Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 900,000; Deaths 51,000; Trump Refuses to Take Questions After He Dangerously Floats Using Disinfectant as a Coronavirus Treatment; LA County Health Director on Trump's Disinfectant Comment: "People Die from Ingesting Some of these Products"; Georgia Begins Reopening Today Even as Key Model Estimates Peak in Daily Death is Five Days Away; House Subcommittee Report: FDA Unable to Validate the Accuracy of Antibody Tests Already on the Market; Biden Thinks Trump Will Try to Delay the Presidential Election. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 24, 2020 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And thanks to you, Wolf.

OUTFRONT next, Trump refusing to answer questions tonight after the CDC, state governments and even Lysol have taken the extraordinary step of telling Americans not to take the President's advice when it comes to injecting disinfectants.

Because the State of Georgia opens up for business today. We'll talk to two business owners who have taken two very different approaches there.

And a vaccine that scientists claim could be ready by fall now is being tested on humans. So how are patients responding? One of the lead researchers is my guest this Friday.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Trump refusing to answer questions tonight at the White House coronavirus task force briefing. A where his two top medical experts were absent. No sign of doctors Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx tonight and it was the shortest task force briefing yet.

The reason likely the blowback the President Trump is getting for his shockingly irresponsible comments suggesting a person could try to inject a disinfectant to kill coronavirus comments, which force the CDC, multiple states and major cities to warn Americans not to listen to President Trump's medical suggestions. There are comments that President Trump attempted to walk back earlier today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was asking the question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what happen.


BURNETT: But it was not said in sarcasm and he wasn't asking reporters anything. He was asking his team to look into it. So let's just play, here is what President Trump originally said.


TRUMP: Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous - whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way and I think you said you're going to test that too, sounds interesting.

BILL BRYAN, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SCIENCE OFFICIAL: We'll get it to the right folks who could.

TRUMP: And then I see the disinfectant would knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would interesting to check that so that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me.


BURNETT: OK. So it is what it is, that's what he said. That's what he meant. He wasn't being sarcastic. But if he was, as he now says he was why didn't he say so when it came up again minutes later.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president mentioned the idea of cleaner and the bleach. An isopropyl alcohol you mentioned. There is no scenario that that could be injected into a person, is there? I mean ...

BRYAN: No, I'm here to talk about the findings that we have in the study. We don't do that within that lab, at our labs.


TRUMP: And it wouldn't be through injection. You're talking about through almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area.


BURNETT: More than 50,000 Americans have died from this virus and we are quickly approaching a million diagnosed cases. Kaitlan Collins begins our coverage this Friday at the White House.

Kaitlan, the President, obviously, you hear what he said, he was not being sarcastic. He was laying it out and he wanted them to look into it. Clearly tonight he had no intention of answering any questions about it. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And Dr. Birx, of

course, who was seated in that briefing room last night when the President made those comments offered a different defense of him than he was being sarcastic, which is what he said today or what the White House said, which is that his words were being taken out of context.

She said instead that he was digesting information in real time. Those are comments that she made to Fox News, saying the President likes to talk out loud ideas when he's been presented with information. Though, of course, that was what the President was doing in front of television cameras in the briefing room where millions of people were watching.

And so today he is faced backlash over this. The President came into the briefing room. He did not take any questions tonight, which is incredibly rare for him. And typically, these briefings are at least an hour-long affair. This is a very brief one tonight where the President didn't even speak that much instead let the FDA Commissioner and the Vice President do a lot of the talking and he did not seem to want to take any other questions on the backlash he was facing over those remarks, which, of course, doctors have said were dangerous.

You've seen the CDC put out comments and even the Surgeon General this morning saying that people should consult with their physicians before they take any steps forward with anything like that or any treatment for coronavirus.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.

And I want to go OUTFRONT now to the Los Angeles County Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer. And Dr. Ferrer, I appreciate your time.


I mean we just played again what the President said. Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, talking about a disinfectant thing, gets in the lungs and so it'd be interesting to check that.

Today, you have taken an extraordinary step to warn Los Angeles residents just moments ago not to inject or ingest disinfectants. Did you ever think you'd have to give a warning like that?

DR. BARBARA FERRER, DIRECTOR, LA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: No. No. I don't think we expected that we would be spending today talking about that, because really what we want to talk about is what should we do to prevent more people from being infected, how do we slow the spread. We have an enormous task in front of us, the entire country, and we need to stay focused on that.

