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The Global Race to Find a COVID-19 Vaccine; Texas Hospitals Struggling to Handle Surge in Cases; White House, Republicans Divided over Stimulus Plan; U.K.'s Russia Investigation; Pompeo Praises Britain for Actions on Huawei; Monsoon Rains Trigger Deadly Flooding in India; Fauci: Don't Wait to Get a Vaccine When It's Available. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 22, 2020 - 01:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

And this hour, Donald Trump finally acknowledges reality; the pandemic is bad. And it only took five months and 140,000 dead Americans.

The controversy over human challenge trials. Why many are pushing for volunteers to be exposed directly to the coronavirus to speed up the development of a vaccine.

And cyber spies. The U.S. charges Chinese hackers with trying to steal research about a coronavirus vaccine.

For the first time in two weeks the daily death toll in the United States has passed 1,000. That pushes the country's total past 141,000, almost four million confirmed cases.

Experts say the real world numbers, though, could be a lot higher. One study from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention found that in some places, infection rates were actually two to 24 times greater than the official count.

The U.S. president is finally acknowledging the grim reality of this crisis. He's been playing down for months,

In his first coronavirus briefing since April, he admitted things would likely get worse before they get better.

And get this, encouraged everyone to wear a mask.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask, get a mask.

Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact, they'll have an effect. And we need everything we can get.


VAUSE: More than 400,000 confirmed cases; California has surpassed New York as the U.S. state with the highest number of infections.

Now as the virus continues to spread across the country, some states are rolling back their reopening plans and re-imposing strict measures. Another effort to try to contain this outbreak.

CNN's Nick Watt has our report.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Down on the, border one Texas county just ordered everyone to stay home again after 34 deaths in just 24 hours.


DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, PHYSICIAN, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: We're a hot spot in a hot spot of a hot spot.

The United States is a hot spot, Texas is a hot spot. And we're the hot spot of Texas.


WATT: In nearby Cameron County, they say the death toll is higher than their official count because they just can't keep up with this virus.


EDDIE TREVINO, JR., JUDGE, CAMERON COUNTY, TEXAS: It's not slowing down because there's a presidential election at the end of the year. The virus doesn't care.

Do you? Do you care?


WATT: Similar story in Florida. Right now, averaging over 10,000 new cases a day; 54 hospitals in 27 counties now completely out of ICU beds.

But the governor will not change course.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FLA): We're going to get through it. I think we are on the right course.


WATT: But Miami is closing all city summer camps after several kids tested positive.

So, schools?


JEROME ADAMS, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: The biggest determinant of whether we can go back to school actually has little to nothing do with the actual schools.

It's your background transmission rate.


WATT: Missouri now seeing on average four times the new cases every day compared to late May, but the governor wants school open.

And the kids?


GOV. MIKE PARSONS (R-MISS): If they do get COVID-19, which they will, and they will when they go to school, they're not going to the hospitals. They're not to have to sit in doctors' offices, they're going to go home.

And they're going to get over it.


WATT: Not necessarily. And who are they spreading it to at home?

Meanwhile, still long lines for tests in too many places. One leading lab says some results are taking up to two weeks.


CLAY JENKINS, JUDGE, DALLAS COUNTY, TEXAS: We've never had enough testing. The federal testing is way too slow, that's why we had to get rid of it.


WATT: But there are some early signs that what the American people are doing, masks et cetera, is helping.

First time in a week the U.S. dropped below 60,000 new cases in a day. But it's all relative.

Hundreds are still dying every day, and it's regional.

Idaho, largely spared in the spring, been climbing alarmingly midsummer.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CALIF.): We have to minimize our mixing, we have to minimize the transmission of this disease.

Be as vigilant as possible to work through the next few critical weeks.


WATT: And nationwide, probably for many months to come.


MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH & POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: We're still at the beginning of the pandemic. That's what I find so difficult.

Most people are already done with it. They're over it, they've decided they're not going to do any more.

Well, they don't get to choose, the virus chooses.



WATT: Here in California, state officials say that the rate of transmission is now so great that they are having difficulty keeping up on the contact tracing.

Even with an army, they say, of contact tracers. They say it is impractical and difficult to do.

Nick Watt. CNN, Los Angeles.


VAUSE: Well, his tone during the White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday was more somber. There was no rambling, no lashing out at female reporters.

But it was relatively brief, done in less than 30 minutes. And Donald Trump still managed to talk up his administration's response to the pandemic.

CNN's Jim Acosta has details.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A scripted President Trump trying to take on a more serious tone in addressing the coronavirus pandemic at a press conference at the White House.

The president at one point acknowledged that it's going to get worse before it gets better in the U.S. when it comes to COVID-19.

And he urged Americans to wear masks and not to congregate in crowded places like bars.

Here's more of what the president had to say.


TRUMP: We're instead asking Americans to use masks, socially distance and employ vigorous hygiene -- wash your hands every chance you get -- while sheltering high-risk populations.

We are imploring young Americans to avoid packed bars and other crowded indoor gatherings.

Be safe and be smart.


ACOSTA: One big problem for the president's message at this press conference would be the inconsistencies, for example, on masks.

For weeks, the president has scoffed at the idea of using them. And has even ridiculed former vice president, Joe Biden, for wearing a mask.

