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SpaceX Astronauts Return; India's COVID-19 Crisis; Israel Mourns Stampede Victims; U.S. To Focus On Vaccinating Teens; Nearly Half Of Republicans Won't Get Vaccine; China's Vaccine Rollout Facing Challenges; Many Americans Still Uneasy About In-Person Contact; Medina Spirit Wins Kentucky Derby. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired May 2, 2021 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here in United States and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have visual confirmation of the Crew One Resilience capsule.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's excellent news. We are splashed down.

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): SpaceX Crew One is now safely back on Earth after a historic mission on the International Space Station. They splashed down about an hour ago. The returning astronauts spent five months on the orbiting laboratory.

The Crew One consists of three Americans and one Japanese astronaut. A flotilla of ships were waiting. The capsule was hoisted aboard a ship, the hatch opened and the crew exited the capsule. They'll soon be on a helicopter to go back to the NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Last hour I spoke with retired astronaut Leroy Chiao, who knows what it's like to return to Earth and he shared that experience with me.


LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Coming down in a spacecraft like the Resilience is a different experience than coming back down on a space shuttle. So before I flew on a Soyuz capsule and came back on one, I flew on three space shuttles.

So very different experiences. The SpaceX capsule probably flies a lot like the Russian Soyuz so it's actually very smooth coming through the atmosphere, as is the space shuttle. But when you get close to landing, the space shuttle, you get a lot of

rumbling as the speed decreases from supersonic down to subsonic. In the case of the capsule, it's all pretty benign until the parachute deploys.

You'll be jostled a bit but that's a good feeling because then you know the parachutes have come out and you're starting to come down and you're going to be down on the ground in just a few minutes after that.

BRUNHUBER: We're seeing, I believe, live pictures of boats speeding toward the capsule right now, which is floating in the ocean there.

Tell us how long did it take them to get you when you landed?

CHIAO: It's actually very quick. The rescue forces followed us in their helicopters and, of course, we landed down on land. There was so much snow melt in Kazakhstan at the time when I came down that we almost made a water landing within about 50 yards or so.

But this is significant because SpaceX nominally lands in the water after a mission like this. And this is significant because it's the first time they've done it at night. So exercising not only the crew but also the rescue forces to go ahead and do these operations at night.

BRUNHUBER: You know, the fact the previous SpaceX flight, they found the heat shield had worn away more than expected. They reinforced it and so on.

But would that have been weighing on their minds, the question of, would it hold as they went through?

CHIAO: You're very well aware of the risks; the heat shield as you point out is one of those things you think about. Parachute deploy is another. But the wear they saw on the previous flight was a little more than expected but within the limits.

And so just to -- just to increase the margin, they did beef up those areas. And so really it probably wasn't really on the crew's mind. You know what things can go wrong until you think about them. But they probably weren't fixated on them too much.

BRUNHUBER: Describe the feeling they're going through right now, knowing you splashed down, the sense of being back on Earth after, in their cases, five months in space.

What's that like?

CHIAO: Sure, they're very excited, of course. They're very happy to be home, waiting for the rescue forces to get them out of the vehicle and get them onto the boat. So there's a lot of anticipation.

They might be feeling a little bit dizzy, of course, after being back in the gravity field after having been away for so long. But they're definitely keyed up and excited and happy to be home. BRUNHUBER: Yes.

So what happens next?

I mean, the capsule, they'll take that aboard the boat and so on. Go through the steps they'll be going through and then they'll be taken for testing and so on.

CHIAO: Right. So after you get out of the vehicle, of course, they'll take you over to the area where they're going to get your suit off. And in the case of the SpaceX suit, it's relatively easy to get on and off, compared to the suits we wore on the Soyuz spacecraft and aboard the space shuttle.

You'll do the medical checks. They'll take your vitals and see how you're doing. They'll take some measurements.


CHIAO: And then get you in a relaxed position, get you some water to drink. You're going to be a little dehydrated from this experience.

And then, of course, bring you back to shore and get you cleaned up and reunited with your loved ones.


BRUNHUBER: Our thanks to Leroy Chiao for his analysis there.


