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Can Cows Help Treat Coronavirus?; States Reopening; President Trump Promises Vaccine By End of Year. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 15, 2020 - 15:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Well, Bonnie, this is a tremendous service.

And we really appreciate you coming on to talk about it, Bonnie Carroll with TAPS.

And our special coverage continues now with Kate Bolduan.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining us this hour.

At an event billed as a presidential announcement on vaccine development, the message -- this was the message from the president of the United States: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back.

As the president named the newly appointed leaders of the government's vaccine effort, the president undermined that very effort. He did call the work groundbreaking and historic, once again claiming a vaccine will be ready and available to the public before the end of the year.

His new vaccine chief stepped to the podium and said, that timeline of faster than 12 months is doable.


MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER TO VACCINE EFFORT: I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. And this data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.


BOLDUAN: But the very same man, a former top executive at the drug company GlaxoSmithKline, told "The New York Times" in an interview published just this morning the following -- quote -- "Frankly, 12 to 18 months is already a very aggressive timeline. I don't think Dr. Fauci was wrong."

Of course, when Dr. Fauci reiterated that is the fastest timeline that is likely.

We will talk more about all of this in just one second, but I wanted to let you know, of course, where the numbers stand with this virus right now in the United States.

Nationally, the daily number of new cases on average is trending down. And it is the same story when it comes to the rate of new deaths on average per day. But the death toll, of course, is still startling. More than 86,000 people have been killed in the United States. Yesterday alone, nearly 1,800 people died.

Let's get to it right now.

CNN's Jim Acosta, he's joining us right now.

Jim, from the White House, what happened this afternoon?


Well, the president was trying to sound very confident about a vaccine being developed and produced in hundreds of millions of doses by the end of the year. You heard Moncef Slaoui, the co-head of that Operation Warp Speed effort, say that he was confident that they could meet that deadline by the end of the year.

As you noted, a lot of top public health experts have raised caution flags about that, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. But the president was essentially saying that, vaccine or no vaccine, he's pushing forward with reopening the country.

And our Kaitlan Collins asked the president what he meant by that at that press conference. Here's what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to make something clear. It's very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back and we're starting the process.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You said, no vaccine -- vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: We think we're going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future. And if we do, we're going to really be a big step ahead. And if we don't, we're going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in, it'll go away. At some point, it'll go away.

It may flare up and it may not flare up. We will have to see what happens. But if it does flare up, we're going to put out the fire.


ACOSTA: And so the president was sending a lot of conflicting signals at that press conference, expressing confidence that they can get this vaccine developed and mass-produced by the end of the year, but also saying at the same time that it's the -- the reopening of the country is not dependent upon having that vaccine ready.

He went on to speculate that an untold number of Americans have developed some sort of immunity to the coronavirus, even though the scientific community is not sure of that at this point.

And, Kate, as you were probably watching and observing from this press conference, he was also speculating that schools could reopen in the fall, but perhaps older teachers wouldn't be able to go, and seemed to dismiss the concern that students could potentially bring the virus home.

So, the president answering questions and leaving a lot of questions unanswered at that press conference earlier this afternoon. But I think the clear message that the president was sending from that press conference in the Rose Garden is that he is reopening this country, he is going to push to reopen this country, whether there's a vaccine, whether there's a massive testing program across the country, or not -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, no matter what, that seemed to be the clear message, from whatever you want to take from that.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Jim. Thank you so much.

Joining me right now is Dr. Tom Inglesby. He's director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Doctor, thank you so much for being here today.

That message, vaccine or no vaccine, we are back, what does a statement like that mean to you?

DR. TOM INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHNS HOPKINS CENTER FOR HEALTH SECURITY: Well, I mean, I think he's trying to signal optimism for the country and hope.


And, to some extent, that's what he -- that's what a leader does. But I think it's also really important for people to understand where we are in this outbreak. And at this point, the virus is still the same virus that really knocked us -- the whole country on its heels back in -- starting in March, the same virus that has caused more than 85,000 deaths.

