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U.S. Giving Green Light to a Waiver on Vaccine; India Bracing for More COVID Waves; Indians Based in Abroad Raising Funds; India's Crushing Healthcare System Affects Other Countries; Protests Worsen COVID Crisis in Colombia; Two Americans Facing Life Imprisonment in Italy; At Least 30 Arrested After Indian Religious Festival; Doctor Return To Work After Losing Father To Virus; India's COVID Surge Spills Into Neighboring Countries; Nepal, 8,600 New Cases On Wednesday, Another Record High; Post-Brexit Fisheries Dispute; Blinken Reaffirms U.S. Support For Ukraine During Visit; SpaceX Lands Mars Rocket Prototype For First Time; Chinese Rocket Debris Likely To Hit Earth Soon. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 6, 2021 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead on CNN newsroom. Setting up a showdown with big pharmaceuticals, the U.S. president backs waving COVID vaccine patents to boost the worldwide supply.

A stark warning from India's top scientific advisor, a third wave is inevitable. We are live in Delhi.

And later, and out of control Chinese rocket is set to reenter earth's atmosphere and nobody knows for sure where it's going to crash.

Good to have you with us.

Well the U.S. has finally thrown its weight behind a controversial proposal to give the blueprints for COVID vaccines to the rest of the world. The debate inside the Biden White House was contentious, but on Wednesday, the U.S. trade representative announced the long-awaited decision, saying this. 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.

But vaccine makers are against giving away their patents. The head of America's pharmaceutical trade group said waivers will lead to chaos, saying this. This decision will sow confusion between public and private partners, further weaken already strained supply chains, and foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines.

But, as we've already seen over the past several months, many countries are struggling to get enough doses. This graphic shows how lopsided the distribution has been. In theory, waivers on the patents will allow other countries to legally make generic versions of the drugs. U.S. health officials say the decision to support waivers was ultimately a humanitarian one. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We've got to get to the endgame. And the endgame is the equitable distribution of vaccines. So, however we get there, it's fine with me. We just need to get there.

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH (on camera): The issue of patent waivers is certain to be discussed as the general counsel of the World Trade Organization meets this hour. And negotiations to waive those property rights could take months. The final decision rests with the WTO and some members have opposed issuing waivers.

But even if the waivers are granted, it's not as straightforward as it may seem. Many poorer countries don't have the technical ability or raw materials to make vaccines. So simply giving them the patents isn't going to help them beat the pandemic.

Jim Bittermann joins me now live from Paris to talk more about this. Good to see you, Jim. So, the WTO meeting this hour on this proposal to ease patent rules on COVID vaccines. What more are you learning about that? Why has the E.U. resisted this move?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the E.U. like a number of other developed countries has decided that they wanted to protect their own pharmaceutical industries first. But I also think that with this change about attitude from the United States, basically you are going to see that opposition melt away.

This meeting this morning basically is just a preliminary meeting among the ambassadors to the World Trade Organization. They are going to discuss things and maybe put something on the table that can be negotiated. The real meetings are going to take place in early June when the higher-ranking officials get together at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, and basically that's where they may hammer out a solution to this question.

It's been bubbling around in the WTO for months now. With India and the South Africa, for example, among those countries that would like to see these intellectual property restrictions waved so that countries could make their vaccines on their own.

[03:05:00]

What the pharmaceutical makers said though is that this could lead to chaos, as you mentioned, but also that the fact is that the countries don't have the technical means to do it. That it could lead to a lessening of incentives for pharmaceutical makers to develop new vaccines and that sort of thing.

It's an argument that they make all the time on intellectual property rights. But in fact, it's the kind of thing that in this kind of situation with the pandemic, I think it's probably not only as much weight as it used to. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes. Understood. Jim Bittermann joining us from Paris, many thanks as always.

BITTERMANN: Yes.

CHURCH: Well, India is struggling to get through a brutal second wave of COVID infections. But the country's top scientific adviser is now joining others, warning a third wave is inevitable.

In just the past 24 hours, India has broken its records for the most daily cases, more than 412,000 and most deaths just shy of 4,000. A new university model projects a total of 400,000 fatalities and almost 50 million infections by mid-June. That's basically double the current numbers.

in the state of Maharashtra which is home to the financial capital Mumbai hit a record 920 deaths on Wednesday. And the state of Bihar along India's border with Nepal in the east is imposing a lockdown until May 15th.

