tv BBC World News America PBS January 27, 2021 2:30pm-3:01pm PST
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ narrator: funding for presentation of this program is provided by.. the freeman foundation. by judy and peter blum-kovler foundation. pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you, thank you. woman: and now, "bbc world news".
washington, d.c. and this is "bbc world news america." the united states has seen covid infections and hospitalizations inch down in recent days, as the biden administration puts science front and center. south africa calls for a fairer global distribution of covid-19 vaccines as it battles its own new mutation of the virus. >> in this world that we live in with this coronavirus, no one is safe. laura: u.s. president joe biden signals a new course for the nation's environmental policy. an upcoming summit will be vital. >> ameri's population has remained faithful with trying to remain faithful to paris. so, yes, we have a sense of embarrassment of what donald trump did. laura: blessed, the games --
plus, the games must go on. officials say the tokyo games take place this summer as athletes try to find ways to train. ♪ welcome to world news america on pbs and around the globe. the first official covid briefing of the biden administration was a more state event from those under president trump. mr. biden was noticeably absent, as he turned the spotlight on scientists and health officials. but it comes as a situation in the u.s. starts to look a little more promising. since january 12, the number of people hospitalized with covid across the u.s. has been steadily decreasing. just under 110,000 people are still in hospital.
too many, but still an improvement. on january 2 there were 300,000 new cases of covid-19. yesterday, that number was just under 150,000. at the briefing today, the new head of the cdc says she was encouraged by the numbers, but cautious. >> though i am encouraged by these trends, our case rates remain extra nearly high, and now is the time term in vigilant. but if we are united in action, we can turn things around. continuing to expand safe, effective vaccination is key to ending the covid-19 pandemic, and bringing our country back to health. laura: during that same briefing, a doctor said the cdc produce u.s. deaths will reach as many as 514,000 by february 20. join us now is an emergency physician and yaho news medical contributor. thank you for being with us.
what do you think is behind the fact that in recent days we are seeing a drop in the number of covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, even thoug the death rate is still very high? guest: first of all, thank you for having me. one of the reasons why is because when we had the most recent surge, many states, including one of our most populous states, california, actually put in strict restrictions around mask wearing, physical distancing, social gathering, and indoor dining. so we're seeing because of policies on a state level, a decrease in the number of cases unfortunately, we will probably see a bump in deaths over the next few weeks, because they are a lagging indicator. but we are seeing these public health measures start to work. laura: that is a relief. and we are also going to see more vaccines here in the u.s.
at what point do you think the vaccines will have an effect on the spread of the pandemic? guest: there has been some modeling that has been done, and we probably will not see significant impact of the vaccine on viral transmission until the summer. so that is why it isven more important that we get public messaging out there that we need individuals to engage in a collective response. that we still need everyone, despite the caseload going down, to wear masks and physical distance. it is still incredibly important because the vaccines are still just trickling out. they are not making a significant difference. it will not be until the summer that we have a critical mass of americans actually vaccinated. laura: and you are in new york city, where there has been a lot of vaccine hesitancy, even with the very few doses of the vaccine you have seen, amongst communities of color. the biden administration is
putting a big emphasis on equity. do you think their plans are going to work for encouraging people of color to take the vaccine? guest: i do think that it has to be a multi-pronged approach. there has to be an extensive and expensive public campaign about advocating for vaccines, but also we have to make sure vaccines are accessible to everyone, especially in the hardest hit areas. so we make vaccines accessible and we educate people, i think we will be able to increase vaccine uptake in these communities. laura: thank you so much for joining us with that analysis. guest: thank you for having me. laura: south african officials are calling for a more fair global distribution of covid-19 vaccines, telling the bbc that britain and other wealthier nations will not be safe until everyone is safe. britain and the u.s. have moved
to restrict travelers from south africa because of an aggressive new mutation of the virus there. one of south africa's top scientists described the move as almost silly. our correspondent now reports from johannesburg. reporter: live samples of covid-19 are handled in a secure south african laboratory. scientists are racing to understand more about a sudden surge of mutations. the virus has already become far more infectious. but there are signs it might also have at least some resistance to current vaccines. >> when we look at the variant -- reporter: but south africa's leading covid expert told me his biggest concern was that the virus is clearly mutating so fast. >> we are going to see this occurring much more commonly. i think that is the message. and if it is going to occur more commonly, we are going to have to ensure that our vaccines are able to neutralize them.