So we do have to find a way to cautiously reopen the country. And I know states around the country are in the process of trying to do that. But people should really understand it's the same virus that was here before and there still is risk.

And they need to take their own individual precautions, physical distancing, wearing a mask, avoiding gatherings, in the same way they did before, even if businesses are reopening. It's still important for people at an individual level to still keep doing that.

BOLDUAN: And that is a message that I agree needs to be continued to be pushed loud. That message needs to be loud and clear. The timeline that they're talking about now from the White House, what

they just laid out, that they believe that they will have a vaccine approved and mass-produced and publicly available before the end of the year, everyone around the world would love that.

Do you think it's possible? I mean, they started vaccine development in mid-January.

INGLESBY: I would have said no. I would have said that that was not technically feasible.

But I do think that Tony Fauci and Moncef Slaoui are two of the most respected vaccinologists in the world. And the fact that they have both said that they think there's a possibility -- excuse me -- is really important to listen to.

I think they're both saying that it's going to be difficult to get there, that there's a lot of risk, that it's possible that it will fail, it may not be safe, or it may prove to be not as safe as we need it to be. Excuse me.

But if things proceed, all break in the same direction, then I think they're both saying that there's a possibility that that could happen. And I do trust that they have good judgment.

BOLDUAN: That's important to hear.

The CDC has put out six pages of reopening guidelines yesterday. I have heard a lot of people say that it's tough to even call them guidelines, as they're really nowhere close to the detail in the original 68-some pages that CDC had put together, but that were shelved by the White House because they were too specific, they said.

Is this enough? Is this acceptable, weeks after the president started pushing states to open up for this level of guidance?

INGLESBY: I would have wished that there would be more detail, more along the lines of the original document.

I think that's what businesses have been seeking. At least the businesses that we have been speaking to have been really interested in getting federal guidance that gave them ideas about how to diminish their own risks and also allowed them to tell their employees and their customers that they have done everything that the government asked them to do.

So, in a perfect world, I think it would have been preferred the more detailed guidance, and I think businesses could have benefited from it. But now that we do have guidance, I think we should use it as best we can. I think the CDC has done a lot of thinking, and tried to provide its best judgments for business.

So, hopefully, it will be valuable. And it would have been better to have it earlier. But now we have it, so let's just move ahead with it.

BOLDUAN: Move ahead with what you have. I guess that's really just the reality of the reality of now.

INGLESBY: You bet.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, something was said yesterday that, I have to say, has been troubling me quite a bit having to do with testing.

Let me play it for you.


TRUMP: It could be the testing is, frankly, overrated. Maybe it is overrated. We have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case.

When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing, we would have very few cases.


BOLDUAN: Saying testing is overrated, can I just get your reaction to that?

INGLESBY: You know, I think testing is really the backbone of our strategy for controlling this disease in the country.

We have to know where the cases are to be able to isolate them and break chains of transmission. We have to know where cases are for us to be able to identify their contacts and get them in quarantine.

So, it's consistent advice by public health agencies around the world, the World Health Organization, CDC, public health agencies in other countries. Everyone believes that diagnosis is a key cornerstone. Within the public health community, everyone believes that.

And I think it is true, the more that you test, the more that you will find . And some countries haven't been testing as much as the U.S. and they probably have dramatic undercounting of cases. And that's a big problem.

But I do think we're on the right track in the U.S. as we continue to expand our diagnostic testing capacity. That's how we're going to find cases. And that's how we're going to try and bring things under control around the country.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's why that was so confusing to me, I have to say, especially as the White House is stepping up testing everyone at the White House because of infections.


They know internally that testing is the way that they're going to get their hands on if there's a problem within the West Wing. They have -- of course they know that, outwardly, testing is the backbone to any smart strategy.

That's why that was so confusing to me. And on testing, the FDA commissioner said this morning that they are

investigating the data, this new data coming in that's suggesting that that Abbott system, the Abbott test, that quick test system has been putting out a concerning number of inaccurate false negatives, which, of course, for everyone means people might -- it might say people don't have the virus, when they actually do.


