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COVID Cases in the U.S. to Worsen Says CDC Director; Quarantines and Travel Restrictions Anew in China; Australia Imposes Another Lockdown; Delta Variant Causing Chaos in Southeast Asia; U.S. Intelligence Community Comb Through Heaps of Data on COVID Origins; Tigray Rebels Seize UNESCO Site of Lalibela; Wildfires Burning Out of Control in Southern Europe; Calls for Pregnant to Get Vaccinated in U.K.; Climate Crisis In 2030; Mexico Sues U.S. Gun Makers Over Flow Of Firearms; New Calls For Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated; Women Of Team USA Are Racking Up Olympic Medals. Aired 3-3:45a ET

Aired August 6, 2021 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: The WHO says the delta variant is more contagious than when the virus first emerged as fears grow that a variant to worse than delta could be coming. We'll have the very latest.

Then, allegations of Pegasus spyware being used to target opposition leaders and journalists is getting its day in court. We'll hear from one news editor who claims that his phone was hacked.

And, the summer of extremes across southern Europe with a heat wave and fires. We'll get an update from Greece. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom."

New cases of coronavirus in the U.S. have now hit their highest levels in six months averaging 98,000 per day. The highly contagious delta variant is driving up new infections in almost every state and the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the surge will likely worsen if more people don't get vaccinated soon.


ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASES CONTROL & PREVENTION: If we work together, unify as a country, vaccinate everyone who is interested and unvaccinated and put our masks on to prevent disease, we could really control this in a matter of weeks. However, our model show that if we don't do so, we could be up to several hundred thousand cases per day, similar to our surge in early January.


BRUNHUBER: But there are encouraging signs that message is being heard. The U.S. says vaccination rates are again climbing with about half the population now fully vaccinated. No one is talking about new lockdowns, at least not yet, but that's not true and China, now grappling with alarming numbers of new infections.


BRUNHUBER: What you're hearing there is people in the city of Zhengzhou, suddenly confined to their high rise apartments, calling out for anyone to help. We have a team of reporters this hour covering all the angles. First, let's go to Steven Jiang in Beijing. So Steven, those stringent lockdowns in Zhengzhou, just an example, I guess, of how seriously the Chinese government is taking these latest outbreaks.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right. It is a reflection of the growing number of lockdowns we're seeing in this country. And, of course, the citywide lockdowns that we saw back in Wuhan in 2020. There are not a major metropolises yet, but authorities in some smaller cities already imposing these kind of measures on their entire population.

But, of course, small is a relative term. For example, in the central Chinese city of Zhangjiajie, a population of one and a half million, they have been under citywide lockdown for a few days. And another major city in the eastern China, Yangzhou, population four and a half million, seems to be moving in that direction as well.

And even in Wuhan, the original epicenter and now the authorities there have announced the lockdown of several residential neighborhoods after ordering citywide testing of 11 million people when fewer than 10 cases were reported.

So, all of this really reflect the growing concern of the leadership here of this continued spread of the new cluster of delta variant. The latest figure we have seen from the government, 101 new locally transmitted cases recorded on Thursday. Obviously, still a small number compared to many other parts of the world.

But here in this country, of course, they hadn't seen this for a long time. That's why you see officials across the country, not only conducting mass testing, extensive tracing, but also re-introducing draconian measures including lockdowns in many cases.

And also, in addition to these restrictions, we are seeing educational authorities announcing the delay of the new school year in many areas across the country as well. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much Steven Jiang in Beijing. Strict measures in Australia have failed to stop an alarming rise in new COVID cases, which means more lockdowns in a nation that's weary of them. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has a report.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): Anger, and frustration on the streets of Melbourne, after the Victorian government declares the start of lockdown number six. Australians unable to leave the country for more than a year, now once again, face restrictions on leaving their homes.


Virus weary demonstrators clashing with police as Australia's largest city struggle to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA PREMIER: The advice to me from the experts is that if we would await even just a few days, there is every chance that instead of being locked down for a week, this gets away from us and we are potentially lockdown until we all get vaccinated. And that's months away.