And as for congregating in crowded spaces, that runs against the president's desire for Americans to attend his political rallies.

And even a trip he made to the Trump Hotel earlier in the week when he attended a fund-raiser. Many of the people there, including the president, were not wearing masks.

Jim Acosta. CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, is with us live from Los Angeles.

Ron, always good to see you.

I watched this briefing. And possibly the most surprising statement the president made during the briefing was this.

Here it is. Listen.


TRUMP: Some areas of our country are doing very well, others are doing less well. It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.

Something I don't like saying about things but that's the way it is. It's the way -- it's what we had.


VAUSE: The reason why it was surprising is because it was true.

It took always five months and a death toll of what, 140,000 to get to this point.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And who knows if it'll last, right?

There's no way -- the president can read a speech for a day. But his instincts are always to go in the opposite direction and to, essentially, deny reality . .

And he's paid a heavy cost for that, John.

In polling, only about one third, sometimes 30 percent, sometimes less of Americans say they believe what he is saying on the coronavirus.

His numbers have always been terrible on honesty and integrity, whether you can believe what he's saying, but these are even lower than they have been traditionally.

We're watching some sort of -- aside from all the other issues -- we're watching a political science experiment from a president affirmatively trying to deny the reality that most of the people in this country are living.

And I think you're seeing the consequences in the polls.

VAUSE: And what's really interesting is that, on the other side of the equation, you have Joe Biden.

Had this campaign release just a few days ago. Never mentions the president. But take a look at some of it.

Here it is.



If you're sick, if you're struggling, if you're worried about how you're going to get through the day, I will not abandon you.

We're all in this together. We'll fight this together.


VAUSE: The contrast couldn't be more stark. And I notice that in your piece you look at Trump's poll numbers.

And you write this:


"Trump at this point appears to be running not as much against Biden as against the pandemic.

And as case loads and hospitalizations soar, the death toll ticks up and the economy remains in turmoil, the pandemic is decisively winning that confrontation."


VAUSE: So I'm wondering. Is there any other motivation which would explain why Trump had this sudden about face on almost everything to do with virus from wearing a mask to social distancing and what he'd done in the past -- which he had never done -- apart from these tanking poll numbers and a looming election?

BROWNSTEIN: No. look, I think -- people described him as presidential today. He was chastened today.

The central fact of this election is that 60 percent of Americans consistently in multiple polls now say they disapprove of the way he is handling the coronavirus.

And as long as that is true he is facing an almost impossible climb to the presidency.

There's only so far you can go as the incumbent in making the race fundamentally, as they like to say, a choice, not a referendum.

Very few people who disapprove of him on the way he's handling the virus are indicating now that they plan to vote for him over Joe Biden because they don't like Joe Biden -- 10% or less. In three separate polls.

So no matter how many doubts he raises about Biden, until he improves perceptions of his own performance he is going to be looking at a deficit.


VAUSE: And with that, it seems the moment has arrived that Republicans start turning on one another over the president.

CNN is reporting that --


-- several House Republicans attacked House GOP Conference Chairman [sic] Liz Cheney of Wyoming during a conference meeting on Tuesday morning for supporting Dr. Anthony Fauci and splitting with President Trump on a variety of issues over the past months, three sources who were in the room told CNN."


VAUSE: When party feuds start going public months before an election, it rarely ends well.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Although the attacks are on Cheney for being insufficiently supportive of the president.

And that's kind of the situation Republicans are locked in at this point. Particularly in the House. There are very few Republicans left from anywhere except hard-core Trump country.

Before the 2018 election, Republicans held 43 percent of the House seats where there were more college graduates than average, for example. Now they're down to less than a quarter. It's basically the true believers that are left.

And as a result you have seen extraordinarily, I think, little dissent as he has taken this course on the virus of downplaying the problem, of failing to organize a coherent national response on many fronts from PPE to testing.

And in some ways his success at breaking any kind of independent voice in his party has allowed him to kind of pursue a course that is leading all of them to potential electoral disaster.

VAUSE: They'll all hang together, or they'll all hang separately.

I want to finish up with the president and the Department of Homeland Security sending this sort of secret police force.

It's currently in Portland, they want to send it to Chicago.

In Portland, apparently, it resulted in a tenfold increase in the number of protesters.

I want you to listen to now the mayor of Chicago where they're heading now.


MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT, CHICAGO: While we all understand that having additional federal resources can be a value-add, they're not a value- add if they're nameless agents riding around in vans, pulling people off the street, depriving them of their constitutional rights.

That is not what a democracy looks like.


VAUSE: These troops, if you like, they have no insignia, they aren't identified, they're wearing camouflage gear, they're heavily armed.

What's the end game here with the deployment of these troops?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, politically, what the president, I think, is clearly trying to do is basically say to suburban America, particularly white suburban America, that the cities are this hotbed of insurrection and chaos and violence.

And I am the human wall, I am the last line of defense between you and them.

There's no evidence that that message will move a large number of voters. It's essentially what Richard Nixon, a version of what Richard Nixon

tried to run on, in 1968.

The suburbs are a very different place today. They're much more diverse themselves, there are many more college graduates.

And there are many more suburban voters who believe that Trump's approach to all of this, rather than making them safer is actually putting them more at risk. Because he is almost inciting violence and disorder.

