tv BBC World News America PBS December 8, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
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announcer: and now, "bbc world news". ♪ laura: i am laura trevelyan in washington and this is "bbc world news america." pfizer says it's booster will defend against the omicron variant. that is encouraging, but do we need three doses to be fully ccinated? the prime minister announces new restrictions for england as he is in hot water. the u.k. leader is doubling down on the new rules. a new era for germany as olaf scholz is sworn in as the country's new chancellor. he replaces angela merkel who held the post for 16 years. plus, his works are minuscule, but his message is global. we meet the artist whose autism
helped shape his craft. ♪ welcome to world news america on pbs and around the globe. there is encouraging news tonight on the fight against the new coronavirus strain. pfizer says three shotsf its vaccine can neutralize the omicron variant. that is according to early data which is not been published or peer-reviewed yet, but two doses of the vaccine may not be enough to stop omicron. it is shaping our understanding of what fully vaccinated means. reporter: a small study by pfizer biontech has suggested three doses of their covid vaccine produces sufficient antibodies to neutralize the omicron variant. with two doses likely to stop severe disease. it is not real world evidence,
but it underlines the vital nature of boosting immunity. >> we are turbocharging the program again. we have almost 3000 centers, we have opened more vaccine centers that we have ever had. we are recruiting 42,000 extra volunteers. and of course we freed up gp's so they can spend more time vaccinating. reporter: it is a year to the day since margaret became the first person in the world to get the pfizer vaccine outside of a trial. reunited with the nurse who gave her the jab. 92 next week, she urged those still unvaccinated to come forward. >> please, please do. do get the jab. because it does save your life and the life of your friends and family. reporter: you are a global icon now. >> i am? people meet me in the street and say, oh you know, thank god for you, because i was not going to
have this jab. it is lovely to hear that. reporter: since then, more than 51 million people in the u.k. have been vaccinated. but the pandemic is still far from over. laura: let's bring in a doctor from houston, texas who is a vaccine expert with the baylor college of medicine. welcome to the program. so, are you eouraged by this pfizer news that the easter will apparently protect us against omicron? but does it mean we need three doses to be fully vaccinated? >> the answer is a cautious yes to both, and here is why. once you get that third immunization after a six-week -- six month lag or longer, you get a 25 to 40-fold rise on average of your virus neutralizing antibody. and that has the ability to cross protect or spillover because the vaccine was developed against the original lineage but it can cross over
both to the delta variant and now we have just learned against the omicron variant. i have been saying since last january this was always a three dose vaccine by design because we give those first two doses so close together. we knew immunity would wane and we would always need this third dose. my only caution about all of this is when pfizer made the statement, they looked at the high levels of virus neutralizing antibody immediately after the third dose and we do not know how quickly immunity will wane after the third dose. the hope is it will be producing a prolonged and assistant immune response lasting months or years, but there is some reported on published coming out of germany suggesting it may be short-lived. that is what we need to know in the coming days. we now know it will give you a better immune response and protect you against omicron, but how long? laura: indeed.
