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THE SITUATION ROOM

Dr. Fauci Warns Of Suffering And Death If States Reopen Too Soon; Interview With Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH); Los Angeles County Could Remain Under Stay-At-Home Orders For Next Three Months; Fauci Cautiously Optimistic That Vaccine Will Be Discovered; Dr. Fauci And the President: A Task Force Timeline. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 12, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:30]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following breaking news on the coronavirus pandemic.

A key model was just updated, and it's now projecting 147,000 deaths in the United States by August 4. That's 10,000 more than the previous estimate. As of this hour, more than 82,000 Americans have died from coronavirus.

And Dr. Anthony Fauci is cautioning the actual toll, in his words, is almost certainly higher. Dr. Fauci sending a message during Senate testimony that lifting coronavirus restrictions too soon could unnecessarily lead to more suffering and death.

Also tonight, there's new pushback against the rush to reopen. We're told that the most populous county in the United States -- we're talking about Los Angeles County -- could remain under some form of stay-at-home orders for the next three months.

Let's get some more on what's going on.

CNN's Nick Watt is joining us from Malibu out in California.

Nick, you're there in L.A. County, where the restrictions are likely to continue for a few more months.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

There was a headline in "The L.A. Times" earlier that read that the county will almost certainly keep stay-at-home orders in place for the next three months. Many people were deflated, thinking, my goodness, we have to stay indoors for another three months.

The mayor came on our air and clarified. No, no, no, he said, but we are going to have some restrictions and a health order in place for a few months as we gradually reduce those restrictions. Tomorrow, they're going to be opening the beaches here in L.A. County but no swimming -- sorry -- just swimming and running, no relaxing.

Now, earlier today, we saw our health officials, our federal health officials answering questions from senators, many of them in little boxes. And these days, that looks almost normal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I would just like to hear your honest opinion. Do we have the coronavirus contained?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIAID DIRECTOR: Depends on what you mean by containment. If you think that we have it completely under control, we don't.

WATT (voice-over): Testifying to distance or dialed-in senators today, a dose of reality from the nation's now most recognizable doctor.

FAUCI: My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.

WATT: Through this weekend, 48 states will have begun reopening. Colorado, South Carolina, Georgia, and Oklahoma were among the first. And their new case counts are holding steady for now, but it is still too early to tell the full impact of opening.

FAUCI: There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back.

WATT: A now hard-to-comprehend death toll of over 80,000 is likely even higher in reality.

FAUCI: I don't know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly it's higher.

WATT: Parts of New York state reopening Friday, but New York City will take it much slower.

BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I'm very much aligned with Dr. Fauci's concern. In the beginning of June, that will be the first chance we get to start to do something differently, but only if the indicators show us that.

WATT: Right now, new case counts in South Dakota climbing dramatically, and, after clashing with the governor over COVID checkpoints on tribal land, the Oglala Sioux now in a three-day lockdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be absolutely no movement of anybody or anything throughout the reservation.

WATT: Still, stores in Ohio today opened doors to a brave new world.

RANDY BENEDICT, OHIO SHOE STORE OWNER: We have cleaned everything. WATT: Major League Baseball might restart spring training in June,

according to "The New York Times," and an 82-game fanless season, first pitch maybe July 4.

And Disney World in Florida is now accepting reservations for July.

But not even Dr. Fauci knows everything about this virus. No one does.

FAUCI: I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I'm a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence.

We don't know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: So, kids and parents all pretty much resigned to the fact there will be no more school until the fall. What will that look like?

[18:05:03]

Well, today, we heard from the California state university system, 23 schools, nearly half-a-million kids. And they say, even in the fall, there will be almost no in-person classes.

So, Wolf, even in the fall, those half-million kids will still be online -- back to you.

BLITZER: Yes, very, very cautious developments.

All right, Nick Watt reporting from Southern California, thank you.

Let's get some more on the Senate coronavirus testimony today, and it was dramatic, and how it squares with what we heard yesterday from the president of the United States.

We're joined by our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the president and other top health officials are not necessarily all on the same page.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

President Trump's rosy assessments of the coronavirus pandemic were put under the microscope during that Senate hearing. Top administration health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned senators not to reopen schools too quickly.