And for that matter, the same kind of verdict on the virus. That by focusing so heavily on reopening the economy at all costs, that he is putting them more at risk.

In 2016, Donald Trump lost the 100 largest counties in America by a combined 15 million votes, an almost unimaginable number.

I think it's virtually certain that he will lose them by even more in 2020. And if he has any path to winning, it is simply by turning out just oceans of people in small town and rural America.

Because I do believe that this approach -- an attempt to kind of channel Nixon 50 years later -- ignores all the ways that the country has changed since then and it's likely to do him more harm than good electorally.

Not to mention the way it is straining the bonds of the country itself with this image of a federal police force occupying rather than coming to assist blue cities.

VAUSE: Yes. And in camouflage gear and the whole works of it. But Ron, as always. Good to see you. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break.

When we come back, U.S. prosecutors accuse two Chinese hackers of trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research. Was China's government in on it, did they sponsor it?

We'll take a look at that in a moment.

Also Latin America caught in a COVID storm. Multiple countries going in the wrong direction on case count as well as fatalities.


VAUSE: Two Chinese nationals face charges in the United States of trying to still research about a coronavirus vaccine.

The charges were unsealed on Tuesday. The defendants are believed to be in China. And apparently, they targeted a number of tech companies to try and get this information. And, the accusation goes on, it said they had the help of the Chinese government.

Let's bring in Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong with the details on this.

So a couple of engineering students we're looking at here, but not acting alone. At least according to the FBI.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Stunning details in this indictment. It says that in the United States Chinese hackers have been charged for a sweeping cyber espionage and crime campaign that had the support of the Chinese Central Government in Beijing.

And was aiming at American COVID-19 research institutions that were looking into coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

This is what we know about these charges and the indictments.

This was part of a 10-year long campaign that amassed terabytes of data worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It involved two former EE or electrical engineering students. It's believed that they currently reside in China.

We also know that this indictment goes through a stunningly long list of targets, including COVID-19 research firms in the United States from California to Maryland and Massachusetts.

As well as hundreds of companies in 10 countries around the world including an Australian solar energy company, an AI firm in the U.K., a Spanish defense contractor.

Also targeted, dissidents and human rights activists in China, the United States, in Hong Kong.

In fact, a former Tiananmen square protester, an email password (ph), was believed to be targeted in the hack.

Now for months now, senior security officials in the United States have been warning that China has been going after or attempting to go after COVID-19 research institutions in the U.S.

Recently, the ministry of foreign affairs responded to these allegations.

Let's bring up the statement for you. This from MOFA spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, who said, quote:


"The confrontational mindset, reminiscent of Cold War, will only poison the atmosphere for cooperation -- will not be conducive to peace and security of cyber space.

Some U.S. politicians seem to be alleging that China is waging cyberattacks to steal U.S. research on COVID-19 vaccines. It is just absurd."



Now, John, that statement was four days ago. Of course, we are awaiting fresh comment. Back to you.

VAUSE: That comment could've been from 12 years ago when I did a story on Chinese hackers and they said exactly the same thing back then.

Because they've always had this relationship with hackers and the Chinese state government that's been this sort of gray area where the hackers have sort of freelanced and been considered useful idiots. Connecting them to the state government or to the state -- to the actual state itself in Beijing, that's always been the hard part.

So how do we know the evidence here is supporting this accusation of state-sponsored hacking?

STOUT: And that is always a question that comes up whenever these strong accusations come out.

According to this indictment, U.S. federal prosecutors, they say even though these are two private contractors, private hackers, they say they had the support of Beijing. They said that they worked closely with Chinese intelligence and had contact with one officer in China's ministry of state security.

Now we spoke to a number of cybersecurity firms including FireEye and Mandiant and they say this is how it works. That Chinese cyber warfare operations in the last dozen years or so, they often use mercenary hackers or patriotic hackers, otherwise known as hongke.

For the very simple reason as it widens the array of quality hackers that they can bring into their cyber arsenal.

Back to you.

VAUSE: OK. I call them "useful idiots." Your expression is nicer, more complimentary.

Kristie, thank you.

Kristie Lu Stout there, live in Hong Kong. Appreciate it.


VAUSE: Well, once the worst hot spot in the world, Italy is now out of the storm of the pandemic.

The country's health minister adds there is still a ways to go before the virus is eliminated. And that the crisis will only be over once a successful vaccine is developed. The government reported nearly 130 new cases on Tuesday and 15 deaths.

The coronavirus is taking an increasingly devastating toll across Latin America.

Argentina saw a daily -- a record daily rise in new cases, more than 5,300 on Tuesday. Bringing its total tally above 135,000. There are also 117 deaths within the past 24, hours the highest daily fatality count so far.

And in Brazil, there were more than 41,000 new Covid infections on Tuesday alone. The country has now more than two million cases, second only to the United States.

Mexico also reeling from the virus. The country surpassed 40,000 COVID-related deaths on Tuesday.

CNN's Matt Rivers has more on other countries in the Americas that are seeing significant surges.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the situation across the Americas, North, South and Central America is of continued grave concern to World Health Organization officials. That's what the regional representative of that organization said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The director of the Pan-American Health Organization told reporters that in just the last week alone there have been nearly 900,000 newly confirmed cases and nearly 22,000 newly confirmed deaths across the region.