because if they are not, that means we are back to square one. reporter: right now, south african hospitals are battling a huge second wave of infections, a wave driven by the new mutations. but scientists here have criticized today's news by britain to restrict travelers from south africa, saying there is no point in singling out countries or even regions. >> it is almost silly, trying to lock a country. because we know how fast this virus spreads. reporter: so by the time you try to block visitors from one country, it's too late? >> that is what the pandemic has shown. reporter: and there is another key point that south africa is making today. about the rollout of vaccines. urging richer nations not tbe selfish and -- not to be selfish and horrid supplies. if that happens, the virus will remain free to keep circulating,
mutating, and threatening all of us. >> fundamentally, there's a mistaken belief by some countries that they can vaccinate their populations and then they will be safe. it simply is not true. in this world that we live in, with this coronavirus, no one is safe until everyone is safe. reporter: can the world show that kind of unity? here in south africa, more than 100,000 deaths are now being linked to the pandemic. a fast mutating virus requires an aggressive and collective global response. andrew harding, bbc news, johannesburg. laura: on that point of the collective global response, america's new top diplomat spent his first day on the job speaking with the u.s. top allies. antony blinken phoned his counterparts in mexico, canada, japan, and south korea, to reassure them of america's
commitment to international cooperation. he also promised he will work to rebuild the ranks. let's go now to former member of the u.s. state department, and a professor at georgetown university. thank you so much for being with us. antony blinken said today he has already picked up from the u.s. allies after spending the day on the phone, a strong desire to come back to the table. but how difficult is it going to be for the u.s. to rebuild global alliances? guest: it is going to be a major challenge. first of all, what he has promised, secretary blinken, is the re-professionalization of the state department, deep politicization of the state department, and replenishing its ranks, because they were really depleted in the trump era. so, he's going to have to restore confidence again among america's allies, that the u.s. really needs to work with them, to cooperate with them, and listen to them.
but i have a sense there is a lot of goodwill there, because most of our allies would really like to restore a good working relationship with the united states. laura: what do ucsd first test of whether the -- what do you see as the first test of whether we can work with america's allies? guest: china will be the major issue dominating foreign policy moving forward. we have to work with our european allies and with our asian allies on that. there, the viewsay be somewhat different on what kind of economic relationship to have with it. i think another challenge will be the united states returning to the iran nuclear agreement. i think our allies would like that. but it is not going to be easy. there, of course obviously, you do have to work with the russia. on other iues like climate, i think there is a great
willingness to cooperate. and then we may have other challenges that arise, and of course dealing with russia will be a major one there. laura: and you have your book, "putin's world,," behind you. with this question of alexey navalny, the russian dissident who has been arrested, antony blinken said he had not yet made a decision on sanctions. what do you think is the appropriate u.s. response to draw a line between this administration and the last one? guest: one of the things antony blinken and president biden have already talked about is to restore human rights as a major focus of u.s. foreign policy. so youre going to see a different approach to dealing with countries around the world in terms of making -- in terms of human rights records. having said that, it is a real challenge to find the appropriate response to this, because the u.s. and other countries, they have limited impact on what president putin
is going to do in terms of the sentence that alexey navalny gets. what he himself has suggested is sanctioning a number of people close to president putin. you can make arguments for doing that, but you convened -- you can be under no illusion that this will change mr. putin's mind about how they treat alexey navalny. and working with allies will be very important, particularly european allies. but this is why secretary blinken said we need to take time and figure out what is the most appropriate response. and that will tie into other issues, too. laura: thank you so much for joining us. guest: thank you. laura: we must leave the global response, so said president joe biden today, he unveiled a series of executive actions are limited shot -- related to climate been. they include a goal of doubling
offshore wind energy over the next decades. a 180 degrees turn from the previous u.s. administration, which largely turned its back on international efforts to address climate change. our chief climate reporter. reporter: if ever america needed a warning of what climate change could mean for the country, it got it last year with record wildfires, and an unprecedented series of hurricanes. there's no time to waste, president biden said today. >> we cannot wait any longer. we see it with our own eyes, we feel it, we know it in our bones. and it is time to act. reporter: and by appointing one of the country's most senior politicians, john kerry, as his climate envoy, joe biden is demonstrating once more that tackling climate change will be at the heart of his presidency. >> it is clearly one of his very top priorities. it is why he rejoined the paris agreement within hours of being sworn in as president.