CNN's Vedika Sud is live this hour in Delhi, India. She joins me now. Vedika, record case numbers and deaths in India, while hospital still plead for oxygen supplies. What's the government saying about delays in distributing the global aid that's already arrived there?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, they strongly denied any delay in distribution. However, there has been a statement from the government that came out just a couple hours ago, rather a day ago. And they have said that there was a standard operating procedure that was put in place.

If you remember, the first shipment came in from Singapore in the 25th of April and the SOP was issued a week later on May 2nd. So, it took them a week to put their SOPs in place, while the first shipment came in about a week before that. What they are saying is that when these shipments come in, what's really written in the inventories and what they get once the shipment gets into India is a problem because they don't match their discrepancies in numbers because of which they need to do the re-counting.

So, it's a logistical nightmare as well for them. But clearly, they have also gone on to say that when it comes to central government hospitals, they've now gone ahead and distributed the shipment of them and other centers are still waiting for the shipment to get to them.

Remember, these are lifesaving drugs. We talk about oxygen concentrators, we talk about medicines, we talk about vials that we need here in India. All of that is in, but it's taking time at the customs because of the recounting that we are talking about. And this still takes place as Delhi is gasping for breath. We are hoping in the coming days things get easier than they have been in the last two weeks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. That bureaucratic nightmare is killing people, quite literally. So, what is the latest on a possible lockdown in efforts to vaccinate the population?

SUD (on camera): Rosemary, there are lockdowns in place, partial complete in different states. It's been left to the states to decide. However, if you remember, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi a couple of weeks ago did say that should be a last resort, a complete lockdown. And he's also ruled out the nationwide lockdown for now when he spoke and addressed the people the last time he did.

I just want to bring up two figures for you. On April 6th, 430,000 people were vaccinated. Exactly a month later today, we've got figures this morning 189,000 people have been vaccinated. Well those figures speak for themselves. Is it because of a shortage of vaccine supply? Probably, because states have been complaining about that.

But here's something I want you to take note of as well. The health ministry held a press conference yesterday, and they have said, Rosemary, that a third wave is inevitable. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

K. VIJAYRAGHAVAN, INDIA'S PRINCIPAL SCIENTIFIC ADVISER TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: Phase three is inevitable. Given the high levels of circulating virus, but it's not clear on what time scale this phase three will happen. Hopefully, incrementally hat we should prepare for new waves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SUD (on camera): We should prepare for the new wave. Rosemary, we are still preparing for the second. We've already been told a third one is on its way at a time when the medical infrastructure in India is almost collapsing. We've been told, hold on, there's a third one coming your way. Rosemary?

CHURCH: It is a heartbreaking situation. Vedika Sud, take care there in New Delhi joining us live, many thanks.

SUD: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well as desperation for oxygen and medical supplies grows in India, thousands of miles away, members of the Indian community in the U.K. are finding unique ways to help.

[03:1o:05] CNN's Scott McLean has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For two straight days, they've been peddling in the shadow of Britain's largest Hindu temple. They are a long way from India, but the coronavirus crisis there isn't far from anyone's mind. It seems everyone here knows someone trying to find oxygen or medical help, even some who've died without finding either.

ROSHNI SONEJI, CYCLING TO RAISE MONEY: You know, when you are talking to your relatives, absolutely, do you feel really helpless. But I think that's where, in any way possible, that we can help.

UNKNOWN: Myself and wife had COVID. My father, who's in his eighties, had COVID. And he was in hospital for about 20 days. So, I know the value of oxygen, simply no oxygen. So, it's very personal thing for me.

MCLEAN: Nearly 800 cyclists peddled a virtual relay to Delhi and back, raising more than $800,000 to help provide equipment, hospital beds, and oxygen to people in India. All from just three temples in the U.K.

The ties between the U.K. and India are endless. In fact, India is producing many of the vaccine doses that have made the U.K.'s vaccine rollout such a success. It's been so successful that some are now calling on the British government to slow down that rollout to send doses to India. The government, though, so far, has said no.

LAYLA MORAN, BRITISH LIBERAL DEMOCRAT M.P.: Will the minister now committed to both increasing the money the U.K. gives to COVAX, much so that as we need to do more, but you also start sharing vaccine doses through COVAX now, today?

