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Variety of Tests being Tried to Detect Coronavirus; Doctors Examine Studies Concerning Effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine in Treating Coronavirus; Health Officials Urge Social Distancing As U.S. Nears Peak. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 10, 2020 - 08:00   ET





MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: In areas where the epidemic has impacted most, we continue to see evidence of stabilization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears to us the stay at home order, the social distancing are starting to pay off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flattening of the curve happened because of what we did yesterday. If we stop acting the way we're acting, you will see those numbers go up.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hopefully we're going to be opening up very, very soon, I hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we move to reopen, it is not going to be one size fits all.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 10th, 8:00 now in New York. America's top infectious disease expert has a message for Americans getting ready for the holiday weekend. Here is Dr. Anthony Fauci moments ago on NEW DAY.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I know particularly in a season like Easter season and Passover how difficult that is, but we really need to do it, because it is working. The kinds of mitigations that we're doing now, the curves that we're seeing flattening and coming down, that's exactly and precisely because of what the American public is doing. So even though we're in the holiday season, now is no time to back off. As I say so often, now is the time to actually put your foot on the accelerator because we're going in the right direction.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is working. Dr. Fauci also talked to us about the availability of antibody testing within a week or so. Listen to this --


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: As we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country, as it were, it is very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated the society, because it's very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected. If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate kind of strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected. This would be important for healthcare workers, for firstline fighters, those kinds of people.


CAMEROTA: OK, joining us now is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of Harvard Global Health Study. So Sanjay, I just want to start with you and what you heard from Dr. Fauci. What struck you in what he told us this morning?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there is a lot of discussion about testing. First of all, it was good to see him on the air. He couldn't join us at the town hall last night, so it was nice you could do the interview with him. But the testing, I think, was a big topic obviously. And he really was quite optimistic about this antibody testing. There's obviously a lot of value in the antibody testing. I think there has been a concern that in a rush to get these tests out there, the FDA sort of changed their standards a bit to make it easier. And, frankly, there was some bad tests that came out there, tests that could not be validated.

What you heard Dr. Fauci say to you today, Alisyn, was that, I think he said within a week or so they would have several different tests that have been validated, making it much more widely available. That would be a good thing for the reasons you mentioned. One is that I think the average person would just like to know, was I exposed, maybe, I didn't know it? Or were those symptoms I had earlier, could that have been coronavirus? This test could help answer that question. And also, as Dr. Fauci mentioned, surveillance, really trying to get an idea where did the virus go, which parts of the country have already been affected by this.

BERMAN: Sanjay, there is also news about testing on another front, that's the antibody testing. But there is also just the flat out testing about whether you have it, and there is some question about the reliability of that.

GUPTA: Yes, this was pretty interesting, John. This is a letter that was sent by the National Academy of Science to the White House. I should disclose, I am a member of the National Academy as well. But they sent a letter. They sent several letters about different topics, offering their expertise. And one of the things that they raised a flag about was the virus testing, the swab testing that we have been talking so much about. And I think they said that in this case out of 61 tests, there were some 15 that were, I think, false negatives. They had the numbers off, but it was around 30 percent, I think, roughly they said were false negatives, which I thought was quite interesting. So these were people who were told they did not have the virus. They subsequently were found through other testing to actually have the virus.

As part of that same study, they found that the CT scanning, doing a CT scan of someone's chest was actually a much more reliable way to determine whether or not someone had the infection. So this is -- they're going to need a big end to this, because the tests are that unreliable, especially with regard to false negatives, that's a problem. And so you're going to want to see if these tests are replicated.


CAMEROTA: Dr. Jha, back to the antibody testing, only because it is days away, according to Dr. Fauci, can you explain to everybody what antibodies are and how this will change all of our lives?

DR. ASHISH K. JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes, absolutely. And good morning, thanks for having me on.

So antibodies are basically part of your immune system, and they fight off infections. They fight off the virus. And so we can test for them to see if you've generated antibodies. And there are two types. There's an acute type and a chronic type, and what is important is that we're looking for that chronic type, what's called IGG, and that tells us that you've had the infection, you've cleared it, and you're probably immune. And I say probably. We're not 100 percent sure on that.

There is a use of the antibody test for the acute infection as well. We're still sorting out how useful and valid that is. But I think it will end up playing an important role as well.