that is why today, he has issued executive orders mobilizing every department, every agency of the u.s. government, to focus on climate. reporter: california has experienced record drought as well as record fires in recent years, evidence that even one of the richest states in the richest nation on earth can't immunize itself against the kind of weather climate change is expected to bring. >> heat, cold, all of these weather patterns, aren't in and of themselves that strange. it is a frequency with which they are happening and how unpredictable everything is. and it is very difficult for a farmer. reporter: john kerry was instrumental in negotiating the landmark level climate accord in paris in 2015, when he was president obama's secretary of state. he says a key objective now is
to persuade other nations to raise their carbon cutting game in the run-up to the big global climate summit glasgow will be hosting in september. >> glasgow will be extremely important. in fact, i would say in my judgment, it's the last, best chance the world has to come together in order to do the things we need to do to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis. reporter: the u.k. government, as host of the conference, will be hosting -- hoping his efforts pay off. in his first interview since becoming full-time president of the summit, he says having a u.s. administration really engaged on the climate issue is good news, indeed. >> i think it is great to have the u.s. administration back at the table on the global fight against climate change. i think what is incredibly encouraging is that within hours of the inauguration being completed, president biden, one of the first executive orders he signed was to rejoin the paris agreement.
reporter: it is only a week since the new administration took power, and it has already taken big steps to reverse trump's policies on climate. but the agenda is ambitious, and both joe biden and john kerry no, their -- know, their efforts will have to overcome opposition from within the u.s. laura: all change on climate change in the u.s. too. in other news, the u.s. department of homeland security declared a nationwide domestic terrorism alert. it says there is a potential threat from antigovernment extremists opposed to president joe biden. the advice comes as washington remains on high alert after hundreds of trump supporters charged into the capitol building as congress was formally certifying president biden's election victory three weeks ago. ghana's former president has been laid to rest. he died in november at 73 after a short illness. he's being a member it as one of
africa's most charismatic and controversial politicians, credited with maintaining ghana's stability. and for returning the party to multicountry democracy in 1992. the leader of the catholic church in ireland as apologize for the role they played in the abuse of thousands of unmarried women. many were forced into working asylums known as laundries in northern ireland. the archbishop said he was truly sorry for the church's contribution to a culture of concealment, condemnation, and self-righteousness. you're watching bbc world news america. still to come tonight, in honor of international holocaust remembrance day, we will look at how campaigners are fighting to prevent new genocides. now, and in the future. ♪
around europe over the shortage of coronavirus vaccines is escalating. the eu says astrazeneca is reneging on their commitments. astrazeneca admits they are having technical issues. reporter: it is definitely not going as well as in other countries. for for example, the eu has managed to vaccinate around 2% of its population so far. you might want to compare that with the u.s., where it's 7%, and in the u.k. it is 10%. obviously the u.k.'s vaccination rate is partly because they have centralized nhs health service system which seems to be working well. it is also of course because the u.k. was very quick out of the blocs when it came to approving vaccines. both the pfizer vaccine which it did before christmas in december, and also the oxford
astrazeneca vaccine, which it approved just around the new year. ♪ laura: the international olympic committee has assisted the tokyo games will indeed take place the summer, despite covert concerns. their president said speculation over the event was hurting the athletes and officials are working on coronavirus precautions for every possible scenario. reporter: in the world's biggest city, a state of emergency continues, and the pressure is building. despite growing public unease, tokyo is preparing to host sport's -- organizers have dismissed claims the games will be canceled. today after a crunch ioc meeting came more reassurances from the man in charge. >> we are not speculating of whether the games are taking place.
