Return to Transcripts main page


Ads Seek Minorities for Vaccine Studies; America's Economic Recovery; High Winds Knock out Power in Portland; Pfizer Vaccine Could Be Ready Soon. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 8, 2020 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, a new ad campaign launching today is encouraging minorities to sign up for coronavirus vaccine trials. Three vaccines are now being tested in the U.S., but not enough minorities have been signing up to participate.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

And, Elizabeth, you've seen these ads. What do they say and why are they necessary?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, I think they're very effective. They really are very emotional and sort of -- sort of get right to the heart of minority -- of trying to get minorities to join these trials. That's important because for the trials you want people who are at a high risk of contracting Covid. And that, unfortunately, is minorities.

Let's take a look at some numbers.

Dr. Fauci has said that he wants 37 percent, approximately, of the trials to -- trial study subjects to be Latino. And Moderna's trial is only 16 percent and Pfizer's trial is only 11 percent.

He also recommends that 27 percent of the participants be black. And in Moderna's, it's only 10 percent and Pfizer's is only 8 percent.

So, several weeks ago, months ago at this point, actually, I think, the National Institutes of Health, they asked a group to come up with some ads to encourage minority participation.

Let's take a listen to part of one of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that someone, somewhere is full of hope and strength and wants to take action and will take a step forward to hug her grandkids, walking the walk and rolling up their sleeves, to go back to normal sooner. Volunteer to find the Covid-19 vaccine.


COHEN: So these ads are going to run on major television networks, as well as networks such as Univision and BET. And the researchers are really hoping that they're effective for the reason I said before, and, also, it's so important to know how this vaccine works in a variety of people, not just white people.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Elizabeth, thank you very much and for playing a clip of that ad for us.

Joining us now, Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emery University School of Medicine at Grady Health System. He is a contributor to the NIH Moderna vaccine trial.

So you're the perfect person for us to talk to, Dr. del Rio.

So in mid-August -- I don't know if Elizabeth just mentioned this -- Moderna got a grade of "c" in terms of incorporating minorities into the vaccine trials. And do you have a sense of whether that was lack of outreach by the pharmaceuticals or fear from the minority communities that they'll somehow be exploited?

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: Well, I think there are many things. I mean the pharmaceutical company really doesn't do the outreach. The outreach has to be done by the investigators and by those of us doing this study. And the reality is, there was, you know, significant pressure to enroll the study and to enroll quickly.

And enrolling minorities takes time. You have to develop trust in the community. You have to work with the community. And enrolling minorities is going to take more time than enrolling sort of the, you know, the low-hanging fruit, which is, you know, people, white, people with privilege, people who can, you know, spend a day coming to a vaccine study.

So I'm very pleased to hear that the Moderna CEO has said, you know, we are more concerned minority -- about diversity and minority representation than about speed. And they're slowing down enrollment for us to be able to catch up and to enroll and to prioritize minority populations and high-risk populations. This is critically important. And, again, we know how to do it. It just takes more time than, you know, enrolling low-hanging fruit.

BERMAN: So, Dr. del Rio, President Trump continues to say that he is expecting, or at least wants, a vaccine by a very special day in November, which just happens to be Election Day. Someone close to Operation Warp Speed overnight told CNN that he would be shocked or doesn't expect anyone to really be injecting a vaccine into their arms before Election Day.

So, which is it?

[06:35:00] DEL RIO: Well, you know, the people that are going to be injecting a vaccine into their arms before Election Day are going to be people volunteering for studies. And I would encourage people to volunteer for clinical trials because that's a way to, you know, have a 50 percent chance of actually getting a vaccine.

The reality is, I do not see no -- I do not see a way that we will have enough data for a data safety monitoring board to say we have a vaccine, we can approve it, and is ready to roll out before Election Day. It's just, you know, too soon and -- and simply I don't see it possible.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, it's as though President Trump thinks that by talking about it and by announcing it he can, you know, will it into existence. But even if it were -- I mean, in the best-case scenario, that's still a select group -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that would get it. I mean it's sort of frontline health workers. It's not average voters.

DEL RIO: Absolutely. And, again, at the end of the day, this seems to be more of a political stunt than a public health gain. And we need to focus on the science. We need to focus on the science and let science drive the process.

The science is doing incredibly well. The fact that we're already in three phase three studies is unbelievable. As you know, this is eight, nine months after this virus was discovered, and we already are where we are. This is an incredible accomplishment. Let's not, by trying to, you know, speed it up more, wreck the system. We need to do it properly and we need to do it well. And we are doing it well. So the American people need to be -- have trust that science is working and that we will find an effective vaccine.

BERMAN: So, Dr. Del Rio, it is the day after Labor Day, which traditionally for millions of American children means back to school. Today is more means back to schooling because so many are not going back to a physical school unless you consider their kitchen a physical school because most, many, at least, are doing either a hybrid system or completely remote learning at this point.

