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Indian COVID-19 Crisis Impacts COVAX Deliveries To Africa, Threatens Neighboring Countries; Centrist Yair Lapid Tasked To Form Next Israeli Government; Biden Administration Now Favors Waiving Vaccine Patents; Japan Considers Extending State Of Emergency In Four Areas; Violence Escalates Between Colombian Police And Protesters; The U.S. Eyes Possible 'Roaring 20s' Recovery. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired May 6, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, The U.S. now supporting international waiver of patent protections on COVID vaccines as well as transferring technology is to make vaccines in poorer countries, putting Washington at odds with Big Pharma.

Dire weeks ahead, India could see another 30 million coronavirus cases, 50 million all in all. That's more than the United States, the long running undisputed global leader.

And India's government freezes vaccine exports, using those doses at home with potentially deadly impact on developing countries.

I'm John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: During the election campaign, candidate Joe Biden promised he would back lifting trade restrictions so COVID vaccines could be shared with the world. On Wednesday, his administration made good on that pledge with a statement from the U.S. trade representative.

The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines. The head of the World Health Organization was nothing short of ecstatic, calling it a monumental moment in the pandemic battle. The proposal to lift the waivers was first made by India and South Africa.

In theory, it could help address the global vaccine shortage by allowing other countries to make their own versions of the vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the most important thing right now is getting vaccines into arms as quickly as possible.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: We've got to get to the end game and the end game is the equitable distribution of vaccines. However we get there, it's fine with me. We need to get there.


VAUSE: The U.S. position is significant but it won't happen straightaway. Negotiations other World Trade Organization will take weeks or months to fine-tune what's going to happen next. Kaitlan Collins has details.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Biden administration has now come out in favor of waiving those intellectual property rights when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines. This is something that had been under debate about their formal position was going to be over the last several days.

You are seeing pressure start to build on the administration for waiving those property rights because, of course, they want companies and countries to be able to mass produce these vaccines, given what we are seeing happen in places like India and Brazil and other countries that are struggling with coronavirus infections or have not yet ramped up their vaccination rates.

This has to go through a WTO process and President Biden's trade rep acknowledged that in her statement. She also talked about the extraordinary circumstances we are in and saying they do respect intellectual property rights but also they recognize that we are in a pandemic and it's important to get as many people vaccinated right now as possible.

So that's where their position is. It seemed like that's where they were going to go since President Biden did say last summer he would commit to sharing vaccines, waiving pattents so we could be sure the world is getting vaccinated if the U.S. is one of the first countries to develop a vaccine.

Of course, the question of how this plays out, whether or not it actually helps these countries in the near future is something that remains to be seen. They haven't figured that out yet. Of course, White House officials say it could be that it's easier to share vaccines, maybe sell them at cost.

So how those companies decide to navigate this remains to be seen. We know this is a decision the pharmaceutical industry did not want to say they did not want these property rights waived but the administration says, of course, it's a pandemic and so they had to do it -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: The major drugmakers lobbied against waiving the trade rules on their patents. The head of the manufacturers of America issued this dire prediction.

"In the midst of a deadly pandemic, a Biden administration has taken an unprecedented step that will undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety."

Meantime, India's second pandemic wave is predicted to go from worse or get worse in the coming weeks. A new model from the Indian Institute of Science projects a total 400,000 deaths, almost 50 million total by early next month, almost double the current numbers and would place India far above the U.S. in total infections.


VAUSE: Many health experts now fear what's happening in India is a preview of what will happen across much of South Asia as the pandemic spreads to neighboring countries. Cases are already way up across the region. Pakistan spending millions to import emergency oxygen supplies and hospitals are full or close to capacity.

The spike in Sri Lanka has the government exspanning COVID restrictions, parts of more than half the country's districts are under lockdown, including the capital, colombo.

Nepal, once again, hit a daily record for new coronavirus infections. Its military is already building makeshift hospitals and we are now hearing the army may recall retired medical staff to help deal with a flood of new patients.

Earlier, Nepal's foreign minister asked the international community for vaccines and medical supplies and reminded the world it's in everyone's interest to help.


K.P. SHARMA OLI, PRIME MINISTER OF NEPAL: Pandemics like this, there's no one and no one is safe. I would like to request our neighbors, friendly countries and international organizers to help us with vaccines, diagnostic equipment and oxygen therapy, critical care medicines and critical care furniture, to support our ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic.


VAUSE: Azmat Ulla, The head of Nepal's Red Cross/Red Crescent is with us now from kathmandu.

