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CDC Labels Current Ebola Outbreak As Biggest And Most Complex; Big Pharma's Role In Developing Ebola Vaccine; Investing In Africa; The New Virtual College Tour; American Success Story
Aired August 9, 2014 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN GUEST HOST: I'm Poppy Harlow in for Christine Romans, this CNN Money.
Nearly 1,000 are dead, about twice that number infected from the deadly virus in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. The CDC calls it as the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. The World Health Organization calls it an international health emergency. And yet there's no vaccine. Why not? It might come down to money.
It costs millions and millions of dollars to develop new vaccine. Big Pharma needs a big incentive to spend that. And some health experts say that doesn't exist with Ebola, a disease that breaks out sporadically. In fact, only when there's an outbreak that real money starts to rush in.
Check out the stock chart for Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, it's a Vancouver-based company working on an Ebola treatment. Investors sent shares is climbing earlier this week but when CNN's doctor, Sanjay Gupta, broke the story that the serum given to those two Americans infected with Ebola was actually made by a different company, shares tanked. And it could be a roller coaster ride for those shares going forward now that the FDA is getting closer to allowing experimental use of Tekmira's drug. Clearly, investors are betting on which treatment will ultimately win FDA approval but in the meantime, people are dying.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is CNN's Chief Medical correspondent, he has been all over the story really for months. Sanjay, let's just get right to it, do the economics of drug development play a role here and why there is no Ebola vaccine.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they definitely do and that was a fascinating graphic to see as well. We just see that play out over this past week. What is interesting, when it comes to Ebola, it's not a particularly complicated virus. There are some viruses that -- and some diseases where it's just very hard to develop a vaccine, the scientific cost are really challenging. This Ebola virus is just seven genes, human bodies have 20,000 genes, just to give you some context.
But I think it comes down to numbers, you know, how many people would actually end up being a candidate for this vaccine. Certainly, as you mentioned, during outbreaks, the numbers would go up but on a routine level, the numbers would probably be a lot lower, there wouldn't be as much demand. But there's also another part of this, Poppy, and that is in order to get these things approved, you've got to go through a clinical trial process and for that, you also need numbers.
You need people to be in those trials. You need to compare people who have been exposed and infected with the Ebola, compare it to people who have not. And you do that in large numbers of people and that's, you know, thankfully in some ways, hard to find. So, I think the economics play a role in many different ways here, Pop.
HARLOW: And, you know, Sanjay, as you all know, there're these four different experimental drugs in early stages of testing right now.
Ebola now on U.S. soil for the first time with those Americans being treated at Emory, does this raise the urgency? Do you get the sense from all the government officials in this sector that you know? Does this raise the urgency for the government and Big Pharma to really try to fast track this to the market? Are they paying more attention now?
GUPTA: I think no question. They're paying more attention. I don't think this was on anybody's radar even a few months ago, maybe even a couple of months ago. Remember, this has been going on now since March but I think as the numbers have grown, more countries involved, there's been a lot of focus, there's congressional testimony about this this week asking some tough questions of people who are responsible for this sort of thing.
I think what's interesting now is they got a sort of this you say, pick the one that they're going to put there. Their resources behind and really push forth. Tekmira is sort of interesting because it had -- actually, it was further along than ZMap, the drug that was used on those two Americans. Tekmira, that has actually been tested on some human volunteers before where ZMap had not.
GUPTA: And they're all pretty effective. I mean Tekmira was 100 percent effective --
GUPTA: -- if given to people within an hour of exposure and it still stayed effective even if it was given a couple days after exposure. So what's really interesting and I think, good news potentially is that there's going to be some good options and now, because of what's happening, the economic part of it that may have been an obstacle in the past --
GUPTA: -- is sort of being moved out of the way and they're just saying, "Let's go and let's try and make sure --
GUPTA: -- we can make this world widely available. HARLOW: Let's hope so. You know, I want to play you a clip we found really interesting. It's from Edward R. Murrow's interview with Jonas Salk about the polio vaccine. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD R. MURROW, CBS ANCHOR: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
JONAS SALK, MEDICAL RESEARCHER AND VIROLOGIST: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. This is -- could you patent the sun?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Well, you know Salk is praised by some as a moral champion because of that. Is it realistic in this world and knowing the economics of these things and how much R&D cost even for drugs that don't end up working or making any money. Is that realistic?
