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Cuomo Prime Time
Trump Hospitalized At Walter Reed After COVID-19 Diagnosis; President Trump's Experimental Antibody Treatment For COVID-19; Sam Donaldson On Joe Biden's Decision To Pull Negative Ads. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 02, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Yes, Tim Naftali --
TIM NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: And it's not --
COOPER: -- Steve Coll, I appreciate it. I'm sorry. I got to - I got to run.
A programming note for tomorrow. I'll be anchoring Special Saturday Edition from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. Eastern, tomorrow night.
The news continues right now with Chris and "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson, thank you very much. I will be seeing you tomorrow night.
Tonight, I'm on right now. Welcome to PRIME TIME. I am Chris Cuomo. We'll also be on from midnight to 2:00 A.M, and on Saturday night, from 10 o'clock until midnight.
Obviously, all hands on deck, as we try to get our hands around what's happening with the President, what it means for him, what it means for our government, because it seems that a lot of people getting sick, and we are trying to figure out where, and why, and how that can be hemmed in.
So, the big headline is President Trump, hospitalized for COVID-19. We saw the President walking on his own two feet to Marine One, on his way to Walter Reed, tonight, and then, de-boarding, shortly after waves to reporters.
But we also know some of the details of his condition, his personal disposition and some treatment that they're trying. And all of that raises many more concerns than the President did, with this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I'm going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I'm doing very well. But we're going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much, I appreciate it, I will never forget it. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, this is a time that benefits from no drama. But this is no simple matter of being asymptomatic. The President has a very winnable battle, but a battle on his hands, nonetheless. COVID doesn't just disappear.
Now, we will discuss what the White House is telling us because the timeline, the sequence of events, doesn't make sense. Even taken at their word, they really didn't test the President for a day after finding out about Hope Hicks? And what if Hicks didn't give it to him? That is becoming increasingly likely.
A central concern is the Rose Garden event, Saturday, for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. A number of people who were there have, now, tested positive, including, two senators, Republicans, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, obviously, fundamental to her nomination.
And what did we see there? Some masks, many without, very tight together, exactly what you're not supposed to do. So, if this was the event, not Hope Hicks, that's a long time. That was last Saturday.
How many more people were exposed? How many more did the President expose? How big a circle are they drawing around the President and this event for contact tracing?
And, of course, all of this was kept secret. You heard nothing about that Saturday event, nothing about anybody who tested positive after it. And you didn't even hear, until 24 hours after they knew about Hope Hicks, and not from the White House, we found it out, Bloomberg and then CNN. That secrecy may have carried a price of more cases.
Now, look, I'm sorry the President and his wife and others are sick. It is made worse by the fact that it did not have to happen.
Please, stop listening to these people on State TV and elsewhere, who say, "You know, he was refusing to hide. He's out there doing the thing, holding rallies." These people are poisoning you.
Those rallies were a mistake. That Rose Garden event was a mistake. It could have been a super-spreader event. We'll show you how many people got sick who were there. Is that a coincidence? Can't be. Likely, those events, we're not sure which one, yet, but that's how the President got sick, being unmasked around crowds.
And yet, in doing so, there is one point to keep in perspective. In being sick, and sick enough to have symptoms, and sick enough to need experimental treatment, and sick enough to go to the hospital, Trump is finally relaying a message we have needed from him, for months.
COVID-19 is real. It is dangerous. Not wearing masks is a mistake. Crowding into places is a mistake. I hope everyone gets the point, now. We have paid a high enough price.
Yes, this President told you the virus will just go away. That's mostly political hype. That it affects almost no one. Well, now, he, the most important leader we have, at the most critical time, has it. He is the strongest evidence that everything he told you is false.
Tonight, we have new insight into why he is receiving the treatment that he is. It is experimental. Does that mean this is risky for the Commander-in-Chief? Does it mean this is something dire? Is he in worse shape? Does it mean that, at all?
We have the Scientist who heads the company that developed the experimental drug. He will take us through it.
We also can't hide from the questions that the President's quick turn from positive to the hospital presents about the continuity of government. There has been no transfer of power to the VP Mike Pence. The White House says President Trump remains in charge of the country.
What does his battle mean for the upcoming election, for our national security? Let's start with the latest on the President, from Kaitlan Collins, live, at the White House.