Sir, thank you for being with us. It's appreciated. From what you've already seen in this second wave in Nepal, some reports are suggesting it's spreading faster in Nepal compared to India. Most of the COVID patients you have in ICUs and hospital beds, are much younger compared to the first wave last year.

Is that your observation?

AZMAT ULLA, NEPAL HEAD OF DELEGATION, IFRC: Yes. Thank you. The situation in Nepal at the moment is alarming. The infection rate has gone up for over 50 times in just the last few weeks.

Just to give you an example, in March, the infection rate was about 100 per day. The infection rate yesterday was over 7,000. So this is really alarming. And part of it is also to do with the variant.

The variant, as you just mentioned, is spreading very fast, spreading very aggressively and it's affecting a bigger spectrum of population, including the younger people. So this is very worrying.

VAUSE: And per capita are on a similar scale to India, when you look at the proportion of population and those numbers are compared in a proportionate basis. Nepal also sources most of its medical supplies including oxygen from India.

Given the scale of the crisis there, are those medical supplies still making their way across the border or do you expect that to continue?

ULLA: That's a challenge, not just for India and Nepal, but for the whole of South Asia. I want to talk a little bit about vaccination in many of the richer countries reaching 50 percent. In Nepal, that has only reached 1 percent. Vaccines are paramount but also vaccination is the key of getting the vaccine into people's arms.

VAUSE: It specifically, the prime minister and health officials there, have asked for 1.6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine because 1.6 million people have received the first dose. But they're waiting for that second shot. That's crucial because the clock is ticking down and you have another 1 million people who won't have any kind of immunity.

ULLA: Absolutely. Vaccines and vaccinations and the Red Cross does accaompny the government and local authority in the vaccination efforts. Vaccine is key to vaccination.

VAUSE: The U.S. has promised to share millions of the AstraZeneca vaccine from its surplus stockpiles.

Are there concerns there in Nepal that it may not be on the list of countries being considered for those vaccines?

ULLA: With the Red Cross, we are doing what we can to advocate the effort here, preventative measures need to be scaledup, vaccination efforts and as you mentioned earlier in the show, supporting medical services in some of the hospitals.

They're being overloaded at the moment. There are people sleeping on the floor, waiting for beds and medical staff to attend to them. Some of the medical staff are working around the clock.


ULLA: So unless we get vaccines and do more dissemination of safeguarding and support medical services, this situation is going to spiral out of control very soon.

VAUSE: Azmat Ulla, we wish you the very best of luck, our thoughts are with you in the weeks ahead. Thank you for being with us, sir.

ULLA: Thank you. VAUSE: Many people are now taking big risks, potentially spreading the

virus, despite the growing crisis. Huge crowds gathered for a religious festival in Gujarat, mostly not wearing masks. Police arrested 30 people for violating COVID restrictions.

Medical supplies continue to arrive in the country to help ease the suffering. Nine Indian Navy warships are bringing aid from persian Gulf countries and around southeast Asia. But in New Delhi, hospitals are going to court to petition for desperately needed oxygen as supplies run out.

The government approved an antibody drug treatment for emergency use to treat COVID patients. It's the same cocktail that former U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was in hospital last year. More now from Vedika Sud reporting in from New Delhi.


VEDIKA SUD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A projection model from the Indian Institute of Science estimates nearly 50 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 400,000 COVID-19 deaths could be recorded by June 11th this year. This means India could see more than 2 times the cases that it currently has and almost double the fatalities.

According to a study, a 15-day lockdown could bring down the numbers. While India is in the midst of a second wave, the health ministry Wednesday said the country should prepare for a third wave, which they say is inevitable.

The Indian government has strongly denied media reports of delaying distribution of global aid to the country. The government says it has installed a streamlined mechanism for allocating aid. Nearly 4 million related items have been distributed to 38 health care facilities according to the health ministry.

Indian health officials on Wednesday reiterated that foreign aid to help tackle the country's brutal second wave is being sent to hospitals with an immediate need. Several hospitals across India's national capital region are still sending out emergency messages on social media for oxygen supplies.



VAUSE: Hong Kong pro-democracy activist joshua wong has been sentenced to another 10 months in jail for taking part in last summer's Tiananmen Square vigil. The event is held every year to commemorate the 1989 crackdown.

But police banned the event in 2020, citing the coronavirus outbreak. The 24-year-old was among 26 activists tried with participating in an unauthorized assembly. He and 3 others pleaded guilty. He was already serving a 17 month jail sentence for his role in 2 other unauthorized assemblies during the 2019 protests in Hong Kong. CNN has an exclusive sit-down with the Ukrainian foreign minister.

