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AstraZeneca Pauses Vaccine Trial after Unexplained Illness in Volunteer; Fauci: Vaccine Unlikely Before Election Day; Trump Holds Rally in North Carolina, Ignores Mask Mandate; Biden Unveils New Tax Policy Aimed at Boosting Manufacturing Jobs; Could Mask Use Lead to Milder Coronavirus Infections?; DOJ Wants to Defend Trump in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Suit. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired September 9, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We've got to regain the trust of the community. We have to be very transparent with the data that goes into decision- making process about approving a vaccine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drug maker AstraZeneca says late-stage trials of its Oxford University vaccine are now on hold after one of the research participants developed an unexplained illness.
WILLIAM HASELTINE, CHAIR AND PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: You have to take things carefully with vaccines. They're not toys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden heads to Michigan. We expect the overarching focus to be about the economy.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know how many people here, but there's a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a pandemic. What you're really seeing are lemmings heading for the cliff.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, September 9. It's 6 a.m. here in New York.
And this morning, the race to a coronavirus vaccine has just hit a bump. How big, we're not quite sure. What we did learn overnight is that the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has put its Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trial on hold because of an unexplained illness in a study participant.
Now, this is not uncommon in large vaccine trials, but it will slow things down, and it will lead to questions about other trials. It also just shows that the development of a vaccine will depend on science, not politics, and the president's claims that there will be a vaccine available by election day are really nothing more than words spoken out loud meant to grab headlines and chyrons appear in political ads. It's not based in reality.
In fact, in a new interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that he thinks the prospect of a vaccine by election day is, quote, "unlikely."
As of this morning, the number of new coronavirus cases appears to have leveled off at about 40,000 a day, a fairly high number to plateau at. And we're learning this morning that more than a half a million children in the U.S. have tested positive. That's a 16 percent increase over the last two weeks, just as kids are returning to school.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So all of that as President Trump ignored a statewide mask mandate at his rally in North Carolina. The president, as you can see, did not wear a mask; and the majority of the packed crowd were also maskless. That, of course, violates the state order.
Two researchers have an interesting new hypothesis about mask wearing and the severity of the virus. So we will share that with you soon.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden has just unveiled his details of his new economic plan as he prepares to get back on the trail in Michigan today. More on that in a moment.
But we begin with the latest pandemic developments, and CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Atlanta for us. What's the latest, Nick?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
A big question for everyone across the country is when exactly will we have a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine? And a major setback overnight highlighting the difficulties and realities of trying to push through a vaccine in record time. All of this happening as schools across the country attempt to kick into high gear.
VALENCIA (voice-over): This morning, a major setback in the race for a vaccine. AstraZeneca paused its late-stage trials Tuesday, due to an unexplained illness in one of its volunteers.
HASELTINE: The news that there was a serious adverse reaction that halted the trial of one of the most promising vaccines, one that we've heard a lot about, is exactly why you have to take things carefully with vaccines. They're not toys.
VALENCIA: The delay, the same day nine top drug makers pledged they will not submit a vaccine for approval until it's proven to be safe and efficient. The nation's top infectious disease expert also emphasized why it's essential to have the public's confidence in the science. FAUCI: We've got to regain the trust of the community about when we
say something is safe and effective, they can be confident that it is safe and effective. And that's the reason why we have to be very transparent with the data, as well as what it is that goes into the decision-making process about approving a vaccine.
VALENCIA: Despite President Donald Trump's repeated claims, Dr. Anthony Fauci once again says not to count on having a vaccine available by election day.
FAUCI: It's not impossible, but it's up likely that we'll have a definitive answer at that time. More likely by the end of the year.
VALENCIA: The realities of the pandemic making the start of the fall semester difficult on many college campuses.
West Virginia University moving most undergraduate classes on its main campus online through September 25, 377 students there testing positive between July 20 and Monday.
And at San Diego State, a cluster of nearly 400 confirmed cases.
As over 1.8 million more children return to public school this week, some who started the year online in districts from Houston to Hartford faced major technical difficulties.
And the number of children testing positive for the coronavirus continues to rise. The American Academy of Pediatrics says more than half a million children have been diagnosed since states began recording infections.
DR. RICHARD BESSER, FORMER ACTING CDC DIRECTOR: Children can get this infection, and we've been saying that all along. And as children are going back to school, we need to make sure that testing is widely available, so that a child who gets this doesn't bring it home to a relative who's at increased risk.
VALENCIA: We know that COVID-19 deaths among children and young adults is rare, but what's happening among that group reflects what's happening among broader communities. And the rise of COVID-19 numbers among children is just another chilling reminder that we need to continue to take this virus very seriously -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Nick, thank you very much.