Most of them coming in the United States, in Brazil and here in Mexico.

But beyond just those three countries, there continues to be concern in Central America with a lot of the countries there, according to officials, reporting their highest weekly increases of COVID-19 cases since this pandemic began.

And health organization officials are also concerned about South America, and specifically the Amazon Basin in with countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia and Peru all seeing significant surges in cases. Particularly in localized hotspots. Again, according to WHO officials.

One bright spot in the region, though, has been the country of Chile. Where over the last week we've seen numerous days where newly confirmed cases in that country were at their lowest levels since mid- May.

It's something that health officials are hoping to repeat across Latin America as so many other outbreaks are not showing signs of slowing down.

Matt Rivers. CNN, Mexico City.


VAUSE: Well, the coronavirus and claims of corruption against the prime minister are sending Israelis into the streets.

The country is experiencing a surge in the (inaudible) -- virus, rather. And there's a lot of confusion mixed with a lot of anger about the restrictions.

CNN's Oren Liebermann explains.


OREN LIBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was forbidden at five o'clock Tuesday morning, but allowed by noon. It was forbidden Friday at sunrise but okay by sunset.


ITAMAR NAVON, OWNER, MONA RESTAURANT: If it wasn't so frustrating and sad, it would have been funny.


LIEBERMANN: Israel's coronavirus restrictions have become a mixed plate of rules that sometimes change by the hour.

Itamar Vaga Navorn says he was determined to open his restaurant, Mona, even if it meant open defiance of the latest government restrictions.

He wants a long-term solution, not patchwork rules and regulations.


NAVON: We're businessmen, we know how to work our business. We know how to calculate our models, but we need some answers. We can't have it that the government plays with us all day.

And it really feels like they're playing with us and they're playing with each other instead of taking this crisis seriously.


LIEBERMANN: The government instructed restaurants to close Tuesday morning, a decision that was reversed a few hours later in the Knesset. With some lawmakers saying data showed restaurants were not a major source of infection.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to show he's in charged of leading the country through the coronavirus crisis.

But in the midst of a rise in new confirmed cases, public trust in Israel's longest-serving leader has plummeted.

It's been a revolving door of protests outside the prime minister's residence here in Jerusalem.

There's the black flag protests against corruption, the economic protest against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. We've seen pro-annexation protests, anti-annexation protests.

And now there's a restaurant owners' protest to express their frustration with the government's handling of all of this.

Restaurant owners prepped meals from their surplus stock, food they say would've otherwise been thrown away because of the changing rules around restaurants.


BARAK AHARONI, CHEF, ALENA RESTAURANT: The idea behind it is that because the government and the state doesn't take care of the people. Then instead of us just throwing food away, we can just serve it to people who cannot afford it to themself in this situation that we're having right now in the country


LIEBERMANN: The confusion has spread beyond the kitchen. The special Knesset committee to deal with coronavirus started with a simple goal.



"Let's give rules that the public is able to understand," said the committee (inaudible).

But it ended up producing more confusion about what's open and with what restrictions because of major disagreements between the Knesset committee and the government.


Much of the country and beaches, gyms, pools and more, all stuck in this limbo of limitations.

Oren Liebermann. CNN, Jerusalem.


VAUSE: Still to come here.

With the coronavirus spiraling out of control, some researchers are pushing for a controversial vaccine trial deliberately infecting volunteers with COVID-19.

Why they say it'll speed up the development process and bring a vaccine so much closer.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The national women's soccer league was the first professional team league in the U.S. to resume play during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The season began too in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement with both matches on opening weekend in late June seeing most players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

The gesture overwhelming U.S. star, Julie Ertz, and her Chicago Red Stars teammate, Casey Short.

The league itself tweeted, quote: "This moment and this movement means everything to our players."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council has penned a letter to the IOC requesting the right to protest at Olympic Games.

And has the signature of John Carolos who famously raised his first on the Olympic podium in 1968.

The IOC's rule 50 currently bans athletes from displaying any kind of political messaging.

For more information on how you can support racial equality, go to

VAUSE: It took five years from collecting a sample from a child's throat in 1963 to licensing in December 1967 by drug maker, Merck, for a mumps vaccine. Until this day, the fastest vaccine ever developed.

The vaccine for the coronavirus, though, is on track to shatter that record.

On Tuesday, executives from five pharmaceutical companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine told lawmakers about their timelines.


DR. STEPHEN HOGE, PRESIDENT, MODERNA: Presuming that we are accrue cases relatively quickly in that study, we would hope in the fall or towards the end of the year, we'd have data that we could submit to the FDA for them to make a determination on whether to approve (ph).



DR. JOHN YOUNG, CHIEF BUSINESS OFFICER, PFIZER: We have alignment science and a clear critical path to be able to deliver up to 100 million doses of commercial-scale vaccine products in 2020. And up to 1.3 billion doses of our vaccine in 2021.


DR. MACAYA DOUOGUIH, HEAD OF CLINICAL DEVELOPMENT & MEDICAL AFFAIRS, JANSSEN VACCINES, JOHNSON & JOHNSON: We're targeting to at least have results by early 2021, as well as 100 million doses by the end of March.