What he has to say about the investigation into Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, and Giuliani's activities in Ukraine. That's next.

Also, rioters in Colombia are accused of trying to burn police officers alive, torching and attacking police stations in an alarming escalation of violence.





VAUSE: The Israeli president has now tapped Yair Lapid, the leader of the main opposition centrist party, to try and form a coalition government and, in 2 years, all political gridlock. He has just 4 weeks to cut a deal with a variety of political parties, varying characters, ideologies, as well as huge egos and also, essentially to form an anti-Benjamin Netanyahu coalition. Hadas Gold explains the process now from Jerusalem.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has taken the mandate from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and handed it to one of his rivals, as Israel tries to see who, if anybody, can form the next government.

President Rivlin gave the mandate to Yair Lapid, he's the leader of the centrist party Yesh Atid, which won the next highest number of votes in the March elections. Now he has 28 days to try and show that he can form the next government.

Even if he is the one that is able to form the next government, that doesn't necessarily mean he will actually be prime minister right away. In order to form the unity government he says Israel needs right now, that will unite parties from the Left to the Right across the political spectrum, he will likely offer the first round of being prime minister to Naftali Bennett, the head of a small right-wing party that only won 7 seats in the last election in March.

He has now become a key player in deciding who would be able to form the next government. Yair Lapid said that after two years of political paralysis Israeli society is hurting and a unity government is not a last resort, rather something that Israel needs at this time.

Now Yair Lapid may have a tall task still trying to unite a group of disparate political parties who may be united in how they feel about Benjamin Netanyahu but there are still a lot of issues that they do not agree on.

If Yair Lapid succeeds in forming a new government he will be the one to oust the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history. But if Yair Lapid fails in forming next door in the next 28 days, the Israeli president can send it back to the Israeli parliament asking them to nominate a new candidate.

If that fails, than Israelis may be heading toward an unprecedented 5th election -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: America's most senior diplomat will be meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, hours from now. U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken is in Kiev partly to support Ukraine, as it faces increased Russia aggression on the border. Matthew Chance sat down with the minister for an exclusive interview.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ahead of the secretary of state's visit, his Ukrainian counterpart is putting his best fist forward. There are uncomfortable issues in the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship, like the activities in Ukraine of Rudy Giuliani, former president Trump's lawyer ahead of the 2020 U.S. election, issues Ukraine officials would wish to ignore.

CHANCE: Do you believe he may have engaged in criminal behavior?

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I'm not a lawyer to make my judgment on the criminal nature of his behavior.

CHANCE: How would you characterize it?

KULEBA: He was definitely playing politics and he put the situation at risk for Ukraine and for Ukraine's relationship with United States. And we did our best to avoid that trap and to maintain that bipartisan security with bipartisan support from the United States.

CHANCE (voice-over): But Ukraine is again under withering scrutiny, with the FBI investigating the former New York City mayor, whose alleged actions regarding Ukraine.

CHANCE: Can you tell us, has the FBI or any other investigating agency in the United States approached Ukraine for assistance with that investigation into Rudy Giuliani?

KULEBA: Not to the best of my knowledge, I'm not aware of any formal legal process that has been initiated recently.

CHANCE (voice-over): Even if there was, Ukraine has for years, avoided being drawn into the toxic U.S. political battle. In fact, as the U.S. secretary of state paid his first visit here, Ukrainian officials want their own battle to be the focus, especially with a Russian armada assembling off their eastern seaboard. The Kremlin insists they are naval drills, posing no threat.

[00:20:00] CHANCE (voice-over): As CNN has learned, Ukraine has a shopping list of weapons it wants from Washington, including air defense systems and anti sniper tech. Crucial, say officials, with so many Ukrainian troops being gunned down on these front lines. The question is, will Secretary Blinken and President Biden, who says he wants to find a stable pact with Russia, offering Putin later this year, risk inflaming Russia -Ukraine tensions.

CHANCE: In the Obama administration when Biden was the vice president, they didn't provide lethal weaponry to Ukraine for fear of provocation to Russia.

What do you think is changed?

Has anything changed?

KULEBA: My impression is that the Obama administration is about the past and Biden administration is about today. And this administration is more committed and more resolved, more resolute in containing Russia.

CHANCE (voice-over): How far the U.S. resolve extends in Ukraine will soon be put to the test -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Kiev.


VAUSE: Well, still to come here, how a freeze on vaccine exports by India could have far-reaching consequences for many in Africa.