meanwhile in the united kingdom, they are reporting omicron infections are dbling every few days. there is going to be a work from home from monday. do you think something similar will happen here in the united states with omicron? >> it will, but it is also important to keep it in perspective. when you hear about a doubling in the u.k., were member what that means. you are goingrom 200 new cases to 400 new cases with the background of 40,000 cases of delta on a daily basis. no question this will accelerate in the u.k. and the u.s. we still have a lot of unknowns, including whether omicron has the ability to ultimately outcompete ot displays the delta variant. so i think at least for the coming weeks into the christmas holidays into early january, we should anticipate that will have likely both variants in play with delta being the overelming problem right now,
but omicron may become more of an issue. laura: there are two covid pills which will soon be on the market here in the united states. with the booster shots and some evidence that omicron causes milder illness, could there be light at the end of the tunnel, at least here in the u.s.? >> i think the antiviral drugs will help. paxil obit from pfizer to meet looks more promising. one of the things that is not very clear right now, there there was a suggestion that paxl ovid would only be given to those unvaccinated. i think that is a big mistake given we may see a fair number of breakthrough infections in people who have only gotten two doses and we do not know how long the third dose will last. no question compared to a year ago at this time we are so much better prepared and we have more tools in our toolbox but we have
to use them wisely and that has not always been the case. laura: thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you. laura: that u.k. prime minister has announced a new set of covid rules for england as omicron cases are doubling every few days. there is new guidance for people to work from home from monday. even before then starting friday, masks will have to be worn in many enclosed places including theaters and restaurants. and people will need to show proof of vaccination, or what is known as a vaccine passport, to enter public venues with large crowds. the timing of these new researches has raised eyebrows though, because boris johnson has been taking heat over a leaked video showing his staff joking about a rule-busting christmas party last year. a top official has now resigned. our political editor explains all. reporter: boris johnson stuck with two ugly problems mashed
together. what happened under his own roof, which has sickened some of the public, and what he reckons needs to happen now to push back the virus. the danger tonight is the fiasco of problem one, makes problem two much harder to solve. with the variant spreading at lightning speed, he and the country's most senior scientists were back on the platform. >> we cannot yet assume that omicron is less severe than previous variants. so while the picture may get better, and i sincerely hope it will, we know the remorseless logic of expert agile growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalizations and deaths. that is why it is neither proportionate and the responsible thing to move to plan b in england. reporter: how can you stand exactly where some of your team laughed and joked about covid rules and now tell people they must follow your new instructions?
and are you really asking the public to believe that you have no idea what was going on under your own roof? >> the british public, notwithstanding the point that you make, can see the vital importance of the medical information that we are giving. reporter: the usually icy cool professor seemed angry too, but pleaded to separate political shenanigans from protecting health. >> people get very angry, including colleagues and friends, when they feel it's unfair. the prime minister said it today. that is quite different from people, i think, wanting to actually know what is going on, and then make decisions. i think they need to be separated. reporter: the reason for that outrage is apparent in confirmation in a practice press conference that there was a power -- a party in downing street last christmas when socializing was banned for all. >> it was a business meeting,
and it was not socially distant. reporter: one of the aides he was laughing -- who was laughing emerged from her house today. those jokes turning to tears. denying the party would not have been her decision, and she has paid with her job. >> seemed to make light of the rules, rules people were doing everything to obey. that was never my intention. i will regret those remarks for the rest of my days, and i offer my profound apologies to all of you at home. to all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness, and who struck out with your businesses, i am truly sorry. this afternoon i am offering my resignation to the prime minister. thanks for your time. reporter: there is no chance her exit will be the end of questions to boris johnson. at lunchtime, he started with an apology and the promise of an investigation. >> i understand and share the anger up and down the country at seeing number 10 staff seeming
to make light of lockdown measures. and i can understand how infuriating it must be to think that the people who have been setting the rules have not been following the rules. mr. speaker, because i was also furious to see that clip. and mr. speaker, i apologize, i apologize unreservedly. i've asked the cabinet secretary to establish all the facts. >> the prime minister, the government, spent the week telling the british public there was no party. all guidance was followed completely. millions of people now think the prime minister was taking them for fools, and that they were lied to. reporter: even behind the mask, his cabinet colleagues, wishing they were anywhere but there. yet the mess is enough for them to -- >> the prime minister has the
only right and moral choice left to him. his resignation. reporter: and a moment for mp's to raise the agony of constituents who lost loved ones. >> she is devastated and appalled at recent revelations as to what has gone on in downing street. >> it is something i will never get over. reporter: that was jane, who lost her father and sister, too. >> when i saw that video, it sickened me. i was disgusted by it thinking how can they laugh when so many people are going through so much heartache and pn. i find it very hard to take instruction from the government, especially after this. it leaves me not trusting them. i feel it's been lie after lie. this is the nail in the coffin. reporter: this is a miserable and dangerous moment for downing street.