DR. JULIE GERBERDING, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & CHIEF PATENT OFFICER, MERCK: We would not expect to have a licensed product until 2021 at the earliest.


VAUSE: All though confident of producing a vaccine on a limited scale by the end of the year, or on a mass scale by early 2021.

But could that process move even faster if drug makers roll out to conduct what's called human challenge trials where volunteers are injected not only with a potential vaccine, but also deliberately exposed to the virus itself?

Right now, volunteers are given the experimental vaccine and let loose in the wild to see if they have immunity. Which is one reason why these studies can take so long.

Joining me now is Arthur Caplan, a bio ethics professor at New York's University Grossman School of Medicine.

Professor, thank you for being with us.




VAUSE: Well, in broad terms tell me if I'm right here, but the biggest difference it seems between human trials and human challenge trials is how a volunteer becomes infected, either by going about their daily life or by being deliberately exposed to it. So if that's right, what is the controversy here?

DR. CAPLAN: Well, I think it makes people nervous to talk about deliberately infecting someone with the virus, but the reality is look, if you're going to test your the experimental vaccine, you have to be infected by the virus.

It's called the attack rate. And it's the natural infection that occurs out there and then you compare to see if people who have the vaccine did better than people who didn't. That can take a long time. I heard those optimistic projections, but you are talking about recruiting 30,000 people roughly to get enough data to make sure it is safe. And then hoping that they get infected and hoping that you can see a significant difference. The challenge study just lets you do this much quickly -- much more quickly.

VAUSE: Yes. There's an open letter which the head of the National -- which has been written to the head of National Institutes for health and 15 Nobel laureates among those pushing for this human challenge trial to begin.

And here is part of their argument. "Human challenge trials can provide information much faster than conventional efficacy trials which take months. If done properly, live coronavirus human challenge trials can be an important way to accelerate vaccine development and ideally to save the lives of millions around the world as well as help rescue global economies."

So I mean if we're looking at a timeline here and many people believe that, you know, what we are hearing from these drug makers and the President of the United States is very overly optimistic in terms of development of this vaccine.

If we could shorten that what sort of amount of time are we talking here about, you know, in reducing the amount of time before there is a vaccine available?

CAPLAN: Well, there is really two ways to look at it. For the current crop that's moving out to large scale testing, you could probably shave off a couple of months. But it may be that none of these agents, despite the optimism, none of these vaccines prove to be useful.

They may produce immunity, but what if it only last two months, you have to go out and vaccinate somebody six times in a year. Not practical.

So having a challenge study ready to go, meaning developing a virus that is weaker essentially is actually a little less risky than depending on nature to infect you with COVID. You would have the system set up so that you can move from one agent to the next vaccine, to the next vaccine, to the next vaccine much more quickly.

So you can save time from where we are now. But in the longer run, if we don't hit and don't get lucky, you have a system set up to test the next vaccine more quickly.

VAUSE: The downside or the only, I guess the objection to this is actually exposing, deliberately injecting someone with the vaccine -- or a virus rather, for which there is no cure.

CAPLAN: Well, that's true. However, two points.

One is, you are trying to select subjects, volunteers hopefully who are younger and aren't as much at risk of death, probably people 20 to 30 years of age. You are trying to develop a weaker version of the COVID virus so that you don't cause harm whereas in nature, you could get exposed to something very nasty and a lot of it just accidentally.

And then the reality is look, it is tough to deliberately infect someone with something dangerous, but if we can diminish the risk and really rely on volunteers to do it, I believe there are many people who will step forward and say, I want to help. I will allow myself to be a subject in a challenge trial.

VAUSE: We also heard from the WHO though saying that, you know, we need to get over this fixation on a vaccine. Listen to this.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: With strong leadership, community engagement and a comprehensive strategy to suppress transmission and save lives, COVID- 19 can be stopped. We do not have to wait for a vaccine. We have to save lives now.


VAUSE: He did go on to say that, you know, we need to get a vaccine and fast but right now, there is much that we can do to, you know, to slow down this death rate.

CAPLAN: Well, it's true. If we were aggressive around the world, really followed behavior change -- masking, social distancing, good hygiene and so forth -- we could at least tamp down this plague to minimal levels.

But that doesn't seem to be happening in the U.S. and many other countries seem to be spiraling out of control. So I do think the push for a vaccine requires every effort. I'm glad to see so many companies involved.

I think we should be getting ready, though, for the challenge study to move it even more quickly. You know, the amount of death and the amount of economic doom (ph) that you're tolerating when you don't have a vaccine is just almost incalculable.

VAUSE: Very quickly I'd like you to listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci about any safety concerns of a potential vaccine. Here he is.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The vaccine will not be approved by the FDA unless it clearly shows that it is safe and effective. I would not wait to see if one was better than another.



VAUSE: You know, despite that, there was a CNN poll back in May which found a third of those who are asked would they get a vaccine, they said no. The numbers are actually higher in other polls out there. So, you know, that has a lot of implications here for the effectiveness of a vaccine, in particular herd immunity.

DR. CAPLAN: It does, it's huge. If a lot of people say I don't trust this. It sounds like it was rushed. It sounds like all I heard about was speed or thy think it maybe people just out there trying to make money. It could really undermined vaccinations.