There's science that already tells us what we need to be doing right now to prevent people from dying and to slow the spread and that's what we wanted to be doing. I do want to make it clear that people in the public need to understand it would be extraordinarily dangerous for them to ingest or to inject any of these disinfectants and we're worried because we all want hope right now. Every single one of us wants out, we want life to go back to normal.

We're also looking for miracles. But that isn't an appropriate step for anybody to take. And I think right now we just need to stay the course, work hard and do what we know ...

BURNETT: And just to make the point, Dr. Ferrer, the fact that you had to say something at all is obviously good, because you had concern. I would assume that some people, somebody might have seen that and actually tried to follow up on the President's suggestion and that could, of course, have deadly consequences.

FERRER: I mean, we always worry about misinformation. We spent three months trying to make sure that people have good information, that they're getting information that's reliable and that they can use that information to take steps to protect themselves. So I think this was just a case of us wanting to make sure that nobody took that information seriously that nobody really tried to figure out can this help me, I really would like something to be able to help me or fix me or make me feel better and that's just not the way that this would work.

Disinfectants are extraordinarily powerful and they just will harm a person's body if they're ingested or even if you try to like rub it on yourself, it could be dangerous.

BURNETT: Oh, yes. I mean, it says call poison control and that's because they're poisonous. They're toxic for human beings.

Yesterday, Dr. Ferrer, you announced that the virus has now become the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County, which I just think just for people to take a moment to think about this, the leading cause of death, that is more than cancer, that is more than heart attacks and that is with shutting down your economy and social distancing. Do you see this changing anytime soon?

FERRER: Well, right now more people die every day in Los Angeles County from COVID-19 than they die from any other one disease. So if you look at even our leading cause of death, which is related to cardiac, coronary heart disease, about 31 people die a day here from coronary heart disease and right now we're averaging about 44 people dying a day here from COVID-19.

And without having any therapeutic medicines right now and without having a vaccine, we've seen sort of that number of deaths every day for the last few weeks and we anticipate we'll continue to see a relatively high death rate, so yes it's extraordinarily concerning to us. We do hope that people understand that while the vast majority of people don't die from COVID-19 and many people are asymptomatic ...

BURNETT: And it looks like, obviously, we just lost the connection. But a pretty stunning thing just to think about that statistic.

And I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advise the White House medical team under President George W. Bush and currently the Director of the Cardiac Cath lab at GW. So Dr. Reiner, thanks for being back. So the taskforce briefing into

tonight, it was 22 minutes. The shortest one that we have seen thus far, no questions. And the top doctors that we are accustomed to seeing, usually one of them, if not both, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci both not there. And a source close to the task force tells our Jim Acosta, that President Trump was upset about the flack, that is his word, that he's been or the word that the source use, that the President's been taking for these injection of disinfection comments and that that is part of the reason why the President cut short the briefing. What do you make of that?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CARDIOLOGIST, ADVISED WHITE HOUSE MEDICAL TEAM FOR 8 YEARS: The President has an enormous voice. In fact, as he's tweeted many times, these briefings have enormous ratings. So things that he says carry tremendous weight.

And it's one thing for the President to promote an unproven - yet unproven strategy like hydroxychloroquine, it's another thing for the President to mentioned something that is frankly toxic and that if used as he directed would kill people.


But on a different level, this is really a distraction. And as Dr. Ferrer was saying, it does distract us from the things that are important right now. It distracts us from the fact that we still don't have enough tests. It distracts us from the fact that we don't have enough PPEs still for our health care providers or that the public can't get a proper mask.

And most importantly, it's distracting us from the fact that this virus is killing thousands of Americans and that by next time this week, it will have killed more people in this country than died during the entire Vietnam War. So it's a terrible distraction.

BURNETT: And when you make that point, there is this question, though, when things like that are made or when the these briefings as they as they do daily go in the direction the President wants, about whatever thing of the day he's talking about. What the doctors can do to bring it back to where it needs to be? OK.

And I mentioned, Dr. Birx was not at the briefing tonight and it's perhaps because of this, her reaction last night is getting a lot of attention today. I want to show you what our reporter in the room was able to video her actually while the president happened to be saying that. So the President is talking about suggesting here someone inject a disinfectant to kill Coronavirus, let's just watch Deborah Birx while he says that.


TRUMP: Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous - whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way and I think you said you're going to test that too, sounds interesting.

BRYAN: We'll get it to the right folks who could.