What do we know about how the virus spreads among children, how sick they get, if they can be vectors to older people? I know we reported earlier in the show that there's been a 17 percent increase in the number of children affected. At least there were in August.

So what is known at this point?

DEL RIO: Well, we're knowing -- we're learning more. But the reality is, we still don't know everything. Initially, we thought children were not infected, but probably what happened is children were kept at home and they didn't get exposed. When children get exposed, we're beginning to learn that they do get infected, but the great majority of them don't get sick. Some of them can get sick and they can die. So it's not -- it's not totally benign in children. I mean there is some risk. But there is also the possibility that children can then infect others, right? And while the rate of infection appears to be lower than, for example, in the flu, where children are clearly a major vector of transmission, they can still transmit. So a young child can infect an older adult, a vulnerable person, and that can increase the risk for that individual.

So I think we need more data. But I think also, John, we need more data on what's going to happen with kids with education. We need to think about, what are we going it do when this pandemic is over? Are we going to have to have summer schooling so these kids can catch up? Because I don't think that the education happening in the kitchen is the same as the education happening in the classroom.

CAMEROTA: Those are great questions, Dr. Del Rio. I mean will they have to repeat a year, summer school? I mean what is -- what's the long-term outlook? So thank you for raising all of that. Obviously, we'll continue to talk about it.

Thank you. Great to talk to you.

DEL RIO: Good talking to you.

CAMEROTA: Wall Street is booming. So why are so many people in this country not able to pay for food or rent? We discuss that, next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump has been boasting about the economy, but what about the 4.7 million jobs lost on his watch? Is the country recovering at the speed predicted or not?

CNN's Julia Chatterley joins us now for a reality check.

So, Julia, what about that? How would you describe the recovery? Is it the sharp "v" shape, as we were told would happen?

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: There just isn't one recovery going on here, Alisyn, that's the bottom line. There are effectively two recoveries going on. The richest Americans have recovered. In certain cases, they're getting richer. Look at the tech billionaires, for example. And the poorest Americans are getting poorer. They're actually getting crushed in the recoveries that we're seeing.

I think what we have to understand here is -- and you made the point before the break -- the stock market's a great example -- the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own around 80 percent of stocks, so they're benefiting when we're talking about record highs. We've got a record savings rate here in the United States. Again, that's dominated by the wealthiest Americans. If you look at their jobs, actually employment for the top earners in America is virtually back where we were in January.

Now compare and contrast. Employment for the lowest earners in America is still down by around 15 percent, according to Harvard. We've got nearly 29 million people collecting some form of benefit, and, of course, reduced benefits, the result of a lack of agreement from Congress, and one in seven Americans saying they simply can't put food on the table. So while the richest are saving more, the poorest in this country are saying, we can't afford to feed our families. Those are the two recoveries that we're seeing here, and the divide between them has never been worse.

BERMAN: I know it's a mantra we repeat all the time, but the stock market is not the economy. Like, half Americans don't own a single stock. So when you see the market going up, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's doing anything for someone who may or may not have lost their job. And I know that, what, it's 10 million -- more than 10 million people who lost their jobs in this pandemic still have yet to be hired back, even though the unemployment rate has fallen to 8 percent.

CHATTERLEY: It's such a great point. And actually it's worse than that, John, because you can look at what we're seeing in the stock market and think, yes, everything is going OK. You can look at the job recoveries. You can talk, like President Trump did yesterday, about the record level of job gains. Yes, they're coming back very quickly, but 11.5 million people still don't have jobs.

An estimated 14 million have either lost a job, had their wages cut, not working the hours that they want to, or simply out of the labor force. So, you can pick and choose the data and you can spell and create a magical recovery.


It's simply not what we're seeing for millions of Americans.

And I think the danger here, particularly as far as Congress is concerned, is that they -- Republicans, for example, look at the data that we got on Friday and say, hey, the job recovery's happening really quickly, whereas the Democrats look at the strength of the polls in their position and say, we don't need to negotiate on the $3 trillion that we decided is what the country needs. A compromise is required for millions of Americans.

You know the best way I've seen this described, Wile E. Coyote economy. We were fueled by financial stimulus and aid. Wile E. Coyote then got to the chasm and we're currently suspended above that chasm. And the only thing that stops this economy dropping now is more financial aid from Congress. It's the only thing.

BERMAN: Wile E. Coyote. I wonder how many jobs Acme lost.

CAMEROTA: Right. At what point does the anvil fall on his head?

Julia, thank you.