BERMAN: And that's whether or not you can take the blood plasma from someone who has had it, inject it in someone else to provide either an accelerated recovery or perhaps some kind of increased immunity, is that what you're talking about?

JHA: So actually, that's a different use altogether. So I was talking about, can you diagnose whether somebody has the acute infection or were they infected in the past. But what you're bringing up is a really important point, something I have a lot of hope for, which is can we take the plasma of people who have been previously infected and give it to somebody who is acutely ill. There is some preliminary evidence. I don't want to overstate it, that can be very, very helpful. So I think we're keeping our fingers crossed that that ends up being an important treatment modality. CAMEROTA: Sanjay, in terms of the antibody tests of who has had it

and if you have that built up the immunity, is that the key to reopening the country, restarting the economy, as President Trump is so eager to do? He's even said by the first week of May?

GUPTA: I think it is an important part of it, but actually, Alisyn, I think the idea of being able to test for the virus itself is probably still one of the cornerstones here, because you've still got to know who is actively infected and who might be spreading the virus to other people. So the antibody testing will give you a good idea of how widespread this has been, maybe as Dr. Jha just said, maybe give you some comfort that you're not likely to get re-infected, although we still have to determine that for sure.

But, Alisyn, you've still got to be able to test, just the basic testing. Does someone have the virus? If so, they should be isolated and their contacts should be traced. That's how you really start to get a hold of the spread of this thing.

And, by the way, you talk about the contact tracing, that's a big job. Just think about how many people any individual comes in contact with and figuring out who all those people are. I was reading a study last night that said some 300,000 people for that job alone may be necessary in order to do effective contact tracing in this country.

BERMAN: Less than one percent of the country has been tested at this point, less than one percent, 2 million tests, but that's still a very small percentage. Do we have the sound of what President Trump said about testing? Because I think it is instructive, and I want to get Dr. Jha on this. So let's listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you need that, Mr. President, to make sure people are safe going back to work. You don't want to send people back to the workplace.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to have it and we're going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking about 325 million people, and that's not going to happen, as you can imagine. And it would never happen with anyone else either. Other countries do it, but they do it in a limited form. We'll probably be the leader of the pack.


BERMAN: So, again, 325 million, Dr. Jha, is probably a straw man here. But how much testing do we need to feel comfortable with people going back to work? What is the difference between where we are and what you think we need?

JHA: Yes. So, unfortunately, we need a lot more testing if we're going to open up our economy. Imagine that we don't have more testing. We open up our economy, the virus is going to flare, we're not going to know who is infected and who is not, and we're going to have to shut down again. So assuming that we do not want to shut our economy down again, we need a much more robust testing infrastructure.

So how many more tests were done? About 130,000 to 150,000 tests a day. Sounds like a lot. It's not. I have calculated we probably need about three times that if we're going to have a shot at testing everybody who is infected, all their contacts, and a sample of the regular population. We're pretty far away from where we need to be.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I want to get an update on hydroxychloroquine, we talked about it so much this week as has the White House. So, yesterday, the head of the CDC had some words about it. So let's play those.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We're not an opinion organization. We're science-based, data-driven organization. So I do think this is going to be an independent decision of these healthcare providers and patients, and that at this stage, at this moment in time, we're not recommending it, but we're not not recommending it. We're recommending for the physician and the patient to have that discussion.



CAMEROTA: I should mention, Sanjay, that was during your town hall last night, so that was in response to your question to him. So where are we with that response?

GUPTA: I would not recommend it, and I would not not recommend it. That is the response. I think, Dr. Redfield, and a lot of other public health officials I think are in a tough spot. I think he said to me as well, he said, I would always want -- him, Dr. Redfield, would always want the data ahead of time, always want the data. You want to know, a, is it safe, b, is it effective? The basic questions you ask about any therapeutic. And we don't know that about this yet.

I should add that that doesn't mean that people aren't wanting this and aren't optimistic and enthusiastic. Everybody wants some kind of therapeutic to work. I think sometimes because people say I want data, it is interpreted as I'm a pessimist and I don't want to have a good medicine. That's not the case. But the evidence is still not there. And that's what Dr. Redfield said as well. It would not pass -- frankly, we wouldn't even be reporting about the studies around hydroxychloroquine under any other circumstance. It wouldn't rise to the level of even being roared on. So we're not there yet in terms of evidence.