BRUNHUBER: For the 11th straight day, India's COVID-19 crisis has exploded by more than 300,000 new cases and the nearly 3,700 deaths reported a one-day record. Officials in New Delhi extended the lockdown of the capital and announced a two-week lockdown beginning May 5th.

The international community is responding, oxygen, equipment, masks, ventilators, vaccines and medical supplies are being flown in from around the world. Tragically, hospital patients have died as oxygen supplies were depleted.

On Saturday, about 100 tons of liquid oxygen rolled into a city south of the capital, providing short-term relief. But far more is obviously needed. We have Kristie Lu Stout with the latest from Hong Kong and also Isa Soares from London, tracking the international response.

So let's start with you, Kristie. The crisis deepens daily.

What's the latest?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: India's second wave of COVID-19 catastrophe rages on, with the country today, just a few hours ago, recording 3,689 deaths as the highest daily rise so far.

It has marked the 11th consecutive day of over 300,000 cases of coronavirus. And experts continue to point out that these numbers are most likely to be undercounted, due to the nonstop mass cremations taking place across the country as well as the lack of COVID-19 testing kits.

And the statistics, these grim numbers, translate into harrowing stories of tragedy across the country, stories of families going from clinic to clinic, searching for open ICU beds for sick loved ones.

Stories and testimonies from medical health care workers, just pleading desperately for basic supplies like oxygen and medicine. Experts point out that the best hope for India is the COVID-19 vaccine.

India started a vaccination drive in January, but it has been woefully slow. Only 2.1 percent of 1.3 billion people have been inoculated so far. Over the weekend, this weekend, it widened the age range of who can get inoculated, those over 18 can get the shot. But states in India say there's simply not enough supplies.

Earlier today we learned on Saturday, less than 85,000 adults received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. So here we have India, the world's largest producer of COVID-19 vaccines, dependent on the outside world for help.

Vaccine manufacturing materials are on their way from the United States and the Sputnik vaccine, about 150,000, arrived from Russia. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Thanks for that.

Turning to the international response. As I said, many countries are coming to India's aid, including the U.S.

Will this make a dent in the problem or is this too little, too late?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim, as we just heard from Kristie Lu Stout, the help is desperate, people are desperate and every bit of help is needed right now.

Of course, what they really need is shots in arms as fast as possible. But as we've seen from my colleagues on the ground covering this crisis, people are also gasping for air. Really, this help from the international community is in fact needed.

They're sending from countries like Singapore, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, oxygen, ventilators, PPE, medication. We've heard Russia is sending 150,000 doses of Sputnik. Importantly that has been approved by Indian regulators beginning of April.

So that's a good sign, given there are only 2 percent of the population that has been inoculated.

Also, these oxygen generators, these ventilators, are what's needed right now in hospitals up and down the country. We've seen in the last few hours, in fact, planes arriving from France, from Cologne in Germany as well as Uzbekistan, all arriving in New Delhi with shipments for India.


SOARES: And the French arrival we saw this morning, eight high- capacity oxygen generators providing year-long oxygen for 250 beds but, importantly, it allows hospitals to produce their own oxygen.

They're also sending liquid oxygen for 200 patients for five days as well as 28 ventilators. Take a listen to what the French ambassador to India had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So one of the things to be --


SOARES: Unfortunately, we don't have that sound. I will get it to you but what he said is that this is the largest help that France has brought, has done so far, when it relates to COVID-19 and will continue to help India in whichever way it can.

Now the question of the United States, I can quickly point out the U.S. has sent shipments and President Biden has promised president (sic) Narendra Modi that the U.S. will stand shoulder to shoulder with India in whatever way it can and is hoping to deliver $100 million worth of supplies.

Everything like I outlined, from oxygen-related equipment, PPE to filters and production but critically it's to the point that was made before you came to me, the importance of actually the production of vaccines.

And particularly the U.S. has lifted, partially lifted, exports on the question of raw materials for some time. The United States had, for some time, the United States had a ban on the materials that make up the vaccines in India.

Some called it resource hoarding, the U.S. doing that to boost its own production at home, now partially lifted and hopefully production can ramp up again, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. Absolutely vital. Isa Soares from London and Kristie Lu Stout from Hong Kong, thank you so much.

And now we're joined by Preetha Reddy, the vice chairperson of Apollo Hospitals, a major health care provider in Asia and comes to us from India.