KINKADE (voice-over): Almost two-thirds of Australia's 25 million people are now under lockdown as the highly contagious delta variant spreads. Sydney has been under lockdown for over six weeks, yet it recorded its worst day of the pandemic on Thursday with a record rise in locally acquired infections.

GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA PREMIER: The delta strain is like nothing we've seen and that's why the vaccine is our key tool. Fortunately, we do have that tool now available in Australia, but we are constrained with some types of supply, obviously, which we've been talking about.

But getting -- but getting jabs into arms will massively help us reduce those case numbers and massively improve our ability to have additional freedoms moving forward.

KINKADE (voice-over): Until now, Australia had avoided some of the worst consequences of the pandemic in part, by shutting itself off from the rest of the world. Since March of 2020, the country has kept its border virtually closed.

Tourists are not allowed to enter. Australians can't leave, except under special circumstances. And tens of thousands of citizens stranded abroad have registered for government help to return home. Help, that hasn't come. After more than a year of fortress Australia, frustration is growing at home and abroad.

RODGER POWELL, TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY SERVICES AUSTRALIA: We're one of only two countries in the world where the citizens aren't allowed to leave the country, and the other is North Korea, which is not one I'd like to be held up against.

PHILLIP KOINIS, DIRECTOR, OXFORD TRAVEL: Well, I'm hoping that the more we're vaccinated, the more will allow us to be little bit more liberal in our quarantine systems, our departure systems. Right, now the exemptions are very typical to obtain and some people seem to be getting them a lot easier than others.

KINKADE (voice-over): Australia's prime minister said last week that at least 80 percent of the country's adults will have to be vaccinated for borders to reopen. But with only 20 percent of those over 16 fully inoculated against the virus, it seems fortress Australia will stay largely lock down and closed off for the foreseeable future. Lynda Kinkade, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: More restrictions are also in store for Manila as the delta variant rages in the Philippines and across southeastern Asia. Kristy Lu Stout joins us from Hong Kong. Kristy, so let's start in the Philippines. I was reading the latest lockdown policies have led to some panic. Take us through this.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're going to show you some of the scenes of panic in just a moment. In the Philippines, the capital Manila has just entered lockdown yet again. And there were these scenes that have been playing on social media. We have video of it, of chaos, breaking out in Manila as thousands of people scramble to get a COVID-19 vaccine before lockdown kicking in for about two weeks.

Video on social media shows people jostling each other, pushing each other to be first in line at these vaccine centers. And then police had to step in to separate people and to enforce social distancing. I should point out that the Philippine has the second worst outbreak in Southeast Asia of COVID-19 and the delta variant after Indonesia. And so far, only 9.3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: So then whether there are hot spots in southeastern Asia are you watching?

LU STOUT: Yes. There are number of hotspots. Countries across Asia are struggling with their worst outbreaks so far during this pandemic and it spurred as we keep talking about here on the program by two things. There's low vaccination rates as well as highly contagious delta variant.

Thailand, earlier today set another grim pandemic record today, reported a record number of deaths from COVID-19 -- 191 new deaths reported today and well over 21,000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. As we have been reporting for weeks, the Thai health system has been absolutely overwhelmed with reports of cargo warehouses in an airport in Bangkok being converted to a COVID-19 field hospital.

We know that earlier this week on Tuesday, Thailand extended this lockdown until the end of the month. That, according to CNN estimates, will affect some 40 percent of the country's population. In terms of vaccination in Thailand, only 5 percent are fully vaccinated.

Also, before we go, I want to tell you the situation in South Korea. We have learned that South Korea will extend social distancing measures for another two weeks until at least August 22nd. And South Korea, you know, continues to report over 1,000 new cases of the virus every day.

We know that the greater Seoul area under the toughest pandemic measures, the rest of the country under the second highest level. And there, in terms of vaccinations, South Korea, only 15 percent have been fully inoculated. Back to you Kim.


BRUNHUBER: Interesting. All right, thanks so much Kristy Lu Stout. Appreciate it.

LU STOUT: You got it.

