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Two Companies Say Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Ready By End Of 2020; China Says It Has No Interest In U.S. Election Meddling; Wynn Resorts CEO Tell President Trump Vegas Strip Could Reopen By Memorial Day. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 30, 2020 - 05:30   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. It is 5:30 a.m. in the morning here on the east coast of the U.S. Welcome to our viewers in the states and, as well, around the world. Good to see you. I'm Robyn Curnow.

So back to more news of potentially promising vaccines. It's good to talk about the good news, isn't it?

It's just not the Oxford study making progress. Another research partnership says it could have a vaccine ready before the end of the year.

The German biotechnology company, BioNTech, is working with U.S. drug giant Pfizer. The human trials could begin in the U.S. next week. In Germany, they've already started. But experts have warned that even an 18-month time line for a vaccine is optimistic.

Well, let's go straight to Berlin. Fred Pleitgen can tell us more about this. What's the good news here? What's the headline?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this company BioNTech, the German part of that joint venture -- that research partnership that you correctly said, Robyn -- they say that they've now completed a milestone, really, in the first part of the first trial of this vaccine. They say that the first cohort has now been administered -- those doses of vaccine. And now, they're obviously going to test and see whether or not those doses have been effective.

Now, they want to go on in the second phase in the trial and move to a larger cohort of about 200 people. Also, change the dosage a little bit. And what obviously they're moving to, Robyn, is they're trying to get more of a glimpse as to how effective the vaccine is. And then, of course, also -- very important always -- how safe it is and whether it is safe for human use. But so far, they are saying that they are making very good progress as they're going along.

And you're absolutely right. The U.S. part of that partnership is the pharma giant Pfizer and they've been saying that they are pretty much ready to go to trials in the United States as well. They're still waiting for regulatory approval but they do believe that they are on the cusp of receiving that.

And they say if all this goes according to the plan that they have -- that this drug, of course -- or this vaccine is effective -- they do believe that they could millions of doses out by the end of this year, which obviously would be extremely good news in the fight against Covid-19, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, it certainly would.

Good to see you. Thanks, Fred Pleitgen, there in Berlin. Thanks, Fred.

So, the U.S. President Donald Trump is reportedly accusing China of wanting to sabotage his chances for reelection. Reuters reports Mr. Trump said in an interview that China will quote "do anything they can to see him lose." And his handling of the corona outbreak is proof of that. The president also has expressed interest in investigating that China withheld accurate information about the extent of the outbreak there.

But China state media is tweeting the November election is an internal affair of the U.S. and it has no interest in interfering with it.

Well, joining me now is David Rennie. He's the Beijing bureau chief for "The Economist." David, good to see you again. I know we've chatted a few times over the last week.

But I do like -- I would like you to react to this news that the U.S. president is suggesting that China would prefer a Biden presidency. Which presidency do you think is in Beijing's interest if they had to choose?

DAVID RENNIE, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: It's a really interesting question and it's absolutely not true that China thinks of the American election as an internal matter for Americans.

The Chinese government is extremely interested in who wins but it depends on whether you speak to national security people inside the Chinese machine because actually, some of them all -- some of them would like to see Donald Trump win again.


I have had Chinese officials tell me off the record that -- when it comes to the whole question of things like human rights or the tradition of American leaders criticizing China for its policies towards Tibet, the Muslin region of Xinjiang, or the democracy movement in Hong Kong, Chinese officials have told me they like the fact that Donald Trump basically doesn't care, as they see it, about any of those issues and is focused on trade and China buying stuff.

So those kind of national security more hawkish Chinese, they like Donald Trump. On the economic side -- the people who want a smooth business relationship and lots of American companies making high-tech things in Chinese factories, probably, a lot of them would prefer Joe Biden because Vice President Biden feels to them like a more familiar figure from the days before trade wars and talk of decoupling -- sort of the old school of making money and having kind of smooth relations.

CURNOW: And we've also heard the U.S. and, I know, the Australians saying that they would want to investigate the source of this virus, criticizing China for not containing it or covering it up. In China, though, what is the perception of all of this criticism?

RENNIE: I'm afraid it's become a kind of propaganda mess because there are legitimate questions which scientists and governments all over the world will want to ask one day about how did this start and was there a moment when the Chinese authorities covered it up -- and that did waste precious time. Or even could China have contained it in the city of Wuhan, the province of Hubei, before it became a global pandemic.

The problem is I think both in America and in China that important scientific question is now buried beneath just a torrent of propaganda and very self-interested finger-pointing.

So you're seeing the Chinese government trying to spread the idea that maybe this began in America. Maybe the virus was planted in China by the American military. You're actually seeing Foreign Ministry spokesmen tweet out kind of conspiracy theories to that effect.

And we have seen members of Congress in America and senior figures in the Trump administration, including the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, saying that maybe it leaked from a Chinese laboratory where frankly, there isn't hard evidence of that.

And so there's a suspicion that the propaganda machines are trying to blame the other side for political reasons.

CURNOW: Yes, I think that's a fascinating point.

Let's talk about the U.S. I know you also used to be the D.C. correspondent for "The Economist" but what is the view from China -- from Beijing, particularly, to the kind of -- the way the U.S. has dealt with this?