GUPTA: You know, I got chills when I watched that. I watched that when I was a medical student and I think it is such a morally powerful statement. And I don't know the answer to that question, Poppy. Maybe you know better than I do. And you know, it depends I guess how much, you know, people want to profit off of misery, you know, in some ways. And I hate the piece of blunt about it but that's ultimately what it is.
No doubt, you know, you need money to be able to do the trials and all that and obviously, you want to be able to continue to incentivize companies to do that, but you know, are they suppose to get rich off of people being saved from Ebola. I, you know, I --
GUPTA: -- I don't know. I'd come down on side of Salk on this one.
HARLOW: Yes. It is even fascinating to go back and listen to that after so many years and looking at the suffering that is going on mainly in West Africa, but also in our shores now, in Europe with that priest in Spain infected. You know, I appreciate the insight expertise on this, Sanjay, throughout. Thanks so much.
GUPTA: Thanks for that, Poppy. Thanks for having me.
Well the Ebola epidemic isn't stopping U.S. companies from setting their sights on African markets. I want to bring Zain Asher. Zain, you spent the week at a very well-time Africa summit is here in Washington. The President was there, he spoke about the youth, spoke with some CEOs of some of the biggest companies in this world about doing this in Africa right now?
ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually. So Ebola is not going to be a deterrent when it comes to investing in Africa.
HARLOW: Right. ASHER: Not only does the continent have massive gross potential with some countries during (ph) elevate five to seven percent, but it's also out of a continent that has a billion people, the number of Ebola cases are relatively small. Just about 2000 cases total. The CEOs I spoke with said that, "Listen, the international community should have called rally together to help those countries," but their investment in Africa is much more about the long-term. Take a -- listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN A. SCHWARZMAN, CEO, THE BLACKSTONE GROUP: Just listening to some people who are medical experts, you could get a really good hold on this thing if you have enough personnel in the field to educate people to know what to do. Once people realized that this goes back under control, then investments typically does return and life goes on.
PAMELA PATSLEY, CEO, MONEYGRAM INTERNATIONAL: For us, those kinds of negative headlines do not deter us at all. If we look, we've been in over 52 countries in Africa for a very long time.
DOUGLAS R. OBERHELMAN, CEO, CATERPILLAR: Suddenly, Africa's finding their way, most countries there are emerging nicely. And I think at this point in time, the Americans better wake up, all of us, and do all we can to make sure we're invested there, we're partners there, and there's great business opportunities.
This is the beginning of some very big steps going forward that will far outlast near -- the headlines in my opinion. I'm very optimistic about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: Right. So, Ebola was clearly a topic of conversation --
ASHER: -- at this Summit. I interviewed several African Presidents. It was on the fore front of their agenda. But you know, just Africa is the world's next big growth market. It's got the fastest growing middle class in the world. And they can actually provide a market for American goods. So that was what the focus on this summit was actually on.
HARLOW: And it was so interesting to hear President Obama speak at or right after the Summit, talking about the fact that you know, when he was, I believe it was last year, he talked about that that, you know, when you heard from people, it wasn't just that they wanted aid, it was that they wanted economic partnership.
ASHER: Partnership, exactly.
HARLOW: -- and there is so much opportunity there. Really interesting insight. Thank you Zain. We appreciate it.
All right coming up here on CNNMoney, you've gotten pretty used to thoseup arrows, right? Green Arrows on your 401K, but is Wall Street's gravity-defying performance finally coming to an end. Next.
HARLOW: Are the bears waking up from hibernation? A month ago, the bulls were celebrating Dow 17,000. Three weeks later, the S&P 500 got within nine points of 2000. It seems like nothing, not geopolitical jitters, not even a plane shot out of the sky could stop the market's relentless march higher.
And then, like a switch, communication changed and the selling started. The major industries gave up all of their gains for July, the first month they declined for the S&P 500 since January and the Dow, no longer positive for the year. Volatility folks is back. Take a look at the CNNMoney, Fear and Greed Index now in Extreme Fear. Is it time to head for the exit? Is it time to go shopping for bargains?
Ned Riley is the founder and CEO of Riley Asset Management. Thanks for being with us, Ned. We appreciate it.