Thank you very much for being with us on this very important story. I want your reaction on the scale of the disaster unfolding right now in India.

PREETHA REDDY, VICE CHAIRPERSON, APOLLO HOSPITALS: Kim, thank you so much for the invitation. The known scale itself is very daunting and, you know, it's unprecedented and I think it did catch us unawares. But having said that, both the governments and the public and private sector are coming together to try and cope with it. To us, we do have people literally gasping for breath. The requirement of oxygen is huge.

And I'm glad that countries like the United States or Europe are really rushing in supplies for us and I'm totally grateful and thankful for that.

Along with that, there are multiple donors of supplies in multiple forms. We're getting financial aid, which is really good. India is a country that is resilient. I know we will come together and be able to overcome this.

But right now, the crisis is daunting and, again, there is this, you know, this whole scale of mutations on the virus and a lot of unanswered questions. But right now I think literally we need the oxygen. We need manpower. We need supplies.

We need, maybe, a few quick changes in policy and definitely vaccines. As much as which is ready and suppliable, we need to take them all.

BRUNHUBER: You brought up policy. Let me ask you about that, then. We heard American infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying that India should enact another full lockdown. Just want to play you what he said. Listen to this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: One of the things to be considered is to temporarily shut down, I mean literally lock down, so that you wind up not having more spread.

And no one likes to lock down the country, well, that's a problem if you do it for 6 months. But if you do it just for a few weeks, you could have a significant impact on the dynamics of the outbreak.


BRUNHUBER: So, you know, we are seeing some forms of lockdown, piecemeal, in the country but sort of a national lockdown for a few weeks, as he's suggesting, is that what's needed here?

REDDY: I think the likelihood of that happening is quite high. Most people feel that it's needed and that, you know, we will be able to cope with it.


REDDY: For example, even a partial lockdown, at least kind of stemmed a bit on the rise of cases and I think it should be done very forcefully in some states but definitely throughout the country.

BRUNHUBER: And then when you said you wanted to see changes in policy, specifically, then, what are you calling for? REDDY: What we're asking is, you know, why we were able to get infrastructure, while we're getting aid, so on and so forth. We're finding a huge shortage of manpower. I think we need to ease the norms of life for them to actually come and work alongside patients.

And we're strongly advocating that, with the governments and hopefully they will see that, you know, for a certain period of time, with just limited work to be done, we will kind of muster in more support.

We need more hands and feet, more bodies on the ground, for help and, for that, some policy changes are required and hopefully that will happen.

BRUNHUBER: And also you need more shots in arms, vaccinations. I had a noted Indian virologist on yesterday, saying ramping up vaccinations would be great, we need it obviously but it will have no impact on the current outbreak. The country won't be able to get enough people vaccinated in time.

Do you agree with that?

REDDY: Yes. I think, you know, it's much better to be late than never. And as an institution, as the Apollo Hospitals group, the largest of vaccinators in the private sector. And I think if we can garner in more support, get the supplies, ease the supply chain, we should at least be able to safeguard against the future. You know, something is better than nothing.

BRUNHUBER: Are you surprised and maybe disappointed that -- I mean, India's the largest maker of vaccines in the world. And yet you don't have enough supply. I mean, they were supposed to be rolling out the vaccines for everyone over 18, starting the other day. And many places had to cancel, because they just didn't have any supply.

REDDY: I think supplies are there. The logistics will fall into place this week and we will be able to at least start the program. If we could get more supplies from -- you know, from the U.S. or whoever is -- has and its manufacturing, I think it would be most welcome.

But having said that, I think the supply chain will open up and we should be able to really do 10 times more than what we're doing today.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Well, listen, we wish you all the best of luck as you try and cope with this horrible pandemic. Thanks for coming on.

REDDY: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: And there are many ways you can help people in India cope with this devastating COVID outbreak. Go to to find out how.

Israel is marking a day of national mourning for those killed when a religious festival turned into a deadly stampede on Friday. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem, next.

Stay with us. (MUSIC PLAYING)




BRUNHUBER: Israel is observing a national day of mourning for the dozens of people killed in a stampede Friday at a religious festival. Flags are flying at half-staff on the Knesset other public buildings.