BRUNHUBER: American investigators are trying to uncover where the coronavirus came from and how it became a global scourge. They have now gotten access to some genetic data, but it's turning that into definitive information is easier said than done. David Culver explains from Beijing.

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. intelligence agencies are digging through a treasure trove of genetic data that could be key to uncovering the origins of COVID-19. This is as soon as they can decipher. Multiple people familiar with the matter telling CNN that this giant catalog of information contains genetic blueprints drawn from virus samples that were studied at the lab in Wuhan.

In late May, President Biden ordered an intelligence community review into the origins of the virus. The two likely sources, natural origins, jumping from animals to humans, or a lab leak here in China. Beijing has pushed back repeatedly against that claim calling it politicized.

Now, this mountain of raw data could help narrow down the origins, but sources familiar with that effort say filling in that missing genetic link will not be enough to definitively prove whether the virus originated in a lab at Wuhan or first emerged naturally.

To do that, officials will still need to piece together other contextual clues. And it's possible that at the end of Biden's 90-day push, in just a few weeks from now, the intelligence community will not have reached what's known as a high confidence assessment as to the pandemic's origins.

Administration officials have previously suggested to CNN that it's possible a second review could be ordered at the end of the 90 days. David Culver, CNN, Beijing.

BRUNHUBER: The U.S. is urging Tigrayan forces to protect Ethiopia's extraordinary town of Lalibela after witnesses say fighters captured the UNESCO world heritage site. Lalibela is a holy site for millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and is home to 11 medieval churches.

CNN's Larry Madowo is following the story for us from Nairobi. Larry, obviously, we can't lose our focus on the human cost of this conflict, but there are other things at stake here as well. What are the concerns in Lalibela?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The concerns is that these Tigrayan fighters will now spill over into the neighboring region, might not respecting this important cultural heritage. These 11 medieval monolithic churches like you mentioned were carved out of rock in the 12th and 13th century and it remains an important cultural and religious location. It is also a major location for pilgrimage for people in Ethiopia and

beyond. And the fact that this fighting that's been going on in Tigray in the north of Ethiopia since November has now spilled over to this neighboring area and people are fleeing, just shows the danger that's there and that's why the U.S. State Department is warning the Tigrayan fighters to respect what we're talking about here.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We've seen the reports that Tigrayan forces have taken Lalibela. We call on the TPLF to protect this cultural heritage. We also call on all parties of the conflict to end the violence. As I said before, to initiate talks to achieve and negotiate a ceasefire.

And for the TPLF to withdraw its associated military forces immediately from the Amhara and Afar regions. At the same time, we renew our calls for the Amhara regional government to withdraw immediately its associated military forces from western Tigray, and for the Eritrean government to withdraw its military forces permanently from Ethiopia.

All parties, as we've said, should accelerate unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict and the commercial blockade of Tigray must come to an end.


MADOWO: The only reason we're reason we're talking about Lalibela is because the conflict in Tigray has been going on since November like I mentioned, and that has displaced more than 2 million people and it's still a situation where getting humanitarian aid to that part is a major issue.

But now, we're working to confirm exactly this reporting out of Amhara where Lalibela is located. We've reached out to the Ethiopian government to all the authorities there and the regional government of Amhara, and when we hear back, we'll obviously be updating. Sop right now, really, a worrying situation came out of the north of Ethiopia.

BRUNHUBER: All right, appreciate the update. Thanks so much Larry Madowo in Nairobi.

Ahead, wildfires near Athens appeared under control until they reignited, forcing residents to evacuate. This is a dangerous fire near a power plant in Turkey. Well, it's finally contained. We'll have the latest on "CNN Newsroom" coming up. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Scorching wildfires are ravaging parts of southern Europe as intense heat plagues the region. Turkish firefighters have managed to bring the flames that reached a critical power station under control after hundreds evacuated the area. Still more fires are tearing through the country.

For more than a week, deadly wildfires have scorched tens of thousands of hectares. And in Greece, a stubborn wildfire has roared back to life just outside of Athens. The prime minister warns the country is facing an extremely critical situation as dozens of fires ripped through the country. Journalist Elinda Labropoulou joins us now from Athens. Elinda, are they making any progress on these fires?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: They are making a progress but there seem to be new fires breaking out all the time. It's been a nightmare three days for Greece and for Athens in particular with this large fire. Where I'm standing right now, is exactly where the fire went through a few days ago, destroying dozens of homes. And now, the flames here have rekindled as well.

