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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Trump Blames Predecessors For Virus Testing Fiasco; Could Coronavirus Cause A Recession?; Larry Summers: I Don't' Think This Is A Completely Solvable Problem; Tony Blair On How To Handle Disease Outbreak; Tony Blair: The Scientific Advice We Got Turned Out To Be Absolutely Right; Is The World Coming Together On Coronavirus? Aired 10-11a ET
Aired March 15, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe.
ZAKARIA: Today on the show, the coronavirus pandemic from all the angles, with the former head of the CDC, two former prime ministers and a former Treasury secretary. I'll ask Italy's former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, what America can learn from his country and how Europe is taking Trump's travel ban.
I'll talk to Tom Frieden, the former head of the CDC, about why the CDC botched the testing. And Larry Summers will tell me how low he thinks the markets will go. I'll talk to Tony Blair about how today's world leaders should navigate this historic crisis.
TRUMP: We are all in this together.
ZAKARIA: All that and more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: But first here's "My Take." The outbreak of an epidemic is something like a natural disaster, a spontaneous, accidental eruption that's no one's fault. But that doesn't mean we can do little about it and just wait for it to run its deadly course.
The evidence is now clear, the spread of the virus can be greatly slowed if governments act early, aggressively and intelligently. Unfortunately that does not describe the response of the United States government to the coronavirus pandemic.
We can track the speed of the outbreak since January by which time the virus had spread from China toother countries. In South Korea, after an initial spike, the number of new cases has slowed. Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, despite lots of travelers from China, have kept numbers low from the beginning.
In the United States, however, we are seeing accelerating increases.
What did the successful countries do that seems to have worked? They began testing early and often. They coupled these tests with careful quarantines of those infected and tracking of where they had been to better predict where the next outbreaks might occur. The public health systems had surge capacity because funding had been adequate and authorities largely communicated simple, clear and consistent messages to the public.
One new study which has not yet been peer reviewed argues that without enhanced detection and restrictions on movement the number of cases in China could have been 67 times higher by the end of February. And had China just started acting just one week earlier, there could have been 66 percent fewer cases.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Who would have thought, look, how long ago, six, seven, eight weeks ago? Who would have thought we'd need to be having this update?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: In fact as the "New York Times" reported the director for Medical and Bio-Defense Preparedness of his own National Security Council gave a speech in Atlanta in 2018 saying, "The threat of pandemic flu is our number one health security concern. We know that it cannot be stopped at the border."
The day after she made the speech, the White House eliminated her unit.
Trump did make one good decision, to ban most travelers from China from entering the United States. That bought the United States time. Alas that time was wasted. Testing turned into a fiasco. If this were a war, the generals in charge of that operation would have been relieved of their command.
Just one comparison, as of Friday, South Korea has tested about 250,000 potential cases. It has a population of about 50 million. In the United States, this would be the equivalent of testing about 1.5 million. As of Friday, according to the CDC, the United States had conducted about 15,000 tests in public health labs, more in private labs, but we don't even know how many. Per capita the United States has tested far fewer people than most other advanced countries.
Trump's most recent dramatic move, the travel ban on most of Europe is symbolic of the administration's actions. The thousands of Americans currently in Europe are apparently exempt as are a small number of others, more importantly the disease is already in the United States and spreading.
The policy was so poorly thought through that amendments, corrections and reversals were made to the president's speech within minutes of his having delivered it. [10:05:08]
This crisis seems to have been designed to bring out the worst of Trump. The president doesn't like or trust experts, often explaining that he knows more than they do. He has bluffed and fibbed his way through much of his life, and thinks nothing of doing so again, except this time we are not charmed or amused by the bluster, but rather frightened.
In most global crises, the United States takes the lead and provides comfort and assurances to the world. In this one, Trump has been mostly AWOL. When he does appear, it is to blame the disease on foreigners and announce policies that are designed to reinforce that view.
The broad collapse in global markets is surely in part a reaction to the vast vacuum of leadership in the White House. Donald Trump views everything from the narcissistic prism of his ego. He dismisses opposing views and insists that even the senior most members of his administration repeatedly praise him and his leadership at all times.
Watching the heads of America's leading science agencies prefacing their statements with ritual praise for the dear leader has been deeply depressing.
Come to think of it, the Trump administration has been copying the wrong Korea. Instead of the intelligence and expertise of South Korea, it is emulating the sycophancy, incompetence and propaganda of North Korea.
