Return to Transcripts main page


AstraZeneca Pauses Vaccine Trial After Unexplained Illness in Volunteer; Home of Little League World Series Suffering Without Baseball; Former Trump Lawyer Lays Out Grave Prediction if Trump Loses Re-election. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 9, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Developing this morning, drug-maker AstraZeneca pausing its phase 3 trial of a coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers. What does this mean for the race for the vaccine?

Joining us to discuss is William Haseltine; he's the former Harvard School of Public Health professor and the author of a "COVID Back-To- School Guide". Now, professor, great to have you here. As you -- help us understand the context of this pause for AstraZeneca in the vaccine trial. Is this a small setback or a big setback?

WILLIAM HASELTINE, FORMER HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR: It's a clinical hold, which means that some regulatory authority decided that there was dangers ahead, and the entire clinical process is 30,000 person trial is now on hold. This can be very serious. A clinical hold can last weeks or it can last months. It can even last years. And it's typically -- if you're a biotech company which I've been a CEO of, tanked your stock for a great -- for a long time to come.

CAMEROTA: So, you say is --

HASELTINE: Now, what this means --

CAMEROTA: So you say --


CAMEROTA: It's a huge setback?

HASELTINE: It's a very big setback for the whole program. And let me point out something else. The Oxford vaccine, which is being used by AstraZeneca was touted as the most safe of all vaccines by the inventors in clinical trials. It's the same vector, more or less, that's being used by the Russian vaccine that they approved, by the Chinese vaccine that they approved, and by many other vaccines using one type of adenovirus vector or another. It's a common vector used by a lot of different companies rushing towards an approval. This shows you that it is not going to be automatic. There are

dangers. This isn't the first time we've seen dangers for two of the American -- especially one of the American vaccine candidates, there were reactions that were even more serious than this one appears to be.


There are things called serious adverse reactions and severe adverse reactions. Severe means you have to go see a doctor. And there have been events in the trials, the first trials of the American vaccine candidates that led to severe adverse reactions. So this is not unexpected, but it is serious.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some of those were in higher doses than are being given in the phase 3 trials. Which does lead me to my next question, though, which what impact, if any, does the AstraZeneca development have on the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines, which are the two other major phase 3 trials having to do with U.S. companies.

HASELTINE: Well, as you pointed out, some of the serious, severe reactions were in the higher dose, but one appears to be in the lower dose, the one that is being used as well. That being said, this is just underlining how dangerous a rush to approval of a vaccine is.

There are several issues at stake here. One is, is the vaccine safe? Is it effective? A whole area of people have been focused on is what is the manufacturing integrity? That usually takes companies two and a half to three years to work out with a regulatory authorities.

Then there's the whole issue of the coal transport. Then there's the issue of the safety of the needles and the vials that may be sourced from who knows where. Then for our vaccine programs, we're planning to build an entire new set of clinics to administer these vaccines.

And we've actually encouraged them to waive the normal rules, the local rules that govern such centers. It's in the CDC recommendation. We encourage you to waive the normal rules. So, there's a whole series of questions that are rushed as we are experiencing through a vaccine. We all understand that we want a vaccine soon, but we surely want it safe and this raises an issue.

CAMEROTA: Professor, do you think we should know more about what went wrong with this volunteer --

HASELTINE: We absolutely should.

CAMEROTA: We will -- what, tell me?

HASELTINE: Yes, we really should, I'm sorry for stepping on your line, but yes, the answer is we definitely need to know more, and this also raises the question of what AstraZeneca meant and the other companies meant when they pledged in their recent pledge to be fully transparent. We don't know what happened. We need to know exactly what happened, what they're going to do to fix it, if they can fix it, and how long that's going to take. BERMAN: I mean, obviously, a lot of our experts on this morning, and

I think even you would agree this is in some ways, should instill confidence in the vaccine system, if they are halting it right now. We should be pleased that this is happening and that we know about it.

Those nine companies that signed on and said that they are not going to go forward with approval unless and until there are, you know, robust studies done. How much confidence does that instill in you? And just where are you now in this process as we are two months before election day?

HASELTINE: Well, you know, if you really look at that pledge, they didn't put their full credibility behind their vaccines. They didn't say, we are going to guarantee you that this vaccine will be as safe as any we've put on the market. What they said was, we will meet all the requirements of the FDA for emergency use authorization.

That isn't putting their credibility on the line. That's tossing the ball back to the FDA. And we have recently had some reasons, unfortunately, to see that the FDA may be subject to outside influences, which we never suspected it would be before. So, I am still quite concerned.

CAMEROTA: William Haseltine, we really appreciate your expertise with all of this. Thanks so much.

HASELTINE: You're welcome, thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. Baseball has returned for Major League players, but not for kids, and that's costing the home of the Little League World Series millions of dollars. We have the live report, next.



CAMEROTA: Every Summer, the world goes to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, for a major event. The Little League World Series. But not this year. The coronavirus pandemic dealing a crushing economic blow for the small Pennsylvania town. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is live in Williamsport with more. So, what's happening this year?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn, well, this field right behind me was where the Little League World Series was supposed to be played. The city of Williamsport was expecting thousands of young baseball players, their families and spectators, but of course, the series was canceled, and now the city is grappling with economic losses to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.