So, last night firefighters have again been battling a huge blaze and we understand that there is a lot of fronts, a lot of parts of northern Athens being evacuated. There are a number of other fires raging as well. The island of Evia is dealing with a huge fire where both locals and tourists have made their way to the beaches. They're being evacuated using boats and a number of other fires across the country are still burning.

The temperatures remain very high. And the country today is on very high alert because following this huge heat wave, which has lasted about a week, we now understand that we are expecting large -- strong winds in the area as well. And as you understand, that makes a very explosive mix into these circumstances.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, and I understand the prime minister was blaming climate change for these fires, but also pinpointing another cause, humans as well. What more can you tell us on this?

LABROPOULOU: Well, there seems to be a lot of questions, you know, as to how is it possible to have over 300 fires in such a small space of time, in just over three or four days. A lot of the fires broke out at a very near timeframes, and as a result, there is a lot of questions on how, whether, you know, the human factor may have been involved. And some authorities have seriously been implying that this may well be the case.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Elinda Labropoulou live from Athens.

Now its day 14 of the Summer Olympics and athletes are aiming for gold in 11 sports including the full slate of track and field events. U.S. women's A-team, April Ross and Alix Klineman have claimed the top medals in women's beach volleyball with a victory over Australia.

Meanwhile, the women's football gold medal match between Canada and Sweden has moved to later in the day because of concerns about the heat.


China, the U.S. and Japan are leading in the gold medal count so far with the U.S. ahead in total medals. And we'll have more from the Olympic Games ahead on World Sport, of course.

Ahead, experts in the U.S. say expect tens of thousands of vaccinated people to get COVID, but chances are they won't get very sick. We got the latest on the fast moving delta variant. Then, guidance keeps changing. First, pregnant women in the U.K. were told skip the vaccine. Now, they're being encouraged to get the jab. We'll discuss the latest. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassed 200 million this week fueled by the surge of the highly contagious delta variant. Here in the U.S., cases are spiking in almost every single state. It's a similar picture in Europe where cases are rising and many countries across the continent.

And despite pleas from the World Health Organization to delay booster shots until more people are vaccinated globally, Germany will go ahead with boosters from September, though it will donate 30 million vaccines to poor countries to offset the boosters.

And in Italy, health passes showing a person has been fully vaccinated will be mandatory for all school staff members beginning September 1st. In universities, it will apply to both staff and students.

And there are new calls for pregnant women to get vaccinated. A large number have avoided the vaccine fearing what could happen to their unborn child. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins me from London to explain. So Salma, how are researchers hoping to allay some of those fears?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well Kim, when vaccines were first rolled out, pregnant women were originally advised not to take the shot. That was the true in the U.S., that was true in the U.K., and it was because at the time pregnant women were not included in the initial trials so doctors said there was not evidence enough to advise them to take it.

Since that time now, of course, guidance has changed 180 degrees. Pregnant women are now being urged to get the vaccine and there is a very real risk out there under the delta variant. Pregnant people are at greater danger than ever before.

Researchers saying they have a one in seven chance that a pregnant person contracts COVID-19. They have a one in seven chance of ending up in intensive care, a one in five chance of ending up in pre-term labor. Emergency C-sections are highly likely. Still, women tell me it's really difficult to get clear guidance, Kim. Take a look.


UNKNOWN: So that tummy has got to come in.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Pregnancy in a time of pandemic comes with a big question, whether or not to get vaccinated.


UNKNOWN: Staying up at night and researching. It became slightly like an obsession.

UNKNOWN: They told women not to have it, the next minute to have it. It was a little bit confusing.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Guidance keeps changing. British officials first advised expectant mothers against vaccination. But since July, strongly urge it.

