Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

6.6 Million Americans Filed Jobless Claims Last Week; Researchers Turn to 100-Year-Old Vaccine as Potential COVID-19 Treatment; Dr. Peter Hotez Discusses Using 100-Year-Old Vaccine to Treat COVID-19; Health Experts Say California Is Flattening the Curse; Sprain to Ease Lockdown Restrictions after "Hitting Peak". Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired April 9, 2020 - 13:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:30:00]

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The question is, how can they work and complement each other as they move forward. They're going to hand in hand in hand if you listen to like Dr. Fauci of what they have been talking about being able to test on a widespread basis. They're are going to send people back work. That's going to play a part in it.

They're looking at a quick timeline. The treasury does think businesses can start reopening in May. The question is, how it is going to look because testing are not there yet.

How those two groups are working together, that's what we'll be looking at here covering the House.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We should point out all the modelling done in terms of deaths are based on things remain as they are now in terms of social distancing until the end of May or first week of June.

Julia, I know a lot of this we don't know. At what point does this shutdown really have long-term impact on the economy.? I am sure it already has some. Do we know?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR, "FIRST MOVE": It is having an impact. It's having a long-term impact because people are burning down savings. There's a virility and anxiety to people here.

But there a gain of positives on this. Our polling shows that two- thirds of people think it is a temporary thing and the recovery will have to happen quickly. Jay Powell, today, the head of the Federal Reserve, said there will be a robust recovery in the economy. That's the hope here.

One, it depends on getting cash to people as soon as possible. But what they can do in terms of getting it right to reopen the economy down the line, no business mind in this country will be telling the president or the White House they can do this without testing or tracing. We have seen that around the world.

Those two things, as you were describing, have to be combined. COOPER: Julia Chatterley, appreciate it.

Kaitlan Collins, as well, thank you very much.

Coming up, scientists around the world are on the hunt for the COVID- 19 vaccine. Could a 100-year-old vaccine hold the answer some researchers need? We'll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:36:46]

COOPER: Researchers are looking to new tools to treat the coronavirus. It's a vaccine that's very old, 100-year-old, used to treat tuberculosis in many countries.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN's medical correspondent, is joining me more on that.

Why the focus on this particular vaccine?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this is intriguing. Some researchers noticed that countries where this vaccine is widely used and it is used on billions of people, mostly in developing countries, against tuberculosis, those countries have lower rates of coronavirus.

They said, wow, could it be that these countries are vaccinated against this disease and is the vaccine helping fight the coronavirus?

They're putting a test, doing clinical trials. They're underway in the Netherlands and Australia. They'll begin in other countries, including the United States, to see if it makes a difference.

It is not about that the vaccine would act on the virus itself, which is Usually how vaccines work. Instead, it's thought perhaps the vaccine boosts the immune system in a way that it fights off coronavirus.

A huge caveat here, and I do mean huge. Just because a country that's using this vaccine sees a lower rate of coronavirus does not mean the vaccine is doing it.

There are many things that could be doing it, including, perhaps these developing countries don't have the resources or the money to do a lot of testing. So they have cases, they just no seeing them. Perhaps people in these countries don't travel as much worldwide so they're not running into the virus. There are a lot of explanations besides the vaccine.

If the vaccine is what's working, that would be great. It's out. It's been around. It's relatively inexpensive and quite plentiful.

COOPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

My next guest is an expert of vaccines. Dr. Peter Hotez is professor and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He's also the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development in Texas Children's Hospital.

First of all, the 100 years old vaccine, is it possible it'll make a difference? And there are dozens if not hundreds of different potential remedies or medicines that are being looked at by scientists at this point.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Anderson, it is certainly possible. I think right now the link is still pretty week. What you're seeing is the fact that his virus has been marching through Europe and the United States and the global north where BCG is not extensively used.

There are a lot of concerns that COVID-19 will still start moving into the global south, especially in the coming weeks and months, going into India and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. And when that happens, I think that hole association will evaporate.

We're seeing this disease taking off in Philippines and Chile and Brazil and where they used BCG cells, and in Korea where they use these BCG cells. I think there's the different that this virus is more in the U.S. and Europe. And as time moves on, that link will become less clear.

COOPER: You and your team are working on a low-cost vaccine. How is that progress? And when people are thinking of vaccine, we heard of a year, and a year and a half. Is that a timetable people should be thinking about?

[13:40:05]

HOTEZ: So you are right. We are developing two global health vaccines for COVID-19. In our approach -- we have been doing this for 20 years -- is develop low-cost vaccines for parasitic disease. So we use inexpensive technology, which have a great track record for use. And we are taking an approach for COVID-19 as well.