And even one of the president's fellow Republicans, Mitt Romney, tore into the administration's misleading statement that the U.S. is leading the world in testing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FAUCI: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. ACOSTA (voice-over): Testifying remotely at a rare Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the health crisis in the U.S. could be worse than what's already known, telling senators the actual number of deaths may be higher than current estimates.

FAUCI: I think you are correct that the number is likely higher. I don't know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly it's higher.

ACOSTA: Fauci and other administration health experts were grilled on some of President Trump's questionable comments about the virus.

Ahead of the hearing, the president tweeted: "Our testing is the best in the world, by far."

But that's not true. Some of the latest data shows the U.S. still lags behind other countries in testing. The administration has frequently compared the U.S. to South Korea, even though the two countries are far apart in deaths, a glaring contrast noted by GOP Senator Mitt Romney.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever. The fact is, their test numbers are going down, down, down, down now because they don't have the kind of outbreak we have. Ours are going up, up, up.

ACOSTA: In a clash over reopening schools. Republican Senator Rand Paul echoed complaints from Trump supporters that Fauci has been too cautious. Fauci fired right back.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I don't think you're the end-all. I don't think you're the one person that gets to make a decision.

FAUCI: I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. I'm a scientist, a physician and a public health official.

I think we better to be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.

ACOSTA: As the White House and some Republicans are clamoring for states to reopen, Vice President Mike Pence was spotted outside the West Wing wearing a mask.

Unlike last week, more White House staffers can be seen in masks too. Pence is keeping his distance from Mr. Trump, officials say, as a precaution, after the vice president's press secretary tested positive for the virus.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president has made the choice to keep his distance for a few days. And I would just note that that's his personal decision to make that as to how many days he does it.

ACOSTA: A new CNN poll finds a sizable majority of Americans don't approve of the president's handling of the virus, a measurable spike over the last two months. So, the president is trying to distract the public from his record,

taking credit for the positive poll numbers for many governors, tweeting: "Remember this? Every governor who has sky-high approval on their handling of the coronavirus -- and I am happy for them all -- could in no way have gotten those numbers or had that success without me and the federal government's help."

The president is tossing out new bright, shiny objects, coining the term Obama-gate to suggest former President Barack Obama somehow committed a crime, even as Mr. Trump won't say what it is or produce any evidence.

QUESTION: What is the crime exactly that you're accusing him of?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.

ACOSTA: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell complained about Obama's criticism of the president.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was not wearing a mask during a briefing with reporters earlier in the day.

Other White House aides, we should note, at the briefing were. And McEnany says she took off her mask because she felt she was a safe distance away from the reporters in the room. Nearly all the journalists, though, were wearing a mask.

And as for Senator Paul telling Dr. Fauci he is not the end-all/be-all on the pandemic, it should be noted the press secretary frequently cited the doctor and his expertise during the briefing.

So, Wolf, while, privately, some aides grumble about Dr. Fauci and how he is very candid at times publicly, they're embracing him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly are.

All right, Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

Joining us now, the Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.

Governor, thanks so much for spending a few moments with us.

You heard the breaking news. A key coronavirus model is now projecting 147,000 Americans will die by August 4 because of explosive increases -- increases in mobility.

[18:10:04]

New Hampshire, your beautiful state, is under what you're calling Stay at Home 2.0, as you begin to reopen. Are you seeing an increase in mobility in your state right now? And, if yes, does that concern you?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): So, we just started just earlier this week opening up retail and some golf courses, very minor, with new guidance, all done in conjunction with our public health experts here.

They buy off on everything and sign off on everything we do with our guidance. So, as I think Dr. Fauci was talking about, we won't really know the effects of that for a couple more weeks.

But, again, we have let data really do all the talking. We -- models are nice, but data is what really helps determine where we are today and likely where we're going to go. We look to predictive analytics, our ability to have additional testing, ability for antibody testing.

All these are tools in the toolbox that help us make these decisions.

BLITZER: Some residents, as you heard, in Los Angeles County, they could remain under a stay-at-home order for the next three months.