Also ahead, parts of Japan running out of hospital beds for COVID patients, the government weighing more drastic action in the weeks ahead.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody.

The outlook for India in the coming weeks is for more misery, more suffering, more death. The Institute of Science thinks more than 4,000 total deaths and a total of nearly 50 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, by early next month.

It's now recommending a 15-day lockdown and the health ministry has just released the latest numbers. More than 412,000 new infections, just on one day, almost 4,000 deaths, that's in the past 24 hours. Both are records and the actual numbers are likely to be at least five times higher.

India was among the countries who petitioned the World Trade Organization to allow it and other countries to make their own versions of the COVID-19 vaccines, which are being produced by the big pharmaceutical companies. Now the United States say it supports international relaxing trade rules, so those drug patents can be legally shared with the rest the world.


VAUSE: The U.S. surgeon general spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett about this decision from the Biden White House.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: It was a statement that put people over patents. It was about leading in the world and helping producing what the world needed in a time of unprecedented crisis. It's a country that my parents dreamt of, before they moved to the United States, the country I feel blessed to be able to serve as surgeon general.

And if we stick together, if we work together, if we help and work and collaborate with countries around the world, I do believe we will turn this pandemic around.


VAUSE: This map shows the lopsided vaccine distribution globally, the data from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center says some countries have purchased agreements for far more doses than any need, far more than their population,

Canada, for example, has secured enough vaccine to fully inoculate its entire population at least 5 times over. By contrast, Cambodia's agreed supply could only vaccinate one in 10, the regions in white have not reported any data.

India's COVID-19 crisis is having a domino effect on other countries, now the country in the grip of a deadly second wave, the central government there is suspending exports of vaccine does, leaving continents like Africa very vulnerable. CNN's David McKenzie has details.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The awful consequence of a COVID-19 tsunami, forcing the Indian government to ban all vaccine exports to COVAX, the global vaccine alliance.

So it can give precious doses to its own people, immediately impacting at least 90 million COVAX doses people. The crisis in India is causing a crisis here, Kenya and other African nations where lives depend on COVAX, are running out of vaccines. Tour guide Martin Mutisya is one of the very last Kenyans to get his first AstraZeneca shot.

MARTIN MUTISYA, VACCINE RECIPIENT: Feels like a big moment. I'm feeling excited, I think we'll have to wait and see what happens.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Kenya got around 1 million doses from COVAX, produced by India's Serum Institute. Kenya's supply dries up and days.

MUTISYA: They're supposed to be 2 shots, I am concerned. But if it doesn't happen what is our scenario?


UHURU KENYATTA, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: I want to assure you that nobody who has taken their first dose is going to miss out on their second dose.


MCKENZIE: Does this worry you?

It seems the second doses don't come in time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very clearly it worries and the second doses will not come in time.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): A senior humanitarian official familiar with COVAX's plan told CNN that the Indian vaccine supply is not expected to resume until June at best or even later.

Then millions of AstraZeneca doses promised by the Biden administration will not be enough or come soon enough. Neither will Moderna's vaccine, after a half billion doses will be supplied to low and middle income countries but not until later this year.

MCKENZIE: Right now, there is not equal access, so what is the impact of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That impact is that maybe we're going to prolong this pandemic much longer than it would happened if there was equal access.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Researchers at Duke University tracking dose availability say the vaccine freeze could have catastrophic consequences, with some African countries facing yet another wave of the virus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They did put a lot of eggs in this basket and that was a strategic error given that what has happened in India was entirely predictable. It should not have caught any of us by surprise.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): COVAX maintains it is trying to diversify its supply but it may be too late -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.


VAUSE: The World Health Organization says the more transmissible variants are a big reason why hotspots like India continue to struggle and see these new COVID waves.


MARIA VAN KERKHOVE, COVID-19 TECHNICAL LEAD, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The factors that are driving the increased transmission are virus variants, we have a number of virus variants that are circulating, some are of concern at a global level, some of them are on a radar that we call these variants of interest.

We have a vaccine rollout, which is very uneven, it is incredibly inequitable around the world. There is slow rollout even in countries that do have the vaccine, we have a lot of fatigue. Governments want to open up societies, which we all want.

But if they're opened up too quickly and you increase social mixing, the more people come in contact with each other, if the virus is there, it will circulate. It will take off, that combination is very dangerous. And 16 months, 17 months into a pandemic, having the highest number of cases reported each week, it is not the situation that we need to be in.

