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U.S. to Help Rebuild Gaza; Secretary Blinken to Meet His Counterpart in Israel and Palestinian Authority; E.U. Countries Taking Action Against Lukashenko's Illegal Action; China Don't Agree with U.S.' Intel Report; European Commission Meeting Covered Wide Range of Issues; Americans Are Advised Not to Travel to Japan; The Game Must Go On; WHO Chief Blasts Scandalous Vaccine Inequity; How Dogs Could Help Battle COVID-19. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 03:00   ET




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, America's top diplomat is on a mission to make sure that the Israel Hamas ceasefire holds. We are live in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Belarus is being accused of state sponsored hijacking after diverting a plane and detaining an outspoken journalist. The European Union is taking action.

Plus, the long-delayed push to vaccinate against COVID-19 in South Africa goes into overdrive. Some scientists worry it might be too late to combat a third wave.

Good to have you with us.

Well, right now the U.S. secretary of state on a Middle East tour to ensure a fragile cease fire between Israel and the militant group Hamas holds up. Antony Blinken arrived in Israel just a short time ago. And he will be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Later, he will talk with Palestinian authority leaders in the West Bank, 11 days of militant rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes taking a heavy toll.

The Hamas run health ministry in Gaza says airstrikes killed at least 248 Palestinians including 66 children. The Israel Defense Forces say militant fire killed at least 12 people in Israel including two children.

CNN correspondents are in place for each stop of Blinken's day. Nic Robertson is in Ramallah and Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem. They both join us now.

So, Hadas, let's go to you first. What are the expectations for today? HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, as we speak the secretary of state

is supposed to be meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In about an hour and a half they will make statements to the media, and then the secretary of state is expected to meet with the Israeli foreign minister, as well as the Israeli defense minister.

Then the secretary of state will head over to (Inaudible), Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leaders there. And in a briefing with reporters before this trip took off, U.S. officials were stressing that this trip is all about making that the ceasefire holds and starting the process of rebuilding and reconstructing and provide aid to the people of Gaza. And not necessarily a trip to try to immediately start a long-term peace talks or any sort of path towards a two-state solution right away.

Right now, this is simply focus, the U.S. officials were stressing on the ceasefire making sure that it holds an starting the process of providing aid to Gaza. Now one of the things that the U.S. officials were stressing was how to make sure that the aid that is going to be coming into Gaza goes to the right hands and goes to the right people. The people who need it most, the people who need to rebuild their homes and rebuild their lives.

And there is a concern that some of that money could end up in the hands of militants in Hamas who might use it instead for rockets or for building tunnels. Now the U.S. officials were stressing that the U.N. will be leading this reconstruction effort and they say that they want to find a new framework that will re-integrate the Palestinian authority which does not have much power in Gaza right now, to help make sure that this money is directed to the right place.

That is one of their major concerns. And they -- but I think one of the most interesting aspects of what these talks and what we might here potentially from statements later today, is what do the Americans think that they can do to make sure that the ceasefire holds? Will there be concessions perhaps on either side? What will be the demands from either side?

Because right now the ceasefire has been described as unconditional. Will there be conditions placed to make sure that the ceasefire takes effect for a long period of time? And also, what will the American efforts be in try to re-integrate the Palestinian authority more into Gaza? And to make sure that this aid goes to the right place and does not fall into the hands of militant Hamas.

CHURCH: Indeed. And Nic, as we just heard from Hadas, Secretary Blinken will visit Ramallah later today where you are to meet with Palestinian leaders. What's expected out of those early meetings given that those leaders have absolutely no influence over the actions of Hamas?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. This is a meeting about the ceasefire principally and how to make the ceasefire durable. Meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.


This is really an important reengagement between the U.S. administration and Palestinian Authorities here. Why? Because under President Trump he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Palestinian authorities broke their engagement with the Trump administration. They didn't want to take any part in any of his sort of, peace proposals and peace plans for the region.

But what they are hoping from Secretary Blinken in their view is they get somebody more enlightened who knows the region, who understands the situation, who understands the situation that they are in and will be able to take away a stronger sense of their grievances at the moment.