What do we know?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, all eyes are now turning to this event, just about a week ago now, honoring the Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, at the White House, which, as you were just showing those pictures, now looking back at knowing the President's diagnosis, knowing the diagnosis of the first lady, and Hope Hicks, it makes them all the more striking, Chris, to see all of these powerful people, packed into the Rose Garden, not wearing masks, not social distancing, and then, to see the images that played out after, of these people like Senator Mike Lee, who, of course, now has tested positive for Coronavirus, and sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and actually met with Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday.
Though, we should note, the Supreme Court nominee, according to our reporting, has already had Coronavirus. So, there are questions about how long the immunity lasts once you have had it. But we do know that she did already contract the virus over the summer, obviously, recovered from it.
But now, of course, we are learning about a second senator who has tested positive who was at that event, another Senator who is also on the Senate Judiciary Committee that will decide whether or not Amy Coney Barrett is the next Supreme Court nominee, and that's Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who of course is locked in a very heated battle to maintain his seat in that State.
And it just really raises so many questions because not only are you seeing these powerful lawmakers test positive, but you see all of these other people who are also in these critical positions, people like the Attorney General Bill Barr, who were at this event, not wearing masks, and have, of course, the question is whether or not they were at risk or exposed by being at an event like this one, that you saw in the Rose Garden just a week ago. CUOMO: Right. It now raises a lot of questions. If that was the super- spreader event, that was the event, the Rose Garden event, that's a lot of time since then, you know? And what have they been developing with testing? What did they not tell us?
One of the problems with this White House, the price of not being transparent and not telling the truth is that when we need to believe you, in a moment like this, it's hard to do so.
Kaitlan, do me a favor, stand by. Jump in with anything that you have that we need to know. And I appreciate you being there for us tonight.
Let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Miles Taylor, OK, former Chief of Staff to Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Mike Schmidt. He is a Reporter from "The New York Times," Author of "Donald Trump v. The United States: Inside the Struggle to Stop a President."
Brother Schmidt, let me start with you. What the White House is telling us doesn't seem to line up. Hope Hicks gets it Wednesday. They test her in the morning. She was fine, they say. At night, she wasn't.
What does that mean? Did they have testing protocols on hand at an event? "Well then, we quarantined her." You put her on the same plane with the President and you didn't test him until 24 hours later?
And now we find out about the Judge event, on Saturday, where all these other people are getting sick, where the President was? I mean, what are you piecing together in terms of what they really know about how this happened?
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, even the Moderator of the debate, Chris Wallace, talking today about how there was no - didn't seem like there was any testing that had been followed, as the President arrived. Now whether the President - questions about whether the President, himself, had been tested.
The - look, the White House has not been forthcoming about a lot of different things. That's not a new story. But especially on the President's health, they haven't always been transparent.
And one of the biggest questions arises from the President's last trip to Walter Reed, in November of 2019, in the middle of impeachment. On that visit, the President was - said he was trying to be there in order to start his yearly physical, on a Saturday afternoon. What we know is that that was a curious sort of answer, and that was not the full story.
So, when the White House is not provided a full story in the past, about such an important issue, like the President's health, it's hard to take them seriously when Chief of Staff Meadows goes out today, and says, this morning, "The President's having mild symptoms."
CUOMO: With no mask. And Meadows was at that Judge event on Saturday, also, by the way. Comes out to brief the press, even after all this, no mask. Let me throw you a curve ball, though, Schmidt. The idea that, maybe, something from Walter Reed was relevant in the last meeting, well, then, why would they have waited to test him?
Surely, they know why he went to Walter Reed on that Saturday afternoon. If they had reason to be concerned about his health, in more than is public, wouldn't they have tested him sooner?
SCHMIDT: Well, look, I don't know. It doesn't seem like they have had strict rigor around this issue.
Obviously, the Saturday event, at the White House that we saw, with the nomination of the Judge was a clear example of that. There was no social distance being practiced. People were not wearing masks. That goes against all the guidelines.
But if you are talking about the Walter Reed visit, and as I report in my book, Mike Pence was put on alert when the President was going there, that he may have to take over the powers of the Presidency because they may have to put the President under anesthesia. And that is not something that happens on a normal visit.