But we do need to learn where we can. We need to course correct where we can and we do need to have the hope, with all the tools, plus the vaccines we really have a shot at controlling COVID.



VAUSE: And by looking at this map, many regions around the world are seeing new infections decline or hold steady. And even in the hotspots, the WHO says there are positive sides in all of them.

Well, one of those areas where COVID cases are rising is Japan. That's where CNN's Blake Essig joins us now.

A state of emergency could soon be extended in Tokyo and other areas, and in Osaka, the overcapacity in hospital beds and severely-ill COVID patients. So what else is happening there right now? And what's the government doing?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. Medical experts tell me specifically in western Japan, that the medical system has completely collapsed.

In Osaka, according to the government website, the hospital bed occupancy rate has maxed out at 103 percent. Nearly 3,000 people are waiting to be hospitalized. And since the fourth wave of infections started to build in March, at least 17 people have died from COVID-19 outside of the hospital.

Now nationwide, despite the case count actually going down, the number of patients with serious symptoms is climbing, setting a new record nearly each day this week.

A majority of serious cases are focused in the densely-populated areas of Japan like Osaka, and Tokyo. Now in Osaka, to deal with the number of people waiting, the government has opened up to medical centers for those who can't find bed space. They've asked neighboring prefectures to accept patients with severe symptoms, and they've put out a recruitment notice for nurses.

Now, a state of urgency was declared in Osaka and several other prefectures nearly two weeks ago. But in Osaka and Hyogo, there are now talks of extending the current state of emergency order, which is set to expire next week on May 11. A decision on that is expected tomorrow.

Now, all of this with less than three months to go before the Olympics. In fact, just yesterday, a test event was held in Sapporo up in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido.

Now, that was held the same day that a medical state of emergency was declared as a number of -- as a record number of cases were reported earlier in the week. Now, Olympic organizers remained determined to hold a safe and secure games, although infectious disease specialists that I have spoken with, John, tell me that at this point, they simply don't see how that's possible.

VAUSE: Blake, thank you. Blake Essig's there, live from Tokyo.

There are many ways to help those hardest hit during this devastating pandemic. If you'd like to find out how, please go to there for a list of organizations which are doing good and worthy work.

Well, a struggling economy and pandemic restrictions shuns combined in an explosion of anger in Colombia, with dozens reported dead after eight days of violent clashes between demonstrators and police.

Protests originally began over tax reform, a plan the government has since abandoned, but now the demonstrations have broadened into a wider movement against inequality, and growing levels of poverty during the pandemic, and a brutal police crackdown on protesters which Amnesty International has called alarming.

Police say more than two dozen police stations in Bogota have been attacked, at least one set on fire. Stefano Pozzebon has more now from the Colombian capital.


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST (voice-over): For the eighth straight day, protesters have flooded the streets of Colombia.

JENNIFER PEDRASA, COLOMBIAN PROTESTOR: Twenty-one million people are in poverty, and that is something that we cannot ignore.

POZZEBON: For people like 25-year-old National University student Jennifer Pedrasa, what started as a protest against the now-recalled tax reform plan introduced by President Ivan Duque that opponents argued will disproportionately affect middle- and lower-income families has turned into a rallying cry of anger, not only against income inequality, but also against police brutality and the handling of the pandemic response.

PEDRASA: Instead of listening to our arguments, the government decided to repress and to send the police and the -- and the national army to our brothers, and that is something we cannot accept, because a protest is a fundamental right. POZZEBON: Videos of anti-riot policemen using tear gas and batons to

push back protestors going viral on social media, with the Colombian government sending in the military to the southern city of Cali, the site of the worst violent clashes so far. At least 24 people have died and hundreds more injured in clashes with authorities across the country as tensions flair, seemingly with no end in sight.

Demonstrators and human rights groups are now calling for an inquiry into the protest staff, with Amnesty International releasing footage on Wednesday showing what it says is live ammunition being used on unarmed protesters.

CNN has reached out to the Colombian government seeking response to Amnesty's footage, but complicating the issue, violent retaliation from demonstrators, protesters torching this Bogota police station with people inside, injuring at least 15 officers.


And President Duque, on one hand calling for a national dialog, also firing back, putting the blame on rioters and criminal elements within the protest crowds. When facing criticism, even from inside his own party, including his mentor, former President Alvaro Uribe.

IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Nothing justifies the fact that there are armed people who are protected by the legitimate desire of the citizenry to hold civic marches go out and shoot defenseless citizens and cruelly attack our policemen. We Colombians are better than this. We reject violence and respect the laws.