Are you even considering extending New Hampshire's stay-at-home order further into the summer?

SUNUNU: Yes, so, what we have done, we started with the stay at home. I transformed that into what I now call Stay at Home 2.0, which creates a little more flexibility for businesses.

And as we move down the road, there -- who knows? There could be a 3.0 or 4.0, just kind of evolving where we are. We want the stay-at-home order to go away. I think everybody would love to see that.

But no -- we're nowhere near that right now, unfortunately, given that we are in the Northeast. It's a hotbed in the entire country, not just New York, but what you're seeing in Boston and Massachusetts. They have a whole -- very serious situation down there.

And we share a border. We share communities. We share businesses, so we have to be very cognizant of our partners in this around the New England area.

BLITZER: Yes. These are life-and-death decisions, as I keep saying, you governors, mayors have to make right now.

Dr. Fauci also warned today during his Senate testimony that the consequences of opening up too soon could be very, very serious. What makes you confident, Governor, that New Hampshire is reopening right now at a safe pace?

SUNUNU: The key word you just used there is the right one, pace.

We're taking very, very simple and slow steps. We're not going too fast. We're going probably a little slower than even the federal guidance would allow us to do. We're just going to 50 percent capacity on retail.

And next week, we will do just outdoor seating with restaurants. We will wait to see what the data says from that. We will make other sensible steps as we move forward.

So, you have to pace yourself. I say all the time -- people tell me well, if you don't open everything up, you're not paying attention to the economy.

If you open too fast, you risk destroying all the good things that you have done going way back. And when it comes to the economy, we play for the long game. I'm playing for the fall and next spring, I want to make sure that we're always taking steps forward.

And you do that by being slow and steady and very thoughtful about your measures, not just pushing into public whims, opening up too fast, and maybe creating a bigger problem than you had in the first place.

So, if you take it slow and steady, you let data do the talking, you kind of work with your advisers and all the different folks that have to come together to make these right decisions with you, I feel very confident we can do this in a smart and sensible way, and get the economy going, as it really should get going, not too fast, not too slow, but really walking that line.

BLITZER: And when you say let the data do the talking, you heard the president yesterday say that the U.S. has prevailed when it comes to testing.

He said, anybody who wants a test can get a test. He said that a couple of times. I interviewed your colleague, your fellow Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio yesterday, also a Republican.

I said, can anyone in Ohio get a test who wants to test that? And he said, no, not yet.

What about in New Hampshire?

SUNUNU: Yes, we're not quite there yet.

If you're over 60, you can get a test. You have any health condition or any symptom at all, you just go online, self -- a test -- and get a test. So it's very easy.

But younger people who have no symptoms at all, no, we're not quite there. We're not at the ability to where we can just go out and asymptomatically test everybody, right? We're not there. It'd be great to be there. But we're not there today.

We've introduced antibody testing this week. That will be an interesting tool to see as we go forward. It's not 100 percent, if you get the antibodies, are you immune for COVID forever? We don't really know yet. Right?

So we got to kind of see how that's going to pan out as well. We're definitely making huge strides in testing, 1,200, 1,500 tests per day. We have opened it wide up, but, really, we're not there where we can test 1.3 million people across the board.

It'd be great to get there. We're not there today. But it could happen at some point.

BLITZER: Well, good luck. I hope it happens sooner, rather than later. So much is at stake.

Governor Sununu, always a pleasure speaking to you. Thanks so much for joining us.

SUNUNU: Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: All right.

The breaking news continues next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, with more on the very disturbing new projection of 147,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths by early August.

Plus, millions of people in Los Angeles possibly facing months more of stay-at-home orders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:15]

BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on a revised projection of the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus in the months ahead.

A key model now estimating 147,000 deaths by August 4, as states move ahead with reopening plans.

Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and our CNN White House correspondent John Harwood.

Sanjay, this key model, 147,000 Americans will die by August 4, that's their projection, citing explosive increases in mobility. Is this additional loss of life the consequences perhaps of states rushing to reopen too quickly?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, unfortunately, Wolf, I think that that's the case here.

There's the specific criteria that have been in place to make sure you have a 14-day downward trajectory of patients and have testing in place. The reason you had those things was to basically try and keep these model numbers from going up, these projected deaths from going up.