CAMEROTA: Thank you for explaining all of that to us, and we'll see what happens with another stimulus or any deal or compromise, as you say. Really great to talk to you. CAMEROTA: One hundred thousand customers in Portland, Oregon, are without power because of very high winds there. They are also, those winds, fueling fires and threatening to ignite more of them up the -- and down the West Coast. So we'll give you a status report.

Well, actually, right now. Let's get right to meteorologist Chad Myers.

What are you seeing today, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, a dangerous day in California, and for that matter all of the Rocky Mountains. Winds are going to gust to 30 and 40 in Colorado, and also 30 to 40 in California. But Logan Peak in Utah just had a wind gust to 97 miles per hour. Critical fire danger out there today.

This weather's brought to you by Zales, the diamond store.

So, let's get to it.

A big storm coming down from the northwest, making winds here, already 30, 40 miles per hour, from Fresno, across the highest of elevations. But that wind will get down to where those fires are. There are dozens of fires that are burning right now, and wind like this will fuel them and move them along. If you get evacuation notices today, you need to pay attention to them. These fires will be moving very, very quickly.

Temperatures moving quickly, too, down from 94 in Denver yesterday to somewhere around 40 for a high today, and it's snowing in Wyoming. It's snowing in the Colorado Rockies and storming east of there. And there will be a lot of snow. There will be feet of snow in the highest elevations of Colorado. Also for tomorrow, some severe thunderstorms down across the south into parts of Texas.

Haven't shown you a map like this in a long time. Two feet of snow in those highest of elevations. And, oh, by the way, while we're talking about snow, two more storms are out there in the Atlantic, Paulette and Rene. Snow, but, yes, hurricane season just getting going.

CAMEROTA: Feels a little premature for two feet of snow. That's all I'm saying.

Thank you for keeping an eye on all of that, John.

All right, a coronavirus vaccine trial is accelerating in Germany, and the lead scientist is speaking exclusively to CNN. How close are they? That's next.



BERMAN: All right, developing this morning, a biotech firm that has partnered with Pfizer says it is confident that its vaccine could be ready for approval as early as the middle of October, but there are still some unknowns. Frederik Pleitgen joins us live from Berlin. He has this exclusive

interview with the company's CEO and lead scientist and I think these are new details.



Yes, they say they really are in the final stages right now and hey say the only unknowns that are left right now is they're in a large, large clinical trial around the entire world. They already have about 25,000 participants. They want to move it up to 30,000. But, of course, in order to show the vaccine's efficacy, a certain amount of those people need to be exposed to the coronavirus, and they still are sort of counting that data. And so the CEO of this company, of BioNTech, he tells me they believe somewhere around the middle of October, possibly the beginning of November, they will have a vaccine that will be ready to submit for regulatory approval, and they are absolutely confident already that it will work and that it will be safe.

Here's what he said.


UGUR SAHIN, CEO, BIONTECH: It has an excellent profile. And I consider this vaccine as a -- as a vaccine which is near perfect, which has a near-perfect profile, yes? We have done -- done pre-clinical experiments. We have shown that this vaccine is able to protect animals from -- from infection in really tough challenge experiments. And we have, of course, done much more -- more testing than we have published so far. And this provides us a lot of confidence, in combination with understanding of the mode of action, in combination with the safety data coming in from the running trial. Yes, we believe that we have a safe product, and we believe that we will be able to show efficacy.


PLEITGEN: You can see a lot of confidence there.

And Pfizer and BioNTech say that if all of this goes according to their plan, they should have about 100 million doses ready by the end of this year, which first and foremost will, of course, go to high- risk groups, like, for instance, emergency medical workers, or generally medical workers, and possibly elderly people as well.

And, obviously, they say this is something that they believe that they can get done. However, one of the things that the CEO was also very, very keen to point out to me is they said they haven't cut any corners and they won't cut any corners. They say it needs to be, obviously, a safe vaccine. And just to date -- actually just before we went to air here, John, I saw that Pfizer and BioNTech just became among the nine pharmaceutical companies that also signed that common pledge saying that they will adhere to the highest ethical and pharmaceutical standards in the development of a vaccine against Covid-19, and, obviously, will not try to rush this in any way, shape or form, John.

BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen with the breaking news from Germany. Thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it.

We have more breaking news this morning.


House Democrats are launching an investigation into the postmaster general. They want him suspended immediately. Did he break the law? Details, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are tracking the 101 largest school districts in America. Of them, 16 are starting their new school year Tuesday morning.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special date.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He's said so many things that aren't true, I'm worried if we do have a really good vaccine, people are going to be reluctant to take it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A family had come out here to do a gender reveal. They used a pyrotechnic device. That grass ignited, and then the fire rapidly spread.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The bigger fire is up north. It is currently burning out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Creek Fire is at zero percent contained.


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


BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. And forget summer. It's gone!

CAMEROTA: It's horrible.

BERMAN: It's over! I can't wear white.