TUSHAR AGRAWAL, SURGEON: What vaccine does is it prevents COVID. Now we are already passed that stage. We are at a stage where people are not getting treatments. I think that should be the images it focuses.

ABHAY CHOPADA, SURGEON: We are getting --

MCLEAN: That's exactly the focus of Indian born doctors Tushar Agrawal and Abhay Chopada.

CHOPADA: You are still coughing. Are you feeling all right?

MCLEAN: Surgeons by day, but using any spare moment to treat friends, family, and total strangers in India through remote medical appointments from their homes in London.

Neither of you begrudged the British government for saying we don't have enough to share right now?

CHOPADA: Not at all, no. Begrudging is not the right thing to do for anyone.

UNKNOWN: I was getting fever --

MCLEAN: The patients they are seeing remotely have had little or no success getting in-person medical attention in India.

AGRAWAL: At the moment, I'm looking after, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 11 people.

MCLEAN: It sounds like a full-time job.

AGRAWAL: Well, I'm spending seven hours on the phone every day.

Reassurance is key, telling people when they should or should not venture out to India's overrun hospitals.

CHOPADA: I could see what his heart rate was, what his oxygen saturation was, what his respiratory rate was. So, effectively, you are saying, you don't need to leave your home.

AGRAWAL: This is the time now you need oxygen.

MCLEAN: Dr. Agrawal has already told several family members to go to the hospital, but they can't find a bed. Three others have died in just the past week.

It must be more draining, given that it's your own family?

AGRAWAL: Exactly. Yes, yes. It makes you feel even more helpless because, you know, what's the point of being a doctor if you can't even help your own family?

MCLEAN: Feeling helpless, but trying to do their part.

Scott McLean, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH (on camera): Well, India's COVID crisis is having a domino effect on countries in Africa. The Indian government has suspended the export of vaccine doses. That coupled with a slow rollout and vaccine hesitancy means some African countries are being left very vulnerable. But South Africa's foreign minister says there is a way to end the pandemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NALEDI PANDOR, SOUTH AFRICAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's very important that I stress that what India and South Africa have asked for is a temporary waiver to address the pandemic. The crisis, the global community is confronted by at the moment. We are asking that the world must make good on the undertaking everybody was giving and many for last year that vaccines will be a public good. We can't retreat from that promise.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH (on camera): CNN's David McKenzie joins me now from

Johannesburg. David, what is the latest on all of this?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, vaccines are not a public good, frankly. Eighty percent of the vaccines administered at this point roughly have been to high income countries. So, all the talk of solidarity has really just been talked.

Now there have been some strong attempts to get vaccines across the world particularly to poorer countries, many of them here on the African continent. That hasn't really succeeded and on top of that, you have the crisis in India which was creating a perfect storm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE (voice over): The awful consequence of a COVID-19 tsunami it's 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 19 million COVAX doses.

[03:15:00]

The crisis in India is causing a crisis here, Kenyan and other African nations where lives depend on COVAX, are running out of vaccines. And tour guide Martin Mutisya is one of the very last Kenyans to get his first AstraZeneca shot.

MARTIN MUTISYA, TOUR GUIDE: It feels like a big moment. I'm feeling excited, I think I just have to wait and see what happens.

MCKENZIE: Kenya got around a million doses from COVAX produced by India's Serum Institute. Kenya's supply dries up in days.

MUTISYA: I'm a concerned, because they're supposed to be two shots, I am concerned but if it doesn't happen what is our scenario.

RUDI EGGERS, WHO REPRESENTATIVE, KENYA: I want to show you that nobody who was taken their first dose is going to miss out on their second dose.

MCKENZIE: Does this worry you? Because it seems that it could be a scenario that the second doses don't come in time?

EGGERS: So, very clearly it worries me and very clearly the second dose will not come in time.

MCKENZIE: A senior humanitarian official familiar with COVAX's plan told CNN that the Indian vaccine supply isn't expected to resume until June at best or even later. And the millions of AstraZeneca doses promised by the Biden administration won't be enough or come soon enough. Neither will Moderna's vaccine, after a half billion doses will be supplied too low- and middle-income countries, but not until later this year.

Right now, there isn't an equal access, so what is the impact of that? WILLIS AKHWALE, CHAIRMAN, KENYAN VACCINE TASK FORCE: The impact of

that is that maybe we are going to prolong this pandemic much longer than it would have happened if there was equal access.

MCKENZIE: 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.