TRUMP: And then I see the disinfectant would knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would interesting to check that so that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me.


BURNETT: And you can also zoom in on her face and see it. Look, she was extremely dismayed. She was upset. It was clear. But to the point here that this matters, it's not just that what they should be talking about wasn't being talked about, it's that some people might listen to this.

I don't know if anyone remembers but in late March an Arizona couple heard the President talking about hydroxychloroquine and they decided to ingest a fish tank cleaner called chloroquine, chloroquine phosphate. The husband died. The wife was in critical care.

So should Dr. Birx be at that moment stand up, run up and erupt say something or not to correct the President?

REINER: I admire Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci enormously and they have an essential job. We need them for our families and for this country, but they have to walk a very tight line. They have a boss that does not like to be countered and he does not want to be shown up. He has a very thin skin, but yet they need to keep their jobs, so they have a very difficult job to do. So I don't envy her. I wouldn't want to be in her shoes. I think she handled it as best as could be.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dr. Reiner.


BURNETT: And next, much of Georgia open for business tonight, but are businesses ready to open their doors? We're going to talk to two business owners who went through this today. What happened? What they see? What are their opinions?

Plus, the FDA responding tonight to a CNN report that the agency allowed more than 100 antibody test to be sold, despite having no proof that they work. Are Americans getting a false sense of security?

Plus, a new vaccine now beginning human trials. Researchers say it could be ready this fall. A year ahead of other vaccines. So Are things on track? The leading scientists working on that drug is OUTFRONT.


[19:17:38] BURNETT: Tonight, all eyes are on Georgia where salons, gyms, bowling

alleys and tattoo parlors are open for business. A move that has met a very mixed reaction.

Erica Hill is OUTFRONT.


ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An unprecedented experiment now underway in Georgia. Salons, tattoo parlors, gyms all have the Governor's blessing to reopen. The mayor of the state's largest city, urging residents to stay home.


MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA): Nothing has changed. People are still getting infected. People are still dying. We don't have a cure to this virus. The only thing that's helped us is that we have stayed apart from one another and I'm simply asking people to continue to do that.


HILL (voice-over): Customers weighing health concerns as owners must also confront mounting bills.


TARA GLYNN, OWNER, TRUST AND MANE HAIR SALON IN AUGUSTA, GA: I'm going to try it. I just feel like us as a country, we're going to have much bigger problems financially if we don't.


HILL (voice-over): Meantime, about an hour south, cars lining up for food at the Atlanta motor speedway. Neighboring North Carolina is not easing up yet.


GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): We love our friends in Georgia, but we're really concerned about how quickly this is happening and we want to make sure that we keep our numbers as low as possible.


HILL (voice-over): Oklahoma moving forward with a plan similar to Georgia's. The Mayor of Tulsa noting cases in his city are still on the rise and expects that we'll continue.


MAYOR G. T. BYNUM (D-OK): Waiting on those cases to decline as people for 100 miles in every direction are being encouraged to ease social distancing would be futile.


HILL (voice-over): Golf courses opening in Wisconsin Friday. Libraries and craft stores can offer curbside pickup. The state reporting 23 people who voted in-person or work the polls at the primary their earlier this month have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Curbside pickup is available today at retail stores in Texas. Colorado stay-at-home order will end Sunday, though not in Denver.


MAYOR MICHAEL HANCOCK (D-CO): Nothing will change until May the 8th or at least midnight on May 9th.


HILL (voice-over): Tennessee's state parks have reopened. More Florida beaches will soon and diners can now eat at restaurants in Alaska though capacity is limited to 25 percent. A patchwork response unfolding as experts warn the country is not out of the woods.


DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, CO-PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, EMORY'S VACCINE AND TREATMENT EVALUATION UNIT: People are keep talking about peak like it was the end game and it's not the end game. It's simply a model.


HILL (voice-over): California announcing a new partnership to get restaurants back online and deliver meals to at risk seniors.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's not just about the meals, it's about a human connection. It's about someone just checking in as they're delivering those meals and making sure people are OK.


HILL (voice-over): A chance to reconnect and to help as this crisis continues.


HILL: Erin, we also learned tonight that the California State Fair and food Expo which was set to take place in mid July through August has now been cancelled. We should point out too that that venue space is actually being used for drive thru testing at the moment and also as an isolation space for some homeless folks as they deal with COVID-19.

BURNETT: All right. Erica, thank you very much.