So you have the President, again, today, going to Walter Reed. We have some information from the White House. But how - but what is really going on? And can we trust that information?
CUOMO: Sanjay, on the point of - well, I need you for a lot actually, tonight. But let's do some reporting, first, informationally. Also, interesting, who you and I have both learned don't really know anything about the President's condition, which is members of the Task Force.
What are you hearing?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No. That's exactly what I'm hearing. It was - it was one of those things where, as we were trying to report on this, throughout the day, since 1 o'clock in the morning last night, it was a question of who knows what?
The Coronavirus Task Force, made up of some of the - frankly, the world's experts on this disease, the people that you'd probably call for the President under any other situation, and there they are, part of the Task Force, and they are in the dark, as I was told, watching things unfold on television, like everyone else.
So, that was surprising to me, Chris, because we were trying to gather information. Very few people knew what was going on, at that point.
CUOMO: Now, Sanjay, as you very well know, even somebody the President's age, with all his different specks, it would be very rare for them to go from, "Oh, yes, I don't feel great. I'm not asymptomatic, and I got a positive test," to the hospital and an experimental treatment. Now, how much of this do you believe is reflective of his condition?
Because we saw him walking in a suit, versus him being the President, and that you throw everything you can at the one Commander-in-Chief you have.
GUPTA: Yes. That's a really good point, Chris. I mean, I think, clearly, there was some sort of decline, today.
He had - he was doing well in the morning. Then, it was minor symptoms. Then, it was moderate symptoms. He had fever. They did pursue this very experimental therapy, which I think also gives some indication there was a heightened level of concern.
But you're right. We heard the President give that little talk before he walked out onto the helicopter. He was walking obviously of his own volition to the chopper. So, he didn't look bad, certainly, just from a - from a health standpoint, at that point.
But there was concern, here, Chris. And the thing about this virus, if you were talking to people, you know that if someone is starting to decline, you know better than anyone, your oxygen saturations are dropping a bit. You may not even recognize it, yourself.
That's the sort of thing that can go sideways on you in a hurry and that's part of the reason, I think, maybe he and his team wanted him at the hospital, not necessarily that they were going to do any kind of aggressive treatments but close to an ICU, should he need it, close to a CT scanner, should he need it.
So it's both, it's an abundance of caution, but also in sort of response to what seems to have been a progression of symptoms.
CUOMO: Right. It's a balancing test for them, right? On the one side, hospitals, we know that a little bit of it is mythology. People are afraid of going to the hospital because you may pick something else in there, and you're already immune-compromised because you are sick.
CUOMO: But you balance that with, God forbid, even something as simple as hydration that we need to get him more fluids, bam, you got an IV, nice and easy right there, under the right conditions.
Anything else you might need is right there. You don't have to travel. You don't have to build that in. So, it could be just a practicality, what they are calling an abundance of caution.
But him taking a drug from Regeneron, Sanjay, is not abundance of caution. Nobody else is doing that.
GUPTA: No, it's not. And this isn't even a medication that has Emergency Use Authorization. That's how new it is. This was given under "Compassionate use."
And people have heard the term "Compassionate use." It's usually because, "Look, I got no - I got no other options. Patient is in the hospital. Not going to make it," that's when, usually, "Compassionate use" provisions come in. This is obviously not the case here. And yet, again, it speaks to this level of concern.
I know you are going to be talking to the Scientist behind that medication, later on. I'd be curious, what was the sort of the promise, if you will? If we're going to give you this medication, what is it that we hope it's going to do for you? I wonder if they told the President that or if the President was told that by somebody.
CUOMO: That's a good question. In fact, I'm going to ask it, Sanjay.
So, Miles, one of the things that I'd love your head on, coming from Homeland Security is in a simple scenario, we hear gunfire, you grab the President, you put him on the ground, you take care of him first. We only have one.
Here, you know people are getting sick. You know Hope Hicks is sick. They don't test him for 24 hours? That is hard to believe that, either, they are lying and they knew something about him earlier. Or isn't that reckless to wait that long when you know you have someone who was in contact with him who has it?
MILES TAYLOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Chris, I'd say that this seems, to me, to be reflective of the sort of flippant attitude that the Administration has towards the pandemic.