NED RILEY, FOUNDER & CEO, RILEY ASSET MANAGEMENT: My pleasure, Poppy.
HARLOW: So I know you're a big, big bull and sort of a long-term bull here, but what has happened? Has anything fundamental changed?
RILEY: Not in my judgment. Basically, we're in the summer months. People are on the beach instead around the highways and in Wall Street. So, the basic bottom line is this a low-volume correction of my judgment. And corrections, I don't even pay attention to other than for opportunity. And I see opportunity out there right now.
HARLOW: Where do you see that opportunity most?
RILEY: Well, mostly in the hi-tech area, I.E, the old technology stocks. I don't like the new kids on the block, paying way too much for them. But the old kids on the block are coming around very nicely. I see enterprise spending starting to pick up. I see these companies well-positioned to take advantage of what we see as extremely strong growth in enterprise spending over the next two to three years. I also see that the fed is right on line, I think they have been perfect in their execution of plan. I think that Yellen has been saying the right things.
And my judgment when she starts pointing out long-term, steady growth, not boom bus conditions, to me she's bought my enthusiasm and excitement for the markets going forward.
HARLOW: But do you think the overall economic health looking at this country still struggling with an unemployment rate that is too high? You've still got a lot of big question marks in this country even though things have markedly improved. Also, so much fear and tension globally when you do look at the geopolitical situation. Do you think that that supports stocks at these levels?
RILEY: Well, I do, Poppy. But you bring out a good point here. But during every major bull market, you have the wall of worry that's constantly being built and then brick taken out. The Ukraine situation obviously is a problem. We've got a situation in Argentina about its debt to Portuguese banks. We start to worry about these things but that wall of worry is actually a support, and as far I'm concerned, it's creating the fear that's actually preventing people from getting too enthusiastic, too overly excited about what's going on in the market place.
If you look historically, when the enthusiasm abounds, then people usually start piling into the market. And when you hear that final phrase, and I've heard it before it talks, equities are the only place to be long-term, then I've got the run for the hills. But I haven't heard it yet from anybody saying, "Equities are the preferred investment for the next 5 years. And that's where you'll get your highest return." And that's what I really believe.
HARLOW: You know, we've seen little pull backs recently, but in terms of long-term, we haven't seen a real correction since 2011. The knee- jerk reaction on the streets seems to buy on these debts (ph) that we're seeing, is that what where going to see again here in the near term in the next, you know, few weeks?
RILEY: I think so, although I'm not a prognosticator of what the weather is going to do tonight. So -- what the market is going to do in the next two weeks. It might be beyond me, but the point is simple is that these corrections and then the buybacks, I don't think people, actual long-term investors, are participating in this. I think this is again gong back to the new kids on the block, they've got their little sandboxes out there with the teslas in them, and their Facebooks and the rest of the companies.
But the major market average is clearly are doing quite well --
HARLOW: I got to let you go, but quickly I got to ask, average person, what do you do with the market right now? Do you get in? Do you pull out?
RILEY: No, I don't pull out. I wanted people to go into this market. I really feel they should have 65 to 70 percent in equities. The average mutual fund participation by households is only 28 percent in equities. And they've got 54 percent in government bonds which they're going to realize lose money over time and not gain.
So I would be in this market, I put money in and stocks come down, that will look -- looking good to you.
HARLOW: OK. All right, Ned Riley, appreciate it. Thanks for being with us.
RILEY: My pleasure , Poppy.
HARLOW: Forget spending all that time visiting college campuses, you can tour USC, Texas A&M, Michigan Yale, your pick all in a matter of minutes. We're going to tell you how next.
HARLOW: Take a college to where without taking a step on campus. It is possible with Facebook's new toy. I wan to bring in Laurie Segall who has tested out this pretty fascinating technology. Laurie, how does it work?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hey Poppy. Well, it's completely different the one I was looking for schools. Now, this is a virtual reality headset. It's a complete emerging into this technology. And what these guys are hoping is that it will completely transform the way that students look for colleges. Check it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check out the ceilings, the paintings.
SEGALL: And so, this is all exactly how it's like?
A college tour without even stepping outside.
So now I'm at a beautiful courtyard at Yale.