We are hoping to move vaccines in the clinical trials in the coming weeks and months. We're very excited about that.

This year and 18-month time frame, as Dr. Fauci and others talked about, I think we all agree that's an aspirational goal.

Vaccines, we've been in this business for - myself, 40 years. It is usually a 10 to 25-year time frame. People forget how long it takes to develop an effective and safe vaccine and do all the adequate clinical testing. The world's record is around five years for Ebola and four years for mumps.

To say we are going to do it to a year and 18-month, it's -- we are trying. Our scientists are working day and night on our vaccine as are other groups. But It would be unprecedented if that were to happen.

COOPER: I saw you tweeted something. I wanted to ask you about that. You were tweeting about people about what lies ahead. You said, "There's a misunderstanding out there in America just hunker down for a year then a vaccine magically appears. Everybody goes out to have a picnic on the National Mall. That would be nice. It is not impossible. Our lab is working 24/7. I think a low-probability scenario."

What should people think of the future then?

HOTEZ: I have been giving a lot of thought to this as have a number of my colleagues who have been in constant conversation. I like to remind people that we call it the 1918 flu pandemic but it did not end until December of 1920. So it was a three-year pandemic. It was waxing and waning. It would go up and down.

But I think it is a real possibility and we could be looking at COVID- 19. Maybe by the end of it we have a vaccine.

I think it will be important for the nation, for the United States, or globally as well, but the United States to chart a path for what the world looks like over the next two or three years and how the U.S. operates over the next two or three years with the potential for that lasting and waning course and what it means for businesses and government and what it means for our health care system and how do we look at the modelling.

Right now, we are all focusing on the next few weeks. I think there's a good possibility that we could be in this the next two or three years. And mapping out a national road map is going to be absolutely critical. And I --

(CROSSTALK)

HOTEZ: Go ahead, sir.

COOPER: No, no, I don't want to interrupt you. But so what is that - in order to make it work, does that mean occasionally, as things flare up, certain areas would be locked down or is it just a matter of flooding the zone with testing and contact tracing?

HOTEZ: All unknowns. And then, of course, will the country have the appetite to go back and do social distancing again. Look at the last few weeks, we are seeing a third of the governor pushing back on it in this dire situation. What is it going to look like a year from now if we ask parts of the country to do it again?

I think this is going to be a complicated problem but we need to look at it. And I have been suggesting to break some independence to it. Everything is so politically revved up now that we are in an election year.

This is why we have a National Academy of Science and a National Academy of Medicines to provide independent advice to the Congress and the White House.

This would be a great use for the National Academies now where we can now sit down and convene the experts and really model what it is going to look like in the next two or three years and what's realistic in what we can ask the country to do.

COOPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

[13:44:13]

COOPER: The state of California is flattening the curve in their state. Coming up, should other states look to California to see what they got right in combatting the virus?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thankfully, California had not seen deaths on a scale of New York. But officials warn residents should not expect virus restrictions to be lifted for several more weeks. Los Angeles' mayor announced the city is shutting down all public parks for Easter Sunday.

The move comes a day after the city saw its biggest jump in coronavirus deaths. The total now is at 198.

But the state is being praised for its efforts to help flatten the curve. Many health experts say they are working, those effort.

Are Dan Simon has more from San Francisco

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As states across the country scramble to increase their supply of N-95 masks, California, the world's fifth-largest economy, made a striking move. Governor Newsom announcing the state put together a deal to acquire 200 million masks a month for healthcare and frontline workers.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We're dealing at a time where we need to go boldly and we need to meet this moment without playing small ball any longer.

SIMON: In Los Angeles County, authorities are lifting the restrictions on coronavirus testing. And beginning Friday, the city will require residents to wear a mask or covering in supermarkets and other essential businesses.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D-CA): And if you're not covering your face by Friday morning, an essential business can refuse you service.

[13:50:00]

SIMON: It follows a series of aggressive moves throughout the state beginning in mid-March that health experts say appear to show that California is bending the curve.

MAYOR LONDON BREED (D-CA): These measures will be disruptive to day- to-day life, but there is no need to panic. SIMON: On March 16th, San Francisco became the first city in the country to issue a stay-at-home order. Bustling neighborhoods quickly became ghost towns.

NEWSOM: We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home.

SIMON: Three days later, on March 19th, Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state.