And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asking people to pray for the injuries. While funerals for the victims continue, so does the blame and questions over who's responsible for the deadly disaster. Let's bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem.

Obviously a very somber day there. Tell us more about the mood there and the growing calls for accountability.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim, there is a somber mood, as you say, flags here at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, flying at half-mast as they are on official buildings across the country as they come to terms over the Lag B'Omer festival that resulted in the deaths of 45 people.

The bodies were all identified Friday, some buried Friday according to Jewish tradition, which requires burial as fast as possible. Many more are expected to happen today. We understand someone with a list of fatalities, it is expected at least five of the dead were also U.S. citizens.

A dozen people are still in hospital, two of them seriously. As you say, a very somber mood. People in mourning, people still in shock. At the same time, also anger and recrimination and people really wanting to know how something of this magnitude could happen.

Now the police have already launched an internal investigation to look into the security forces role and also the attorney general, who has launched an investigation into possible negligence on the part of the police.

But there are now calls as well for a full state inquiry to really find out the full facts as to what happened, up to and including the event and who was responsible.

They may be paying particular attention to comments, such as the former head of the regional council of the area that encompasses Mt. Meron, where the event took place, saying it was a ticking time bomb.

And at one occasion, he issued a warrant to have it shut down or keep it from going ahead but that warrant was unenforceable due to political pressure. The security minister, an ally of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says, while he takes responsibility, he accepts responsibility. That's not the same as accepting the blame, adding in an apparent echo

of those ticking time bomb comments, that this could have happened at any point in previous years, including previous years when there were up to 400,000 people taking place in this event.


GOTKINE: So it really does seem like it was, perhaps, an accident waiting to happen. But everyone in Israel, not just those directly linked to the victim, everyone in Israel really just wants answers now as to how this could have happened and who's responsible and how this can never happen again.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. Elliott Gotkine, appreciate it.

North Korea now saying the U.S. President made a big blunder in his first speech to Congress, saying North Korea's nuclear program was a serious threat to the world and the U.S. would work with its allies on the issue.

North Korea, supported by state-run media, is slamming the remarks, saying it's intolerable for the U.S. President to suggest this and an official says the U.S. will face " a crisis beyond control in the near future."

A Republican Party divided over Donald Trump's legacy. It looks a little like this -- senator Mitt Romney booed by fellow Republicans at a party convention on Saturday in Utah. Listen to this.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I don't have the fact that I wasn't a fan of our last president's character issues, and I'm also no fan --


ROMNEY: Aren't you embarrassed?

And I'm also no fan of the president's -- yes, sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends, this is the moment I was talking about. Please. Thank you. Show respect.


BRUNHUBER: Those catcalls came just as Romney mentioned Donald Trump. Romney has long had a strained relationship with the former president's loyalists in his state but even then the resolution to censure Romney for his vote to convict Trump at the Senate's impeachment trial failed.

Here's how a Democratic lawmaker viewed the in-fighting.


REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: He was the nominee of the Republican Party eight years ago.

Could you imagine president Barack Obama going before a Democratic audience and getting booed?

It's as analogous that Romney ran against Obama be booed and it just shows the Republican Party right now has an identity crisis. And anyone who departs from the party line, who even dares to criticize president Trump, is going to be ostracized by a large part of that party.


BRUNHUBER: Of course, as you remember, Romney often criticized Trump throughout his presidency.

In the U.S., coronavirus infections retreat to the lowest levels in almost seven months.

What's contributing to the steady decline in cases and the new freedoms that's increasingly coming to Americans?

We discuss.

Plus China keeping vaccines in supply is challenging. That's not the only thing China has to deal with. We'll explain. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Here in the U.S., fresh signs of the pandemic getting under control, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Daily cases, dipped below 50,000 first time since October. More than 243 million vaccine doses have been given. Natasha Chen has more on the progress made and what still needs to be done.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even as global daily coronavirus cases reached a new peak pushed by the crisis in India and South America, the United States curve is flattening.

The improvement in numbers is helped in part by the more than 100 million people in the U.S., close to one-third of the population who are now fully vaccinated.