In the U.S., the CDC does not directly recommended it for pregnant people, but say they are eligible. While two leading obstetric groups say, expectant mothers should be immunized. Unable to find clear answers, Christine Coffman in Maryland decided not to get vaccinated.

CHRISTINE COFFMAN, CONTRACTED CORONAVIRUS WHILE PREGNANT: I was definitely worried about it being so new and us having a lot of research on it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): One week before her due date, she tested positive for COVID-19.

COFFMAN: At that time, I thought that I was going to die. It was terrifying knowing that I have this infection coursing through my body.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): As mom and baby got sicker, doctors performed an emergency C-section.

COFFMAN: They took her to the NICU and I didn't see my baby for two days because I had COVID.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Both are now back home, happy and healthy.

(On camera): Hello!


I just really want my story to be an advice. If you're thinking about getting the vaccine, get it.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Ninety-eight percent of expectant mothers admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in England since May were unvaccinated.

MARIAN KNIGHT, PROFESSOR OF MATERNAL AND CHILD POPULATION HEALTH: The balance is very much in favor of the benefits of vaccination versus the risks of the infection.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Initial vaccine trials did not include pregnant women, but experts point to the nearly 200,000 pregnant people now safely vaccinated across the U.S. and U.K. Back in the park, we ask if the real world evidence is enough.

(On camera): Raise your hand if you've gotten the vaccine? UNKNOWN: For me, there's not enough data there, personally, from what

I've researched to make me feel comfortable getting it.

UNKNOWN: I just felt more comfortable and safer knowing that I had some protection than no protection at all.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A majority of pregnant people in the U.S. and the U.K. remain unvaccinated, with many still waiting for answers.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Now, every single one of the pregnant people that we spoke to, Kim, told me they received conflicting information from their doctors, contradicting health advise that they found online. They said it's really difficult to make an informed decision. But there is one bit of good news. Health researchers are trying to get some of these answers. There has been a new trial that's just started here in England to figure out the best dozing strategy if you're pregnant.

This was a question that came up again and again. When is the best time to get the vaccine if you are pregnant? How far apart -- how far apart should those shots be? Now, there is a study here in England to try to address that. But of course, Kim, there are so many more questions and the plea here from pregnant people is we need clear advice. We need clear guidance, especially when there's that huge risk out there of the delta variant. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. The interview you did with the pregnant mother made the case more compellingly than any experts could, I think. Thanks so much for that. Salma Abdelaziz, appreciate it.

And coming up, we'll have more on that issue and many other COVID issues with a guest coming up later in the show. An Indian journalists are taking their government to court for allegedly using spyware to snoop on reporters and others. So next, we will talk to one news editor who says he was the target of that scheme. He'll speak to us coming up in the program. Stay with us.




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): A new study shows that millions more people will be affected by increasing flooding in the next decade. Climate scientists say that by 2030 25 countries will be added to the 32 now, dealing with increased flooding.

The numbers have already been rising. Today, 86 million more people are exposed to flooding than they were in 2000. The reasons? A combination of climate change and migration. Southern Asia, and sub- Saharan Africa are at particular risk. But scientists predict Europe and North America will experience increase in flooding as well. The report appears in the Journal Nature. Mexico's president is defending his government's lawsuit against 11

American gun manufacturers saying, it isn't an attempt to challenge the U.S. right to bear arms. Mexico, says it wants to halt the flow of firearms across the border.

As CNN's Rafael Romo explains the suit alleges the companies facilitate the illegal trafficking of weapons to drug cartels and other criminals.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice over): The issue of who is to blame for gun trafficking from the United States to Mexico has been a sore point in the relationship between the two countries for years during the best times of their relationship, especially when Barack Obama was president and Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State. The White House referred to drug and gun trafficking, as a shared problem that required a shared solution.

But this is the first time the Mexican government goes this far, filing a lawsuit Wednesday, against the living gun manufacturers over firearms that flow from the United States across the border and into criminal hands in Mexico, according to court documents obtain by CNN.

Part of the complaint says the following, "This flood -- referring to the weapons -- is not a natural phenomenon or an inevitable consequence of the gun business or of U.S. gun laws. It is a foreseeable result of the defendant's deliberate actions and business practices."