BOLDUAN: Do you think people should be thinking twice about using that testing system, including the White House?

INGLESBY: When you start having reports about high numbers of false negatives, you do have to have concerns about what a negative test means.

I haven't seen any concerns about what a positive test means with the Abbott system. So, if you're testing and you get a positive, I think we have confidence in that. But I think with this number of high false negatives being reported by the FDA and by another study that just came out, I think there are a lot of important questions that need to be answered before we rely on that test alone to make a judgment about if someone is truly negative -- truly has a negative test for COVID.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's quite a complicated and troubling picture being painted.


BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you for everything you do. Thanks for coming in.

INGLESBY: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Coming up for us: Georgia was the first state to reopen. Now three weeks on, new data shows new cases in the state are decreasing. What can the rest of the country learn from this?

Plus, stay-at-home orders forced thousands upon thousands of restaurants to close. Now orders are being lifted, but could some restaurants never reopen? The CEO of OpenTable joins us.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Let's check in on how things are looking in states across the country right now. You can see from this map the average number of new cases is trending down in 28 states, holding steady in 15. And only two states today, South Dakota and Arkansas, are seeing significant increases. Montana is up as well, but has still seen just a handful of new cases this month. Encouraging news, but in two states that began opening weeks ago, two

very different pictures are emerging. We're talking about Georgia and Texas. In Georgia, the average number of new cases is trending down. Texas is actually going up.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Atlanta, Georgia. Ed Lavandera is in San Antonio, Texas.

Natasha, let's start with you.

What's behind the good news in Georgia?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, let's be clear. The good news from that graph you were showing for Georgia is that there has not been a major spike.

And what we're seeing from the seven-day averages with the line there is a little bit of jaggedness. It goes up and down a little bit, inching downward, but for the most part hovering in the same zone, so no major spike, but also no major drop.

Now let's take a look at what that means on the ground here. There are businesses that have been very eager to reopen. Places like this have people dining out on the patio, as well as inside. And we know that Governor Kemp actually relaxed some guidelines this week for restaurants to increase the density, as well as saying that there can be up to 10 people in a party now, instead of six.

But that's very different just across the street at this restaurant, where the owner tells us that she is not prepared for dine-in service. You can only do takeout. And while you can sit down, she's not going to have servers come to you because she's trying to limit the contact between servers and the guests.

When I asked her if she felt the governor moved too fast, here's what she said:


CINDY SHERA, OWNER, THE PIG AND THE PEARL RESTAURANT: I like to make my own decisions. And it allowed everybody to make their own decisions.

Yes, safety is a priority to me, but having the choice about how I react to things is also a priority. And do I think it was a little early? Yes, in the grand scheme of things, but I liked having the choice.


CHEN: And so a lot of times you will see a mixed bag, Kate, of whether people are packing a restaurant or not showing up at all.

It kind of depends on what part of the state you're in. And, also, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce president told me that no matter what business you have, everyone is now planning to be in the business of health and wellness, because, if they're going to reopen, they're going to have to be prepared for a different business model in the long run, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, or else. I mean, that's really the option.

Great to see you, Natasha. Thanks so much.

All right, let's go to Texas right now.

Ed, what's going on then in Texas, as the numbers look quite different?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, here, May 1, the governor of Texas initiated the first phase of reopening the economy here.

And with that, he promised much more testing would be done. And we have seen an increase in the amount of testing. Now, Texas still lags behind much of the rest of the country in how many tests are administered. But we have seen the two highest days of testing in the last two days.

But if you look at the number of new cases since the opening was announced on May 1 -- that's over the course of the last two weeks -- the number of new cases has remained rather high, more than 1,400 cases reported yesterday. That was a record number. And if you look at that average, it is really a state above more than 1,200 or 1,100 cases or so, depending on the day, much of this month.

And the number of deaths has all has also been significantly high, 58 deaths announced yesterday. Now, the governor here in Texas says he's looking at more medical data than just those numbers. He's looking at things like the hospitalization rate, which has trended slightly lower here in the last couple of weeks, Kate.