President Trump, meanwhile, making his third visit to North Carolina in just three weeks, holding a rally and ignoring the state's mask mandate. Many in the packed crowd also flouting the mask order.
CNN's Ryan Nobles was there on the ground. He is live in Greensboro, North Carolina, for us.
So tell us about it, Ryan.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning.
It's not just a mask mandate that the Trump campaign ignored last night. The state of North Carolina actually expanding their rules for mass gatherings. They said as many as 50 people could gather in one place.
There were far more than 50 people there last night. In fact, there were thousands, and there was little, if any, effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. People packed in shoulder to shoulder, very few masks. They did check people's temperatures, but that was about it.
As for the speech itself, the president is back in full campaign mode. He spent a lot of time last night defending himself against that "Atlantic" report that claimed he disparaged American troops, saying that it just was not true.
And he also went after Democrats in a big way, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; against his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden; but he saved his biggest attacks for Biden's running mate, Senator kamala Harris.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know what? People don't like her. Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Of course, the president again sowing some confusion as it relates to voting, suggesting that voters in North Carolina should cast their ballot twice if they plan to vote by mail. This is something the board of elections has specifically said is against the law.
And you mentioned that the president has been to North Carolina a number of times. There is a reason for that. That is one of a very few important swing states that begins the voting process early. Absentee ballots in the mail very soon. Voters here can begin voting in person as early as October 15 -- John.
BERMAN: Ryan Nobles in North Carolina. You know, Ryan, it's interesting. Ben Ginsburg, who is probably the preeminent Republican election lawyer, wrote an op-ed overnight in "The Washington Post," saying that what the president is doing by calling on people in North Carolina to go and vote twice is illegal.
And it also draws into question all the lawsuits the Republicans have filed, Ben Ginsburg says, in court over the last several years. We'll be talking about that and much more later on. So Ryan, thanks very much.
Breaking moments ago, we're just learning new details of Joe Biden's new tax policy to boost American manufacturing jobs. The new plan comes out as he heads to the critical battleground state of Michigan later today.
CNN's M.J. Lee joins us now. You're just learning the details of this plan, M.J. What's in it?
M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And as you said, Joe Biden heads to Michigan today, and this will be the first time that he goes to this state since the pandemic really slowed down a lot of in- person campaigning. And the overarching focus of this trip will be the economy and particularly the issue of manufacturing and trying to keep American jobs in the country.
And this new proposal that Joe Biden is going to be laying out has multiple parts. And one of the big parts is a proposal of new taxes for American companies that produce goods overseas. And this includes an offshoring penalty tax.
But he is also offering a tax credit for companies that do keep jobs in the United States. And he's also proposing that he will issue executive orders if he is elected president for companies that produce and purchase American products.
So all of this is under the theme of manufacturing and trying to keep American jobs in the country. And it all comes, of course, as Donald Trump, the president, has tried to paint a very rosy picture of the economic recovery.
And when you talk to the Biden campaign and Biden aides, they say that they feel like at this moment in the race, it is very important to make sure that those statements from the president do not go unchecked. And they're confident that there are plenty of voters out there, including of course, in the state of Michigan and in that general region, who feel like their economic recovery is not what Donald Trump has been painting over the last couple of weeks. And that those are the voters, in particular, that they want to try to connect with in this final stretch of the race.
And you heard Ryan nobles there mentioning the Atlantic report. We are also told that there are no plans for Joe Biden to let up on criticism about the comments that Donald Trump reportedly made, disparaging American veterans and American men and women who fought and died in war. So expect some of that coming, too, in the next couple of days.
And Alisyn, I will just say, in the big picture, the Biden campaign feels like the race has remained pretty stable since the Republican and Democratic conventions. And they feel like, you know, even as Republicans have tried to continue talking about the issue of law and order, they feel pretty confident that the issues that voters continue to care about most is the economy and the handling of the pandemic.
And I will say, you know, we are seeing Joe Biden travel more and get on planes more and leave the state of Delaware more. Biden aides say that he will continue to do this, so long as he feels like he can do this in a safe way -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, M.J. Very interesting to get the view from the Biden campaign. Thank you for that. Also developing overnight, more than 85 fires are raging out west,
burning millions of acres in Oregon, Washington and California. The National Guard tells CNN that 385 people were rescued from the Creek Fire. That fire destroying nearly 400 structures. It is zero percent contained.
Three firefighters have been hospitalized after suffering from burns and smoke inhalation while battling the Dolan Fire on California's central coast. One firefighter remains in critical condition this morning.
OK, a setback in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. A major Phase 3 trial put on hold. What does that mean for all of us? That's next.
BERMAN: Developing this morning, drug maker AstraZeneca has paused its trial of a coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one volunteer. And the move is not unusual. It doesn't necessarily mean the vaccine is unsafe, but it could have serious implications for the timing of when the vaccine is released to market.