And one of the things that they will tell him will be, you know, if you have a chance to look around here, go and look at the expansion. They're concerned the settlements around Jerusalem as they see these are areas of concern for them. And they want him to take away that understanding.

But I think, and this is counter to what we heard from Secretary Blinken and from the State Department until now. They really want him to get beyond the ceasefire and talk about this durable and lasting peace. And set some kind of horizon and set a framework to get to that political and diplomatic horizon.

It doesn't appear that that's necessary on the agenda but that's clearly where the Palestinian authorities are coming from. And this is, they're going to want to get a sense of that from the Secretary of State Blinken, and from that they'll be able to draw their conclusions about how much the Biden administration wants to engage here. How much it wants to sort of invest politically and diplomatically and therefore, what can they expect?

So, this is a good day for the Palestinian Authority perspective, how good it is at the end of the day is going to depend on the level of future engagement that they -- that they detect from the secretary of state. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Nic Robertson in Ramallah. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem. Many thanks to you both.

Well European Union leaders are issuing a strong response to what's being called outrageous behavior by Belarus. This after the diversion of a commercial plane and the arrest of a dissident journalist on board, Roman Protasevich. The E.U. has now agreed to more sanctions on Belarus including economic ones. It already plans to take action when it comes to safety in the skies.


URSULA VON DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Belarus used its control over airspace in order to perpetrate a state hijacking. Therefore, the safety and security of flights through Belarus airspace can no longer be trusted. And the council will adapt to measures to ban over flies of the E.U. airspace and to deny access to airports, to E.U. airports to Belarus airplanes.


CHURCH (on camera): And the E.U. pushes forward with more sanctions U.S. President Joe Biden says the actions of Belarus were quote, "a direct affront to international norms."

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has the latest.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Scenes from Minsk Airport after the Ryanair plane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Belarusian capital. The airline now saying a bomb threat called in by Belarusian authorities appears to have been a ploy in order to arrest journalist and activist Roman Protasevich who is on the fly.

MONIKA SIMKIENE, LITHUANIAN PASSENGER (through translator): He said nothing. You just turn to people and said he is facing the death penalty.

PLEITGEN: Tonight, Belarusian pro-government social media airing the first video of Roman Protasevich in detention. While he says on tape that he's allegedly doing fine and confessing to organizing riots. It's very possible he was forced to go on camera under duress members of the opposition say. An adviser telling CNN earlier he fears the journalist will be tortured.

FRANAK VIACORKA, SENIOR ADVISER TO SVETLANA TIKHANOVSKAYA: He's probably in KGB right now at the interrogation. the interrogation usually takes several days. And you know that in Belarus when they interrogate, they might use torture and other means.

PLEITGEN: The social media platform NEXTA which Roman Protasevich co- founded uncovered widespread brutality on the part of Belarusian police and help sparked the massive anti-government protests in the summer of last year that threatened to unseat long-time dictator Alexander Lukashenko after the opposition and many countries around the world accused him of rigging the presidential election.

European leaders say they aren't buying Minsk's explanation for making the jet land. The Ryanair flight originated in the Greek capital Athens. It was supposed to fly straight to Vilnius in Lithuania but it changed course shortly before it would've left Belarusian airspace and made a sharp turn towards the Belarusian capital.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary was blunt.

MICHAEL O'LEARY, CEO, RYANAIR: This was a case of state-sponsored -- this is a state-sponsored hijacking and state-sponsored piracy.

PLEITGEN: The Biden administration is condemning the incident.

[03:09:59] JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are outraged as the

international community has expressed and we have expressed as well. And we think this was a brazen affront to international peace and security by the regime.

PLEITGEN: Lithuania's president meanwhile is calling for tough action by the E.U. against the Lukashenko regime.

GITANAS NAUSEDA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (through translator): We demand the release of Roman Protasevich. If that is not done, we shall talk about the very serious sanctions at the E.U.'s disposal.