And I want to go out front now, as Erica was reporting on what happened in Atlanta today and Georgia to two Georgia business owners, Tim Timmons is the owner of Salon Gloss, a hair salon, and Christopher Escobar owns the Plaza Theater, which is the only independent movie theater in Atlanta and I know can seat up to 500, so you've got a big venue there.

I want to start, Tim, with you, though. You admit you are shocked as anyone when you heard Gov. Kemp said, all right, go ahead, reopen salons and other businesses today. But you did decide to open, why?

TIM TIMMONS, GEORGIA SALON OWNER, OPENED TODAY: Well, as you said, I was extremely shocked when I heard him say that. I expected him to lengthen the time that we had to be closed actually. Well, after he made that announcement, I got with my team. My team has been suffering. They've been out of work. They're not getting any assistance. No unemployment, no stimulus money for the business and these are real people with real problems and they have to put food on their table.

I have single parents, they don't have gas money. So we got together and we asked a lot of tough questions, had some tough answers and decided it was in their best interest to get back to work so that they could buy the essentials. And from a business standpoint, I've worked about nine years on my brand and I'm at the point where I have to do something. I'm about ready to lose my business, if I don't.

So, we followed the safety standards set by the Georgia State Board of Cosmetology and opened our doors today.

BURNETT: So I want to ask you a couple questions about that first, how was business? How many people came in?

TIMMONS: We were fully booked today. We've been, now, we're booked for three weeks out.

BURNETT: Wow. And fully booked.

TIMMONS: And fully booked.

BURNETT: So I'm sure they're very grateful for that. So how are you doing things? I mean, there had been some video out of Hong Kong a few weeks ago where people were literally having six foot long brushes that they had built just for this and I know at the time people kind of thought it might be satire, of course, it was reality.

But what were you doing? Is it basically the same proximity but masks and gloves and do the customers wear them too?

TIMMONS: It's not the same proximity actually. We have really put a lot of space in between each of our stations. We're about 14 feet apart. We're not running on a full staff right now. We're doing split shift so that we can have the distance between us.

And when a client enters our establishment, they have their temperature taken, they answer a series of questions. They sign a certification saying that they have not been exposed, been around to their knowledge or taking care of anybody with the virus. They are given gloves mask. My staff has gone through the same procedure and we go through the added protection of face shields. BURNETT: So can you keep your business, I know you mentioned you were

not able to get assistance presumably from the small business program.

TIMMONS: Not yet.

BURNETT: When you're saying you're running not at full capacity, but you are fully booked at what you have. I mean, are you able to get through this then financially with the math and the numbers that you have?

TIMMONS: We could. It could be a stretch, but we could do it and hopefully as the summer progresses, and we can get a few more staff members in there and slowly, hopefully, eventually get back to where we were.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Tim, thank you.

I want to bring in Christopher now. Christopher, as I mentioned, your theater is big. I mean, nearly 500 seats 485, I believe. And you can open on Monday with reduced capacity, but you can open. Those are the rules in your state, but you've decided to stay closed, how come?

CHRISTOPHER ESCOBAR, OWNS INDIE MOVIE THEATER IN GEORGIA; NOT OPENING MONDAY: Yes. Well, it comes down to the difference between what you can do and what you should do, really. And for us, both for the concern and safety of our staff, of our customers, despite all of the measures we were taking going into this to try and operate as safely as possible, just does not seem to make sense at this time. And really what we're doing is looking for a clear indication and signals from our mayor who's leading very intelligently and with a lot of informed decisions as well as public health officials.


So instead, we're looking at pivoting and doing other things that we can do to operate safely in a way that doesn't compromise that.

BURNETT: So how long do you think it will be then until you can open up it? Do you think this is a matter of weeks or days or is it months, perhaps?

ESCOBAR: Yes, I would say it's at least weeks or months to operate in terms of having people in this space. And keep in mind, the Atlanta Film Festival would normally be starting in just a few days here. This place would be packed with hundreds of people at a time, thousands over the course of the day.

But what we're doing instead is we're getting creative and working with property owners here and a number of different partners. We're going to be doing a driving outside and getting creative and doing different options like that where we can operate in completely no contact manner. Those are the kind of things along with the incredible support from the community that are going to put allow us to weather the storm.

BURNETT: And that is, I guess, the crucial question. Do you think you will be able to weather it financially? I mean, I know that you have a family business. This is your livelihood. You have built this. Will you be able to weather it?