TIM SMITH, FEMA VACCINATION CENTER LEADER: I'm seeing a shift I think, towards that underserved population, so the ones that are maybe on the fence and are thinking about it, we have to do a little bit more effort to get the knowledge to them and to help them make the correct decision to get vaccinated.

JIM REDICK, NORFOLK, Virginia, EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE DIRECTOR: By the time they leave, they have smiles on their faces and then they share with us the reasons why they are getting vaccinated and they share them, they post them on the wall.

And it's all about doing it for not only themselves but most of the time for their family, friends and other loved ones.

CHEN (voice-over): Now the focus turns to vaccinating younger teens once they're eligible, many of whom have also missed routine vaccinations for things like the flu this past year because of the pandemic.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: It's going to take a truly coordinated effort to achieve both the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents and a rapid catch up of routine vaccinations.

CHEN (voice-over): Pfizer has applied for an emergency use authorization to allow 12 to 15-year-olds to receive its COVID-19 vaccine. President Biden says school should probably all be open in the fall.

This vision of almost normal is tantalizing. New York City will allow 75 percent capacity for indoor dining starting Friday.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: I think "The Daily News" has it right. Here. This is going to be the summer of New York City.

CHEN (voice-over): The restaurant reservation website Open Table shows the number of customers dining out is around 20 percent below pre- pandemic levels.

Disneyland Resort in California, the only one of the global Disney parks left closed since last March reopened with restrictions to California residents on Friday.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says falling case rates and rising vaccination rates mean a full reopening of businesses by July 1st is a reasonable target, though she also warns the virus has tricked us before and the U.S. has not reached herd immunity.

Oregon governor Kate Brown on Friday designated 15 counties entering extreme risk level with harsher restrictions as the state recorded five straight weeks of at least 20 percent increases in new cases and a near doubling of hospitalizations in the past week, particularly among younger people.

GOV. KATE BROWN (D-OR): Economic relief is something I can do as your governor to help Oregonians impacted by this fourth surge. What I can't do is bring back someone's life lost to this virus.

CHEN (voice-over): With similar caution in mind, the Biden administration will restrict travel from India for non-U.S. citizens starting Tuesday with some exceptions. So with much to celebrate on the cusp of normalcy, there's also the reminder of what can happen with too much too soon -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Norfolk, Virginia.


BRUNHUBER: More than 146 million Americans received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, about 44 percent of the population. But vaccination rates are slowing amid fears of just how many more people are willing to get the jab.

A CNN poll conducted by SSRS indicates that politics may be playing a role; 44 percent of Republicans say they won't get a vaccine. Just 8 percent of Democrats feel the same way.


BRUNHUBER: So why are some people so dead set against getting vaccinated?

Well, many appear to be supporters of former president Donald Trump, criticized for repeatedly downplaying the pandemic. CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan talked to some of the anti-vaxers.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to get vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't need a vaccine. I had COVID last march. Sick for all of five hours. I don't need a vaccine for that.

O'SULLIVAN: The CDC recommends you should be vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they can recommend.

O'SULLIVAN: It has emergency approval.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who determine the emergency approval?

O'SULLIVAN: Do you think Trump is wrong on this one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the situation but I know we're not wrong and we're the independent freedom people of America and we make our own decisions.

O'SULLIVAN: You're not getting vaccinated?


O'SULLIVAN: Even if it is the Trump vaccine?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't matter whose vaccine it is. President Biden got it. President Trump was still in office. So, yes. It is the Trump vaccine. I have no intention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't blindly follow what President Trump did or didn't do. It's the fact that he promoted individual freedom and your ability to excel. It was a movement. He just happened to come along at the right time to help.


BRUNHUBER: Thousands of Brazilians rallied to show support for their president, who's been widely criticized for his response to the pandemic.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Brazil has the second highest official death toll in the world. Jair Bolsonaro opposed strict lockdown measures, failed to strongly endorse masks and only recently encouraged vaccines. He's expected face a strong challenge next year from the former president.


BRUNHUBER: Chinese leaders are offering India a helping hand while it struggles with COVID-19. But Chinese officials are also struggling to vaccinate their own population. David Culver shows us what they're up against.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the streets of Beijing, China's effort to vaccinate its residents is on full display. Shops in the capital city, using precious windows space to advertize something other than sales and business hours.