PLEITGEN: After several hours in Minsk, the plane finally continued its journey to Lithuania without Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend who was also taken into custody, leading European leaders fuming and vowing to take action.


CHURCH (on camera): And our Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Berlin. Good to see you, Fred. So, what is the latest on this growing international outrage over the actions of Belarus?

PLEITGEN: Hi there, Rosemary. Well, it continues to expand as more countries were chiming in. You already heard a little bit there in the report from the Biden administration. Well, President Biden, himself, then later also issued statement as well. He called the arrest of Roman Protasevich and also of course the force landing of that plane, an assault on political dissent and on freedom of the press and freedom of expression as well.

He called this an outrageous incident. Of course, that referring to the fact that that plane was brought down. But also, quite frankly, there is a lot of international outrage about that video as well. There's lot of folks in the Belarusian opposition who are essentially calling this a hostage video.

There is others like, for instance, Angela Merkel who are saying that all the explanations that they've heard so far from the Belarusian side are absolutely implausible. And then there is concrete action that the E.U. took late last night at their council meeting where they said that they are going to ban flights from Belarus' states airline to E.U. territory.

They're also urging European airlines not to fly over Belarusian territory as well. In fact, just as we've been talking right now in the past couple of seconds, I just got a tweet from Finnair saying that they also not going to fly from Belarusian territory anymore. Adding too, for instance, Lufthansa, adding to U.K. carriers, Swedish carriers. So, you can really see that take effect.

And you know, it's no secret that the Belarusian government also gets money from those overflights as well as other country when planes fly over their territory. So that's a big thing. And then the E.U. is also talking about new sanctions against both entities and figures from the Lukashenko regime, as well as banning senior figures from Lukashenko regime from adding -- from entering E.U. territory.

So, certainly, a big, big international reaction and really some concrete action taken as well. Whether or not that's going to have any effect on the Lukashenko regime as long as it keeps being backed by Moscow, that's a whole different story, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, they most definitely. Fred Pleitgen, many thanks.

Joining me now is David Soucie. He is a CNN political analyst and a former safety inspector at the Federal Aviation Administration here in the United States. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So many are calling this a state-sponsored hijacking. Alexander Lukashenko forcing a commercial flight carrying more than 100 passengers to divert to the Belarus capital so he can arrest his biggest critic. What impact does an incident like this potentially have on the aviation industry?

SOUCIE: It's far-reaching, I will tell you that. Because the fact that they've never, the ICAO has never had to address this type of political situation before where someone just simply disregard the rules. And I would not call it hijacking, I would call it piracy. It goes beyond just hijacking. They did it for a reason to get someone off of that airplane.

CHURCH: And when you heard about this what were some of the nightmare scenarios that run through your mind that could have potentially ended in disaster for all those on board that commercial flight?

SOUCIE: Well, what surprises me is the fact that they, the Belarus ATC, air traffic controller has stated that there was a potential issue on board or threat on board. Now that means bomb to a pilot. So that's all they gave them, it was that information. They also have a fighter jet that was scrambled their direction.

So, it's -- it could have had dramatic consequences and how the pilot reacted to that. In that scenario the pilot could have done an emergency landing, an emergency descent. It could have changed the safety of that flight significantly rather than just continuing on to Belarus which was where it was supposed to go.

CHURCH: International outrage is growing of course over this incident. So, what action do you think needs to be taken against Lukashenko?

SOUCIE: Well, I think what first needs to be done and ICAO has already taken that step, is to just say, look, you're not playing by the rules. You've gone against the Chicago convention. You have done things that you should haven't done with the information.


Now, they've got their hands full, it's going to be a challenge to do anything really significant with them because ICAO doesn't have any authority to restrict airspace, that's left up to Belarus to do. So, and in addition to that, Belarus also has a side convention. It's an air systems transit convention and they are not a member of that.

And what that does in the ICAO states, member states, is it allows people to fly from one country to the next over their airspace within that state. Now, in Belarus they don't belong to that side convention, so it really leaves a lot up to question. There is no black and white. Can Belarus then make their own rules about flying over? They already charged $500 for any airplane that flies through their airspace. So, if that stops they wouldn't get their revenue.