And it looks like we just lost that audio. My apologies for that. But thanks very much to both Tim and Christopher.

And next, congressional leaders accusing the FDA of letting companies flood the market with antibody tests that just may completely not work. The FDA responding now.

Plus, researchers developing a vaccine, so human trials are now underway. And they have been saying this could be ready by the fall, by September. Is that real? One of those researchers is my guest tonight.



BURNETT: New tonight: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn on the defense moments ago at the coronavirus task force briefing after congressional leaders accused the agency of failing to protect the American people by allowing more than 100 antibody tests to be sold to the public despite having no proof that they work.

Drew Griffin investigates OUTFRONT.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Slammed by criticism it slowed down testing during the early coronavirus outbreak, the FDA sped up the process for the next step, by allowing dozens of antibody tests to go straight into the marketplace, most without FDA authorization.

DR. STEPHEN HAHN, FDA COMMISSIONER: President Trump asked the FDA to remove all unnecessary barriers.

GRIFFIN: An antibody test is supposed to detect whether someone has had a novel coronavirus infection and recovered even with no symptoms, but except for a handful f which have been authorized by the FDA, it's hard to tell whether the 100 odd tests out there work.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Basically, the results could be catastrophic for so many people. Just imagine someone who thought they are somehow immune because the presence of antibodies then they go out and expose themselves and get other people sick.

GRIFFIN: Illinois Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi is chairman of a House Oversight Subcommittee investigating the antibody test market. It's preliminary report obtained by CNN says a lack of enforcement by FDA has allowed manufacturers to make fraudulent claims that the FDA is unable to validate the accuracy of antibody tests that are already on the market. And FDA has failed to police the coronavirus antibody test market has taken no public enforcement action against any company and has not conveyed any clear policy on the serological tests.

The FDA tells CNN it is policing problem tests, citing a statement by its commissioner the day after the FDA met with the committee. We have and will continue to take appropriate action against firms making or distributing unvalidated tests or those making false claims, such as issuing warning letters requesting that companies stop their unlawful promotion.

Still, the Democrats on the committee insist the FDA's actions have led to a free for all, tests popping up on the Internet for sale. The congressional committee citing a report that the Texas emergency room spent half a million dollars on 20,000 tests from China that were worthless. Congressman Krishnamoorthi says the FDA needs to act immediately and stop unverified tests from being sold.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: They should clear the market.

GRIFFIN: While the FDA has not banned sales, it has set up two pathways to approve tests. Just four of those have received emergency use authorizations so far, though dozens of others have applied.

Meantime, companies are allowed to sell tests as long as they're clearly label as not FDA approved, to be only in a laboratory setting. But according to David Grenache, chief scientific officer at TriCore Reference Laboratories, the rules are vague and require doctors to read fine print.

DAVID GRENACHE, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER TRICORE REFERENCE LABORATORIES: I've seen some e-mails from marketers, salespeople, who are quick to sell their devices and honestly, some of them are very deceptive. They make it -- they don't make it clear that these should be performed in a laboratory.

GRIFFIN: Health experts say antibody tests are crucial in reopening the country, advising the public who may or may not be susceptible to further infection, which is why Chairman Krishnamoorthi is adamant about making sure the tests for sale work.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I fear that a lot of people are going to continue to buy these tests based on faulty assumptions and then get faulty conclusions that could lead to dangerous life decisions.


GRIFFIN: Erin, the FDA says it's constantly reviewing its policy, but right now, this remains non-approved tests are on the market even though the FDA can't definitively say they even work -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Drew.

And I want to go now Dr. Peggy Hamburg, the former FDA commissioner in the Obama administration.

And, Dr. Hamburg, I appreciate your time. So the FDA gives its seal of approval to just four antibody tests, but has allowed more than 100 different types to be sold to the American people. [19:35:07]

Is this a serious failure?

DR. MARGARET HAMBURG, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER UNDER OBAMA: In this critical time, it's extremely worrisome and maybe even reckless I think to have these antibody tests out there that don't have proof that they work. I think it is appropriate that FDA wanted the move swiftly to get important diagnostic tests out into the marketplace for use, but I think one can move swiftly but still have rigor to still require some data for validation that the tests tell you what they claim to tell you.