Again, the challenge study gives you more reliable data because you've got the people in one place. You deliberately infect them. You can see what happens. You can get the results out. And I think they might actually be more trustworthy.

But we have to really address this hesitancy problem, this fear problem. Otherwise vaccines are going to wind up like masks. People hear about it, they know they should do it, but maybe they won't.

VAUSE: Oh please, don't go there. Professor, thank you so much. Professor Caplan, great to speak with you, sir. Thank you.

CAPLAN: My pleasure.

VAUSE: Texas recorded more than 9,000 new cases on Tuesday alone. 131 dead on the same day. Because of the surging outbreaks, some hospitals are at capacity. ICUs maxed out.

But help is on the way. Here is CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the daily routine for Dr. Federico Vallejo, a critical care pulmonologist. When he gets dressed, it looks like he is getting ready to be launched into another world. That's exactly what it's like to work in the COVID-19 unit of a south Texas hospital.

DR. FEDERICO VALLEJO, CRITICAL CARE PULMONOLOGIST: It's overwhelming. It is a tsunami, what we're seeing right now.

LAVANDERA: Coronavirus patients have filled the hospital where the Dr. Vallejo works. On most days, Dr. Vallejo says he is treating about 70 different patients, four to five times more than he usually sees a single day.

DR. VALLEJO: I have never had to sign this many death certificates that I have been signing the last couple of weeks. Talking to these families has been very, very difficult.

LAVANDERA: Can you describe the suffering that you've seen among these patients?

DR. VALLEJO: This is a disease that affects the lungs. And they would have trouble with the breathing. And when it happens, it's heartbreaking. It is so difficult to watch them, many saying goodbye to their relatives by picking up the phone and saying I'm having more trouble, I'm having more trouble. I don't know what's going to happen next.

I see nurses crying all the time. I see doctors breaking down all the time. But then again, that is what we do.

LAVANDERA: South Texas is the COVID-19 hot spot inside the Texas hot spot. Health officials are warning that hospital bed and ICU space are running out. Nursing and doctor teams are stretched to the limit.

Do you feel when you walk into these COVID units that it's like a parallel universe?

DR. IVAN MELENDEZ, HIDALGO COUNTY HEALTH AUTHORITY: It's definitely a parallel universe. If they only knew what lurked behind those walls, if they could only have x-ray vision and see the pain and the suffering.

LAVANDERA: Dr. Ivan Melendez is the Hidalgo County health authority based in McAllen Texas. He says the COVID units are filled with the sound of patients gasping for air, many needing ventilators and gut- wrenching conversations.

DR. MELENDEZ: So you have people telling you, you know, Doc, please don't put me on that. Don't put me in -- and you struggle because, you know, that's what they need. And then finally they just give up and they say, go ahead. But you know you may be the last person that I ever talk to. So please, tell my family, tell my parents, tell my kids that I love them and that I fought hard.

JESSICA ORTIZ, TWIN BROTHER DIED FROM COVID-19: It's a necklace with his ashes.

LAVANDERA: Jessica Ortiz says her twin brother, Jubal Ortiz (ph) fought the virus for almost two weeks. The 27-year-old worked as a security guard at a jewelry store.

ORTIZ: It hurts not being there for someone that was always there for you.

LAVANDERA: Jubal died on July 3rd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You fought long and hard. We honor you.

LAVANDERA: At the funeral, friends and family paid their respects through a plastic shield over the casket. There was a fear his body still might be contagious.

ORTIZ: (INAUDIBLE) I just wish it wasn't him. I wish I had him with me, because he didn't live his life yet.

LAVANDERA: Jessica is left with this last image of her brother, a screen recording of one of their last conversations. Jubal Ortiz waving goodbye.

You saw that shield over the casket of Jubal Ortiz. We should point out that medical experts have told CNN there is no evidence that people are still contagious after they have passed away. But it really speaks to the fear and uncertainty that so many people have.

And one of the other themes that stuck out as we interviewed the people for this story is that they are all dealing with a sense of frustration and anger as they are living the nightmare of this pandemic.

They say what bothers them most is looking around and seeing so many people living their lives as if everything were normal. And they're urging people to take this far more seriously.

Ed Lavandera, CNN -- Dallas.



VAUSE: Negotiations continue between right now between Senate Republicans and the White House over another financial package to help Americans during this pandemic. There seems to be no agreement on pretty much everything from getting payroll taxes to funding and reopening schools.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We will see where this ends up. We still don't know the details of this initial proposal. But as it's written right now, I am not only a no, I'm a hell no.


VAUSE: CNN's Eleni Giokos is with us now live. Eleni, you know, it's interesting that this is the Senate Republicans at odds with the White House. Where are the Democrats in all of this because look at the end of the day, when there is a disagreement over how much to spend and what to put into these sort of packages, it always ends up costing more.

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean look, you've got to think about the big discrepancy here. You are talking about Republicans saying a $1 trillion aid package is what the U.S. economy needs. And then you're seeing the Democrats say something closer to $3 trillion.

So there is a huge gap in between. I mean the Democrats and the Republicans right now agree on almost nothing, but the one thing that seems to be a good point is the fact that they agree on some kind of direct aid payments.

