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Iran's Next President; COVID-19 Delta Variant Becoming Dominant Strain; Scotland Holds England to 0-0 Tie at Wembley. Aired 12-12:15a ET

Aired June 19, 2021 - 00:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to CNN NEWSROOM everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

It is now about 8:30 Saturday morning in Tehran. In the coming hours we'll expect to learn the result of Friday's crucial presidential election. The last polling stations closed about 6 hours ago, much later than planned in an apparent bid to boost voter turnout.

With many of his rivals disqualified from running, hardline chief justice Ebrahim Raisi is widely anticipated to win. CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The polls stayed well into the night and morning hours in Tehran and other cities within Iran as well, where participation seems to have been higher than many predicted here in Iran's pivotal and very important presidential election.

There were people who thought that the turnout of this election would be quite low, because so many candidates were disqualified in the run- up to the election. Of course, many wanted to participate but in the end the guardian council, which vets the candidates that are allowed to take part in the election, they only allowed seven candidates to take part.

And then three of those dropped out in favor of the front-runner, Ebrahim Raisi. In the run-up to the election, it certainly looked as though it was Raisi's election to lose. He was by far the favorite to win in the election. His election, if he does become president would certainly move Iran into an even more conservative direction than it has been in the past.

Of course, for the past eight years, Iran has had the fairly moderate Rouhani administration and certainly things would change. For instance, Ebrahim Raisi wants to have what's called a resistance economy, making Iran as self-sufficient as possible where some of his contenders who are more moderate would like to have more foreign investment here in this country. One of the big questions for the West as it's watching this election

is what would change in relation to the U.S. and other Western countries. We were able to speak to the head of Iran's supreme national security council.

He told us, for instance, the effort to try to revive the Iran nuclear agreement, those would continue in any case because the supreme leader is behind those negotiations -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


HOLMES: U.S. travelers may soon be enjoying their favorite European destinations once again. The E.U.'s governing body recommending lifting restrictions for the U.S. and many other countries. Trouble there may not be quite like it was before the pandemic. CNN's Cyril Vanier explains why.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The European Union is moving a step closer to opening its doors to international holiday goers. The E.U. Council recommends rolling back travel restrictions put in place at the beginning of the pandemic for at least 14 countries.

On that list Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Japan, the United States and others. There's a major caveat, though. This should be read as a general statement of intent, not a detailed rulebook because, ultimately, border controls and travel policy depend on individual member states.

What that means is that check the rules that apply to your specific European destination because, even though the E.U. says it wants a harmonized travel policy, requirements vary.

For instance, holidaying on the French Riviera for Americans is already possible for tourists who can show proof of vaccination plus a negative COVID test; whereas, in Greece, unvaccinated Americans can go island hopping. All they need to show is the negative test.

And a word of caution: these rules can change on a dime. European borders can be shut quickly depending on the pandemic, especially on the emergence of possible variants of concern -- Cyril Vanier, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Concern among health officials is growing as the Delta COVID variant spreads globally. On Friday, the World Health Organization's chief scientist explained why it was important to monitor how vaccines performed against it.


DR. SOUMYA SWAMINATHAN, WHO CHIEF SCIENTIST: The Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its significantly increased transmissibility. This is something we are watching very carefully and documenting.

And we now have a special expert group that has been set up to exactly track the performance of vaccines and their effectiveness when used at the population level in relation to the variants.



HOLMES: In the United Kingdom, 9 percent of new COVID cases are from the Delta variant and officials say it's specifically hitting younger age groups. A study by Imperial College London finding that young people are causing, quote, "exponential growth" in COVID infections in England.

Researchers warn it could drive case numbers higher among vulnerable populations. But with some exceptions the U.K. has not made vaccines available to those under 18. As our Phil Black explains, the ethical factors involved are complex and the stakes are high.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 16-year-old Thomas Crone is one of the very few school-aged children in the U.K. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It is only because he must cook, clean and care for his often sick family.

Mom Claire --

CLAIRE HASTIE, THOMAS' MOM: Anywhere more than a few minutes I would need this.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): -- and her 12-year-old twin sons are still suffering a wide range of long COVID symptoms more than a year after first falling ill.

JAMES CRONE, THOMAS' BROTHER: Not necessarily although I'm the one that restricts me but it's just so not nice to live with.

HASTIE: We know that children can be severely affected.

BLACK (voice-over): Government statistics show that 30,000 children aged 16 and under have reported experiencing long COVID in the U.K.

But Britain has yet to make vaccines widely available to adolescents, even as the highly contagious Delta variant surges through the country with growing evidence it is moving quickly through children and young people. British experts are still urging caution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be reticent to suggest that (INAUDIBLE).


BLACK (voice-over): Their concerns are centered on the ethical calculation of benefit versus risk. Statistically, very few children suffer severe illness from COVID-19. While the vaccine is new and its side effects, though rare, are still being studied.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Until we have those final bits of evidence and data, I think it is reasonable to wait to vaccinate our adolescents.

BLACK (voice-over): It's a very different approach compared to the U.S., where over 5 million children under 18 are already fully vaccinated and U.S. President Joe Biden is using Britain's experience with the Delta variant to drive that number even higher, pointing out in a tweet, "It's spreading rapidly among young people in the U.K. If you are young and haven't gotten your shot yet, it really is time."

DR. ALISON MESSINA, JOHNS HOPKINS ALL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: The more children that are vaccinated, the more they add to that pool of immune people and thus they make the herd, as it will, bigger.

BLACK (voice-over): France, Germany, Israel are all pursuing a similar strategy. But experts in the U.K. are hoping the virus can be blasted (ph) by immunity in the adult population alone. Around 80 percent have had at least one dose so far.

BLACK: You are hopeful that it won't be necessary to vaccinate children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am optimistic. Yes. But I don't think that we would wait forever. I think that we just want to make sure we are doing the right thing. We're doing what is safe and in the best interest of our children and young people.

BLACK: Claire Hastie says she just hopes other children will somehow be protected quickly so they never know the suffering and uncertainty experienced by her sons.

HASTIE: I don't really know what to do to help him. It's really heartbreaking.

BLACK: The U.K. medicines regulator has approved the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15. Now an independent panel of experts will advise the government on whether to hold off or proceed with the rollout.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has expressed a very strong view on this issue. It says no country should be thinking about vaccinating children right now, because there are so many older, more vulnerable people in countries around the world, who more desperately need those doses -- Phil Black, CNN, London.


HOLMES: The number of new coronavirus infections in Brazil just spiked again, the country reporting nearly 99,000 new cases on Friday, the second highest daily increase since March. Brazil has now confirmed more than 17.8 million cases, the third highest in the world.

The Danish football star Christian Eriksen is now out of the hospital. Good news. He had been recovering from cardiac arrest. You may have seen his dramatic collapse on the pitch during a Euro championship match last weekend.

The Danish Football Association says he is being fitted with an implantable device to monitor and stabilize his heart rate. And it also says Eriksen visited the national team after his release and is going home to spend time with his family.

Eriksen's team does not play again until Monday. But Friday's Euro 2020 matches included what was dubbed the battle of Britain, mainly England versus Scotland facing off in London, playing in the pouring rain, of course.


HOLMES: The match ending an 0-0 tie.


HOLMES: Football's governing authority has ruled Mexico will be without fans for its first two home matches in World Cup qualifiers later this year. That comes after fans used homophobic chants during Mexico's home games against the U.S. and Dominican Republic in March.

FIFA also fined the team about $65,000.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Stay tuned for "MARKETPLACE AFRICA." I will see you a bit later.