BERMAN: Dr. Jha, what do you say to the people who say they're prescribing it now, it is not hurting people, so many doctors are trying it -- how is that different than what Dr. Redfield and Sanjay are saying?

JHA: Yes, so a lot of doctors are trying it, and there is anecdotal evidence that some people are having a good experience, and lots of people are not. And this drug is dangerous, especially when you combine it with azithromycin, it can cause heart arrhythmias. So the problem with this is you have got stories of people who say they benefited, I've got stories of people who say they didn't, and the only way to sort it out is to let the science and evidence drive it. So what Dr. Redfield said, what Dr. Gupta just said is exactly right. We should be testing it, we should figure out if it works. It does have real side effects. If it works, great, let's use it. If it doesn't work and it's harmful, let's stop using it. We don't want to make the situation worse at this moment, and we have got to let science drive this decision.

CAMEROTA: OK, Dr. Jha, Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Gupta, thank you both very much for all of the information. Great to talk to you.

JHA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We will be right back, because we have guests who are going to tell us about how hard they are struggling with the economy having to file for unemployment. We'll be right back.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: This morning on NEW DAY, we had a chance to speak to the nation's top infectious disease doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci. We talked to him about a range of questions including what his message is to Americans as we approach Easter Sunday.


CAMEROTA: Let's start with the antibody tests. I've heard you say that they have been -- some have been developed and even validated. Are we really just days away from them being in use?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Yes. Actually, at the last task force meeting, the individuals responsible for both developing, validating and getting the tests out are saying -- and I'm certain that that's going to happen -- that within a period of a week or so, we're going to have a rather large number of tests that are available.

One of the things that you mentioned that's important, because other countries have gotten burned by this, these antibody tests are tests that we do on other diseases, but they need to be validated. You need to make sure that they're consistent and that they're accurate. And that's what we're doing now both with the NIH and with the FDA is validating them. As soon as they're validating, they'll be out there for people to use.

CAMEROTA: And so, Dr. Fauci, what does that mean for us? Does that mean that we are shifting away from an emphasis in testing for coronavirus to antibody testing to see who has had it and recovered?

FAUCI: No, not at all. I mean, those things are done in parallel. One does not essentially rule out the other. We still rely appropriately and heavily on the tests to show that someone is, in fact, infected. Whereas, the antibody test says you were infected and if you're feeling well, you're very likely recovered.

When you're trying to find out whether a person is infected, that's the test we always talk about. But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it's a very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated the society.

Because it's very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected. If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate kind of strategies about whether or not they would at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected. This will be important for healthcare workers, for first line fighters, those kinds of people.

CAMEROTA: Can you imagine a time where Americans carry certificates of immunity?

FAUCI: You know, that's possible. I mean, it's one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not. This is something that's being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit under certain circumstances.

CAMEROTA: Okay. I want to talk about something else that we understand is being discussed among the task force and in the White House, and that is when to reopen the country. The president is eager to do so, as he has said. He's even eyeing the date of May 1st. Who is going to oversee that? Is there someone who is coordinating the plan for reopening the country?

FAUCI: Yes, that's a very good question. You know, it isn't a single person. As you know, the task force meets every single day, studies all the data that come in. There is also a group that's looking at what the best approach would be from the standpoint of the kinds of people that you want to get out there first, the people who are very necessary to the functioning of society.

At the end of the day, we have FEMA involved, we have Dr. Debbie Birx, who is the coordinator of the task force. And we go over the data on a day-by-day basis and we report to it to the president and the vice president. That decision will be made at that level.


CAMEROTA: Are you comfortable with the date of May 1st?

FAUCI: Well, as I've said so many times, Alisyn, that the virus kind of decides whether or not it's going to be appropriate to open or not. What we're seeing right now are some favorable signs, as I've discussed with you a few times on this show.

It's looking like that in many cases, particularly in New York, we're starting to see a flattening and a turning around. We would want to see, I would want to see a clear indication that you are very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction. Because the one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to get out there prematurely and wind up back in the same situation.

So, obviously, we're looking for the kinds of things that would indicate that we can go forward in a gradual way to essentially reopen the country to a more normal way. But that would really depend upon a number of things that we really follow every day.