Who are the companies being targeted by the lawsuit? Among the major, brands are Smith and Wesson, Colt, and Glock. Companies that are well- known in the United States and around the world. Glock, one of the defendants told CNN that it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation. "Nevertheless," the company said in a statement, "Glock will vigorously defend this baseless lawsuit."

The other companies that not responded immediately to CNN's request for comment, but there was swift reaction from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the U.S. firearms industry. In a statement, the NSSF said the following, "These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders."

What's Mexico's reasoning behind the lawsuit? Mexican Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard said the following on his Twitter account. "We have filed a lawsuit against manufacturers and sellers of weapons that are utilized to cut life short in Mexico. We seek reparation for the harm and as that they abandoned their negligence, any responsibility." The lawsuit will be resolved in the courts in Boston.

During his daily press conference, Thursday morning, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Raul said the lawsuit is not aimed at America's second amendment rights, but rather, how guns are sold in the U.S. and how they reach his country.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


BRUNHUBER: Alright. So, before the break, we talked about how there are new calls from pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Well, joining us by phone to discuss this further is Oksana Pyzik, and she is a lecturer and global health expert at the University College London School of Pharmacy.

Thanks so much for being with us. So let's just start with making that case. Why is it so important for pregnant women to get vaccinated, when the guidance earlier, was for them to avoid getting the shot?

OKSANA PYZIK, LECTURER, GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON SCHOOL OF PHARMACY (on the phone): Yeah, that earlier guidance is really based around passing the abundance of precaution, because pregnant women were not included in the original clinical trial. But now, we have robust data of nearly 200,000 women from across the U.S. and the U.K. who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. And there have been no safety concerns. So both Moderna and Pfizer are safe in pregnancy. We do have that data to back it up now.


And what we have also -- 98 percent of women who were hospitalized while pregnant were unvaccinated. So, again, looking at the higher risk of complications, both for the mother and for the baby if they contract COVID-19, including complications like pneumonia. We know that particularly with the Delta variant, it is causing pregnant women to have more severe illness than the previous strains of the virus. So, this is why this call is coming at this time.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah, and so, you know, as you say, one of the reasons this is so urgent is that -- you know, this Delta variant proving harder to deal within. We even first suspected and now the CDC here in the U.S. is saying, if we don't vaccinate more people, we can see a surge similar to what we saw in January, because of how easily this is spread. And critically, even among the people who have been vaccinated. So, we are going to listen here to the CDC director earlier on CNN. Listen to this.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CHIEF INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIVISION, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Our vaccines are working exceptionally well, they continued to work well for Delta with regards to severe illness and death, they prevent it. But what they can't do anymore is prevent transmission.


BRUNHUBER: Again, it's important to stress that the vaccine does prevent you from getting really sick. But it doesn't stop you from transmitting it. So explain a bit more about what she means by that and how those of us who have been vaccinated should, perhaps, change our behavior accordingly? PYZIK: Absolutely. So, breakthrough infections that happen when

people have both (inaudible) the vaccine are rare, and although they do happen, the other protections that we know help, the non- pharmaceutical interventions, such as masking and indoor pretty ventilated place should remain, particularly for those who are pregnant, or who have other conditions. They should be taking these extra layers of precaution, even if double vaccinated.

But it is really important to highlight though, that the effectiveness of these vaccines in preventing hospitalizations, remain very high. And so we are able to -- while the transmission element has been reduced, the effectiveness of transmission of COVID-19. We see Delta has taken a significant hit.

However, what I think is really important here is to also highlight that we know that these -- again, for pregnant women, that they are more likely to get seriously ill, if they contract COVID-19. So, making sure they get that first and second jabs will provide a huge amount of protection. And then, again, we know that with Delta, there is a small risk of further breakthrough infection. So, those in particular that are -- we are looking at other countries, even evaluating whether a booster jab is soon to be appropriate, because of the specific reasons around transmissibility.

BRUNHUBER: Alright. So, one other issue that is really coming to the for these days with this Delta variant is the idea of vaccine passports in Canada. The province of Quebec, just announced it will establish a vaccine passport that would be required to access nonessential services, gyms, restaurants and so on. Here in the U.S. New York City, another example.