we are working on how the games will take place. that means we have to put covid countermeasures together for every possible scenario. reporter: with the billions of pounds having been spent on preparations, organizers are set to reveal the rules they hope will make the athletes, village, and the venue safe, despite the arrival of tens of thousands of competitors and officials. whether spectators cabe present remains unclear. already qualified, a top climber is set to make history in tokyo in the sport's first ever appearance at an olympics. she has adapted her home to continue training, telling me she is unsure if she will get to realize her dream. >> my honest answer is i have no idea. i do not know if the games will or will not go ahead. it's an impossible situation because are so many decisions have to be made. there is still so much time before the games that i have to
get my head down and work very hard to get ready. reporter: hopes have been raised by the prospect of vaccinations, which will be encouraged but not mandatory. but an ompic triple jump legend, who represents athletes around the world, says opinions remain mixed. >> it has been almost split down the middle. my teammates, whether it's friends abroad, if i say how do you feel about going into the summer, some say i am going no question, and some say i don't know if the risk is worth it. we just want to give athletes a voice and for them to say they are comfortable to do it or not, and this is why. reporter: 4.5 years ago the message from the next post was clear, but now tokyo remains shrouded in uncertainty, with much at stake for japan, athletes, and the olympic movement. laura: what will happen this summer? today marks international holocaust remembrance day. a chance to room embley horrors of world war ii.
but because of the pandemic, there have been few public commemorations. we have been speaking to holocaust survivors. reporter: auschwitz today. no rituals of remembrance. in the time of the pandemic. ♪ but for the survivors, a dwindling generation. commemoration is taking place in small groups. here, at a london retirement home run by the charity, jewish care. >> behold, god of abraham, god of mercy. open your eyes, as you have opened mine. open your eyes and see what i have seen. reporter: memory does not live within the boundaries of a single day.
>> my father, who is not a religious man, he took me by the hand, and i will never forget what he said to me. god will protect you. then i kissed my brother. they were trying to push us apart, and i saw them leaving. reporter: you never saw your brother again? >> that was it. yeah. reporter: holocaust memorial day remembers the dead. but it's also a warning for all times about the price of extremism. the bloody cost of promises built on hatred. >> after auschwitz, when we came back people said we have learned our lesson, never again, auschwitz. that was the motto. but look around. there's more discrimination, more hatred than ever before.
reporter: this is a day of great absences. >> it took me 50 years, 5-0. i kept on and on. i want to see a photograph of my mother. i don't know what emotions i'm feeling. sad. and especially on days like holocaust memorial day, when families are together, and i sit there alone. reporter: genocide begins with the plans of powerful men. but always ends in the ruin of individual lives. millions upon millions of them. narrator: funding for presentation of this program is provided by.. the freeman foundation.
by judy and peter blum-kovler foundation. pursuing solutions for america's neglected needs. and by contributions to this pbs station from viewers like you, thank you. ♪ ♪ man: you're watching pbs. narrator: stream the best of pbs on any device with the pbs video app. all your favorite drama, history, science, news, and documentaries all in one place. watch your pbs station live or catch up on the shows you missed. discover new favorites from pbs and locally produced shows from your station. get the pbs video app now and stream the best of pbs anytime. anywhere.
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, the biden agenda-- the new administration lays out its plan to tackle the urgent global climate crisis. we speak to white house climate advisor gina mccarthy about the ever-present emergency. then, making sense of the stock market frenzy. we break down what is driving the volatility. and, searching for justice-- mothers leaving prison face an uphill battle re-entering society and reconnecting with their families. >> i can attest from my personal experience, when one person goes to prison, thentire family