The U.S. has higher recorded rates of infection and death than China. The U.S. president has suggested cleaning products could be ingested to fight the virus. States have opened up haphazardly, and we keep seeing stories of trucks with bodies piled up in American streets.

No matter where it originated, how are the failures in the U.S. to contain this virus here played in China as well?

RENNIE: Robyn, you're right. I used to be the Washington bureau chief for six years before I was the Beijing bureau chief here. And my kids are American and I love America but I have to tell you, American views -- that America's reputation, right now in China, is rock-bottom. Even the kind of Chinese who dream of sending their kids to U.S.

colleges, who used to think of America as an impressive, rich country -- they're kind of shaking their heads in disbelief of what they see of what looks like total chaos and a lack of preparation in what is still the world's richest country.

And the Chinese propaganda machine is extremely adept at using the fact that America has, of course, a free press and so they love to quote attacks on the Trump administration made by American news media, questioning whether President Trump is handling this badly.

Those are then immediately relayed back to the Chinese people with an overlying message. You see, didn't we always tell you that Western democracies are inefficient and chaotic? How much safer to be running the country with the Communist Party looking after you.

It's tragic to see how effective that is and tragic because, like all the verse propaganda, it's built on a kernel of truth.

CURNOW: Last question just before you go. We know that China has not been truthful. We know that China hasn't been transparent about death tolls and infection rates. We know there were serious mistakes, particularly early on in Wuhan.

What is the lessons that Xi Jinping will take away from this? What has been the overriding lesson, do you think, for the -- for the Chinese leadership?

RENNIE: I think the outside world would like the lesson to be this was covered up in the beginning because a one-party system with no free press doesn't have the right checks and balances. And so, there was a systematic failure of reporting.

I'm afraid the lesson that the Communist leadership will take from this is local officials mess up. We need even stricter central government control. And if public opinion was bumpy at the beginning, we need more censorship, more nationalism, and we will keep pumping out the message that America and others in the West are messing up badly, so stick with what we have.


CURNOW: David Rennie, always fantastic to get your opinion and your perspective there, live from Beijing. Thanks, David.

RENNIE: A pleasure.

CURNOW: So, the pandemic has crushed the once-booming U.S. economy -- we know that. The question now is how much worse can it get?

Here's Christine Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: It has been an absolutely awful month. Sixty-one thousand people in the United States dead to the coronavirus and millions of jobs lost. We'll talk about the outlook right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CURNOW: We are expecting the latest report on U.S. unemployment claims in the coming hours. Economists expect another 3.5 million Americans will have filed first-time claims.

Well, let's talk about this with Christine Romans. I mean, it's startling and I've lost track. You're going to have to tell us is 3.5 million have filed claims, where would we be? What's the number going to be for unemployment in the U.S.?

ROMANS: We're almost 30 million --


ROMANS: -- people over the past six weeks alone, Robyn. We've never seen that in history. You've got an unemployment rate -- we'll know for sure next Friday -- but probably approaching 15 or 20 percent.

I mean, honestly, this was truly an awful month in the American economy -- an awful month, unlike anything we've ever seen before.

The question is, does the U.S. strategy of bailing it out -- Congress' strategy and the Fed unlimited, sort of support for the credit markets -- does that allow us to recover at the end of the year.

CURNOW: Yes. And, I mean, on one level, the markets are doing pretty well. But the reality is for most Americans -- people who never thought they'd have to wait in a food line --


CURNOW: -- or get free food from a food bank -- are having to do that. And it really seems like some of the most vulnerable and also, it's been a pretty hard choice for workers on how they manage this.

ROMANS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, tomorrow is May first. In the United States, you pay rent, you pay your mortgage, you have all these bills that are due.



ROMANS: And there are people who have been laid off since before April first, when they had bills due, who haven't even been able to get their unemployment checks yet, right. So that has been very frustrating for people.

And I really feel for the millions of people who keep telling me look, you're talking about stimulus money is supposed to be in unemployment checks and I haven't been able to get through. So, the United States -- all these states manage the unemployment check process and it has been a disaster.

Meanwhile, you have some states that are slowly starting to reopen and there's this question if you're not afraid -- if you're afraid to go to work -- say you work in a meatpacking plant or say you work at a grocery store and you're afraid to go back to work, what happens to your unemployment benefits?

Listen to the governor of Iowa.


GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R), IOWA: If you are an employer and you offer to bring your employee back to work and they decide not to, that's a voluntarily -- oh, what's the word I'm looking for?




REYNOLDS: Oh, quit -- OK. A voluntary -- see, we don't have it happen very often.

It's a voluntarily quit. And so, therefore, they would not be eligible for the unemployment -- the unemployment money.


ROMANS: Voluntary quit.

Imagine you work for a restaurant. You have someone who lives in your household who maybe has a preexisting condition. The restaurant slowly reopens and you're given your job back. And you say hey, wait a minute, I want to wait out this pandemic, and you lose your benefits.

So that's a real hard choice for a lot of American families.