But that's -- it's a deeper situation than that in that if they're not allowing anyone to fly over that airspace at all which they have the right to do, they can -- they could really put a kink in that air -- in the way that we get across Europe right there.

CHURCH: And of course, there are calls for more action if sufficient action is not taken, what message does that send other leaders across the globe who might go after their critics in some way like this?

SOUCIE: That's a very good question and it's much more impactful than you might think on the surface. Flying over the state is one thing. The challenge is that the information about the people that are on the airplanes is shared throughout the Chicago convention and that is a security fact that was put in fact -- put in place within the Chicago convention in one of the annexes.

So, think about this. Now they've got information about every person that's on that airplane that crosses their airspace and they can use that however they want. They can use it for defense, they can use it for corporate espionage, they can use it for just about anything they want to kidnap or take anyone that they think is going to benefit their dictatorship rule there in Belarus.

CHURCH: David Soucie, we appreciate your analysis. Many thanks for joining us.

SOUCIE: Thank you.

CHURCH: China says the U.S. is hyping up false theories about how the coronavirus originated. We are live in Beijing with more on the Wuhan research lab at the center of the controversy.

Plus, Americans are being warned to avoid travel to Japan in another blow for Tokyo with the summer games fast approaching. We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH (on camera): Welcome back, everyone.

Well, Mali's interim president and prime minister have been arrested and are in military custody. That is according to several international groups and a committee monitoring Mali's return to civilian oversight after last year's military coup. The two leaders were sworn in last September after the military agreed to hand over power to a civilian transitional government.

Several countries including the U.S., U.K., and European Union are calling the arrests a power grab and demanding the leaders be released immediately.


Well, China is pushing back against U.S. intelligence claiming researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology needed hospital care back in November 2019. The information has sparked new debate over the origin of the coronavirus and the possibility its first victims were infected earlier than reported in a lab accident.

Now a spokesman with China's foreign ministry suggests the U.S. is trying to divert attention from actual origin tracing. Here is what U.S. disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had to say when asked if he believes the virus develop naturally.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No. I'm not convinced about that. I think that we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we find out to the best of our ability exactly what happened.


CHURCH (on camera): And CNN's Steven Jiang joins us now live from Beijing with more on this. Good to see you, Steven.

So, China rejects the U.S. intelligence report that reveals three Wuhan lab researchers were hospitalized in November 2019. But the only way for China to prove this virus did not come from a lab is to allow a thorough investigation. How likely is it that that will ever happen?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, Rosemary, never say never, but at this juncture I have to say chances are very slim. Remember, this issue is extremely and increasingly sensitive here. Obviously, they don't want to be seen as the source of a global pandemic. But also, both internationally and domestically, you know, all these renewed interests and focus on the Wuhan lab really counters this narrative they have been pushing out so hard trying to turn China into a success story, not only in containing this virus but also helping other countries with their vaccines. You know, in the process obviously showcasing their communist political system.

So that's why they've been really lashing out hard at anyone who suggests more further investigations in China. That includes Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci for a long time was portrayed as a hero here because of his opposition to former U.S. President Trump's many claims and policies on COVID-19, but almost overnight he is now considered a villain.

He and other prominent scientists who have been calling for more investigations here have been called by state media as somebody who portrays science, who betrays or has betrayed science and betrayed their Chinese partners because they caved in under pressure from right-wing forces in the U.S.

But obviously, that discounts the fact that Dr. Fauci and other experts have simply having evolving views based on new information, especially after that World Health Organization that team that went to Wuhan early this year. Because remember, that team went to the lab and talk to the staff -- staff there for a few hours, then they came out and concluded it was extremely unlikely that this virus was leaked from the lab.

But this kind of conclusion has not been convincing because these experts -- these experts did not have access to the raw original Chinese data. That's what a lot of experts and government officials are increasingly calling for. But the Chinese government so far has been very resistant to this idea.