[18:20:13]

If you can identify and isolate people quickly, you can try and prevent the growth from going into what's called exponential growth in these places that are reopening, exponential growth of cases.

So, assuredly, this is due to the increased mobility. The numbers were already going up. It's hard to wrap your head around some of these numbers, Wolf, but that's what's driving it.

BLITZER: Yes, more than 82,000 confirmed deaths of Americans here in the United States so far over the past couple months or so, maybe close to 70,000 more between now and early August.

And that's very, very disturbing.

GUPTA: Right.

BLITZER: John, the president did strike a very confident tone when it comes to testing yesterday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a great testing capacity now. It's getting even better. There's nobody close to us in the world. And we certainly have done a great job on testing. And testing is a big -- is a very big, important function.

By the way, some people consider it more important than others, to be honest with you. But testing certainly is a very important function. And we have prevailed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, when he says, we have prevailed, John, have we prevailed? What are you hearing from top health officials?

And what did you hear during the testimony earlier today in the Senate?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, every top public health official says the idea that we have prevailed on testing is pure nonsense, Wolf.

And we heard the same message from senators, Democratic and Republican alike, at that hearing that Lamar Alexander chaired in the Senate today, him questioning witnesses from self-isolation because he'd been exposed to a staff member who tested positive.

And you had three public health officials. Fauci, Hahn and Redfield, all testifying from isolation themselves because of their exposure to people in the White House who had the coronavirus.

But it is true that testing has improved. We have over 300,000 tests reported today. That's positive. The test positivity rate is going down. There is some good news within the blizzard of concern that everyone has.

It's just that not losing our guard, not letting down our guard is key to preventing a spike. And not all reopening are created equal. Governors are doing it differently. And part of the response is going to depend on how people function in society.

People are moving around in order to go to outside activities, and they socially distance, that's not as bad as if they crowd together in a pool hall or in a bar. And if they wear masks, that's better than if they don't wear masks.

So there's some variability here. But, no, we have not fixed our testing problem. Admiral Giroir said today we could get to 40,000 to 50,000 tests per month by September.

If so, if they could deliver on that, that would be very positive. It's not as far as where some public health experts think we should go. But that would be a big step forward. The question with this administration is always, do they deliver on the promises?

BLITZER: During the Senate testimony today, Sanjay, there were some dramatic numbers that Senator Mitt Romney of Utah showed.

And I want to put them up on the screen, comparing the U.S. and South Korea. On March 1, at that time, South Korea, there were 20 confirmed deaths in South Korea. There were two, two confirmed deaths in the United States.

Now May 12 in South Korea, there are 258 confirmed deaths. In the United States, there are 82,105 confirmed deaths.

Now, South Korea has 51 million people. We have 350 million people, so we have a lot more people. But look what South Korea did in the month of March, the month of April. They basically been shut down the whole country, there was enormous testing, contact tracing. They did a lot of stuff that we didn't do.

And, as a result, they didn't suffer as badly as they could have.

GUPTA: Yes.

I mean, the question often with these sorts of things is not just, what did you do? It's, when did you do it? It's kind of like, you could use a medical metaphor. If you start to treat the disease or the infection, in this case, later, it's going to be harder to control. The infection will have spread more. It's just going to be harder to control.

And that's the situation. If you're behind the curve, as we have been on, sadly, just about everything here, testing, obviously, but even the stay-at-home orders, the recommendation of masks to prevent spread of the virus, all these things, I mean, we're still starting -- we're still grappling with some of these things even now into May.

So, I think this is an important message. And this is going to be an important lesson learned, although we should have already known this lesson. It's not just when you do these things, the number of tests and all that.

[18:25:01]

It's not just how many. It's when you do it as well, the earlier, the better.

BLITZER: Certainly is.

All right, Sanjay, thank you very much. John Harwood, thanks to you as well.

We will continue this conversation. Just ahead: Is Disney World planning to reopen soon? We will get the

latest on Florida's push to lift coronavirus restrictions.