CULVER: This is what they're posting outside some of these places. You can see here, this is one sign and it says, 100 percent of the people who work inside the shop have been vaccinated.

CULVER (voice-over): Another sign, saying that 93 percent of those working in this Beijing bank have gotten one of China's COVID-19 vaccines as have 90 percent of this restaurant employees.

"Well, it's for my personal safety," this woman tells us, "as well as for everyone's safety, for the safety of people's lives," she says.

CULVER: There's another side of this. That is to encourage others, perhaps, consider it peer pressure a bit.

CULVER (voice-over): After the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China's centralized government mobilized into wartime mode, combating the virus. From lockdowns, mass testing, the strict measures, seemingly, are effective and still very much part of the daily lives here, especially contact tracing.

CULVER: This one, for example, will let me register. And it comes up, saying I have no abnormal conditions. I show that to the folks who work inside, they then let me in.

CULVER (voice-over): The same measures, in place for some ride shares. Before your car shows up the app tells you the driver's recent nucleic acid test results and shows you if they have been vaccinated, not to mention, the vehicle disinfected.

CULVER: As soon as you get into a rideshare, you need to scan the QR they post, right on the back of the chair here. The driver here, showing me his, his is good. All right. And that means we are good to go.

CULVER (voice-over): But while China was ahead in stopping further spread of the virus, it's struggled to vaccinate its massive population of 1.4 billion people; whereas by April 25th, the U.S. gave out nearly 230 million doses, vaccinating nearly 30 percent of its population.

China had only administered about 225 million doses, far below the vaccination rate in the U.S. It has led to a propaganda push.

CULVER: Across Beijing, we see posters like this one put, up two in fact right next to each other, this one saying, people should get the vaccine, so it's to create the great wall of immunity, as they put it.

Then, to make it easy, they provide on this poster, the QR code that people can use their smartphones to scan, set up an appointment time and to get to that appointment, some communities are even offering a free shuttle.

CULVER (voice-over): The effort to vaccinate now spreading to expats and foreign media, living here in China, including us.

This Beijing museum, turned into a vaccination center.


CULVER (voice-over): Private rooms set up for each injection. Covering the original outbreak in Wuhan to now, all a bit surreal.

CULVER (from captions): Feeling a bit nervous, uneasy...


CULVER (voice-over): Yes, I think it kind of hits you after covering this for more than a year.

CULVER (voice-over): We received China's Sinopharm vaccine, though the company claims it's 79 percent effective, it has yet to publish detailed clinical trial data.

CULVER: So that's it, that's the COVID-19 vaccine?


CULVER: We're done. And after receiving our second dose of the vaccine, our health kit was

updated. I will show you what it looks like. In our smartphone app, you can see, it shows that we completed our immunization series, as they put it.

It allows us to show a certificate to officials, should we be questioned about our vaccination status.

Meanwhile, the question is raised, why is it that the vaccine rollout is struggling here in China?

There are a lot of factors playing into that. For one, China has been dealing with some of the concerns over transparency and a lot of skepticism with vaccine makers are not disclosing a lot of the clinical trial data. Another factor is that, for some of the folks here, they feel like, why get vaccinated when it is almost near normal?

It feels like life pre-COVID. In fact they, in many cases, live in this bubble that feels quite safe. And then, the third factor, playing into all of this, is vaccine diplomacy. That is, China prioritizing, early on, to export a lot of its vaccines and not keep them for its domestic population.

All of that, combined with trying to vaccinate 1.4 billion people is posing a challenge -- David Culver, CNN, Shanghai.


BRUNHUBER: Well, if you feel nervous or uneasy about gatherings after the pandemic, don't worry. Researchers say you're not alone. A look at COVID anxiety syndrome and why it's got researchers concerned -- next.

Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: More than 103 million people in the U.S. have been full vaccinated against the coronavirus according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The milestone has given some Americans optimism for the future.

But a new study finds nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends. The American Psychological Association found adults who received the COVID vaccine were just as likely as those who haven't received the vaccine to say this.

Researchers in the U.K. say a fear of public places is one of several behaviors that fall under what they're calling COVID anxiety syndrome. They warn people may struggle with compulsive hygiene habits, like excessive cleaning, avoiding public transport and excessive checking for symptoms.