For more, go to CNN.com/fareed and read my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
Why did the American government botch the testing of Americans for COVID-19? Joining me now is Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC, and the former commissioner of the New York City Health Department. He is now the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives.
So, everybody is trying to figure this out. South Korea has tested, as we've all learned now, hundreds of thousands of people in a country of only 50 million. The U.S. still seems to be somewhere in the 10,000 to 15,000 range. Why?
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: First thing to understand is that the CDC has done this before very effectively in influenza, in other responses rapidly provided tests for public health, not just to the U.S., every state, but more than 100 countries around the world quickly and high quality. Something went wrong this time that should be looked at by an independent group so it doesn't go wrong in the future.
The second thing to understand is that testing is not just done at public health labs. For something of this scale you really need the commercial laboratories to be there and doing more faster. They're taking about three or four days for turnaround time and just coming online now. Also hospitals can do some testing as well. ZAKARIA: You saw the reports that there were, for example, in Seattle,
hospital labs that wanted to do it and they were essentially told no, stop testing. And it appears as though it was because the federal government did not want the numbers to go up.
FRIEDEN: I don't know what was done by whom or why. But laboratory developed tests, such as those done in hospitals are regulated by the FDA. And in late February they loosened their criteria on having that done differently. But it's also really important to understand the role of testing. If you don't have symptoms or you're mildly ill and not at risk for severe illness, there's really no reason to be tested once we know that coronavirus is spreading.
The focus now has to be what's most important, reducing the number of infections, reducing the likelihood that someone who gets infected will die from it, and limiting the amount of societal damage from this pandemic.
ZAKARIA: President Trump says that the reason things went badly was President Obama made some changes to the testing that complicated matters. That Obama's response to h1n1 was a disaster. You were the head of CDC then. What do you say?
FRIEDEN: Facts matter. And the fact is this has been a bipartisan focus with continuous progress, going back to George W. Bush who did a lot of excellent things on pandemic influenza preparedness. We in the Obama administration advanced those. We were able to get test kits out fast. Something went wrong here. We have to find out why so that we can prevent that in the future.
ZAKARIA: So you're saying, you fundamentally dispute the idea that the h1n1 kits didn't go out fast. I did read that the kits went out -- about a million kits went out within a month of the disease. Does that strike you as roughly right?
FRIEDEN: For years after the 2009 influenza pandemic as I, as CDC director, traveled around the world, literally dozens of countries thanked me and thanked the U.S. because of the CDC lab test kits that went out, first to the U.S. and then everywhere in the world and performed very well.
At CDC in my time there we created a new unit of laboratory science and safety, we upgraded our laboratories. We got money from Congress to improve molecular detection. And one thing I really want to make clear. The same 20,000 public health professionals who dedicate their lives to protecting Americans and promoting health around the world, that worked at CDC when I was there are still there. And in fact the leadership that was under me is still there as well.
CDC is still the greatest public health institution in the world. It's taken a hit here, but if you want good evidence, good advice on what to do about coronavirus, the best place in the world to get it is the CDC Web site. ZAKARIA: Do you think the travel ban makes sense? A lot of people are
saying it kind of -- it hits at the wrong problem because the disease is already here.
FRIEDEN: There are a couple things to be clear about. Reducing travel from China without a doubt bought us time. It reduced the number of cases, but it was never going to prevent this from coming to our shores. That's why any travel restrictions or bans are only useful if we use that time to best advantage, to prepare better, to make sure that all of us do what we can do, washing hands, covering coughs, not going out if we're sick.
That vulnerable get ready to shelter if need be and reduce their contact with others. That health care facilities really get ready to surge safely, so they reduce the risk of infections, have the ability to treat large numbers of people quickly if that's needed and have the ability to surge up the number of people who can be safely cared for in intensive care units.
ZAKARIA: All right. Stay with me. When we come back, I'm going to ask Tom Frieden to explain something. He says that the worst case scenario has as many as a million Americans dying. I will ask him to explain that number when we come back.
ZAKARIA: And we are back with the former CDC director, Tom Frieden.
Now, you said in a -- on a Web site "Think Global Health" that it is possible a million Americans could die of this disease. And I want to get you to explain that, but I want to make sure that I get this right because I think Americans find it very hard to understand exponential growth, which is what is happening here, and this is why things are going up.