Because otherwise, as was noted in your story, people believe that they have information that may not be accurate and that may result in them doing things that they shouldn't be doing based on faulty information. We don't want people to think that they somehow are protected when in fact the test isn't accurate. There are other reasons why they may not be fully protected as well. Don't fully know what your antibody status means in terms of your immune protection. But all the more reason why we need to have tests that work, so that we can also drill deeper into that underlying science of what do antibody --

BURNETT: And, look, the FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn was asked about this moments ago. You know he said the FDA provides as much information as it can to consumers. But look, just the reality of understanding the situation that a test that's 99 percent accurate in a population that's only 11 percent infected would be wrong 50 percent of the time is not an easy thing to just tell consumers and have people understand what that is and how that could be, but nonetheless, that's what he's saying.

I mean, what do you think, Dr. Hamburg, is the reason? Is the reason that the FDA did this? Allowed 100 antibody tests to go out when they only really approved four of them.

HAMBURG: Well, I think the FDA's always operating under enormous pressure and scrutiny. I think especially since our testing in this country got off to a slow start, there was a lot of pressure to move swiftly, to remove unnecessary barriers and to make tests available. I was surprised when the decision came out that it, that for the serology tests, the antibody tests, there wasn't going to be a requirement for data to be submitted to the FDA. I think that, you know, puts us in a dangerous place now.

And again, in fairness to the FDA, they don't have all the resources that they need to be able to move through everything. And to be able to track down fraudulent tests in the marketplace, et cetera. And so, I think that as Congress rightly raises concerns about these tests being out there without validation, they also should be thinking about providing more resources to the FDA so that they can actually pursue this with more rigor.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Dr. Hamburg, I appreciate your time. As I said, former FDA commissioner. And OUTFRONT next, a team of researchers beginning human trials on a

vaccine that they hope to have ready to go on a mass basis in just a few months, a year faster than any other vaccine. So what are they discovering?

One of the lead researchers OUTFRONT tonight with the very latest.

And Joe Biden tonight warning Trump is trying to postpone November's election. What is behind such a claim?



BURNETT: Tonight, researchers at Oxford University have begun human trials of their potential human coronavirus vaccine. They say if it goes, well, they could have a vaccine ready to go, in production, being given to people this fall, the fall of 2020.

That is at least a year and frankly, more than a year, of what most experts project with any other vaccine.

OUTFRONT now, Professor Adrian Hill, one of the lead researchers working on the vaccine at Oxford.

And it's good to have you back, Professor. We spoke with you last week before the trials began and you were very optimistic in that conversation. Now you're two days in in terms of human beings getting this vaccine. How are things going so far?

ADRIAN HILL, LEAD RESEARCHER: Really well. You know we waited to get a lot of animal data to start our clinical trial. More than the regulators required. Maybe more than any other groups have done and they look really positive so just starting this clinical trial tells you we're very encouraged what we've seen pre-clinically and we've been given permission by regulators to proceed really at quite a rapid rate, certainly for a first in human trials.

So over the next couple of weeks, we'll probably enroll as many as 1,000 people into this trial, partly because we've used this type of vaccine before for other indications and partly because we believe the safety profile should be very good. The other exciting thing to know is that we're probably in a location that has one of the highest levels of COVID transmission anywhere, certainly in Europe, at this time.

So we've got a fair shot at getting an efficacy result over the next three months and to do that, you need to have quite a few cases around.

BURNETT: So, just to be clear, obviously, most trials, and I know we talked about this before, but so people understand, usually in this stage you're in now, a lot of people would only be giving it to stay 40 people but you're giving it to so many, as you point out, because the type of vaccine has been used other times, right, so that you're better aware of the safety profile. [19:45:01]

HILL: Absolutely, and thousands of people.

So yes, we're pretty confident that this should be safe as well. But obviously we'll be monitoring people extremely carefully. We started with two vaccinees yesterday, six tomorrow, then we'll rapidly escalate to larger numbers per day.


BURNETT: And you said three months, so that gets you to July. Does that mean you think this will be ready to if you were able to get approvals, but starting to literally you know come out of manufacturing in July or still September?

HILL: Well, even finishing the trial by July would be pretty good going. Nobody knows when we'll finish because it depends on the incidents of cases in the study and there will be a safety monitoring board looking regularly at those numbers, and they are to stop the trial and declare it over depending on whether the vaccine works, which would be a great result, of course, but it could also stop it for what's called futility because there's no real difference emerging because the results somewhere in between, they will not stop the trial and might well run longer than July into August, September, maybe even October.

So, we're not sure when it will finish. If there are a lot of cases still in the U.K. over the next couple of months, we might finish early. If not, just going to take longer.