That's me wearing Oculus Rift. It's a virtual reality headset that made headlines after Facebook's bought it for $2 billion earlier this year. Now, a company called YouVisit. It's using it for virtual college tours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have markers in this location. You have a yellow marker to your left. So if you make it right in front of you that will transfer you to the next location.
SEGALL: Right now, it's tracking my eye movement. I'm looking down to get a gallery of places I can visit. And anytime I want to go somewhere, I just look at it and I'm transported.
So, I'm going to go to the stadium because I don't want to get in her way of this young lady doing her homework.
It's virtual reality into making college more of reality.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our mission from the day we started the company is making a campus visit more attainable to students.
SEGALL: Oculus isn't widely available yet, and even when it is, most people aren't going to have a $350 headset at home. But you could start seeing the devices at college fairs in recruitment of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not replacing the actual visit. We're making the kids more excited about doing the actual visit.
SEGALL: So this is what it's like to either be a cheerleader, a football for an event.
If you're not an athlete, this might be the coolest if you're going to come to the football field. We tested it out with some professional critic. Our intern goes to Syracuse.
JARED MANDEL, STUDENT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: This is Carrier Dome (ph) at Syracuse University. And it actually still like comeback in the student section. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this looks like a cool technology. The best way to experience a school and to know if this is the place where you want to study, it's actually going to visit and meet some people, not just looking at empty dining hall or personal reality.
SEGALL: But it does enable you to fly across the country from the Ivy League to the Big Ten in a blink of an eye.
Poppy, you see -- I definitely got a little dizzy when I had this headsets on, but the say that the technologies only getting better, and what's really interesting about virtual reality is all the things will be using it before in the future. We're talking medicine, education. They say that this is only the beginning. Poppy.
HARLOW: Yeah, very cool, though, though I'm picturing all of these people, like these college fairs walking around a little bit dizzy, you know. We'll have to see what happens, but cool technology. Laurie, thank you.
All right. Coming up here on CNNMoney in American success story.
RAMESHA MELSON, STUDENT: I've been to (inaudible) at home. I've been through a lot. So, and I just give up and lighted you, or off school wants to (inaudible) you. You know, we jump over and keep moving.
HARLOW: Wait, until you hear her story from the homeless shelter to Georgetown University. One student, amazing journey, next.
HARLOW: This next (inaudible) surprise you, the number of homeless students in American public schools is an all time high. 1.2 million students in the United States where homeless during the 2011/2012 academic year. That is up 10 percent from the previous school year.
But we want you to meet Rashema Melson. She is amazing. Not only is she a straight A student who became valedictorian of her Washington, D.C. highs school class. She's also been homeless for five years. Just a few weeks ago, she left a shelter and moved to Georgetown University where she'll attend on a full scholarship. We went to see her on her moving day.
R. MELSON: We were just like from house to house to house, and then school to school, and hotel to hotel. And I guess finally, we came to the shelter. One thing I can truly tell you I -- is this is (inaudible), you don't have refrigerator, you don't have your own bathroom. I come from a truck meat, and it's like, I'm going to take a shower, I can wait 'til one time. And the shower is like, extremely cold, frickin cold. When I think about being here, and I think about moving on to a better life, and I think about what I can accomplish. I know that my goal is to go to college graduate, go to med school, then got a residency, and then become to start to (inaudible). That's my dream.
I love you.
MELSON, MOTHER OF RASHEMA MELSON: I love you too, baby.
R. MELSON: I had a breakdown just like making about -- I'm about to leave. Go in campus. And my family is still going to be here. And it's like, you know, what can I do.
You know, my mom doesn't have a job. I just felt like that is more important more than just doing have to do and Rashema will be OK because I'm leaving, and we're not living together.
I've felt like I've been giving a big blessing. My only job is keeping my grades great at school, and once I do that, I get my scholarship.
I don't know if people think, when think about (inaudible), why didn't think they all like dirty and stuff like that. We are normal people. We just don't have a home. And we just go through difficult circumstance because of -- but you have to keep going a life.
HARLOW: You know we spent a lot of time on the show talking about problems in education. So today, let's celebrate a success.
Thanks so much for joining us this weekend. We're here every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Set your DVR, so you won't miss the Money News that matters most to you. Check it that on the web of course anytime at CNNMoney and follow us on Twitter. Have a great rest of your weekend.