They are basically saying we have done everything we could in helping the WHO in its origin tracing and now it's time to investigate other countries, especially pointing the finger at the U.S. without providing any concrete evidence. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Steven Jiang, many thanks joining us live from Beijing. I appreciate it. Well, Australia's second largest city is reinstating COVID restrictions as authorities search for the link to a new outbreak. There are at least five new infections in Melbourne. The restrictions limit the size of home and public gatherings and bring back indoor mask requirements.

Thousands have been ordered to quarantine and undergo COVID tests. Investigators are still trying to determine how those infected got the virus from an overseas traveler.

Well, Spain is now welcoming travelers from 10 countries considered low risk for COVID. All of them outside the E.U. Once the world's second most visited country, Spain is hoping to revitalize its battered tourism industry which took an 80 percent hit last year due to the pandemic. No COVID tests are required for those flying into Spain but anyone returning home to the U.K. will have to quarantine for 10 days.

Well, meantime, the second day of a special meeting of the European Council is underway. While yesterday's meetings were dominated by discussions of sanctions for Belarus, expected topics today include climate change and the E.U.'s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

So, let's go live to Paris where CNN's Melissa Bell is standing by. Good to see you, Melissa.

So, what all are you learning about this final day of E.C. meetings and what are the expectations?


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This really is a meeting that has been overshadowed by so many external events, surprising turns of events, Belarus, of course you mentioned. But also, Italy has added to the agenda something that haven't planned which is the resurgence of the migrant crisis given the numbers of people that have been trying to get across the Mediterranean these last few days and weeks.

But yes, today, conversations much more likely to focus on what had been planned. And this was never going to be an easy summit. Because what Europe is trying to get through at this stage, Rosemary, is probably the most ambitious plan for carbon emission reductions of any developed country in the world.

The European Union wants to be entirely carbon neutral having zero net carbon emissions, that is by 2050. That is extremely ambitious. It means that by the end of this decade it needs to have reached its new target. It had been 40 percent reduction. It now wants a 55 percent reduction.

What does that mean, Rosemary, when you're talking about the European Union? It means 27 countries with very different economies, some of them to the east and the south fossil fuel based, now having to look at what kind of changes they're going to have to make to enable the block to reach those very ambitious targets.

Many countries, especially some of the poorer European economies very keen on looking at what kind of compensation they're going to be able to get to affect and kind of changes that those targets mean those economies need to undertake. Two areas in particular, how to extend that carbon pricing mechanism, also the European emissions trading scheme how to include that in some of the sectors that have so far been spared, for instance, the automobile sector.

So, there are not likely to be easy conversations. There was fractious debate even last Friday about the preliminary conclusions they would be seeking to get to. This is going to be a difficult debate for the European Union. But the incoming commission last year made it very clear, this is going to be one of the main priorities for the European Union going forward. This is just the beginning, Rosemary, of a very long and very difficult conversation.

CHURCH: Indeed. Melissa Bell, many thanks joining us live from Paris. I appreciate it.

Well, a top Japanese official believes U.S. support for Tokyo's Olympic Games remains unchanged. And that is despite the U.S. State Department warning Americans to avoid traveling to Japan because of the surge in COVID infections there. Tokyo has been under intense pressure to cancel or postpone the games due to the pandemic, but a leading member of the International Olympic Committee tells CNN's Selina Wang that will never happen. Take a listen.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is the cancellation still a possibility?

DICK POUND, MEMBER, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: None of the folks involved in the planning in the execution of the games is considering cancellation. That's essentially off the table. Whether there are some huge event of some sort that we can't anticipate that might intervene in the next 60 days. Who knows? WANG: The concern from the medical community is that it's impossible

to keep a safe bubble when you have more than 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries, you have more than 70,000 staff and officials, and then tens of thousands of unvaccinated volunteers traveling between their homes in the Olympic village.

So how can the IOC guarantee that this is going to be completely safe bubble?

POUND: No one can guarantee anything. I mean, that's -- let's be reasonable on that. But all of the indications, the fact base on indication are that the bubble can be created and maintained and that daily or whatever the frequency of tests will be will identify any indications that there may be some people having the virus that are there they'll be put into isolation right away.