California got it right, medical experts say, as the results of these actions appear to be coming into focus. The state has not seen the sharp escalation in cases nor deaths that experts have predicted. Hospitals from both Northern to Southern California appear to have had little problem keeping up with the volume of patients.

(on camera): Is it fair to say that California right now is seeing a flattening of the curve?

DR. ROBERT WACHTER, CHAIR, UCSF DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE: There's no question about it. We've been reluctant to say it because we didn't want to jinx ourselves, and we worry that people would hear that and change their behavior. But at some point, you have to look at reality and the curve is remarkably flat.

SIMON (voice-over): Dr. Robert Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, credits the state's early call, but believes other factors, including many companies' early decision to have employees work from home.

WACHTER: Apple and Google and Facebook and Microsoft has a big presence here, ordered their people to work from home 10 days to two weeks before even the politicians did that. I remember when it happened, everybody said, is that an overreaction, but it turned out it was prescient.

SIMON: It's one thing to call for drastic social distancing, it's another to actually see people comply.

Headed to California in early March, the return of the Grand Princess cruise ship with an unknown number of sick passengers and crew. Experts speculate it made the crisis seem more imminent and real.

Because of the quick action, Santa Clara County says the doubling time of cases has gone from three days to two weeks and perhaps even longer.

But officials say now is no time to let up.

DR. SARA CODY, HEALTH OFFICER, SANTA CLARA COUNTY: But that doesn't mean that we're not seeing new cases and new hospitalizations. This incident is a marathon, maybe even an ultra-marathon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: While California has been very strong on the mitigation side, it's not been as strong on the testing side. But officials say what they're seeing now in terms of the hospitals, they're able to manage the inflow of patients just fine. And Governor Newsom said that testing should be substantially boosted by the end of the month -- Anderson?

COOPER: Some local officials are starting to react to the governor's decision to lend its state's ventilators to other states. What's happening there?

SIMON: Well, Governor Newsom said right now they have an excess supply of ventilators, so he loaned 500 ventilators to the national stockpile. That caused concern with Riverside County in southern California. It says it may be short of ventilators n a couple of weeks. But the governor is saying, if he needs them back, they'll be able to get them -- Anderson?

COOPER: Dan Simon, thank you very much.

Coming up, Spain reaches the peak of their outbreak but there's new questions about the accuracy of the official governmental tally of deaths.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:57:30]

COOPER: As coronavirus deaths climb above 15,000 in Spain, the prime minister there said the country reached the peak of the pandemic. Spain will start easing lockdown restrictions that have been in place for almost a month now.

CNN's Scott McLean has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every 15 minutes or so, a hearse pulls up in front of the crematorium at Madrid's cemetery. Father Edouard (ph), a catholic priest, comes out to greet no more than five grieving family members who keep their distance. Hugs and kisses are an uncommon sight. The blessings and prayers last barely five minutes. The casket is doused with holy water and taken away on a gurney. No eulogies, no visitation, not public burial. There's hardly time for a good-bye.

These are the rules under Spain's coronavirus state of emergency. Strange scene even for one of the largest cemeteries in western Europe. It's been there through wars, famine, and the Spanish flu.

"I can't express the sadness people are carrying, not only because their loved one has died but the system is so overwhelmed that they may have been taken to the ice room for several days before they're brought here," he says.

MCLEAN: In Madrid, the epicenter of Spain's pandemic, two ice rinks used as temporary morgues. Cemeteries say they bury two or three times as many bodies as usual.

FELIX POVEDA, CORONAVIRUS VICTIM: We have to do things by the book, but, unfortunately, there's no book.

MCLEAN: Felix Poveda contracted the virus at a family gathering weeks ago. His brother and mom got it, too. All were eventually hospitalized. His mother who was 77 died in the hospital. She was not given a ventilator.

POVEDA: I am alone here. My brother and sister, they couldn't come. My wife and son could not come. My grandson and granddaughters not coming. Just me.

MCLEAN: It's not the kind of final sendoff anyone would hope for. Felix plans to have a funeral for when the crisis is over. He's just not sure when that will be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN: Anderson, it wouldn't surprise anyone that we met at the cemetery to hear that the Madrid true death toll is much higher than the official number suggests. Consider this, in the last half of March, about 9,000 people died in Madrid, where in a typical year, you'd only expect 2,000 to die. That's a difference of 7,000 deaths.

About half can be explained by the official coronavirus death toll. The other half, more than 3,000 deaths, may also be related to coronavirus, but since they were never tested, they were never counted.

[14:00:03]

COOPER: Wow, Scott McLean, appreciate it. Thank you very much.