Return to Transcripts main page


On Covid Surge: "It's a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated"; Nevada Becomes Covid Hotspot as Vaccinations Plateau; Infections Surging in England After Its Reopening; China Rejects Second Phase of W.H.O. Covid Origin Study; Sponsors Curtail Olympic Commitments Ahead of Games. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 22, 2021 - 04:30   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's real simple. We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten a vaccinated. It's that basic, that's simple. If you are vaccinated, you're not going to be hospitalized. You're not going to be in the ICU unit and you're not going to die. So it's gigantically important that we all act like Americans or care about our fellow Americans.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Six months into his term in office, U.S. President Biden is doubling down on his plea for Americans to get vaccinated as you just heard there at a CNN Town Hall on Wednesday. He also said the federal government may approve vaccines for children under the age of 12 in the coming months. And he said his administration is actively working to tackle vaccine misinformation. This of course as cases are rising nationwide largely due to the more transmissible delta variant.

Well the real world consequences of not getting a vaccine are really evident in the state of Nevada. A number of new cases is skyrocketing in its largest county which includes Las Vegas. At the same time vaccinations lag far behind the United States average. As Ed Lavandera now reports, that grim picture is turning some vaccine skeptics into believers.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The COVID-19 vaccine sparks passionate barbershop banter inside the Theda (ph) Mall shop in north Las Vegas. In the last month, the owner Robert Taylor says three of his barbers and his business partner were infected with COVID-19. Taylor and another barber got the virus last year. None were vaccinated. It was a wake-up call. So Taylor decided to continue his barber shop into a vaccination site. Taylor partnered with state health officials to offer vaccine shots to clients coming in for a haircut.

ROBERT TAYLOR, OWNER, FADE 'EM ALL BARBERSHOP: Barbershop is a place of transparency, truth, debates and brotherhood.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Taylor says he wins them over with trusted voices and easing their fears.

TAYLOR: Like you have people who will say, well, it is not 100 percent. Nothing is 100 percent. It is not 100 percent that I'll make it home when I leave this barbershop, but I will put on my seat belt.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The average number of newly daily coronavirus cases has jumped from 132 in early June to almost 700 and the average daily number of hospitalizations has shot up from 178 in mid-June to more than 900. Medical experts say this surge is driven almost entirely by unvaccinated people.


LAVANDERA: Dr. Shadaba Asad is the director of infectious diseases at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. Only 40 percent of the Nevada population is fully vaccinated and with that, Dr. Asad offers an ominous warning.

ASAD: It's just a matter of time before you're going to come across a variant where your vaccines do not provide that degree of protection. So unvaccinated people pose a huge threat to the rest of us who are vaccinated because they are literally a breeding ground for new variants.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In Reno, where the vaccination rate is higher than the state average, the lines at the main vaccine site have dwindled. At the peak they were administering 2,800 doses a day. It is under 150 now. Health officials say people spreading misinformation are hampering vaccination efforts.

KEVIN DICK, HEALTH OFFICER, WASHOE COUNTY DISTRICT: Our country is not united. Battling COVID-19 is Bad enough but having to battle one another to try on overcome that virus I think is terrible.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): To motivate the unvaccinated, the state is holding weekly lottery drawings. They're literally paying people to get vaccinated and even those events have been interrupted by anti- vaccine hecklers.

TAYLOR: I'm not trying to sell you anything. You know, I just want you to live and be healthy.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): At the barber shop, vaccine skeptics like Darrius Voyeur who just recovered from COVID are quickly becoming vaccine believers.

DARRIUS VOYEUR, BARBER: Man, I wouldn't wish that on nobody. That was some tough days.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): He says he already received his first shot and Dillard Scott says sitting in Robert Taylor's barber chair after the coronavirus killed two of his cousins was the turning point for him to get vaccinated.

DILLARD A. SCOTT, BARBERSHOP CLIENT: I really struggled on whether or not I would vaccinate. So when you have two people in your family that it takes out like that, you are forced to look at the options that you have both as a family and also as individuals to not only protect yourself but protect others.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Last year Taylor says the pandemic forced him to close his barbershop for almost four months. Now he worries about what might happen as the resurgence of the coronavirus spreads across the unvaccinated in Nevada.

LAVANDERA: To get the virus under control, officials in Clark County where Las Vegas is, is requiring government agencies and business owners to require employees working in public spaces, whether they're vaccinated or not, to once again begin wearing masks. And FEMA is sending dozens of its people to work in surge teams to increase the vaccination rates here in this state.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Reno, Nevada.


SOARES: Interesting piece there from Ed Lavandera.

Well despite surging COVID-19 cases around the United States, Texas governor Greg Abbott says he will not impose another mask mandate in his state. Take a listen.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): There will be no mask mandate imposed in the reasons for that are very clear. And that is, there are so many people who have immunities to Covid, whether it be through the vaccinations. Whether it be through their own exposure and their recovery from it, which would be acquired immunity. And that is it would be inappropriate to require people who already have immunity to wear a mask. Everyone in the state of Texas, as well as United States, they exactly what the standards are, what practices they want to adopt to help protect themselves. So there is no more time for government mandates. This is time for individual responsibility, period.