GABE SINICROPI, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, WILLIAMSPORT CROSSCUTTERS: This is the first year in 95 years that a game of baseball wasn't played in this stadium.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): A Summer without baseball in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is like ripping the city's identity apart.

SINICROPI: There would be about 40 players here, in any given year.

YURKEVICH: But baseball was no match for a pandemic, forcing cancellations of the minor league Crosscutter season, a Major League Baseball game, and the Little League World Series all held in Williamsport.

SINICROPI: It's been a weird Summer for those of us in sports, where sports take place during those months, but it's been a weird Summer for everybody.

YURKEVICH: Williamsport is the largest city within a 55-mile radius, surrounded by rural countryside. There are fewer than 250 confirmed COVID-19 cases among 28,000 residents. But the economy has not escaped unscathed. For the first time in its nearly 75-year history, the Little League World Series was canceled. An estimated $40 million loss to businesses.


STEPHEN KEENER, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES INTERNATIONAL: It just kind of broke our hearts to have to -- have to cancel it and knowing that it was going to cause them some additional economic pain as well.

YURKEVICH: And just days after launching a new flight from Williamsport to Charlotte, North Carolina last month, American Airlines said it was suspending it.

MAYOR DEREK SLAUGHTER, WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA: Our regional airport services, ten counties, about half a million people. So we definitely need that reliable air service if we're going to, you know, come back economically from COVID.

YURKEVICH: Unemployment in this county is now 13.3 percent, higher than the national average. Job losses are everywhere. Four of the Crosscutter's six full-time employees are furloughed and it's worse for seasonal workers.

SINICROPI: Upwards of about 90 people don't have those -- didn't have those Summer jobs that they usually would depend on during those months.

YURKEVICH: And then there's permanent layoffs, 15 teachers now out of a job at Clear Sphere Yoga.

LAURENE ROUP, CO-FOUNDER, CLEAR SPHERE YOGA: And inhale for ohm. We are down at least a third of our students, and so we decided to close.

YURKEVICH: They're one of the first in the city to go, and with no government funding, they couldn't survive.

ROUP: I think there was a lot of uncertainty into Winter and without the ability to pay finances here, we just couldn't sustain that. YURKEVICH: Small businesses are the heart-beat of America, but

particularly in small communities around the country like Williamsport.

SLAUGHTER: We have to make sure people are able to sustain their livelihood and that folks aren't losing their homes, their businesses. I know that's the story throughout the country, and it is no different here in Williamsport.


YURKEVICH: Now, Williamsport, obviously, has a unique economic connection to baseball, but Williamsport is not unique in the sense that it represents many small towns and cities across America that have missed out on events this Summer, tourism this Summer. And what that really illustrates is that cities across the country, no matter how rural, no matter how few cases of coronavirus they have, they are not exempt from the economic pain of this virus, John?

BERMAN: It's hard for the kids and I know it's hard for the community there. Vanessa Yurkevich, terrific story, thanks so much for being with us. So one of the most dramatic things happening at the U.S. Open here in New York isn't just the tennis, it's Naomi Osaka and the statements she's making with the masks that she's wearing. And now, she's receiving new notable support for it. Carolyn Manno has more in the "BLEACHER REPORT", Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Good morning, John. As you know, Naomi Osaka brought both men and women's tennis to a standstill before the U.S. Open when she refused to play, bringing attention to social justice issues.

And now on the sport's biggest stage, the 22-year-old is continuing that effort, her intentions being heard and felt well beyond the tennis world. Before each match, Osaka wearing the name of a victim whose death has sparked cries for racial justice last night, she honored George Floyd while taking the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Earlier in the tournament, Osaka wore masks with the name of 17-year- old Trayvon Martin and 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery. After her fifth win of the tournament last night, Martin's mother and Arbery's father thanked her for representing their sons in a video message. And Osaka explained how that made her feel when asked about that moment afterwards.


NAOMI OSAKA, TENNIS PLAYER: Actually, I was just trying really hard not to cry, but for me, it's a bit surreal and it's extremely touching that, you know, they would feel touched by what I'm doing. For me, I feel like what I'm doing is nothing. It's a speck of what I could be doing.


MANNO: Social justice is top of mind for the NFL and its players as the Chiefs and Texans open this year's season in Kansas City. Tomorrow, players will be able to express themselves by wearing T- shirts pre-game. They will also be messaging in the end zone, and John, this goes beyond week one. The league says it's going to prioritize advancements in things like education and police community relations, criminal justice reforms, so a lot to expect from the league over the next couple of weeks and months.

BERMAN: And just football tomorrow. I don't want to let that slip by. You just said football tomorrow which --

MANNO: Football tomorrow.

BERMAN: Which for a lot of us is exciting, and we'll be watching. Thanks Carolyn, appreciate it. So Michael Cohen has a brand-new book out and he's got a stunning prediction about what will happen after election day. We'll tell you what it is, next.



BERMAN: New overnight. President Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen spelling out this scenario for what might happen if the president loses in November.


MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: My theory is that if he loses, there's still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office.

And in during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him. And it's a very -- let's just say it's a very Nixon type of event. And it was probably discussed between Roger Stone and President Trump at some point. That this is certainly one way to avoid any potential prison time.


BERMAN: All right. That's quite a projection there. Joining us now, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. Anthony, thanks so much for being with us. No one loves a conspiracy theory more than Alisyn Camerota.


BERMAN: This is quite an idea that Michael Cohen has got a new book out, is floating, but it gets to the idea that Michael would say that there's nothing that the president won't do to get re-elected, and then beyond that, there's nothing he won't do to protect his own hide.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, listen, I think all of that is clear. I just think that it's improbable that the vice president would take over the presidency in eight weeks and then move to pardon President Trump. I'm not saying that President Trump wouldn't want that, I just don't know if the vice president, given his character, he would be willing to do all that.

But listen, Michael's book, the cascade of information that we know about how the president feels about the military, the deaths of the coronavirus, what is astonishing to me, guys, is that he's still at about 40 percent in the polls.

And I thought what was most interesting about Michael's interview last night is that he admitted he was in a cult, and he was explaining how he de-programmed himself from the cult. And I think it's very big message for the rest of the American people to just stop and take measure of what's going on in our country. The havoc, the job losses, the mishandling of the coronavirus. And I do think that the president's going to get annihilated in November.

I think this is going to be very similar to the Carter-Reagan situation where it will look tight towards the end, but that at the end of the day, people will look at it and say, hey, four more years of this, no way. I am not better off than I was four years ago -- and by the way, there will be more information dropping. There's more people who know --

CAMEROTA: Like what? Like what, Anthony? This is your favorite thing to do --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, there's more people -- yes, well, listen, I said that -- I said that the last time I was on. You saw a few water balloons come out. There will be -- there will be some more stuff coming out because there's very large group of people that feel compelled now that it's their patriotic duty to speak out. And so, some of those things are related to timing, some of those things are related to the shortness of our news cycles now.

People don't want to come out, have it be brushed over. They want to come out where it's going to have maximum impact in certain battleground states. And I'll make a prediction here on the show that there will be people inside the administration that will denounce what is going on and resign prior to election day. And so this stuff is happening, guys.

The question is, is it going to move the needle or not? And I believe that it is moving the needle, and I think that under the surface of all this, the American people are exhausted by the president and they're not only exhausted by the bellicosity of his rhetoric, but they're actually exhausted by --


SCARAMUCCI: His incompetence --

BERMAN: Anthony, do you know that? I mean, have you spoken to people inside the administration? Do you know firsthand that there will be resignations before election day?

SCARAMUCCI: I do know that firsthand, yes. I do know that.


SCARAMUCCI: I don't want to get into any more details than that, but I do -- I do know that there's going to be a further cascade of information, and there are people that are in the process of denouncing the president that are still working inside the administration.

CAMEROTA: And when you talk about --


CAMEROTA: The short attention span of Americans, meaning they will do that a week beforehand, a day beforehand?

SCARAMUCCI: No, I think this is sort of mid-February stuff. I think that "The Atlantic" article announced the time for the --

BERMAN: That will be -- that will be time for -- Anthony, just mid- February will be after the inauguration.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's after the --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm sorry, I meant to say -- I'm sorry, I meant to say mid-October, I'm sorry. I mean, that was a little bit of a gaffe. I meant to say mid-October.

BERMAN: You're allowed to make that.

SCARAMUCCI: I was thinking of where -- I was thinking of where I'll be on vacation after the president loses, John. It was a little bit of a projection --


SCARAMUCCI: On my part. Sorry about that --

CAMEROTA: Well, about that, Anthony, because you're so confident that the president is going to lose. I just want to dive in a little bit more to this scenario because what Michael Cohen -- call it conspiracy theory, call it whatever you want, what he's suggesting is that the president won't go because if he goes, he will be subject to more investigation and prosecution than he can be as president.

And obviously Donald Trump is sophisticated and smart enough to know that. And so, isn't there a scenario by which he doesn't exit the way you're talking about, you know, come November?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I mean, that's the maximum conspiracy theory, right? And I think what he's doing with the Justice Department related to this court case related to the alleged rape is a sign that they're going to move to benefit him and use the arsenal of tools inside the government to help him.

But I don't think it's going to be enough. If you want to be an autocrat, then you want to hijack a democracy, a 244-year-old democracy, you've got to get help from the military, OK? He is the most hated commander-in-chief and certainly in the modern era, in the last 100 years.

If you go through the military polling, he's saying that it's just the generals, but it is the enlisted men and women inside the military as well that despise him. So, you can't hijack the democracy without the help of the military.

You're going to get some help from the Justice Department, they made that obvious last night, but it's just -- it's just not going to be enough. And so, you know, listen, you may think I'm overly optimistic, but I'm working super hard and as -- whatever we all think of Steve Bannon, he's a smart guy, and he said something that I think is very telling.

You hive off 3 percent to 5 percent of the Republican Party from President Trump, it is over. And we are working on that every single day.