ANDREA TAYLOR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS, DUKE GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: They did put a lot of eggs in the Serum Institute 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE (on camera): Well, you can imagine the situation in Kenya particularly faces, Rosemary, they were very successful in distributing that million doses which will run out in a few days. They were promised another batch of vaccines this month. That's not going to happen unless rich countries like the U.S. or the E.U. can find a way to get vaccines to them because the manufacturing capacity is just not there.

And as you reported earlier the WTO will be meeting on the issues of patterns, South Africa and India were the two countries which originally pushed for the temporary waiver of patents of vaccines even if that decision comes eventually it won't be an instantaneous fix.

So, what we already face is a prospect of healthy young people getting vaccines in rich countries, and all the people and the vulnerable dying and poor ones. Rosemary?

CHURCH (on camera): Yes. That is just horrifying. David McKenzie joining us live from Johannesburg. Many thanks.

Well, the pandemic is also taking a grim turn in Latin America. Across the region, more countries than even before are reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day according to the Pan-American Health Organization. The group says more than 1.3 million people were infected in the Americas over the last week. And more than 37,000 died.

In Brazil, a parliamentary inquiry continues into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic. On Wednesday, a former health minister testified that the president pressured him to promote hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID even though numerous studies have shown the drug is not effective against the virus.

Well, the situation is even more complicated right now in Colombia where the pandemic has collided with anti-government protests.

Violent demonstrations have gripped the nation for more than a week now. They originally started in opposition to propose tax reforms, which were later thrown out. But protesters are now furious over a violent police crackdown and the economic pain caused by the pandemic. And Stefano Pozzebon reports from Bogota, the violence between both

sides is only getting worse.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

JENNIFER PEDRASA, COLOMBIAN PROTESTER: Twenty-one million people were in poverty. And that is something that we cannot ignore.

[03:19:48]

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 rallying cry of anger not only against income inequality, but also against police brutality and the handling of pandemic response.

PEDRASA: But instead of listening to our arguments, the government decided to repress and to send the police and the national army to our brothers. And that is something that we cannot accept because the protest is a fundamental right.

POZZEBON: Videos of anti-riot policemen using tear gas and batons to push back protesters going viral on social media where the Colombian government sending in the military to the southern city of Cali, the site of worst violent clashes so far. At least 24 people have died and hundreds more injured in clashes with authorities across the country as nations flare seemingly with no end in sight.

Demonstrators ad human right group are now calling for an inquiry into the protest death with Amnesty International releasing footage on Wednesday showing what it says is live ammunition being used on unarmed protesters.

CNN has reach to the Colombian government seeking response to Amnesty's footage. But complicating the issue, violent retaliation from demonstrators, protesters towards Bogota police stations with people inside injuring at least 15 officers.

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

IVAN DUQUE MARQUEZ, PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA (through translator): Nothing justifies the fact that there are armed people who are protected by the legitimate desire of the citizens 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 weighing in to the fray. Latin star J. Balvin saying on Instagram, we need help. Colombia needs help. SOS. Colombian pop star Shakira amplifying the protesters cause with a tweet saying bullets will never be able to silence the voice of the ones who suffers. And we must not be deaf to the claimer of our own. and Colombian singer songwriter and actor Maluma posting on his Instagram, we are living sad and painful moments in tolerance and uncertainty have taken over our lives, he said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

POZZEBON (on camera): Violence erupted once again in the streets of Bogota, the square just behind my back in front of the Supreme Court and the Congress palace has finally being cleared. But the protesters are saying that they will be back tomorrow and the day after until their demands are met.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Bogota.

CHURCH: Life in prison, that is the sentence for two American students convicted of murder in Italy. Coming up, we are live in Rome with the latest on the ruling.

And later, CNN speaks exclusively with Ukraine's foreign minister. What he says about the investigation into Rudy Giuliani and his activities in Ukraine.

[03:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone.

Well, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to another 10 months in jail for taking part in a Tiananmen Square vigil last summer. The event is held every year to remember the 1989 crackdown, but police banned the event in 2020 citing the coronavirus outbreak.

The 24-year-old was among 26 activists charged with participating in an unauthorized assembly. He and three others pleaded guilty. Wong was already serving a 17-month jail sentence for his role and two other unauthorized assemblies, drawing the 2019 Hong Kong protest.