SOARES: Well let me give you some context. Texas has the second highest number of cases and deaths among U.S. states. And in many other parts of the country the number of new COVID-19 cases in Texas is again on the rise as you can see there.

Alabama doctor, Brytney Cobia is pleading for her patients and anyone holding out to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before it is too late. I want to show you this. She posted this on her Facebook.

One of the last things they do before they are intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it is too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know do the same. They cry and they tell me they didn't know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or certain skin color, they wouldn't get as sick. They thought it was just the flu. But they were wrong.

Still to come right here in the show, Britain opposition leaders calling the Prime Minister a super spreader of sorts, while both of them remain in isolation. And COVID cases of course skyrocket in the U.K., that story from right here in London coming up next. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.



SOARES: The delta variant, as we been telling you, has also been fueling a massive search in European cases. They shot up across most of the region last week, when compared to the week before. As you can see there in the map, lots of countries in orange and dark red. Some are going ahead still though and unloosening COVID measures, while other hot spots, such as Italy, are actually tightening them.

In the coming hours, the Italian government is expected to announce some kind of health pass similar to the one that we told you about yesterday in France, will ban the unvaccinated from certain activities.

Meantime England lifting most of its COVID measures earlier this week despite really soaring infections and a spike in hospitalizations. The opposition led the party leaders calling it a summer of chaos.

Nina dos santos is tracking this for us in London. And Nina, as these infections continue to rise, the government's handling of this it, is once again under scrutiny. The opposition accusing the Prime Minister of being a super spreader of confusion. Tell us what's at the heart of this.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the heart of this is this sort of bifurcation in policy if you like. On the one hand, we've got the government plowing ahead with the reopening of the economy as it did on Monday despite the fact that the night before, the Prime Minister and the chancellor had to isolate because they had been in contact with the health secretary who then came down with COVID himself which obviously is not a good look.

And now we also had yesterday, Prime Minister's question time, the last opportunity for opposition members of Parliament and indeed members of Boris Johnson's own government and party as well, to question him before the summer recess. He couldn't even be there in person, as I said, because he is isolating. And this is how the leader of the opposition put that comment to him as you said, saying he is a super spreader of confusion, has been flip-flopping on policies. Remember the U.K. is also itself debating the same sort of vaccine

passport you're talking about before, Isa, is that the Italy and France for the over 18 who might want to go to night clubs but haven't been fully vaccinated in the autumn. That listen.


KEIR STARMER, OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY LEADER: I have to say, even after 15 months of those exchanges, I can't believe that the Prime Minister doesn't see the irony of him spending Freedom Day locked in isolation and -- and announcing plans for a vaccine I.D. card. I remember when he used to say he'd eat an I.D. card if he ever had to produce one, but now he is introducing them. So Mr. Speaker, when it comes to creating confusion, the Prime Minister is a super spreader.


DOS SANTOS (on camera): Well speaking of confusion, just a few moments after making that speech in the House of Commons when that session finished, Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition himself had to go into isolation because one of his children contracted COVID and tested positive.

The big debate here in the U.K. is this subject of people having to isolate at the moment because somebody that they have been in contact with like the Prime Minister, like the leader of the opposition has tested positive for COVID. And that is going to be the next political hot potato to deal with. Already today we're seeing people like British Retail Consortium that represents supermarkets, saying we can't stock the shelves at the moment. Fuel suppliers saying that they can't get the manual labor to get essential goods from A to B. There are even labor shortages in the police force. All of this because about half a million people have been having to isolate because they have been in contact with somebody with COVID -- Isa.

SOARES: Because they been pinged. Nina dos Santos, thanks very much, Nina.

Well China is rejecting the WHO's plan for a second phase of the study into the origins of the coronavirus. The plan includes the theory that the virus could have escaped from a Chinese laboratory. But a Chinese official says the investigation was, quote, compromised by political manipulation and disrespect of scientific facts.


CNN's international security editor Nick Paton Walsh joins me now. Nick, it's perhaps not entirely surprising they have come to this decision but give me more in terms of what is the reasoning behind it. What are they rejecting -- why are they rejecting the plan for a second phase of the investigation?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, essentially, Isa, the importance behind this, that we are looking at an end it seems to scientific investigation in China where this virus most likely originated. As to how they a seismic event occurred. Now the reason why of course is the continued focus on the possibility that this virus emerged from a laboratory leak.

Now, that is not proven. There is at this point frankly scant evidence to support it, but it's not been ruled out and it does appear to be part of the Biden administration's three month review which looks set to give us its results in mid-August. Why is China making these statements? Well the deputy head of its national health commission, senior figures in its laboratory system in Wuhan, where the virus originated most likely, gave this press conference in which they said it well be, quote, impossible for us to accept the plan of the W.H.O. investigation committee to have a second phase of studies inside of China.

Now remember that the first phase, well that was delayed months, it was held under very strict Chinese conditions and often supplied only data which had been analyzed and processed by Chinese scientists first. What essentially W.H.O. were wanting, their head Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus saying that they wanted access to raw data and of course he persistently reminded people of the possibility that the lab leak needed greater exploration.