Joining us now, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, epidemiologist and CNN political commentator.
Dr. El-Sayed, thanks so much for being with us. I honestly have a million questions here about this pause in the trial.
CAMEROTA: Have at it.
BERMAN: What does it tell you that they paused the trial? How serious does the illness have to be? How long will it pause the trial? What will it take for them to restart the trial? What does it mean for all the people who have already taken at least one dose of the vaccine? Those are just some of the questions I have.
DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. So I want to step back for a second. I want you to think about this kind of like a lift- off of new rocket. And they test those things many, many, many, many times before there's finally manned space travel.
This is one of those liftoffs where you've got folks in the cockpit. They're reading to go. They're running through their checks and something happened.
In this case, you had somebody who had what seems to be this transverse myelitis, which is a -- a reaction to a virus, probably the virus that's used to actually manufacture and carry the genetic information that elicited the immune response to COVID-19 for a person.
And so they have this -- this one outcome. Mind you, this is out of a 30,000-person trail, and what they're doing is saying, we need to check this out. And so they're running through a series of checks.
To the average person, this is actually really reassuring, because I want us to see this within the context of a broader conversation about whether or not these processes are getting rushed.
And what this tells us is that it's not. They're going through the broader checks to make sure that everything is safe and effective.
And it probably will delay this vaccine, but we'll make sure that, if and when this vaccine does pass Phase 3 -- and we don't know if it will -- that it will be safer.
And -- and let's remember this, right? You're talking about one bad outcome in the context of a lot of people. And we don't even know what caused it. And so that's what they're stopping to make sure. I'm sure we'll hear more about it as this -- this safety check proceeds.
CAMEROTA: But just so we understand, does the slowdown of the AstraZeneca vaccine trial also have the effect of slowing down the others, like Moderna?
EL-SAYED: No. These are different vaccines that are probably going to have a different profile. And so, just because this Phase 3 trial was halted doesn't mean it has any impact on any of the other Phase 3 trials. And so the time that it takes to get us to a vaccine, independent of which vaccine, should not necessarily change, although you now have, you know, one of the runners out of the race.
BERMAN: So new information today about children, that half a million children have tested positive from coronavirus, which is a high number, and that the numbers have increased 16 percent over the last couple weeks as kids head to school. What does that tell you?
EL-SAYED: Well, this definitely throws a wrench in this idea that we'd had for a long time that children are immune. And you keep hearing people in powerful places like the president say that they're immune. They're not. They can get this disease.
The -- what remains to be good news is that it looks like their disease is just not as serious on average as an adult. And that's really good news.
And this also may be a function of the fact that now that we know that kids can get disease, doctors are checking more often. And so you're doing a lot more testing and the number of cases you're going to find go up. Which is a good thing. We want to test. We want to know who has it, because we want, of course, to make sure that we're providing those people the treatment that they need, those kids, and also make sure that they're not spreading it. And so testing in children is a good and important thing, even if it renders more cases.
But -- but the good news still is that we're not seeing too much. Very, very serious illness among kids, not to say that you haven't seen it. There have been many kids who have died, unfortunately, and we feel for them, their families. But -- but we are testing more, because we know that kids are not
immune. They can get this disease, and that's an important thing to know.
CAMEROTA: Dr. El-Sayed, I want to ask you about this new hypothesis that comes from these two infectious disease specialists at UCLA, or University of California, San Francisco. They basically -- and I've been wondering about this, because I am a doctor.
BERMAN: Yes, because you're an infectious disease doctor?
CAMEROTA: I've been wondering about this, and I'm so glad that somebody's brought this up.
If you're only exposed to one droplet, OK, of the virus, or you're exposed to ten droplets of the virus, do you have a less severe case of COVID than if you're exposed to a hundred droplets?
And so what they're looking into or what they think somebody should look into is does mask wearing, even if it doesn't stop the virus entirely from spreading, does it lessen the severity of the sickness that you'll get? Because you just have fewer droplets that make it through all of that cloth.
EL-SAYED: Well, one analogy that I like to use that helps us to understand this is thinking about, you know, an old-school medieval castle wall. And whether or not the -- the hoard outside can breach the wall.
And the more people that are attacking the wall, the higher the likelihood that they breach it and the worse the attack.
And so it's the same way with a mask. It's like we're putting a mask over our -- our castle wall, so to speak, and so those viruses, that hoard can't get in. And so it's plausible.
And -- and also, you know, it's a -- it's a thoughtful way of going about this to say, not only is it less likely that your wall is going to get breached, that you're going to get sick in the first place, but it's also less likely that that illness is going to be very serious, because you have fewer intruders that can get in.
And this is the insight that the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, had. And it is a thoughtful way of going about this.