And Italian court has convicted two American students of murdering an Italian police officer in a botched drug deal in 2019. A jury found the men guilty of stabbing the officer at least eight times when he tried to recover a stolen backpack from the accused. The men claim it was self-defense. They have been sentenced to life in prison, the strictest punishment under Italian law.

So, let's head to the scene of the crime in Rome. And our Barbie Nadeau joins us now live. So, Barbie, what is the latest on this verdict? And will these two American men be able to appeal the decision?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. You know, as you mentioned, this is the strictest possible sentence that they could've delivered. And it comes with two months of isolation for these two young men. Now the judge has about 90 days to deliver her motivation and her reasoning, at this point the defense will able to understand what grounds they have to appeal the sentence. And they've said that they will appeal.

Now as difficult as it was to see these young men last night and for their families especially sitting behind them the wife of this Carabinieri officer who was killed made a very, very touching statement. For her the journey is not over with the sentence. Let's listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSA MARIA ESILIO, MARIO CERCIELLO REGA'S WIFE (through translator): This verdict is the result of a long and painful process that will not bring Mario back to me. It will not bring him back to life and it will not give us back our life together. Today is the first step towards a new justice, and Mario will be an example for those who need justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NADEAU (on camera): Now, you know, she has attended every single hearing, often carrying pictures of him and holding pictures of him. She's listened to the testimony, she's listened to the defense, and for her this really isn't over. But she does feel a sense of justice has been served, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Barbie Nadeau live in Rome, many thanks for bringing us to date on that.

You are watching CNN Newsroom. Still ahead, I will speak to a doctor in India who is back at work just days after losing his father to COVID-19. Why he made that decision.

And next door in Nepal, cases are soaring with hospitals bursting at the scenes. We visited a town along the Indian border where people are fighting for their lives.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH (on camera): India is reporting its worst number since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 412,000 new infections and just shy of 4,000 deaths in the past 24 hours. A shortage of oxygen and other supplies is making matters worse. A new University model projects deaths and infections will essentially double over the next five weeks.

Still, huge crowds gathered for a religious festival in the western state of Gujarat. Mostly without masks. Police arrested at least 30 people for violating COVID restrictions.

India's healthcare workers are at the forefront of the country's devastating second wave. Many approving resilient continuing to work in even in the face of supply shortages, unimaginable loss and of course, great personal risk. One doctor, Mukund Penurkar returned to work, just three days after his father died from the virus, and his mother and brother are still getting treatment as they fight COVID 19.

And Dr. Mukund Penurkar joins me now from Pune, in India where he works as an internal medicine specialist. Doctor, thank you for talking with us at this very difficult time. Our deepest condolences to you and your family for the loss of your father. I wanted to ask you why you decided to return to work right after your father passed away, and how you are coping right now?

MUKUND PENURKAR, INTERNAL MEDICINE SPECIALIST, SANJEEV HOSPITAL: Right. My father passed away last Monday, and I think I wanted to give him a tribute by joining work as early as possible, because as you say, where in India, there are so many patients because of COVID, and the healthcare system is overwhelmed at present.

Many healthcare workers also are getting affected, although they have (inaudible), but here in India -- after any COVID -- unless we have to quarantine ourselves so that. There are some provisions (inaudible) medicine specialist overall, and while the number of healthcare workers in this I want, I taught.

And actually my father also had wished that I should join the work as early as possible. And thereafter my mother also told me the same thing because she worked already, when I father passed away. My mother and my brother they are was already there at the hospital, where I had to come and take care of them anyways. And there, after I thought that my children, I take care of other patients who needed most care in India. Most are dying (inaudible) the patients want your main doctor in charge of yours to see the patient every day and communicate with their relatives.

Because most of the times, the problem is the relatives can't come to the hospital. They can't come physically. They have to speak to them over phone, or video call. And the most important thing, they always like to hear from their main physician or main doctor. So, I thought I should give my tribute to my father in this day and I decided to join right the next day after (inaudible).

CHURCH: That is extraordinary, doctor. And I did want to ask you this because we are all wondering how it's possible that with other parts of the world reeling from this pandemic, that the Indian government couldn't see this coming. And wasn't prepared with sufficient levels of oxygen, PPE, and other medical supplies as well as vaccines. If you have an opportunity to talk to Prime Minister Modi right now, what would you say to him?