CHURCH (on camera): More than 7,800 athletes from around the world have secured a spot to compete in Tokyo. The games are scheduled to begin in less than two months from now.

Well, while the U.S. and European countries are relaxing their COVID restrictions, it's a much different story in many other parts of the world. Why the vaccines are not coming soon enough. That's ahead.




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): The head of the World Health Organization, warns the coronavirus pandemic will not be under control until wealthy nations are willing to distribute more of their supply of COVID vaccines. He says, no country should assume it is out of the woods, as long as variants of the virus are spreading.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The ongoing vaccine crisis is as inequity that is perpetuating the pandemic. More than 75 percent of all vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. There is no diplomatic way to say it. A small group of countries, that make, and by the majority of the world's vaccines, control the fate of the rest of the world.


CHURCH: So far, six COVID-19 vaccines are listed by the World Health Organization for distribution by COVAX. The program has securing more than 4 billion doses and has so far shipped around 72 million of them to 125 countries. That is according to the UNICEF vaccine market dashboard.

South Africa is struggling to vaccinate its population. CNN's David McKenzie is live this hour in Johannesburg with more on that. Good to see you David. So, South Africa's vaccine rollout has been called a dismal failure, but now, if it's aren't overdrive to change that. What is the latest on this?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, you can see there for (inaudible) overdrive, right where we are standing. I'm inside a clinic in Alexandria, all these people here are waiting to get their Pfizer vaccine. Their first shot. The vaccine program has been going on for just over a week now. And I want you to come with me, as we walk through this process.

There are people here in wheelchairs, and this is over 60's now who can get the vaccine in South Africa. Many people have been here since the early hours of this morning. Some didn't get their confirmation of an appointments so they're trying their luck, coming here. They already registered. And the head nurse here, told me, they have enough supply, it's just a case of the logistics to get them out.

So, the economy here slowly -- sorry ma'am -- into the place where they are actually getting the vaccines. Excuse me, thank you. Rosemary, this is the area people will come. They will -- as this lady is coming through, they will come to an individual booth, get their Pfizer vaccine. Now, we've been to several sites across Johannesburg in recent days to see the rollout in action. Now one of the complaints by scientists here though, is that the vaccines didn't come soon enough. Let's take a look at that story.


MCKENZIE (voice over): It has been a year since Peggy Kgogong, started to dread her phone ringing. Afraid the calls would bring terrible news again.

PEGGY KGOGONG, RECEIVING COVID-19 VACCINE: We are already afraid that they are going to tell you that (inaudible). And it's so painful, because we know this better.

MCKENZIE: Painful, because many other friends, and neighbors, didn't make it to this lifesaving moment. She is one of the very first South Africans, in line for COVID-19 shot. In a much delayed vaccine rollout.

Are you worried about a third wave in South Africa?

KGOGONG: I'm real worried. That's (inaudible). I'm really worried.


UNKNOWN: If you were to provide some sort of scoring as to how real South Africa performed when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, you probably would be working out about 2 out of 10. It's been a dismal failure.

MCKENZIE: For a country once praise for its initial COVID-19 response, its swift lockdowns, an innovative treatment techniques, that's a bitter pill. Many scientists believe that is too late for vaccines, to lessen a third wave.

UNKNOWN: It causes people to die, and that is the reality.

BARRY SCHOUB, CHAIRMAN, VACCINE MINISTERIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE: We are left behind by the vaccine rush of the 2020s when the high income countries, rush to kind of get their supply of vaccine.

MCKENZIE: The South African president blames what he calls, a vaccine apartheid for the shortfall. We have rich countries, hoarded vaccines and undercut the global vaccine alliance, COVAX. As a result, many low and middle income countries started to direct early negotiations with vaccine manufacturers. But, not South Africa.

So why the many months delay in this?

SCHOUB: I think if you look at many of those, if not most of those middle income countries, they did settle for vaccines which don't have international approval.