So if you just look at the cases, the number of cases seems to be doubling in America about every three days, something like that. There were 1,500 roughly, three days becomes 3,000, six days becomes 6,000, nine days and it becomes 12,000. 12 days, 24,000. 15 days, 48,000. 18 days, 96,000. 21 days, 192,000. 24 days, 384,000. 27 days, 768,000. And in 30 days, one month, it becomes 1.5 million.
So that's exponential growth, and of course then it's going to double from 1.5 million to three million. So that's the numbers infected. Is that what you're worried about?
FRIEDEN: Fundamentally to see how bad this is going to be, we look at two numbers. First, how many people are severely affected and second, what proportion of the population does it affect. With influenza we have a vaccine. We have immunity that protects some of us from it.
With this new virus, we don't know fully how it's spreading, how readily it spreads. For how long it will spread. In what season it will spread. It's new. And anyone who tells you they know what's going to happen, doesn't know enough about this virus.
ZAKARIA: So that's why you have this two by two matrix, where you say assume it has a 1 percent fatality rate, assume it had -- and one of those plausible scenarios you have a million Americans dying.
FRIEDEN: One of the striking things about the analysis that we did for "Think Global Health" is that it could be small with hundreds of deaths which would be too many but still hundreds, or it can be large with more than a million deaths. We don't say that's going to happen. We say these are the possibilities.
What we can do about it is substantial. And there's been a lot of understanding recently about flattening the curve. What we can do to prevent a huge peak in cases, which might outstrip health care capacity. That's what we saw in Wuhan. That's what we're seeing in parts of Italy now and that's what we want to avoid here.
ZAKARIA: Explain what you mean by flattening the curve. Let's say a million people do get infected, it makes a big difference if it doesn't happen over 30 days but rather over 90 days even because then you have a hospital system that you can take care of people.
FRIEDEN: Exactly. You'd like to reduce the number of people who get infected and severely ill by any means you can. But even if the same number get ill but it stretches out over more months, you're not going to overwhelm your health care facilities as much. And that's important because overwhelmed health care facilities result in patients and health care workers getting infected, and result in not being able to give the best possible care to people who are severely ill.
ZAKARIA: Will it go away in April when the weather gets hot?
FRIEDEN: There's no way to know what this will do in a different climate. It has never circulated in the world before. It's new. There are some other strains of coronavirus that have both a winter peak and a summer peak. We can hope it goes away. Bottom line, we need to work for the best and plan for the worst.
ZAKARIA: Is it possible the fatality rates that we have are too high because in fact there are many more people who are infected and we don't know about?
In other words, the denominator is much larger than we think. So actually -- so we're looking at, you know, and saying three out of 100 are dying, but actually it's three out of 1,000 because there's 900 people infected whom we don't know about.
FRIEDEN: As a former CDC director, there are two things that I am just so frustrated about. First, I would like to be hearing from the top world experts at CDC every single day. What are they doing? What's their guidance? Guidance from the top public health professionals to the American people. Second, there are crucially important questions that we don't know the answers to. Do children spread this? If they don't, there's much less reason to close schools. Does this
spread from asymptomatic people? Sometimes yes. But how important is that? Does it spread from contaminated surfaces? If so, then cleaning makes a lot of sense. If not, it's kind of a wasted effort.
And what proportion of people die from this? And for that we have to really get a better sense of who gets infected, how many people get infected and which are the people most likely to have severe illness or death. That way we can prioritize them for services. The more we know, the better we can protect people.
ZAKARIA: How does this go away? Because in China they are now resuming economic activity, they're resuming the gatherings. I look at it and I think it's amazing what they've been able to do, but won't it just start up again if you start letting people go back to, you know, to all the commingling that caused it in the first place?
FRIEDEN: China has done something extraordinary. They basically had hundreds of millions of people stay home for a month. And they scaled up their ability to deal with severe infection during this time. They have been able to tamp this down. It's continuing to spread but at a very low rate in Wuhan, but we don't know if it will come roaring back as their economy restarts. We don't know if they'll have imported cases from elsewhere.
They have such a tight program now that they've been able to identify imported cases into China from other places and to prevent those from spreading. But every country in the world is going to have to deal with this. And that means that all of us need to change our behavior, we need to protect the most vulnerable, we need to protect our health care front line workers and ready to scale up and we need to cut back on mass gatherings that can spread this to lots of people from lots of places.
ZAKARIA: The president keeps saying, and he said it many, many times, this is going to go away. Are you as sanguine -- I shouldn't say sanguine, are you as confident that, you know, this will go away?