[03:35:05]

PENURKAR: From your opinion the Prime Minister Modi, the central government is doing whatever possible for the Indian community. But overall, the number of patients were so many that at a particular point of time that becomes difficult physically for anyone to do some planning. The number of patients rose in a span of a week or two. So, doing this problem, the government, the central government

(inaudible) government, both were with us. Of course, yes, as you said, there was some problem with the supply of oxygen and essential medicines, but we could either work the crisis by compensating with some other majors like increasing the healthcare professionals, the duties of them and some other medicines which can be given for these particular type of problems.

And there may have been supply somewhere, and there may not have been supplies somewhere. So, that also was taken over by the government, and now the overall situation has improved significantly. Number of cases are decreasing, especially in Pune, (inaudible) and (inaudible). We are seeing some rosy picture, it would have been maybe next month or so.

CHURCH: Doctor Mukund Penurkar, again, our condolences for your father and best wishes for a very speedy recovery for your mother and brother. Thank you so much for talking with us.

PENURKAR: Thank you very much.

CHURCH: Thank you. Well, the rapid spread of the virus inside and outside India has the region on edge with only a small fraction of people vaccinated in south Asia. The potential for a human catastrophe is high. China is now reporting three new cases of the variant first found in India. Pakistan is closing its borders, such as this one with Afghanistan in an effort to stop the spread while also cutting back on international flights.

But Nepal is where the virus seems to be picking up the most speed. It's once again hit a daily record for new infections and the big fear, of course, is that Nepal's outbreak will soon mirror what is happening in India.

And our Anna Coren is covering this for us live from Hong Kong. Anna, I mean, we have been covering the horrifying situation in India, and now we hear that things are just getting worse in Nepal. What more are you learning about this?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, just look at that graphic and that sharp spike in the last month. It really says it all. The Red Cross is warning of a human catastrophe unfolding in Nepal which could be even worse than India. You have to remember, this is a very impoverished country of almost 30 million people. The health system struggles at the best of times let alone in the midst of a pandemic.

The Prime Minister, Rosemary, is appealing for the international community to come to their aid, to help with medical supplies, but also with vaccine. Only 1 percent of the population has been fully inoculated. And he believes that they need that vaccine. They need people to be vaccinated so as to prevent this human catastrophe worsening even more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COREN (voice over): In a hospital in Nepal city of (inaudible), wedge

up against India, people are fighting for their lives. Nearly 300 beds are filled with COVID patients. And health officials fear the catastrophe unfolding across the border could be heading to Nepal.

PARAS SHRESTHA, SR. PHYSICIAN, COVID-19 ICU WARD OF ETHERI HOSPITAL: We have lack of doctors, the main power, we have no more beds left now in the hospital. So, it's very hard to manage the patients.

Throughout the (inaudible), you know --

COREN: Shentos Ali, lost his 21 year old daughter, Anisha to COVID. Now, his wife is infected and battling for her life in ICU.

UNKNOWN (through translator): It's been 7 days since I lost my daughter. She was beautiful and very active. Doctors, nurses, and everyone loved her.

COREN: Her death now one of many. According to the hospital, up to four people die from COVID here each day. Frontline workers are not immune. Dozens of medical staff have also been infected.

UNKNOWN: I'm really worried that I might get infected with COVID.

COREN: This hospital is one of only two assigned for COVID patients in Nepal's district, which has been seeing around 400 new cases a day of the 4,000 active cases, UNICEF says 90 percent of the people are in home isolation.

[03:40:08]

The government blames the poorest border with India as the reason for the spike. Jamunah, is one of 13 border crossings currently opened for Nepali's returning from India. Up to 1,500 people are making the crossing each day.

UNKNOWN: Once this is -- were increasing in India, there's really a cases being in total the, Paul it stops all the mobility in the two country.

COREN: The government says initially districts along the border saw spike in cases, but now they are exploding throughout the country of almost 30 million people. Nepal has seen a rise of more than 1200 percent in average daily COVID cases, since mid April.

And nearly 40 percent of the country's cases come from the Capitol. In an effort to curb the spread, authorities imposed a two-week in Kathmandu last Thursday. But before the lockdown went into force, thousands fled the city to return to their villages. An exodus health officials believe could spark a national emergency.

SAMIR KUMAR ADHIKARI, MINISTRY OF HEALTH JOINT SPOKESMAN: It can carry the viruses to the village, and they can spread the virus to the senior citizens in the village.

COREN: From Nepal's already struggling health system, officials fear this surge in COVID cases could be detrimental.

