinate children of any age by the beginning of the first quarter of 2022.


CHURCH: So could this be enough to start getting shots in kids arms to send them safely back to school? CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard explains what's next.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: These are pretty remarkable results: 100 percent efficacy in ages 12 to 15.

(voice-over): But this doesn't mean the vaccine will be made available to children quite yet. There still some next steps. The data still has to be peer-reviewed, and of course, the FDA will have to review the data before authorizing the vaccine at younger ages.

But here's what the data does show so far. Pfizer's trial enrolled slightly more than 2,000 participants, ages 12 to 15, here in the United States. Some of the children were giving a placebo. Others were given the vaccine.

Researchers found that over time, there were about 18 cases of COVID- 19 among the kids given a placebo. They were not vaccinated. That's versus zero cases in the vaccinated group. And that's how researchers determined 100 percent efficacy.


And here in the United States, we could see children ages 12 to 15 being able to get vaccinated by the next school year. That's what a Pfizer official told NBC News. Have a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our goal is to get this information submitted to the FDA as soon as possible. If all goes as planned, the vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds could be ready as soon as the start of the next school year.

HOWARD (on camera): But of course, this all depends on those next steps.

Back to you.


CHURCH: And thanks for that. Jacqueline Howard reporting there.

Well, Germany is now using AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine only for people aged 60 and over. And it comes after rare blood clots were reported in a few people who received the first dose.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the move following recommendations from the country's vaccine committee.


ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I quote, "Based on the currently available but still limited evidence, and taking into account the pandemic situation, the vaccine commissioner recommends the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for persons aged over 60 years."


CHURCH: Despite Germany's move, the World Health Organization insists the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective. They say all evidence right now suggests the benefits of the shot far outweigh any potential risks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KATE O'BRIEN, WHO DEPARTMENT OF IMMUNIZATION, VACCINES AND BIOLOGICALS: We are clear on in that the benefit-risk assessment for the AstraZeneca vaccine, given the range of evidence on both efficacy, effectiveness, safety and quality manufacturing, that it still weighs very heavily in favor of the use of the vaccine.

It is a safe vaccine, and as expected, with the broad use of this and, frankly, any other vaccine, that we anticipate that there might have been rare events that would be identified that may be associated with -- with the vaccine.


CHURCH: The E.U. has had to deal with so much drama concerning coronavirus vaccines that now both the leaders of France and Germany are in talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin about potentially getting some of his country's Sputnik V vaccine. That is according to the French presidential palace and the Kremlin.

And earlier, I spoke about what's behind these talks with Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.


DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: I think it is about supply, and it is about negotiations, trying to get another vaccine into the market. Of course, the Sputnik V vaccine will have to go before the European Medicines Agency. And we look forward to seeing all those data. I've seen hints, but I really haven't seen the data laid out. We would look forward to that.


CHURCH: And we will have more of that conversation next hour. Stay with us for that.

Well, Russia has registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine for animals. That news comes from a state media report. A Russian official says farms in Greece, Poland and Austria are already planning to buy it. Matthew Chance is following this for us.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance in Moscow, and Russia now says it's approved the world's first COVID-19 vaccine for pets. Carnivac, as it's called, is designed to protect carnivorous animals like dogs and cats. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) say it will go into mass production as early as next month.

A U.S. health official said there's no evidence at this time that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19. But they can get infected by people, say health officials, especially during close contact.


CHURCH: And our thanks to Matthew Chance for that report.

Time for a short break. When we come back, Egyptian investigators board the ship that blocked traffic in the Suez Canal for nearly a week. We will tell you what they want access to first.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, aid workers say thousands of people who fled the terror attack in Mozambique have reached safety. Hundreds remain missing, though, and family members are waiting for word of their fate.

The U.N. says survivors are exhausted, traumatized and in need of medical attention. It also says the situation in Palma remains tense, and sporadic fighting is still being reported.

Islamist insurgents attacked the town from three directions last week. Dozens of people were killed.

The Suez Canal Authority says shipping is back to normal levels in the vital trade route.

Meanwhile, divers are inspecting the hull of the massive container shipped that ran aground last week, holding up traffic for days. Egypt says losses from the blockage could reach a billion dollars.

CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from Cairo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been more than two days that the Suez Canal is fully operational, but the saga of the Ever Given goes on.

The massive container ship remains anchored in the Great Bitter Lake, where it has been inspected for seaworthiness.

Wednesday afternoon, Egyptian investigators boarded the ship. They're particularly interested in gaining access to the vessel's voice and data recorders, its so-called black box.

Tuesday, the ship's owners promised to fully cooperate with the investigation into the Ever Given's grounding. Failure to cooperate could have dire circumstances [SIC]. The chief investigator told Egyptian TV that, If the Ever Given does not respond to our request, this will turn into a civil suit. There will be an order to seize the ship and its cargo.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: And I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. WORLD SPORT is next.