FRIEDEN: We will get through this as a country. And we will get through it best if we work together. At some point infectious diseases circulate or stop circulating. We don't know what will happen with this virus it could continue to circulate for years. We could develop a vaccine in a year or two or that may be very difficult. HIV, malaria, TB, we've been trying to develop a vaccine for decades without success.
We hope it will be successful but we can't count on it. I'm a little more optimistic about treatment. Within a few months we could have treatments that reduce the risk of death and reduce the need for intensive care. That would be a major benefit but we don't have it yet. So what we have now is all of us working together to protect all of us.
ZAKARIA: Pleasure to have you on, sir.
FRIEDEN: Thank you. ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, from human health to health of the world's
markets, the former Treasury secretary, former president of Harvard, Larry Summers, joins me in a moment.
ZAKARIA: Disney parks closed. Sports seasons suspended. Broadway going dark. Major conferences postponed. And thousands upon thousands of flights canceled.
This is the new normal and the markets melted down this week. Let's dig into what happened and what might come next with the former Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers.
Larry, we know what the markets have done. What is happening in your view to the economy, to the actual economy, and how big is this?
LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: Very little that's good. I think there's an 85 percent or 90 percent chance, Fareed, that we're going to have a recession. I'm not at all confident that the recession will be a mild one. It wouldn't surprise me if it was as bad as the recession that we had in 2008 and 2009. Why do I say that? Estimates suggest that tens of millions of people are likely to have this illness over the next couple months. Six months.
They're likely to have significant periods of being out of work and for each one who has to stay out of work, somebody else is knocked out of work because they can't get a spare part, because there's no point in having vendors if they're not going to be baseball games because there's not going to be airplanes if only 11 people want to fly and so forth. So you've got a real breakdown of the whole mechanism of exchange on which an economy depends.
That in turn causes financial difficulties. That means less purchasing still. That means more financial difficulties. So I think the likelihood is of a pretty serious dislocation and problem. And it's made worse by the fact that the Fed's basically out of ammunition. With interest rates so close to zero, they can reduce interest rates more.
But I don't think it will make very much difference. They can buy longer-term bonds, but when interest rates on 10-year bonds are already below 1 percent, I don't think that's going to make very much difference going to make very much difference either.
So I don't think this is a completely solvable problem. I think the economy will slow substantially. That's part of what is being discounted into markets and we hope that the squabbling will stop in Washington. I don't expect it. But I hope it.
ZAKARIA: Am I right in thinking the only thing that could really turn things around is on the medical side. In other words, if you - if the Fed lowers interest rates, if it's cheaper to borrow, people will not start flying if they think they're going to get the Coronavirus and sports games will not be rescheduled.
And even if you were to give people more purchasing power, they're still not going to go to a basketball game, first of all they have this season has canceled but they aren't going to restart it if the fear - unless there's a medical shift, I don't quite see how the economic stuff really helps.
SUMMERS: Well, I would differ with you slightly there. You are not going to resolve this problem as long as tens of millions of people are waking up every morning worrying about whether they or one of their family members or somebody there would otherwise run into that day is going to be getting a very serious illness.
If you don't fix that, you're not going to fix the economy. On the other hand, whether you make sure that the flow of purchasing power is maintained, that will have an effect on how much economic activity takes place that will have an effect on how much the vicious cycle develops and unravels and makes things worse and worse.
So this is a case where we need to do both things. First priority is getting the medical stuff under control. And if we do even half as badly with hospital rooms and ventilators and intensive care units as we've done so far with the tests for Corona, we're going to have very, very critical problems. But that doesn't mean you could ignore purely the economic aspects.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about something that strikes me about what happened in '08 and you were in the White House with President Obama once his term began. There was a lot of global coordination. The Obama Administration coordinated very closely with other governments. The Fed coordinated very closely with other central banks. It feels like this crisis, there's much less global coordination. Is that a problem?
SUMMERS: Yes. You remember, Fareed, about ten days ago the Fed cut interest rates, and it was completely and utterly ineffective. Part of the reason for that was that the Treasury had announced 24 hours before with drum rolls and symbols that there was going to be a G7 phone call.
The G7 had their G7 phone call there was nothing that came out of that phone call despite the drum rolls in advance. And then several hours later the Fed went entirely on its own. So anybody looking at it could not have been in doubt that there been some attempt that publicity around cooperation, no actual cooperation and then American unilateralism.