But the number of people in hospital because of the coronavirus, that has really kind of plateaued and just kind of remained steady, anywhere between 1,500 and 1,700 people hospitalized.

But, Kate, here, the clear sign is that, barring any jarring medical data to suggest otherwise, the trend to reopen here will continue. In fact, gyms and exercise clubs is the next phase. Those are scheduled to open up on Monday -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Ed. Thank you.

All right, so in New York, the national epicenter of the pandemic, the governor here is extending stay-at-home orders for most of the state, including really all of the population centers, through the middle of June, that just announced, leaving only a handful of counties to begin reopening today.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in Binghamton, New York, one of the communities that got the green light to start opening up. JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, New York's

governor has always said that he's going to take a regional approach to reopening.

And that pretty much falls in line with what we heard earlier today, when the governor announced that state beaches will be reopened by Memorial Day weekend, not only here in New York, but also in Delaware, in Connecticut and in New Jersey, so, taking an Eastern approach to that, Eastern regional approach, but also within the state, taking a regional approach as well.

Because when you look downstate at a place like New York City, where you have got the density of population, more cases down there, New York City still on pause until May 28. But up here in Binghamton, that's part of a region, one -- a part of five regions, that will be allowed to reopen in some ways.

Manufacturing and construction, curbside check-in at retail spots will be allowed to reopen as well. And it can't come soon enough for a number of those business owners that we talk to who say cautiously they are willing and able and ready to reopen.


TOM SHEREDY, BLUE CULTURE COFFEE: We think it's important, obviously -- the social distancing, working together, wearing a mask, you know, having supplies on hand, letting -- asking the contractors if they feel comfortable about coming to work. And if they don't, we respect that.

I think it's going to be a slow start. As much as everybody's eager to get out there and do everything, we can't do it all at once. So, doing it in phases, I think, is a healthy approach.


CARROLL: So, again, that business owner saying that he is ready to reopen, albeit cautiously.

And that pretty much falls in line with what we have heard from a number of business owners up here in Binghamton that we have spoken to, who say, yes, they want to get going. Economically, it is a must- do for them, but they are also listening to science, listening to the health experts about how and when they will reopen -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jason, thank you so much.

Still ahead for us: why researchers are now looking to cows as they search for effective treatments for the coronavirus.

We will be right back.



BOLDUAN: Some promising news just in on the race to find effective treatments for the coronavirus.

A major study now showing blood plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 is safe to give to those who are seriously ill with the virus. That said, it's still not known how effective these transfusions are in helping seriously ill patients.

And on another front, researchers are now studying ways to use blood plasma from cows to possibly treat coronavirus patients.

Joining me right now is CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen for more on this.

Elizabeth, what do cows have to do with tackling this virus?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, these are not just any cows. These are cows that are a little bit like us.


COHEN (voice-over): Cows, they're just like us. Really. These cows are just like us in one important way, a way that could possibly save lives during the pandemic.

(on camera): You've given the cow a human immune system?

DR. EDDIE J. SULLIVAN, SAB BIOTHERAPEUTICS: Well, we've certainly given the cow a part of the human immune system.

COHEN (voice-over): And so this company, SAB Biotherapeutics in South Dakota, is hoping their blood could help make a drug to fight COVID- 19.

Here's how it works. Using genetic engineering, scientists create a cow embryo that contains parts of human chromosomes. That embryo becomes a calf and then a cow.

Then a noninfectious part of the novel coronavirus is injected into that cow. Because of the genetic engineering, the cow produces human antibodies to the virus. Those antibodies are collected from the cow and, once purified, become a drug that might work to combat the coronavirus in humans.

So, these cows are plasma donors, just like humans who've recovered from coronavirus and donate blood. But the cows have a big advantage, and that is, they're big and have a lot of blood to give.

SULLIVAN: So it's one of the reasons that we chose cattle, because, obviously, they are a large animal.

COHEN: Plus, they can donate plasma three times a month. Humans can only donate once a month.

Another company, Regeneron, is trying a similar approach with mice who are engineered to have portions of the human immune system. The scientists call them magic mice.