And I will speak with the mayor of Atlanta about her escalating fears about Georgia's rush to reopen.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: Tonight, new evidence of the caution in California about reopening too soon. A top health official says, Los Angeles County could remain under stay-at-home orders for the next three months. And it's a stark contrast to so many other states and counties that are easing coronavirus restrictions.

Let's go to CNN's Randi Kaye, she's in West Palm Beach County for us -- in Palm Beach County, which is in West Palm Beach. She's in West Pam Beach, I should say, which is in West Palm Beach County. Randi, what more are you hearing about Florida's continued plans on reopening, including a plan potentially for Disney World?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing a lot, Wolf, of reopening here in the three Florida Counties, the southern counties that were hardest hit by the coronavirus, Palm Beach County where I am was already reopening their retailers and restaurants up to limited capacity. But on Monday, Wolf, they plan to open their beaches.

So this area behind me, you will probably see crowds. I saw, I walking by a restaurant yesterday, every seat at the bar at this one at this one restaurant in West Palm Beach was taken. So the crowds did come out in. In Miami-Dade, also very hard hit, they plan to open some retailers and restaurants to limited capacity on Monday. The beaches there will remain closed. And Broward, the third county, that was hardest hit, doing the same. They will open some non-essential businesses coming up on Monday. The beaches there though will remain closed.

But further north in Orlando, big news, Disney World is talking about reopening. They have a plan in place, they're, in fact, already taking reservations for not only the theme park but also the resort and hotels there starting July 1st and beyond. No specific date yet for when the actual theme park will open, but they are already taking reservations.

Before that, the Disney Springs will be opening, which is sort of an outdoor mall area and Universal is already talking about opening May 14th, not the park itself but this city place area outside, which is this entertainment mall. People will have to wear masks. There will be temperature checks in this parks. We expect to coming up, Wolf, as well.

BLITZER: All right. Randi Kaye, in West Palm Beach for us. Randi, thank you.

Let's go across the border to Georgia right now. We're joined by the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor, thank so much for joining us.

And as you heard, some residents in Los Angeles County could remain under a stay-at-home order for three months. Would Atlanta be safer, do you believe -- would Atlanta be safer if you were able to keep a stay-at-home order in place well into the summer?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GA: Well, thank you for having me, Wolf. And what I would say is, we've got to continue to follow the science. So, as I listened to Dr. Fauci today, I mean, he has warned us against moving too fast too soon.

And for some people, this is economically challenging, then others it's emotionally challenging. And I would just say for those who don't have to go out and who don't have to resume their daily lives that we just still need to be thoughtful and continue to stay-at-home.

But as it relates to where we are in Georgia, we are where we are. So my approach has been moving to a second phase of how I'm speaking with our citizens. And what I am telling people is, please, stay home.

And if you can't just can't stay home, then please be careful. Wash your hands, wear a mask, try and distance yourselves. Because my concern in our state and city is that we've gone back to normal and there is nothing normal about where we are with COVID-19.

BLITZER: Yes, good advice. And Dr. Fauci also reiterated today, Mayor, that states need to follow the public health guidelines as they reopen. Your governor, Brian Kemp, has largely ignored such guidelines as he has reopened Georgia. What do you fear are the consequences of those actions, potentially -- we hope it doesn't happen -- but potentially could be for your city?

BOTTOMS: My concern is that we will now take ten steps back from all of the progress that we took. I mean, we really dug in and took some very drastic steps to get us where we are in this state. And our numbers aren't great. But we began to socially distance. We closed down businesses. We didn't gather in crowds. So for wherever our numbers are at this point, it's because we took very aggressive action.

So my concern by just jumping back out so quickly and not even having an opportunity to assess the data where we are in terms of reopening, that we are doing too much too soon, because what we know about COVID- 19, Wolf, is we really won't know until the next few weeks whether or not our measures have had the negative impact that we all fear.

BLITZER: Georgia was one of the first states to reopen, Mayor.

[18:35:01]

But coronavirus cases in Georgia remain pretty steady at this point. Do you fear they are creating false confidence right now, that residents in your city don't need to heed the warnings you we're just talking about staying at home, wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying at home and being socially distance? BOTTOMS: I am concerned. And it also concerns me that people have a false sense of security with testing being more available. It's great that testing is more available. But people have to remember the testing is only as good as the testing and then you go home and you isolate and you separate yourselves from one another. Testing does not stop you from being infected or impacted if you go out and you disregard all of the other safety precautions.