CAMEROTA: We, of course, are on the cusp of a holiday weekend. Easter Sunday is when so many people get together and have big family dinners. What is your message to the country and for people who are feeling a little bit better and maybe more confident and might be tempted to do that?

FAUCI: Yes, thank you for asking that question. I mean, as difficult as it is, we must continue to adhere to the mitigation strategies of physical separation that are in those guidelines that were first 15- day, now extended for the 30 days until the end of April. Appreciating, I know, particularly in a season like the Easter season and Passover, how difficult that is.

But we really need to do it, because it is working. The kinds of mitigations that we're doing now, the courage that we're seeing flattening and coming down, that's exactly and precisely because of what the American public is doing. So even though we're in a holiday season, now is no time to back off. As I say so often, now is the time to actually put your foot on the accelerator, because we're going in the right direction. Let's keep in that direction.

CAMEROTA: Are the models that you're looking at still predicting Easter Sunday being the peak of this in terms of deaths in the country?

FAUCI: Well, as we said last weekend, as we're going into this weekend, that this is going to be a really bad week. And, unfortunately, but predictably, it was a bad week with regard to deaths. But as I've said many times, death tends to lag behind what the driving elements of the outbreak are, namely the new cases that are coming into the system.

So, at the end of this week, we'll look back and say, that was really a bad week when it comes to deaths. But on the other side of that week, in the beginning, as we're seeing, particularly in New York, New York is a really good example, at the time of day where the deaths peaked, they were seeing less hospitalizations, less admissions, less need for intubations. So it was really the way we predicted that the deaths would clearly lag behind the favorable parameters of what's going on.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Fauci, in our waning seconds with you and on a much lighter note, "Saturday Night Live" is back this weekend after a month of being off. What do you think the chances are that somebody will portray you?


FAUCI: I have no idea. I hope not.

CAMEROTA: Well, if they did, which actor would you want to play you? Here are suggestions that I've heard. Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt? Which one?

FAUCI: Oh, Brad Pitt, of course.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: There is no hesitation. No hesitation there. Brad Pitt, of course.

CAMEROTA: I'm still waiting to hear from Brad Pitt so I can arrange it. Strangely, I haven't gotten a text or anything.

BERMAN: Yes, you can repeat that sentence for the last 30 years, I'm still waiting to hear from Brad Pitt.

CAMEROTA: Good point. I mean, it doesn't have my number, but I'm still waiting to hear from Brad Pitt.

Dr. Fauci is so good to come on and give us all this information. People, you know, across the country cling to whatever update he has and I think he really shared some interesting things about what is on the horizon for the coming week.

Meanwhile, the largest known concentration of coronavirus cases in the U.S. is not on a cruise ship, it is not even in a nursing home. It is in a jail, in Chicago.

The mayor of Chicago joins us next.



BERMAN: Prisons and jails have become hotbeds for coronavirus, with close confinement fueling the spread. At least 250 detainees and dozens of deputies in Chicago's Cook County jail have tested positive for coronavirus. One has died, at least one has died. At least 22 others are in the hospital.

Joining us now is Chicago's mayor, Lori Lightfoot.

Mayor, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

How are you getting control of the situation in the Cook County jail?

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D), CHICAGO: Well, first of all, the jail is not under the jurisdiction of the city of Chicago. The jail is the county and under the jurisdiction of the sheriff. But we are certainly providing support.

We've been on the ground there now for several weeks, providing public health assistance.

First and foremost, no one should be locked up if they're not a danger to the community or flight risk and certainly not because they can't afford to pay bail. But what we've been doing is giving guidance to the sheriff about decompressing the dorm-like setting that exists in the jail.

BERMAN: I want to talk to you about a public health red alarm you have declared in the city, in the country, having to deal with the racial disparities of coronavirus. Some 70 percent of the deaths in Chicago have been in the African-American community. Some 50 percent of the cases, 51 percent are among the African-American community.

How are you going to fight this?

LIGHTFOOT: Well, look, we have accelerated our outreach to members of the community, we put together a racial equity rapid response team that is a compendium of health -- public health experts, medical doctors, social workers and nurses, and street outreach folks, folks normally out there trying to interrupt violence but have deep roots and connection.