All of this is to say that we should wear masks. Not only does it protect us from getting sick in the first place, but even if we do get sick while wearing a mask, that illness is likely to be less -- less serious. And so we should be wearing masks. All of us should be doing it in public places. It protects us, and it protects the people that we care about, protects our community, and we have a responsibility to do so. BERMAN: OK. In terms of breaching the castle wall, I always find that
dragons are the best way of doing that.
EL-SAYED: There you go.
BERMAN: Which I know you would agree with.
Look -- and we've got to go, but these -- these researchers actually take it a step further, and it gets controversial. They say that people are getting less of a viral load and maybe developing immunity without getting sick, which is something that I think is more controversial than the idea of masks lessening the viral load. We haven't seen any research on that just yet.
Dr. El-Sayed, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
EL-SAYED: Thank you for having me.
BERMAN: All right. Developing overnight, the Justice Department has stepped in to defend President Trump for a case involving a woman accusing him of sexual assault. That's right: the Justice Department is getting involved in this case, which means taxpayer dollars going to defend the president here. A closer look, next.
BERMAN: So this morning in an extraordinary legal move, the Justice Department is asking a federal judge for permission to take over President Trump's defense in a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the president of sexual assault.
Now, the alleged assault occurred in the 1990s, long before the Trump presidency, but the DOJ argues that, since his denials of Carroll's claim came while he was in office, its lawyers should be defending the president.
Joining us now is Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which of course, would mean if the Justice Department is defending the president, that you and I and the taxpayers are paying for the defense of the president in a defamation case that involves a rape allegation from the 1990s -- Elie.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John, look, this is just a new low and a particularly grotesque one.
The way the law works, if a federal official commits an act in the course of their official duties. For example, if the president got sued because he issued an executive order, signed a law, then the Justice Department steps in, picks up the case, and takes it from there.
But if an official does an act in their personal capacity, then the Justice Department has nothing to do with it. Here, what Bill Barr and DOJ and the president have decided is that
getting accused of rape, denying that rape, attacking the accuser, and getting sued, that's just part of the job of being president. And as a result, John, as you said, guess who's picking up the tab? All of our viewers -- you, Alisyn, me. This one's on the taxpayers now.
CAMEROTA: Elie, what E. Jean Carroll, the woman who alleges this rape, and her lawyers want is President Trump to have to testify under oath about what happened in that dressing room in the '90s. And to give a DNA sample, a la Bill Clinton.
CAMEROTA: And so are you saying that Bill Barr and the Justice Department are -- are trying to keep that from happening?
HONIG: That's exactly what's happening here, Alisyn. There's really two things at stake.
One is can DOJ and should DOJ represent the president? If the answer is yes, then of course, DOJ handles the legal case. But also, this case gets dismissed, because you cannot sue the federal government for defamation.
So this isn't just about who represents the lawyer or who pays, but also what happens with this case in general.
And you can tell the president is on the run here. I mean, look, it tells you something when the -- E. Jean Carroll desperately wants to get a DNA sample and desperately wants his testimony; and the president desperately wants to avoid that. But if this legal gambit succeeds, that's a silver bullet. That makes this case go away entirely.
BERMAN: Yes. And again, the legal standard here is, if the defamation was -- or the alleged defamation was carried out as part of the job of being president, that is the justification for the DOJ stepping in, which would mean that any president could defame anyone for anything that happened prior to he or she being president and it would, you know, it would be dismissed.
Because again, if the government rules or if the Justice Department or the judiciary rules that the DOJ can take over, this case is done. This case is completely done.
And Elie, just one more thing. To an extent, the president has already won here. Because he wanted to delay any of this -- the DNA, the deposition -- until after the election. That's now happened, I imagine, right?
HONIG: Yes, look, once get we see the president's legal strategy is not so much to win on the ultimate merits but just delay. Get it past that magic date of November 3.
And John, I mean, imagine explaining this to a high school civics class. Imagine standing in front of a bunch of teenagers and saying it's now part of the president's job. If he gets accused of sexual assault and then attacks the accuser, that's part of the job. That's Oval Office. That's official business.
I mean, it's a ludicrous position. It speaks for itself.
CAMEROTA: Elie, great to get your expertise on this.
HONIG: Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Obviously, we'll follow it. Thank you very much. HONIG: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right. Joining us right now for the politics of everything that we've been seeing over the past 24 hours, Toluse Olorunnipa, CNN political analyst and White House reporter for "The Washington Post"; and Matt Lewis, CNN political commentator AND senior columnist at "The Daily Beast."
Let's just start there, Matt, for one second. Because President Trump said he didn't know E. Jean Carroll, OK? That's what he said. She has the pictures of them at events together, at least one event, yucking it up.