SHRESTHA: If the number of cases are going to increase, perhaps (inaudible).

COREN: (Inaudible), he has little time to mourn his daughter. As he praised for his wife's recovery, it is his three month old granddaughter and her future that he now must focus on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COREN (on camera): Just tragic. We spoke to (inaudible) earlier today. He said that his wife is stable and he is carrying for the three month old baby. You know, some good news, Rosemary, that his wife is now stable. I also want to turn your attention to outbreaks not just at Mount Everest, but also at another mountain (inaudible).

They had to evacuate 19 people from that base camp there, climbers as well as people working at the camp due to a COVID outbreak. As we know, you know, in Nepal, so dependent on tourism particularly on the climbing industry. But it just goes to show that this virus is spreading across the country.

CHURCH: Yes. That, of course leaves them vulnerable. Anna Coren bringing us the very latest from her vantage point in Hong Kong, many thanks.

Well, as the crisis continues, there are many ways you can help people in India cope with this devastating pandemic. Just go to CNN.com/impact to find out how. And coming up here on CNN Newsroom, tensions are heating up in the English Channel. Why the U.K. and France are at odds over post Brexit fishing rights. We will take a look at that.

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[03:45:00]

CHURCH: Well, the U.K. is sending two navy patrol ships to the channel island of Jersey as tensions rise with France over post-Brexit fishing rights. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged his unwavering support for the self governing island. And so the ships are a precautionary move in case French fisherman block Jersey's main port.

France has threatened to cut electricity to the island after the Jersey government put new restrictions on fishing vessels. Jersey's minister for external relations says he wants to heal the relationship as soon as possible. CNN's Nic Robertson is in London, following these latest developments. He joins us now. So, Nic, where is this all going?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, at the moment, it's going to a sort of an ugly verbal exchange of words. You know, threaten to turn off the electricity, they sending in a naval vessels. That's the direction of travel at the moment. But in terms of what's happening physically, well, French fishermen have threatened to turn up sites St. Helier port, the main port, the capital in Jersey today. They have about 60 or 70 French fishing vessels have arrive outside of St. Helier port earlier on this morning.

The British naval vessels are lying some distance away from there. So, there's' no physical confrontation. The question is what is the plan of these French vessels? Do they plan to blockade the port which would escalate the situation further? They say that this is not a blockade, but a maritime protest.

But I think you can see in scenarios like this, one fisherman's maritime protest can turned into another ports blockade, if so many fishing vessels are clustered around the entrance to what is in fact a fairly small harbor area.

So, at the moment, it's a developing situation, the rhetoric has really reach proportions that are unexpected. France threatening to cut off electricity to Jersey, Jersey gets 95 percent of their electricity from France, its 40 miles from the coast of France, much closer to France than it is to the U.K.

But in terms of diplomacy, certainly the chief minister in Jersey and Boris Johnson had both called for de-escalation rhetoric. But a French fisherman and officials in France are very insistent that the essentially that the pre-Brexit access to fishing around Jersey for French fishermen should not be impeded in the way that they consider it was impeded on Friday, when new licenses were handed out to French fishermen, to fish around the coast of Jersey.

And the French have said that the new restrictions are unreasonable. And their response has been as very quick escalation and movement to action. Such you now have this 60 to 70 French fishing vessels off the coast of Jersey, completely, you know, unheard of recent times. This is a pro-factor to historic tensions between Britain and France.

CHURCH: It is isn't it? Of course, we will watch this very closely. Nic Robertson, bringing us the very latest from London. I appreciate it.

Well, America's top diplomat is in Ukraine where he will sit down with President Vladimir Zelensky in the coming hours. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has already met with his Ukrainian counterpart today. This one-day visit to Kyiv aims to reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine as it deals with Russian aggression and a military buildup at the border.

Well, before Ukraine's foreign minister sat down with the U.S. Secretary of State, he talked to CNN's Matthew Chance in an exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The head of the Secretary of State visits the Ukrainian counterpart, he's putting his best fist forward. There are uncomfortable issues in the U.S. Ukrainian relationship. The

activities in Ukraine like Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, ahead of the 2020 U.S. election. (Inaudible) Ukrainian official would prefer t ignore.

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 do you characterize it?

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

[03:50:04]

CHANCE: But Ukraine is again under withering scrutiny. With the FBI investigating the former New York City mayor with alleged actions regarding Ukraine.