Now that of course deeply winds up the Chinese, they are significantly offended by it. And you said it yourself, Isa, in your introduction that the next phase of investigation if it included this probe into the lab leak would to the Chinese not respect common sense and be against science. So very vociferous rhetoric from the Chinese, not unexpected. They totally deny the idea of a laboratory leak here. As I say, there isn't conclusive evidence of that by far at this stage.

But short of some extraordinary compromise, whether the position of W.H.O. wanting to see a probe into the lab leak, and more importantly an examination of the raw data inside China for those early months in which the virus spread, short of some extraordinary compromise between that and the Chinese position, it is now highly unlikely that we'll see another foray by independent enough W.H.O. experts into China. That will pretty much spell an end to the world knowing exactly how this pandemic began.

A vital question because that is how we stop it from happening again, because one sadly that seems lost in the geopolitical fog here. China saying that it was not a lab leak. Not being at all transparent frankly in the data they presented and the access they have given to this W.H.O. panel. And the W.H.O. under pressure too to give greater voice to the possibility of a lab leak and therefore it seems spelling an end to future investigations. A real mess here and one with enormous consequences for us as a species -- Isa.

SOARES: Nick Paton Walsh there for us, thanks very much, Nick. Great to see you. We're going to take a short break. We're back after this.



SOARES: Now just 5 of 42 Olympic venues will allow spectators. And even those five will be limited to 50 percent capacity. In fact, the Japanese government is telling people to stay home and watch the Olympics on television. And that means corporations that paid huge sums to make thousands of people would see and experience their promotions, aren't likely to get the returns for their money. Our Selena Wang reports now from Tokyo.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Olympics normally a golden opportunity to boost door corporate image. But this year the fear is brand damage because of intense opposition to the games in Japan. After Japanese, a sponsor spent a record of more than $3 billion to be associated with the five rings, COVID-19 cases are surging, spectators largely banned, while the Japanese public just 20 percent of them fully vaccinated are urged to stay at home during the games. Sponsor plans are falling flat.

WANG: I'm at the top of Tokyo's Sky Tree the world's tallest broadcasting tower. It's one of many Japanese Olympic sponsors that have had to cancel or scale back promotional events tied to the games.

WANG (voice-over): We were planning to hold events to boost the mood for the Olympics, but because of COVID, it's not the right time to hold a festival, he tells me. We've canceled events, a viewing site and torch relay through our viewing spot.

Toyota, a top Olympic sponsor, is not airing Olympic related TV commercials. The editorial board of another sponsor Asahi Shimbun called for a cancellation in May. There is little Olympic spirit in the host city. Tokyo is in a state of emergency and alcohol is banned from restaurants. The CEO Suntory, one of Japan's biggest beverage makers, says the economic loss from no spectators will be enormous.

TAKESHI NIINAMI, CEO, SUNTORY: I'D expected that a lot of spectators from abroad to visit, you know, restaurants and bars where they sell our products and promote our brands. We had a plan to open more than a couple of bars and restaurants only for our products, sponsored by us. But we canceled that.

WANG: Do you think that these games could still boost international businesses for Japanese companies?

NIINAMI: More and more I don't think so. I think Olympics have been losing its value.

WANG: Do you think the games should have been postponed?

NIINAMI Considering the current rollout of vaccines in this country, two months from now should be the ideal timing.

WANG (voice-over): According to Robert Maes, a sports marketing executive in Japan, several local sponsors were pushing for the Olympics to be delayed.

ROBERT MAES, SPORTS MARKETING EXECUTIVE: The sponsors are paying a lot of money but basically the return is extremely limited.

[04:55:00] You've got the five rings, and then you have what used to be attached to the Olympics which is the spirit of sport, the pleasure, the youth, the sparkling ideals of sport. But that is all gone now.

WANG (voice-over): But sponsor Asics is staying optimistic. It's the official outfitter for the Japanese Olympic team and volunteers. Opening this experience center in central Tokyo showing its designs all the way back to the 1964 Tokyo games.

Although there will be no spectators in the games, we are sure that many people will experience the atmosphere of the Olympics through media like TV, he says. Some experts say it's too early to say how brands will be impacted.

MICHAEL PAYNE, FORMER IOC MARKETING DIRECTOR: There's no point in sugarcoating, you know, this is not an ideal situation. Have sponsors been able to get their short-term marketing gain? No. Will they be able to get a long-term marketing game? Still possible.

WANG (voice-over): And all that depends on whether the games are held safely without turning into a super spreader event.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


SOARES: Now the U.S. U.S. space agency NASA is heralded a new era of planetary science, as well as discovery as its Perseverance rover is set to start collecting rock samples on Mars within two weeks. Perseverance has been on the red planet since, you remember, February searching for signs of ancient microbes, and clues about whether Mars was ever able to sustain life. The rover will send it samples back to earth on a later mission. NASA compares all this collecting the first moon rock something that will rewrite of course what we know about our solar system.

And that does it for me. Thanks very much for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares in London. "EARLY START" with Laura Jarrett and Julia Chatterley is up next. Have a wonderful Thursday, bye, bye.