But we've also seen strong push back against this in other cities, you know, from the right, on the grounds that it curtails freedoms or from the left, that it would disproportionately impact communities of color. But advocates say, it is the only way we can avoid this constant cycle of shutdown and reopening. Do you think they have a case here?

PYZIK: I certainly think that Delta has changed the equation. So, while the nudge or the carrot approach has certainly helped to some extent, we are now in a very tight race against future variants, something that could be even more dangerous than Delta, and getting populations up to herd immunity levels. So, as you think in packets where there are resistance, we should try to ensure that those communities are engaged here in the U.K.

Particularly, we have seen that (inaudible), minorities have been more resistant towards getting the vaccine and create a solutions, such as ensuring that religious leaders and places of worship are also places where people can get their vaccines, has been really helpful in -- where in those hard to reach groups to getting that vaccination rate up.


BRUNHUBER: We will have to leave it there. I really appreciate it. We are out of time. I have to leave it there. Thank you so much Oksana Pyzik. I really appreciate it.

PYZIK: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: U.S. women athletes are taking the Olympics by storm. They've won medal after medal, many of them gold. Just moments ago, the U.S. beach volleyball duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman added to the team's total, defeating the Australian duo, who took silver.

CNN's Selina Wang has more.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Women are leading the way for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics. Nevin Harrison, bringing home the first gold medal in Olympic history, in the women's 200 meter canoe sprint. Swimming star, Katie Ledecky, earning two of them this year, including a historic victory in the Inaugural 1500 meter freestyle race.

KATIE LEDECKY, U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMER: It is an amazing feeling to be bringing home two golds and two silvers here. And to have competed in my third Olympics. It is something that I never would have imagined.

WANG: The women of U.S. swimming standing on the podium for a total of 18 medals, including Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old Alaskan becoming an unexpected champion in the 100 meter breaststroke. And in track and field, Sydney McLaughlin, breaking her own world record, speeding into first place in the 400 meter hurdles, just ahead of teammate Dalilah Muhammad.

DALILAH MUHAMMAD, U.S. OLYMPIC TRACK AND FIELD: I just want to set a good example, and be the best that I can, be and encourage people as well to be the best that they can be.

WANG: Valarie Allman, winning the gold in women's discus with a throw of 68.98 meters. And at 19-years-old, Athing Mu is now the second youngest Olympic 800 meter champion. Women have earned 11 event medals for Team USA in track and field in the game so far. Tamyra Mensah- Stock, becoming the first black woman to win Olympic wrestling gold. Team USA's women 3-on-3 basketball team earning the top spot in the inaugural tournament at the games. And in surfing, Carissa Moore, riding the waves to become the first Olympic surfing champion.

CARISSA MOORE, U.S. OLYMPIC SURFING GOLD MEDALIST: It means so much, especially coming from Hawaii, surfing is our sport. And it means a lot to bring it home. Not only for Hawaii, but the United States of America, to serve for something bigger than myself.

WANG: Women's gymnastics, winning six medals in the games, including a team silver. Sunisa Lee is taking back a full set, before she starts college this fall with a gold in the individual all-around competition.

SUNISA LEE, U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: This medal means a lot to me because there is a point in time where I wanted to quit, and I just didn't think I'd ever get here, including injuries and stuff. So, there are definitely a lot of emotions.

WANG: Simone Biles, withdrawing from the women's team final and four individual events, due to mental health concerns and a bad case of the twisties. The star gymnast returning to compete in the balance beam and ultimately walking away with the bronze medal.

SIMONE BILES, U.S. OLYMPIC GYMNAST: I'm pretty happy. I wasn't expecting two medals. I just came out here and just try to do a good beam set. Just to have one more opportunity to compete at the Olympics meant the world to me.

WANG: Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


BRUNHUBER: And we will have more from the Tokyo Olympics on "World Sport," that's next. I'm Kim Brunhuber, I'll be back with more "CNN Newsroom" at the top of the hour. Thanks for watching.