Can you tell us, how is the FBI or any other investigative agency in the United States approach 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: Even if there was, Ukraine has the years desperately avoided being drawn into the toxic U.S. political battle. In fact, that the U.S. Secretary of State pays his first visit here, Ukrainian officials want their own battle to be the focus. Especially with the Russian Armada assembling off their eastern seaboard. They insist this is a naval drill, posing no threat.

For CNN, has learned Ukraine has a shopping list of weapons it wants from Washington, including air defense systems, an anti sniper tech. Crucial state officials were so many Ukrainian troops being gunned down on these front lines. The question is, will Secretary Blinken and President Biden says they want to find a stable pack with Russia, offering Putin a summit later this year. Risk inflaming Russia, Ukrainian tensions.

And the Obama administration, when Biden was the vice president, they didn't even provide lethal weaponry to Ukraine for fear of provoking Russia. What do you think has 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 and more resolute in containing Russia.

CHANCE: How far that U.S. resolved extends in Ukraine, will soon be put to the test. Matthew Chance, CNN, Kyiv.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: And when we come back, why you need to keep your eye on the sky for the next few days. We will explain.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Star ship, heading back to the landing zone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: There it is. For the first time ever, SpaceX is star ship miles prototype stuck its landing. The unmanned rocket launched from South Texas Wednesday soaring straight up 10 kilometers before descending safely on to a landing pad. It's the fifth spacecraft of its kind to attempt such a landing but the first to do it successfully.

The earlier prototypes ended in spectacular and disappointing explosions during their landing. Star ship is the launch vehicle SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hopes will carry the first human to Mars, one day.

Well, a massive piece of space junk is said to reenter earth atmosphere this weekend. Debris from a large Chinese rocket is careening out of control, and the U.S. is tracking it.

[03:55:06]

Space agencies around the world try to avoid leaving big objects in orbit that could fall back to earth. But not this particular rocket. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now. And Pedram, how concerned should we all be about this? And is there any way of figuring out when and where it may hit.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We get a pretty good idea on approach here within the final few hours before it impacts the surface of the earth here. And we think that will be sometime Saturday into Sunday. When you take a look, of course, we know there's quite a bit of space debris, space junk to be had upwards of 9,000 tons of it circling our planet, that equivalent to over 700 school buses in size. When you take a look, we are talking about not only satellites that are in use right now, but decommissioned satellites.

Of course, there are things such as shelves, and also spent boosters of rockets, all of these and even tools. Parts of tools that were use on the space station that are all kind of left there as debris and space junk. But you will notice, even of course meteors can make an impact on to our planet but often they come in and an oblique angle. And that is a critical component here.

Because once it approaches an oblique angle, a lot of that could burn out within the atmosphere, a lot of that pressure, a lot of heat is generated. But when it comes to manmade objects that are orbiting are planet, they are typically coming in a more of a direct angle. And that allows much of it to sustain itself through the compression, and parts of it if they are large enough, as is the case with this particular rocket and the pieces of it could make it down to the earth's surface.

This weighs at around 20 pounds. It's the largest and heaviest object to enter back into our atmosphere since 1991. And it kind of take 20 tons, that's about equivalent to the weight of 15 standard size sedans. So really speaks to the sheer size of this. Putting it into the top four of all time of uncontrolled re-entries for largest objects.

But when you look at the orbital path here of this particular rocket and it's debris, quite an expansive area. This is what the scientists have kind of narrowed it down to. And you see, it leaves quite a bit of land expose, anywhere from loss Angeles to New York City, South to Sau Paulo, anywhere around Madrid, eastward all the way to Beijing and South into areas of Sydney.

It could all be in the target zone. Of course there is quite a bit of water here. This is traveling at upwards of 29,000 kilometers per hour, it orbits our planet, Rosemary, 15 times per day. So, given that speed, any small variation here can really put it from one location to another prior to making landfall.

And what's important to note, even if it does make it down to the earth surface on land, it will be scattered about over 100 kilometers of land and about the equivalent of say, a small aircraft crash in his debris field of that nature. So, it's not going to be one spot with one large object.

CHURCH: All right, still a little on settling, Pedram, many thanks, I appreciate it.

I'm Rosemary Church, thanks for being with us. Kim Brunhuber will be here in just a few minutes with more CNN Newsroom. Have a great day.

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