You had the feeling on something that was quintessentially international it was about people crossing borders carrying germs. I think it's a very serious problem. And I think one other thing, which is in 2009 at the London Summit, at those intervals, the - a crucial role after the United States was played by the Chinese who really committed themselves to stimulate their economy.
It was probably the last big aspect of U.S./Chinese cooperation, and after all the trade war high-jinx you certainly don't have any stands of ongoing cooperation between the United States and the Chinese.
ZAKARIA: Sobering thoughts. Thank you, Larry Summers.
SUMMERS: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the world's response to the Coronavirus. How are leaders handling it and how should they, when we come back?
ZAKARIA: So how are the world's leaders handling the crisis and how should they be? I wanted to hear from the Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Tony Blair, pleasure to have you on.
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: So, when you were Prime Minister you dealt with many health crises, foot-and-mouth disease, SARS. What was - there's a moment when you first are told about this by scientists, and I guess you have to make a decision, are you going to worry about panicking people or are you going to decide this is a national emergency and we have got to do everything about it? How do you make that call?
BLAIR: I mean, this is fantastically difficult and, you know, what I was dealing with was - was minor compared with this for sure. The one thing I did learn when I dealt particularly is that I spent six months in my premiership dealing with the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that the world had ever known.
That devastated our agriculture sector, obviously not nearly so serious because it didn't affect humans. But the one thing I learned is you have got to bring the best brains in, the best scientists, and listen to them. Because we were told to do some pretty drastic things that frankly a lot of us when we first heard them thought, oh, my God, you can't be serious.
BLAIR: We really got to do that? And actually the scientific advice we got turned out to be absolutely right. Their prediction of how you would take this thing out turned out to be absolutely correct? So I'm not - I mean, I would not dream the second guessing anyone is in government right now. They will be privy to lots of information that I'm not, but it's fantastically difficult.
ZAKARIA: But when you look at the countries that have done well, they are the ones of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, they are the one who seem to have done exactly what you say, listened to the scientists early on, taken the dramatic, sometimes drastic measures early on, to stop the problem you know in other words, go big, go early and hope that it abates.
BLAIR: Yes. And you know it's a very difficult judgment because you're making it day by day. And also of course people are really worried about the effect on the economy. I mean people will be put out of work. This could be actually worse in some of its aspects than the financial crash.
So it has got a major implication. If you're a leader - well, one thing you can be sure of, in hindsight people will cover on - a lot of them would say whatever judgment was made was probably not correct.
The one reflection I have is that maybe we just have to do the best we can as we bring this outbreak under control, but then I think after that we have got to look at the global response and how you coordinate it better to things like this because you have got to think this is not last time we'll have an epidemic of this sort.
ZAKARIA: Other big thing that's happening in America is of course the Democratic Primary. And I wanted to get your sense because we've been having this fascinating discussion about what is the best way to take on right wing populism.
Let's not just call it Donald Trump but this larger phenomenon. There's Bernie Sanders who says the way to do it is to be more progressive, more ardent, and there's Biden who in a sense seems to be promising a kind of restoration. Is - where do you think the left should go?
BLAIR: So, when I hear the rhetoric around Bernie Sanders and who, by the way, he is obviously a very capable guy, but it's eerily familiar to anyone who has just watched the debacle unfold in the British Labor Party and our election defeat in the UK, which is essentially the worst in our 120-year history.
I just don't think there's an appetite for socialist revolution. There wasn't in Britain. I would be surprised if there was in the U.S., but - and so I think people are - if they go down that path, it's an enormous gamble put it like this. Because you're essentially saying we're going to put aside the middle ground.
We are not really going to try and reach that. Instead, we're just going to up the turnout. And that's exactly what the strategy of the Corbyn Labor Party in the UK and it failed drastically.
ZAKARIA: And over here, the Sanders turnout is not materializing. That is to say, if you look at the numbers, he's not bringing out the new voters.
BLAIR: Yes. That's why I'm skeptic about it. Now on the other hand, I think what is important is to recognize that you know progressive politics has got two big challenges. First of all, my view of the populism is you have got to be very careful when you're from the liberal progressive side of politics, because if you're not careful, you tend to say, look, these people who are voting for Donald Trump or voting for Brexit, they're just irrational people.
I don't understand why they're doing it? You just have got to hope this is a moment that passes they're doing it for reasons. Whereas populism can exploit grievances, they don't invent them. The grievances are real. So if you take the issue of immigration.
I can't think you can fight an election anywhere in the western world today and win it unless you have a policy on immigration that may be pro-immigration but it is got to be strong in terms of rules and order.