MCKENZIE: But a CNN review a vaccine tracking data, compiled by Duke University, shows that more than 20 low and middle income countries, place orders for vaccines, now, WHO approved before South Africa. When South Africa's first batch of AstraZeneca finally arrived in February, scientists discovered it wasn't effective against a COVID-19 strain, dominating here.

So, authorities quickly switched to Johnson & Johnson. Vaccinating health workers first, as part of a large-scale trial. And ordering Pfizer vaccines, now arriving in the hundreds of thousands of doses, each week.

Millions of people have to be vaccinated, it's a daunting tech.

While we have the capabilities, and infrastructure out of the nature here for South Africa, is it a daunting prospect logistically.

ANTHONY DIACK, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DSV HEALTHCARE: It is a daunting prospect. I mean, so, we have the capability, we have the infrastructure. I think just the nature of what we are trying to do here for South Africa does make it daunting.

MCKENZIE: So, 30 seconds is all they have. They use a kitchen timer, because the fridge will drop in temperature and that minus 70 is critical.

The vaccines are so precious, each member the team is vetted by the police. Their temperature constantly checked.

More than 500 vaccine vials in this shipment, given an armed escort.

It's South Africa's best chance of ending its COVID-19 crisis.

It looks like you got dressed up today.

UNKNOWN: I'm excited, because I want this pandemic really to be under control. We don't whether (inaudible). But as long as it can be under control, or get finished, because we are really tired.

MCKENZIE: Tired, like all of us, waiting for the nightmare to end, waiting for the past failures to turn into hope.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Now, Rosemary, authorities here say that it's important to look forward, that at least the vaccines are now getting into arms, and the process we've seen here is running pretty smoothly. But there is a question of time. South Africa is facing a third wave of COVID-19, and they need to get shots into arms and quickly to try out any impact to slow the spread in this country. Rosemary?

CHURCH: So important. David McKenzie, thank you for that report. I appreciate it.

And still to come, how man's best friend is landing a paw in the fight against the deadly coronavirus. Back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: A new study in the U.K., says dogs may be able to lend a paw in the battle against COVID-19 by sniffing out infections. So far, the work hasn't been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal. But, as our Max Foster reports, researchers hope that this could help fight the pandemic.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Man's best friend could be a new ally in the fight to contain coronavirus. A new U.K. study, says highly trained dogs in controlled conditions may be able to sniff out and identify COVID-19 infections in humans.

STEVE LINDSAY, DURHAM UNIVERSITY: Our previous work with using dogs, showed we were able to detect people with malaria by their scent. So, we thought, well, at the beginning of the pandemic, let's see whether our dogs could detect people with COVID.

FOSTER: The results of an early stage study which hasn't yet being peered reviewed say dogs picked up the scent of COVID-19, on the clothing of infected people. Up to 94 percent of the time. And they were even able to detect asymptomatic cases. Standard PCR tests are the best test for COVID-19, but they can't beat the dogs for the speed of the results. The pups are winning that by a nose.

LINDSAY: That's really a quite very high level of precision. They can detect people with a low viral loads, just as readily as they could with those people with high viral loads.

FOSTER: Six dogs participated in the study. A group of Labradors, golden retrievers, and cocker spaniels trained for six to eight weeks, to recognize the scent of the virus. Researchers say dogs could one day be used in high volume areas, like airports, in concert arenas to screen for infections.

CLAIRE GUEST, FOUNDER, MEDICAL DETECTION DOGS: This could make a huge difference, as we start to come out of lockdown. And people start to travel. And we'll hopefully assist in getting this all back to a more normal life.

FOSTER: But critics say, it could be hard for the dogs to match their success in the lab in the real world. Since, some sense in crowded areas quickly disperse. There are a pilot project using COVID-19 sniffer dogs in airports, underway in Finland, Germany, and Chile. A whiff of hope, from our four-legged friends in snuffing out this virus. Max Foster, CNN.


CHURCH: That's a nice happy note. I'm Rosemary Church, I'll be back with more CNN Newsroom at the top of the hour. Time now for Africa Avant-Garde.