it is not just about whether a few dozen staff had drinks there last year, but whether you can put your faith in what government says from day-to-day, or guidance or even demands from ministers for what you have to do. with the virus creeping back and tighte restrictions too, it's no time for authority for be draining away. yet just listen to how the health secretary was heckled by some tory mp's tonight. as he outlined e tighter rules, one even called out, resign. does this sound like a party happy out what they are being asked to do? >> why should people at home do things that people working in number 10 downing street are not prepared to do? reporter: the prime minister may be pushinghe button on plan b to cope with the pandemic, but this christmas, boris johnson may need a plan b for his leadership, too. laura: that was laura kuenssberg
reporting. there has been a changing of the guard in germy. olaf scholz has been sworn in as the new chancellor. he replaces angela merkel who stepped down after 16 years in office. he is only the fourth chancellor of germany in nearly 40 years. as our correspondent now reports from berlin. reporter: in the powerful heart of europe, a new political era has begun. no pomp, little ceremony. olaf scholz is not known for his charisma or stirring speeches, but the social democrat and former finance minister's style, his manner, his politics, remind many germans of angela merkel. and they like him for it. he had promised the country a new government for christmas. his other pledge is to create a fairer, more liberal society and a climate-friendly country, they
may be harder to keep. >> angela merkel has done a great job but i think now it is time for something new, something more green. >> n we have something different. but they have to prove themselv reporter: that he managed to form a government at all is seen some is nothing short of a miracle. he will have to hold together an unusual coalition. the social democrats, the greens, and free democrats are not natural bedfellows. this is an historic day for germany and there is a sense of excitement that political change is unfolding. but the rest of the world wants to know is if this marks a significant shift in germany's wider positions and policies. for now it seems the answer is no. olaf scholz champions the eu, likes and multilateral approach. they will stick to nato commitments. you might see some shift on russia and china, in tone at
least, if not in substance. this man was once angela merkel's foreign policy advisor. >> the outside world will be surprised that there will be much more continuity than change. there are many people who like to have this stability in germany. reporter: after 16 years, the merkel era is over. earlier, she wished mr. scholz luck. he will need it. the chancellor's first task, to develop a reputation for managing a crisis. jenny hill, bbc news, berlin. laura: in other news from around the world, that u.k., australia and canada have joined the u.s. diplomatic boycott of the winter olympics in beijing next year, confirming they will not sent officials or politicians to the games. athletes will still be able to compete, however.
the boycott is a protest over china's human rights record. french officials have released a saudi man held in connection with a murder, claiming he was a victim of steak and identity up it the man was arrested yesterday at an airport in paris. the saudi royal guard with the me name and age is -- you are watching "bbc world news america." still to come tonight, afghanistan's empty classrooms. we report on the growing ustration of women and girls who are being denied an education by the taliban. in the's time -- india's top military commander has died in a helicopter crash. his wife and 11 others were killed whenhe helicopter was crying and foggy conditions and crashed in the hills. reporter: the general was killed
today in that helicopter crash in south india. he was on board with his wife and another of under -- other defense officials. he was the chief of the defense staff here in india, a very powerful role in the country, overseeing the army, navy, and the air force. he was very close to india's prime minister no narendra modi, who paid tribute to him today. he said he modernized india's armed forces and security apparatus. described him as exceptional. the general oversaw a number of key military operations here in india. so this is a very big day in india and it is big news here and any people are mourning his loss. laura: girls in afghanistan not
to be allowed to attend secondary school until a new education policy is approved. that is what a taliban education minister told the bbc. as part of our 100 women caesar -- series, teenage girls have told the bbc of growing deation. reporter: a school classroom suspended in time. on the board, an old physics flesh and -- physics lesson which may never be finished. this is what most schools look like since he taliban took control, and it is having a devastating impact. we have spoken to dozens of teachers and girls across a third of afghanistan's provinces to understand how their lives have changed. >> i am 16 years old. not being able to study feels a death penalty. i wanted to become a surgeon, but i am hopeless now. these days, i am doing nothing. i am lost. >> i am 17 years old. when i see my clothes and books
sitting in my cupboard without being used, i get very upset. i was dreaming of becoming a midwife, but these days i'm frozen. reporter:ut the school closures are not nationwide. despite the ban, a handful of provinces have resumed teaching. a northern city is one of the few places teenage girls can go to high school. >> it does not feel the same as before. roots of taliban fighters with large guns approach schoolgirls on the streets. they tell uso make sure our hair and mounts are not visible. as a result, around a third of my class has stopped coming to school. we are shivering with fear. reporter: the taliban say they do not want to stop girls education. they are waiting for what they call a safe environment. in the meantime, they are shocked any girl schools are open at all. >> i am surprised.