We know that U.S. residents and of course, anyone with a social security number received a $1,200 check in March. They want to bring that into the play again in the summer period. But the big issue here as well, is the $600 a week payment for unemployment -- unemployed U.S. citizens is going to be a very big issue.

And the Republicans are saying it's not going to work. (INAUDIBLE) to find work down the line.

But overall, a stimulus package is going to send an important message to Wall Street. It's going to send an important message to corporate America that are now trying to decide whether they need to start hiring again. Whether the U.S. economy is truly going to go back on track.

And then when you see what the Europeans are doing and investing $2 trillion dollars in a relief aid package for dealing with the pandemic, the U.S. is sitting on major arsenal here. They have the resources to ease their way out of this pandemic and it's about deciding on the way forward here.

U.S. earnings are going to be really important down the line. And again, directly correlated, John, to any kind of stimulus package that the U.S. is going to decide on.

Remember, the U.S. is far from actually dealing with the pandemic effectively. We know that coronavirus cases are increasing across the board. That is going to have a direct impact on the consumer and, of course, on corporate America.

VAUSE: You know, right now there is not a lot of economy out there to stimulate, I guess. But there is the online economy and that's Amazon which is making, you know, a bonanza (ph) out of the current circumstance. But they decided to delay what is a big day, Prime Day Sales. Why is that?

GIOKOS: Yes. I mean it's really fascinating. So you've got to remember that the U.S. economy, the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, has always been the consumer. And if you are bailing out the consumer, you are bailing out the U.S. economy, so to speak.

Amazon has been a really interesting litmus test. It's a barometer of what the U.S. consumer's feeling. Its stock is up 73 percent so far this year. In fact, it has hired 175,000 people to deal with the increased demand for its goods.

It is delaying Prime Day. It's such an important calendar event for the company and for the U.S. consumer. It usually happens mid August during the summer period. They have to delay because they've been dealing with security issues, getting people back to work, making sure that the safety protocol is in place for their staff as well. But also you've seen massive delays in getting goods to consumers.

So they want to make sure that it goes smoothly. And that is part of the plan. And they are saying that it's probably going to happen more towards mid August.

So it's going to be an interesting one to watch, John, because again, if the U.S. consumer is spending big money here, it is a litmus test in terms of the health of the consumer, the confidence that they're feeling to spend money once again on items.

Of course, they're going to be discounted but, you know, this is going to be an interesting one to watch for sure.

VAUSE: Absolutely. A lot of those sort of bellwethers out there.

Eleni, thanks so much. Appreciate it. We'll take a short break.

When we come, were the Russians at it again? We'll take a look at a report from the British parliament which says that Russian interference in domestic politics is now the new normal. Maybe. They meddled in the Brexit referendum.



VAUSE: A new report from the British parliament says the U.K. took its eye off the ball when it came to investigating allegations of Russian interference in politics and that includes the 2016 Brexit referendum.

The report goes as far as saying Russian influence is the new normal. The Kremlin though denying these allegations.

Here is CNN's Nick Paton Walsh.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A long awaited report here. The critics say it's essentially nine months late from when it could have been published. And to some degree points the finger of blame at the U.K. intelligence community for simply not looking into the scale of the potential for Russia to influence Britain's democracy before the key moment here which is 2016 referendum to leave the European Union that eventually will lead to Britain leaving the E.U. later on this year.

The report says that had the threats been assessed ahead of that referendum it would quote, "have been inconceivable for Britain not to act to reduce Russian influence". But it also says it's impossible to gauge whether or not Russia did in fact, impact that referendum result.

They do say in the same report that there are, quote," credible open source reporting to suggest that perhaps Russia was able to impact the Scottish referendum for independence in 2014.

But more broadly, it points to the scale, this report, of Russian influence in the U.K. It calls that the new normal, and it also points to an intelligence community that dealt with the issue of who should be responsible for containing Russia's influence as, quote, "a hot potato". Something which neither MI5 in charge of domestic security, MI6 in charge of foreign intelligence or DCHQ that these sort of eavesdropping, cyber security abroad necessarily wanted to have entirely on their plate.

It asked for greater legislation perhaps to tackle the Russian threat and that posed by hostile state actors and also too, is critical of some of the recent government's over the past decades decisions to allow large amounts of Russian wealth into the country, often against what they think may have been national security interests. But essentially, the big question: did Russia influence or change the result of the 2016 referendum? Not really answered by this report because simply, it seems the intelligence gathering may not have been done before that referendum.

But a call it seems for reform, for change, for greater focus amongst Britain's intelligence community certainly delivered by this long- awaited and intensely politicized report.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Denmark in the coming hours. When he landed in London earlier this week he also landed in the middle of a rift between the U.K. and China.

In a meeting with his British counterpart, Pompeo praised the U.K. for ending an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and for banning the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the 5G network. China has accused the U.S. of pressuring Britain over Huawei.

Here's the response from Mike Pompeo.


MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the United Kingdom made a good decision. But I think that decision was made not because the United States said it was a good decision, but because leadership here in the United Kingdom concluded the right thing to do was to make that decision for the people of the United Kingdom.


VAUSE: Beijing has warned the U.K. would pay a price for making those decisions siding with the U.S.