BURNETT: So, you know, last week I sort of asked you about it just sounds too good to be true. You were explaining how the type of vaccine has been used before which is what gave you more confidence.

One of the safety concerns I've seen raised with vaccines related to coronavirus is something called antibody dependent enhancement, which basically means the vaccine could make you more likely to get the disease instead of protecting you from getting it at all. It is something your team mentioned in what appears to be an announcement of being awarded to grant to study the virus.

Do you have any concern about that? Is that -- is that a possibility at all that something like this could end up making you more likely to get it instead of protecting you from it?

HILL: It's a theoretical risk. We think it's a very tiny risk, particularly with this type of virus and this type of vaccine. It has been seen with vaccines for dengue where it was well-known about and well-studied. It's been little seen from this antibody dependent enhancement in coronavirus models.

We're aware of it. The regulators are aware of it. Our volunteers are aware of it. It's in the information they get about the trial so that's something we'll be monitoring carefully, but as I said, I think it's pretty unlikely, and that's one of the reasons we waited to have animal data in two species including nonhuman primates that look very assuring before we started the trial.

BURNETT: So what is the biggest fear that (INAUDIBLE)

HILL: I don't know it's fear, but it would be frustrating if suddenly, the control of the disease was so effective in England that we ran out of cases, great for the general population, not good for this trial. That is a worry and that certainly could happen. I think the odds are against it, but you know, this pandemic has been thoroughly unpredictable so far.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Hill, I appreciate your time. It's good to have you back, sir. Thank you.

HILL: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Joe Biden says quote, mark my words, Trump is trying to, mark my words, that's the quote. Trump is trying to delay the election? What is behind such a serious accusation?



BURNETT: Tonight, conspiracy theory ramblings, that's how the Trump campaign is dismissing Joe Biden's warning that Trump will try to postpone the election.

So what is behind the stunning accusation?

Abby Phillip is OUTFRONT.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Vice President Joe Biden raising an m us in possibility that president Trump could seek to postpone November's general election because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden saying this to donors at fundraiser last night: Mark may words, I think he's going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can't be held.

It's a concern that some Democrats share. But --

(on camera): Is that even possible?

RCK HASEN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UC IRVINE: Well, not legally. Constitution gives the power to set the day of the election to Congress, would take an act of Congress to legally change the date.

PHILLIP (voice-over): The Constitution leaves it up to Congress but even that has never been done.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: We have to vote November 3rd. I mean, we did the elections in Civil War and World War II. So, we are going to vote. TRUMP: Mail ballots, they cheat, OK?

PHILLIP: What is likely major battle between Democrats and Republicans over access to mail-in voting.

TRUMP: Mail ballots, a very dangerous thing for this country, because they're cheaters.

PHILLIP: Democrats seeking to avoid repeat of what unfolded this month in Wisconsin after Republicans pushed to move ahead with in-person voting, now state election officials say 23 people who say they participated in election day tested positive for coronavirus, though they still don't know if those people contracted the virus on election day.

As Trump repeatedly warns his party that mail-in voting doesn't work out well for Republicans, Biden telling his supporters that Trump is making it harder for people to vote because, quote, that's the only way he thinks he can possibly win.

At the White House, the president dodging questions about whether doubts to be raised about the legitimacy of the November election.

REPORTER: Do you think there's a risk that there will be -- there will be some -- there will be lack of agreement, lack of legitimacies that results in a very close election and people start saying, well, a whole bunch of people couldn't vote because they're sick.


TRUMP: Look, I can't tell you what's going to happen in an election. Yes, a great question.


PHILLIP: Democrats and others are already waging legal battles in more than a dozen states to expand access to voting but especially absentee ballots. But Republicans and the Republican National Committee, they've pledged $10 million to combat those efforts. No doubt this will be a major fight heading into the fall -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Abby, thank you very much.

And we will be right back.


BURNETT: Tonight, millions of children, ten millions of children ending another school week at home, away from friends, teachers and no doubt for many difficult and confusing at times. That's why don't miss CNN's special town hall tomorrow, because it's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Erica Hill but it is also "Sesame Street." They're to answer your family's questions. It's called "The ABC's of COVID-19". It is tomorrow morning with Erica and Sanjay and Big Bird, t 9:00 a.m.

Thank you so very much for joining us. Of course, we hope you will join them tomorrow morning.

"AC360" with Anderson begins right now.