And so I think people just have to remember that nothing about this virus has changed, absolutely nothing. It is the same virus that send us into our homes in March. And if we aren't careful, it's going to take us even longer to get back to some sense of normalcy if we aren't thoughtful about the way that we go about doing it. And that's my concern with where we are in our state today.

BLITZER: Well, good luck to all the folks in Atlanta. Good luck to all of the folks in Georgia right now. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, thank you so much for joining us.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, I'll speak to the director of one of the teams racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

And we'll also look at the career of Dr. Anthony Fauci and how he became the nation's top infectious disease expert for the last 36 years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: With potential coronavirus vaccines being developed around the world, Dr. Anthony Fauci told senators today he's cautiously optimistic a vaccine will be discovered, but that we shouldn't expect it to be ready by the fall.

Joining us now, Dr. Adrian Hill, the head of one of the teams working toward the vaccine. He's the Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford. Thanks so much for joining us.

Dr. Fauci said that there's no guarantee there will be a vaccine that could be effective against the coronavirus, even at all, although he is optimistic eventually there will be one. You're leading this team at Oxford that's already testing a coronavirus vaccine. How confident are you that we will have a vaccine for this deadly virus?

DR. ADRIAN HILL, DIRECTOR, JENNER INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD: We're very confident that somebody will be able to make a vaccine against this terrible virus. We are one of the leading groups. We were able to get started very quickly. And we're probably the only group measuring the efficacy of the vaccine, how well it works in a place where there is still quite a lot of coronavirus disease.

So the reason we are confident is that this type of vaccine has been used for many other infectious diseases in many clinical trials, and particularly for another coronavirus called MERS, Middle East respiratory syndrome. We have now vaccinated at about thousands people in Oxford in our clinical trial off of those with the coronavirus vaccine for the control, and so far it's going well. But we will need to vaccinate at least another 4,000 or 5,000 before we got a result.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci also said today, Dr. Hill, that having a vaccine by the time students return to school here in the United States in the fall is a bit of a bridge too far, in his words. In terms of a timeline, how quickly, assuming things go well, do you hope to have your vaccine ready to go in production and available for use?

HILL: Yes, we don't expect to have a results on whether the vaccine works until about August time. That's best case scenario. Then you need emergency use approvals from the regulators, and we will have some doses available in September.

But the problem is that we won't have tens or hundreds of millions of doses, we will have to scale up from there. But we will have initial doses for high risk groups as soon as this vaccine can be approved and, as I say, we're targeting September.

BLITZER: When you say, high risk group you mean all the people and people who have underlying health conditions, right?

HILL: Including healthcare workers who are particularly susceptible from their jobs, other people who are exposed to individual who may be infected, and, yes, older individual as well.

BLITZER: Researchers around the world are also working and developing the vaccine, but your team seems to be well ahead. How were you able to make such fast progress?

HILL: Well, we were expecting something like this. We've been heavily involved in making vaccines and testing them against the Ebola virus five years ago in West Africa. Several of those vaccines were tested first in Oxford. And we had a team working on this technology, which is a single dose vaccine soon when you give a single shot and can be laid pretty readily and triggers both arms of the immune system. So that's have been ages.

And we'd also been working on manufacturing. We have our own facility in the University for making clinical vaccines, which is pretty unusual. And we had made about 15 vaccines of this type against different infectious diseases, from malaria, for T.B., and so on.

[18:45:02]

So we were set to go.

But I have to say, when this work started by my -- started by my colleague Sarah Gilbert (ph) in January, we had no idea that this was going to go to the scale of the problem it is. This was a little outbreak in China that we were trying to make a vaccine against, and it's just grown and grown.

BLITZER: And so, just to recap, in the best of all worlds, assuming it goes the way that you hope, and all of us hope it goes, you're suggesting maybe by September or October, there might be a vaccine ready to go for mass production?