And it's interesting to me because the economy is slowly starting to thaw just on the edges, right, and people haven't even gotten any money yet from their -- from the -- from the stimulus that Congress has shelved out -- shelled out. So it's just really a tough -- this has been a really hellish month for millions of people in this country.

CURNOW: Yes, you can say that.

Christine Romans, thanks so much. Good to see you.

ROMANS: You, too.


So, the pandemic has brought the tourism and entertainment industry to, we know -- to a grinding halt. These are just the people that Christine has been mentioning. And that's a double-whammy for a city like Las Vegas and that's bringing calls for the famous strip to reopen within weeks. We'll have that story next.



CURNOW: So, casinos in Las Vegas are eager to reopen. The CEO of Wynn Resorts is telling President Trump he believes the city's famous strip could be ready for business in less than a month.

Well, Kyung Lah shows us what it's really like in Las Vegas so far.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Las Vegas as we've never seen or heard before. The entire Vegas strip shut down, 100 percent of casino doors closed, tourists gone.

ALICIA GARCIA, LAID OFF CASINO WORKER: It feels like a ghost town and it's like really said.

LAH (voice-over): That's why Alicia Garcia and so many other laid-off casino workers are in this line. Miles of cars, hundreds of families wait outside the Boulder Station Casino. They're not here for work but for free food from the food bank.

MARCELA MERIWEATHER, MGM EMPLOYEE: I've never seen myself to do this before. I've never seen myself to do this before but what can you do?

LAH (voice-over): A cancer survivor, Marcela Meriweather had a great union job at the MGM Casino just weeks ago.

MERIWEATHER: I said before that I'm not going to go over there because maybe there's somebody else that -- somebody needs that. And then, now, I have to do it. I haven't got any unemployment.

BRIAN BURTON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THREE SQUARE FOOD BANK: Guess what? The face of hunger in Las Vegas today looks like you and me. Over half the folks have never been in a line like this asking for help. These are regular people who are working solid middle-class jobs and their lives just capsized overnight.

LAH (on camera): Are you saying this is ground zero for the economic damage?

BURTON: I'm not saying that -- I know that this is ground zero.

LAH (voice-over): The lights have essentially shut off on Nevada's economy, one based on tourism and leisure. No tourists, no entertainment making coronavirus a bigger blow to Vegas than the 2008 financial crisis.

MARILYN KIRKPATRICK, CHAIRWOMAN, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA COMMISSION: We're talking that this is worse because at that time, at least we had some occupancy within the hotels.

LAH (voice-over): The chairwoman of the Clark County Commission, which governs the strip, says key now, how casinos reopen.

KIRKPATRICK: I'd rather open slow and methodical. I don't think that anybody wants to close a second time.

LAH (voice-over): Casinos have begun rolling out reopen plans. The Venetian and Wynn casinos say guests will see new cleaning measures like thermal cameras, electrostatic sprayers using hospital-grade disinfectant, and U.V. lights for disinfection.

Luxury driver Jimmy Prior expects under that new normal the economy will, at best, crawl back. He drove up to the food bank in his Hummer. It's what he used to drive Vegas visitors around. Covid changed life like a switch.

JIMMY PRIOR, LUXURY CAR DRIVER: It's scary, you know, but it makes you realize what you used to have and now you don't have it, right?

LAH (on camera): This is something that would be unimaginable just a few weeks ago, being able to walk like this in traffic on the Las Vegas strip.

And something else -- this sidewalk would normally be packed with people but there is nobody here. The reason why it would be packed is because of this. We're in front of the Bellagio. Those are the iconic fountains that are off because of the economic shutdown here in this state.

Now, the governor has not indicated when casinos might start again, though he has indicated the stay-home order may be extended a little bit longer.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


CURNOW: Thanks for that piece there.

So how is this for a birthday celebration? Those are British military fighter planes flying over Capt. Tom Moore's home in the U.K. to mark his 100th birthday.

The World War II veteran -- you've heard about him -- has become a national hero in the U.K. He captured hearts around the world after he raised more than $37 million for the U.K.'s National Health Service.


Capt. Tom has also been recognized with a promotion. Look at this. He's been made an honorary colonel for his fundraising efforts. He was also re-represented with his World War II defense medal, which he had lost.

Happy birthday -- what a legend.

And another legend, Greta Thunberg, is giving her award money away. The environmental activist is donating $100,000 to UNICEF to support children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. She said like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child rights crisis. Thunberg has recently received the money as an award for her global

activism from the Human Act Foundation. Everybody trying to do their part.

Thanks so much for joining me. Let's help all of our medical workers by staying at home and staying safe.

I'm Robyn Curnow. "NEW DAY" is next. Have a beautiful day.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far, we know that it's safe and tolerable and we're able to get even the sick patients out of the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worry that we want it so bad that even something that was a little bit promising is getting blown out of proportion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have literally heard nothing but we're to stay at home. Now we're starting to tell people go out and reenter the economy. That mental transition is going to take some time.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Florida will take a step towards a more hopeful future.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R), MIAMI: It makes a lot of sense to exempt Miami-Dade and Broward and Palm Beach County. Miami-Dade alone has one-third of all the Covid cases.


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

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 30th, 6:00 here in New York.