I'd like to bring in Melissa Norberg, an associate professor and deputy director of the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University and the national president of the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy.

Just the person to talk to about this. Thank you so much for joining us. It may seem counterintuitive after dealing with a deadly pandemic for over a year, people might be anxious about normality.

But the habits we've developed over the past year, you know, can be sometimes hard to lose on the more extreme end.

What are you seeing out there in terms of people who might have developed those, you know, those once rational behaviors that have now spiraled into anxiety that might be seen as unhealthy, obsessive, paralyzing and so on?

MELISSA NORBERG, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, MACQUARIE UNIVERSITY: Well, there's a few things happening. So individuals who have a tendency to be socially anxious for over the past year, they just got to just give in to all those socially anxious thoughts by going out in public and doing things that were difficult for them, which is the best way to get over social anxiety.

So what they've been doing over last year, while it's protected their health, has been reinforcing their social anxieties. They need to get back out there and challenge the thoughts that people are inherently dangerous.

There's also some people who might be a bit frightened of germs. So even though they might be vaccinated, not everybody else is vaccinated. There's different strains that the vaccine might not protect them from. And so they might be excessive in cleaning more than the guidelines dictate.

BRUNHUBER: Well, these after-effects can be long-lasting, right?

It's like this global trauma that's lasted over a year now. Some people might think of stresses as on-off. The threat's gone now, so the stress should be, too. That's not how it works, right?

It takes a while to get this out of our system.

NORBERG: Yes, with anxiety, symptoms can wax and wane but, generally, it's a chronic issue. What happens when we're anxious is we often avoid. And anxiety's not a bad emotion. It protects us from dangerous situations.

But sometimes we experience it when we don't really need to, because the world isn't that dangerous. But if we give in to those thoughts that the world is dangerous and avoid, whether that's staying at home when we don't need to or excessively cleaning when we don't need to or avoiding people, then we reinforce those beliefs that the world is dangerous.

And when we don't die or nobody makes fun of us, we think, hey, that's because I avoided. I need to keep avoiding. It just fuels the anxiety, which then fuels the avoidance. So then it becomes a chronic problem. The best way is just to get out of your comfort zone.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. So I want to get more tips, then. Even for people who don't have social anxiety, don't have obsessive cleaning habits and so on, many of us might be nervous about going back into crowds; in some cases, walking around without a mask and so on.

So give us some more tips on how you can cope with these totally normal anxieties about getting back in there.

NORBERG: Yes, definitely, I think that's great to point out, is it's normal, anxiety is on a continuum. Most of us are a little bit shy or socially anxious, we might be a bit afraid of germs. So the advice applies to everyone to get out there and do what you're afraid of, to assess the situation, look for the evidence is what the opportunity I have awaiting for me, is it really dangerous?

And if not, put yourself out there. So social anxiety, if you're just a little bit shy, you know, you've been sitting at home, in your active gear for the past year, pick a low-key event where you might not have to get dressed up for an hour to prepare and be on all night long.


NORBERG: Something low, like, you know, a quick lunch or coffee with somebody and just start doing little things that challenge your comfort zone that should be rewarding and encourage you to do other, bigger events.

And hopefully within a month or two, of actively getting into a routine of challenging yourself, you'll be back to the way it used to be.

BRUNHUBER: We only have about 30 seconds left. But I think this is an important point to get to is, for those of us who have absolutely no problem reintegrating, what onus is there on us to realize that not everyone else feels this way?

That we all have to sort of adjust to people who are still adjusting?

NORBERG: Yes, it's to be compassionate. Things -- you know, you might find it easy returning back to normal. But I'm sure there's something in your life that's not easy. So try to keep that into perspective and think about what's difficult for you and how you would like people to treat you in that situation.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Very important message to end on there and thank you so much for all that, which will be very helpful for many people, I'm sure. Melissa Norberg, thank you so much.

NORBERG: Thank you. BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll be right back.





BRUNHUBER: It was a welcome sight in Louisville, Kentucky, Saturday, a Kentucky Derby with crowd in the stands and history on the track.


BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour, I'll be back in just a moment with more news. Please stay with us.