Otherwise you leave yourself absolutely vulnerable. I am a passionate believer that if the left goes down the path of trying to fight a culture war with the right, it will lose comprehensively and it really should not do that.
But I think the other thing that is really important for progressive politics is you have got to have a forward agenda as well. The other thing about populism - this is why I say this efficacy thing is very important.
One of the reasons people are attracted to strong leaders, some people call them authoritarian - leaders but I just call them leaders that are prepared to sort of take on all-comers. They're not sitting in front of the wall contemplating it they're wanting to punch a hole in it, right?
The reason why people are attracted is because they want change, right? So they want movement. They want the thing done. So if you look at part of the attraction I think that President Trump here is this feeling that things move, right?
BLAIR: He is going to get stuff done.
ZAKARIA: You must know Joe Biden. Do you think he can get this done?
BLAIR: Yes. I'm - I think he's a highly capable and very decent man, by the way. I mean, I have known him for some years. He's a good man. But I think this will be the challenge. Once you have sorted out your own internal challenges, let's say - it's always difficult when you fight an internal political battle because you're directing your attention obviously to a degree to the people who are going to make the selection.
But once that happens, I think, you know, assembling a strong group of people who can give a real sense of a forward agenda is important.
ZAKARIA: Tony Blair, always a pleasure.
BLAIR: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: Next on "GPS," the Former Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. He is on lockdown like the rest of his nation. So we go to his house. When we come back, he will tell us what lessons we can learn from what Italy did wrong and right?
[10:50:00] ZAKARIA: The western nation most devastated b by COVID-19 has been Italy. Seeing the rapidly rising incidence rate and death toll, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte put the entire nation on lockdown earlier this week. What lessons can we learn from the Italians?
Let me bring in one of Mr. Conte's predecessors the Former Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Matteo welcome, first, give us a sense of what is life-like with this kind of a total lockdown, what does it look like?
MATTEO RENZI, FORMER ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: It's very strange. It's the first time fortunately in the history of Italy after World War II and, of course, it's unbelievable experience because we as Italians, we are a people very expansive, very ready to shaking hand that to touch older people, who live in the community.
So it's not easy for Italian people. I think it's necessary because unfortunately our country was the worst in the western community in terms of people infected. So it is bad news, but it's a necessity.
My only opinion is please don't make the same mistakes of Italian guys, and it's very important don't waste time to fight against Coronavirus because we blocked the direct plane from China to Italy, but we don't block the contagion, the spread. Now it's time for all the countries to bring the right decision as soon as possible.
ZAKARIA: What do you think of President Trump's travel ban, stopping essentially all Europeans from coming to the United States for at least 30 days?
RENZI: I have a lot of respect for President of the United States, for President Donald Trump. I think this is not the answer. All - with all my respect, block the plane from Europe is exactly the same mistake that Italian government made two months ago when we blocked the plane from China.
President Trump is the President of the United States, I have a lot of respect for him, but please, we have to learn from the past. President Obama during Ebola in 2014 was very - was the first to be careful about the risk of pandemic event. Please, we have to - don't waste our time now because this is time to act. Act now.
ZAKARIA: Does it seem to you that global cooperation has kind of fallen apart? This is the first real global pandemic. The United States certainly traditionally the leader is not playing that role. Yet it's difficult to imagine how it will be solved without a global coordination since, as you say, it's a global disease.
RENZI: I believe we need a global coordination because in the globalized world, pandemic event is the - is the most recent of our leader is our problems. Of course it's not easy if we check on YouTube a very good speech from Bill Gates four years ago about exactly that point the world is not ready for the next pandemic event.
We can understand how big the problem is but if every country decides alone, we have the possibility to solve the problem as soon as possible. So China was the first country, was the first problem, and President Xi Jinping worked to block the Chinese way.
China is not a democracy. There's not a problem of respect on the constitution as similar to western communities. Then South Korea, South Korea used the technology ICP with data to block that. Then Italy but Italy is only the first of all Europe and then the United States.
RENIZ: We have to work together. We cannot say USA is better than older in recent times. This is a problem of China is not a problem of Europe, no not it's a problem of everyone. I explained that message to my older colleagues in European Union.
Please, if we continue to think that is only a problem of Italy, you will be the next. And that's a problem for everyone.
ZAKARIA: Matteo Renzi, pleasure to have you on.
RENZI: Thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: Thanks to all of you for being a part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hi, I'm Brian Stelter.