Well, relentless monsoon rains are still triggering deadly floods across parts of Asia. In India's Assam State, dozens of people have died. Tens of thousands displaced. Villages have been flooded, hampering efforts to contain the coronavirus. India has the third highest number of cases in the world, behind the United States and Brazil.


VAUSE: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri tracking all of this. Pedram, good to see you. It's been a while. But the news is not so good from India, right?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's pretty dire across India, Bangladesh and certainly on into China as well. And we'll start off with China here because officials saying the last time conditions were this bad in the wet season across China was back in 1998.

And that says quite a bit because we know how much damage gets done every summer here with monsoons and wet weather across the region. But you notice, some of the aerial perspective out of areas of (INAUDIBLE) province across central and eastern China.

The tremendous rainfall, the persistence of this rainfall has really been incredible. In fact, now we think this is about 10 to 12 percent above what was the case last season across this region and then you see where officials are saying the only areas that we're seeing that are dry in some of these communities are roof tops of properties, the tops of trees and that's about it.

That's how incredibly widespread this has been. Over 400 tributaries of the Yangtze River (ph) already reporting flooding. Economic impact -- officials forecasting this at about $12 billion by the time we're all said and done. About $7 billion at this point.

150 lives are lost even some missing across the region, about two million people impacted as well across the area when it comes to the amount of rain that has come down and displaced folks.

But of course, this is the case. May through July we see the monsoons at their height across this region. And this is not the only place dealing with the monsoon or moisture. You work your way towards areas of Bangladesh and it has been the case there as well.

And I looked at some of these observations, each of the past 40 days in places such as (INAUDIBLE) which has a population over four million people when you consider the metropolitan region. Each of the last 40 days, they've seen an incredible amount of rainfall come down and this persistent nature of this rainfall really has led to about 18 of its 64 districts reporting significant flooding.

Two million people here have also been impacted nationwide. And we know some 60 fatalities since the beginning of all of this on June 30th, John.

So the concern is that moving forward, the monsoonal rainfall certainly far from over and this is, of course, the heart of it right now and the damage still continuing in that region, John.

VAUSE: Yes. Monsoon, rain, floods combined with a pandemic is not a good combination. Thank you, Pedram.

Well, it's the holy grail, a COVID vaccine seen by so many as a magic bullet, but a surprising number of Americans, well not so surprising really, they say if and when it becomes available they won't be getting it.

More on this.


VAUSE: Well, that went quickly. Happy birthday, Prince George, seven years old. And to mark the occasion, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have shared two new photos of their son. One is a portrait of the young prince looking straight at the camera, a smile on his face. The other shows him enjoying the outdoors in a camouflage t-shirt. Look at that, catching (INAUDIBLE) smile.

This year, George is expected to spend his birthday at home as Britain continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert is urging all Americans to get a coronavirus vaccine, even if it's not 100 percent effective. But many Americans are skeptical.

Here is Brian Todd.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's what millions of us have been hanging our hopes on to get past this crushing pandemic, to return to work, to school, to go back to our favorite restaurants and bars, to work out at the gym. A deployable vaccine for coronavirus, which experts say could arrive late this year or early next.

But experts are now worried that when it comes, many Americans will reject the vaccine.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, FORMER U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Already surveys are showing us that nearly half the people are not inclined to take a COVID-19 vaccine, even if it was available today. That's a shocking number that is deeply concerning.

TODD: In May, one poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed only about half of Americans said they'd get the vaccine; 20 percent said they wouldn't; 31 percent weren't sure.

Other polls from CNN and "The Washington Post" and ABC News showed about two-thirds of Americans said they would get the vaccine.

Still, experts are worried about any significant numbers of people rejecting the vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a large percent chose not to get vaccinated, then we would never get herd immunity.

TODD: Experts say there are several reasons that people don't trust a potential coronavirus vaccine.

ED YONG, SCIENCE WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Lots of people are going to resist the very idea of getting it because they've been told for months, years now not to trust experts.

TODD: Until recently President Trump went against the advice of his own task force experts and rejected mask wearing. And during the pandemic, he's questioned the guidance of America's top scientists on reopening the country.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dr. Fauci has made some mistakes. A little bit of an alarmist. TODD: But the mistrust of a vaccine cannot be placed only at the

President's feet. Experts say the very name of the project to push the vaccine through fuels skepticism.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: : I think when people hear the term warp speed they assume that steps are being skipped. They assume that there are corners that are being cut and that therefore this may be a vaccine because it's being made so quickly that is less than optimal. It may have poor safety qualities or poor effect in its quality.

TODD: Doctors acknowledge the vaccine likely won't be a magic bullet for coronavirus, that even after it comes out it could be several months before we know how effective it is. But they have a simple stark message for those who are rejecting it.

DR. OFFIT: The choice not to get a vaccine is a choice to take the real and very serious risk of being infected by this virus and being asked to suffer or be hospitalized or die from this virus.

TODD: Dr. Paul Offit says a crucial part of this vaccine program is for the President, the task force, any leaders involved in this to be as transparent as possible with the public about the vaccine even before it rolls out. And that means being honest with the American public about what our leaders know and don't know about the vaccine every step of the way.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause.

Please wear a mask.

The news continues with Robyn Curnow right after this.