POZZEBON: Celebrity activists are also wading into the fray. Latin star Jay Balvin saying on Instagram, "We need help. Colombia needs help. S.O.S."

Colombian pop star Shakira amplifying the protestors' calls with a tweet, saying, "Bullets will never be able to silence the voice of the one who suffers. And we must not be deaf to the clamor of our own."

And Colombian singer, songwriter and actor Maluma posting on his Instagram. "We are living sad, painful moments. Intolerance and uncertainty have taken over our lives," he said.

(on camera): Violence erupting once again in the streets of Bogota. The square just behind my back in front of the Supreme Court and the Congress, has finally been cleared, but the protesters are saying that they will be back until their demands are met.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.


VAUSE: Still to come, could it be back to the future for the U.S. economy? With many predicting a return to the roaring Twenties. It was one giant party back then while it lasted. No one enjoyed the hangover. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: A global pandemic. An American consumer with seemingly unless desire to spend what looks like an unstoppable stock market hitting inexplicable record highs. Hard to believe it was just a century ago. And now economists believe the U.S. may be on the verge of another roaring Twenties. Does that mean another economic bust will follow the boom? A big bust.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has our report.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A time of post- pandemic euphoria, excessive drinking, and stock market speculation.

DONALD J. MILLER, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, LAFAYETTE UNIVERSITY: Low inflation, easy money from the federal reserves. There's a surging sense that tomorrow is going to be better than yesterday.

ROBERT J. SHILLER, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, YALE UNIVERSITY: One step down, two steps up was the mantra in the 1920s.

SEBASTIAN: Between August 1921 and start of the 1920s market and its peak in September 1929, the DOW Jones Industrial Average grew more than 500 percent. Compare that to today's Twenties, the DOW already at more than 80 percent since the pandemic-fueled panic last March.

And behind those numbers are ordinary people. Today, amateur traders attracted by free trading platforms and social media stars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stocks always go up.

SEBASTIAN: A century ago, by another form of entertainment.

MILLER: Your broker would have a customers' room with a Trans-Lux stock ticker, which is a big thing that a whole crowd could observe. It was like watching a movie.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): The illegal drinks flowed in the underground speakeasies of the 1920s. Few, it seems, were even aware that the boom years could come to an end. But a cocktail of risks were taking shape, and some of that cocktail was still drinking today.

MILLER: People began to have the opportunity to buy stocks in the 1920s on the margins. Ten percent.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Trading with borrowed money, or margin trading, became popular in the 1920s, and the risks were not widely known. Today, while margin trading is better regulated, it's still causing major volatility in some assets.

SHILLER: I think the GameStop phenomenon sobered a lot of people. And also, the big bitcoin phenomenon. The up and down and up. But you can't -- what they take from it so far hasn't been much discouragement about the stock market. SEBASTIAN: Beyond the stock market, there's another historical risk in

the mix.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Twenty million Americans lost their job in the pandemic. Working and middle-class Americans. At the same time, roughly, 650 billionaires in America. Saw their net worth increased by more than $1 trillion.

SEBASTIAN: Income inequality, which hit a 20th Century peak in the U.S. in 1929 now rising again. And history shows us that makes the economy less resilient to shocks.

MILLER: The rich, of course, when a recession or depression hits may have a lot of disposable income that they could withdraw it and pull it out, and the middle class can't. So, with some unemployed, there is no money being infused into the economy. And the recession really turns into a depression. It's remarkable speed.

SEBASTIAN: Today, the U.S. Has a much more proactive central bank and a government already spending on social programs. The lesson of the last Roaring Twenties: always be ready for the music to stop.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Around and around and around it goes. Where the massive piece of Chinese space junk lands, nobody knows. The U.S. is tracking debris from a Chinese rocket as it falls out of control.

Space agencies, as a general rule, try not to leave big pieces of junk in orbit that could ultimately ball back to earth. But why not this particular rocket.

And it's not the first time. Last year, a huge chunk of space debris from another Chinese rocket passed over New York City before landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Well, COVID-19 still raging in many places, although it's probably not appropriate to party like it's 1920s, you can now at least drink like a queen.

Queen Elizabeth II, or rather her estate, has launched two types of beers. Quite the segue there. An Indian pale ale and a bitter at Sandringham estate in eastern England where the royal family usually celebrates Christmas says the crews are now on sale at the gift shop.

It's not the queen's first foray into the alcohol business. But it is her first line of beer.

My grandfather used to make his own beer. Strained it through stockings.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up after a short break.