HILL: For a large scale production, that doesn't mean everybody will be able to have it. We won't have a billion doses. But we can scale this rapidly and its manufacturing process that gives a very high yield. So, it is conceivable that by next year, there might be a billion doses of this type of vaccine, or other related vaccines that others are trying to make right at the moment.

BLITZER: Well, good luck, Dr. Adrian Hill. We're all hoping that you guys succeed and, if not you, someone else succeeds because we desperately, desperately need a vaccine. Thanks so much for joining us.

HILL: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll take a closer look at Dr. Fauci and President Trump's up and downs on the coronavirus task force.

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BLITZER: He's certainly a key member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, but over the last couple of months, there have been some significant ups and downs.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this for us.

We're talking about Dr. Fauci, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. And I'm digging into the life and career of Anthony Fauci, consistently, those who know him have told us he focuses only on the science, and that he is not a political. That equilibrium has served him well through six presidential administrations, but he's clearly never encountered a president quite like this one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: No one can really do it alone.

TODD (voice-over): He's been at the forefront of America's battle against the AIDS, SARS, and Zika outbreaks, as well as the anthrax scare. Dr. Anthony Fauci, who's been in his current job for 36 years has advised six presidents, but it's quite possible he's never contradicted any of that in public as much as he has Donald Trump, like in early March, when the president discussed a timetable for a coronavirus vaccine.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've heard very quick numbers, a matter of months, and I've heard pretty much a year would be an outside number.

FAUCI: Make sure you get the president the information that a vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that's deployable.

TODD: Fauci's compulsion for scientific truth telling has during this crisis often thrust him directly at odds with the president determined to portray response to the pandemic as flawless.

TRUMP: Everything we did was right.

FAUCI: I mean, obviously, you can logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that.

TRUMP: We have met the moment, and we have prevailed.

FAUCI: If you think that we have it completely under control, we don't.

TODD: Speaking about his discomfort with Trump's inaccuracies on the pandemic at the White House briefings, Fauci once said, I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down.

It's led to strong rumors of tension between the two men. In mid- April, Trump retweeted a conservative's call for Fauci to be fired, and then downplayed it.

TRUMP: I like him. Today, I walk and I hear him going to fire him? I think he's a wonderful guy.

TODD: Today, it was Fauci downplaying any possible tension.

FAUCI: No, there is no confrontational relationship between me and the president. As I mentioned many times, I give advice and opinion based on evidence-based scientific information. He hears that, he respects it, and he gets opinion from a variety of other people.

TODD: Fauci has been a lightning rod for right wing commentators who accused him of impeding Trump's quest to get the economy rolling again. It's not the first time he's been the center of controversy during an epidemic. In the '80s, while Fauci was working on cures for AIDS at the National Institutes of Health, protesters would converge on his building, accusing the government of not doing enough. One activists published an open letter saying, Anthony Fauci, you are a murderer.

Fauci himself lamented that he could not save more lives, telling "The New Yorker" that it was the darkest time of my life. But he buckled down, met with protesters and pressed on.

Tonight, those who have known him for decades are grateful that he's become the face of this fight.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: It's hard to imagine what we would do without Tony Fauci, we've all come to rely on him for clear, science- based advice. He will tell us both the bad news and the good news, and it's something that we can rely on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Anthony Fauci will turn 80 years old on Christmas Eve this year. A few weeks ago, he told senators he was running on fumes. Today, he reassured Congress that he is doing just fine, and hundreds of million people are counting on him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: As I've often said, he's a national treasure.

Brian Todd, thanks very much.

We have more news, just ahead.

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[18:59:18]

BLITZER: Finally tonight, we honor more of the people who lost their lives to the coronavirus. Jonathan Coelho of Danbury, Connecticut, was just 32 years old. His wife, Katie, couldn't get to the hospital in time to say good-bye. But Jonathan left her and their two children a note on his phone. He wanted to make sure they knew how much he loved them.

Timothy Lloyd Pernell Sr. of Newark, New Jersey, was 78 years old. He rose up the ranks of Bell Labs from a member of the cleaning crew to become an esteemed member of the technical staff. He leaves behind four children who say he refused to quit until the very end.

May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.