officially we have not given them permission to reopen. but we did not tell our soldiers to stop girls by force. but officially in our policy, we did not allow anyone. llions of children --ies worn as the humanitarian crisis continues, school closures are just one of a growing list of problems girls face. when head teacher told us many of her pupils will not survive the winter. laura: now to the inspiration behind tiny works of art. will lard wiggin is best known for creating pieces so small, you can only see them through a microscope. they are on the eye of a needle or the head of a pin. the artist described how his autism inspired his success. >> there is a saying best things come in small packages. reporter: he became world famous
his minuscule works of art which can sit in the head of a needle. even the queen has a tiny crown at buckingham palace. but what many people did not know is he is autistic, and it's something he spoke to children about. >> scientists cannot explain my work. they say this is impossible. how could a human being do this? the world needs to understand that autism is not -- >> i was quite surprised because of what he has come from. i was surprised he still kept on going. >> he made me feel like i could do more than i think i could, because he's overcome quite a lot. and as someone who has dyslexia, i know what it is like to face hard things. so now it makes me feel like i can actually overcome problems. reporter: willard was brought up -- his autism was not diagnosed
until he was 50, but his late mo m recognized his difference and remains his inspiration to this day. >> one time i carved a little bird on the toothpick. it was too big. i started to say to myself if i do not make it real small, my mom would not appreciate it. my mom would say the diamond is in the dustbin. pele would throw it in the bed and not realize what is in there. that is what autistic people are, they are diamonds. reporter: the techniques he uses are fascinating. he also has a photographic memory. >> the greatest -- to create this type of artwork i have to slow down my breathing, working between my heartbeat, i have to make sure the polls in my finger -- pulse in a finger does not cause a problem. when you are working on this microscopic level you have external forces that interfere. i have to avoid that by working at night to avoid vibration or anything. it's like try to put a pin
through a bubble without bursting the bubble. reporter: it ranges from a dragon to a box, and can be seen at the birmingham contemporary art gallery. the exhibition here opened four months ago and he is now on permanent display. he described it as his gift to his home city. laura: before we go, for those of you celebrity christmas, decorating the tree can be a creative challenge. but imagine putting up 400 of them. yes. this german couple set up 444 christmas trees in their house, a world record for the most in one place. and every single tree is decorated differently. the couple have 10,000 christmas balls and 300 strings of light. and they are very pleased to be holding the guinness world record after a few years of trying. but what about the cleanup? it is bad enough with just one
tree. i am laura trevelyan. thank you so much for watching "bbc world news america." ♪ narrator: funding for this presentation of this program is provided by... narrator: financial services firm, raymond james. narrator: funding was also 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. ♪ ♪ narrator: you're watching pbs. ♪ da-da-da-duh-da-da-da♪ ♪ da-da-da-da-da-da ♪♪
judy: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight. fighting the mandate -- the debate over vaccine requirements takes shape in congress as even some democrats push back on the president. then. religion at the court -- the justices hear a case about whether government funding can be used for religious education. plus. abuse in the ranks -- history is made as a congressional deal takes the reporting of sexual assault out of the military chain of command. and. on trial -- the police officer who shot daunte wright during a traffic stop in a minneapolis suburb sees her case go to court. all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. p♪