I mean, they've been flippant about the CDC guidelines. They've derided the use of masks and social distancing. And so, you can see why this would be a challenge for the people who are responsible for protecting the President.
When there's gunfire, the Secret Service will physically overpower the President, but this is different. I mean if the President was maybe exposed to something, and then he tells his agents, or his staff, "I'm going to Bedminster," it's really tough for them to say, "No, we're going to force you in the car, and take you home."
So, look, we don't have all the information here. But what this seems like to me is that they had enough information to make a good decision. And instead, they decided to make a bad decision because this White House hasn't been as cautious as they should be about this.
What Sanjay was just saying about Walter Reed was, also, striking to me because this, very well, could be them taking the President there out of an abundance of caution.
And I don't want to be an alarmist. But I, also, I create the analogy here to if there is a national security challenge.
When there is a national security challenge, we walk the President downstairs, to the White House Situation Room, to connect him to senior leaders to talk through that. But if there is a national security crisis, sometimes, you remove the President from Washington D.C., and you take him to secure facilities outside of Washington. This sort of feels like that escalation.
There's a lot of things they could do to take care of him in the White House. But instead, they have taken him out to that next-level facility for health purposes. That is, I think, a concern and something that we should track on.
But I hope the White House will do what they should do, in this circumstance, which is be as transparent with the American people as possible, so that we don't get into this circle of speculation about what's going on with the President because that, in and of itself, can create security challenges for our country, especially a month out from an election.
CUOMO: Mike, pay attention to what I am going to ask Miles right now, because I think you are going to be able to fill in even some more, once he gives us a basic understanding.
So, how you draw the circle around this President matters in this situation, Miles. It's not going to be just the Task Force, obviously. From Sanjay's reporting, they're not even involved, apparently.
But, in terms of how many people you have to track down right now, and figure it out, it is looking, logically, like that Saturday event was a bigger issue than Hope Hicks, right?
Because it can't be that you got Tillis and Lee are sick from there, and the President was there, too. But we're only focused on Hope Hicks. For all we know, he gave it to Hope Hicks. She didn't give it to him.
So, how aggressive would they be in drawing that circle, of getting as many people as possible, so that you don't have it continue to spread?
TAYLOR: So, I think they are. I mean, from - by all accounts, they seem to be very aggressive, right now, about the contact tracing.
But here is the big point, Chris. And that is, if the President of the United States has been involved with some super-spreader event, you've got to think that that's not an accident. That points towards a systematic problem with how the President is being protected.
Now, look, I used to help oversee the Secret Service. I highly doubt it's because the Secret Service hasn't been following protocol.
What, again, seems more likely to me is that the people around the President, up to, and including, the President, himself, have not necessarily been following these guidelines.
In fact, 48 hours ago, in some ways, they were mocking Joe Biden for adhering very strictly --
TAYLOR: -- to these guidelines. That's really important to note.
CUOMO: Now, so Mike, I wanted you to listen that because it seems kind of sketchy, what I am hearing about how aggressively they are going after this. I've talked to a couple of people, who were at that event, who were on their own, in terms of getting tested and figuring it out. And they're pretty close to the President.
SCHMIDT: I mean I hate to be skeptical about this. But this White House is, obviously, always been focused on one person, and that's the President. The President has this.
So, I'm not that surprised to hear that they haven't gone back to figure out who else he may have infected, or who else may have been around him, or what has come of those events.
These people around the President are there because they believe in him, more so than anyone else. The Miles Taylors of the world are gone. These people around him are part of this culture of this President, and have basically given their lives to dedicate to him.
So, am I surprised that they haven't gone back and figured out whether the person sitting in the third row or the fourth row, at this nomination ceremony, may have had it or come in contact with?
No, no, I'm not. I'm sure they're just focused on the President, and how sick he is, and what that means, and trying to manage that situation.
CUOMO: Right. I mean, obviously, Sanjay, they told us nothing about it.
TAYLOR: Well, Chris, Chris?
CUOMO: Go ahead, Miles.
TAYLOR: If I can add to that point.
So, my earlier point was it sounds like they are being aggressive about the people in and around the White House. But I've got to agree with what Michael just said because there is anecdotal reporting that people that were at these events aren't being addressed or reached out to or taken care of.
And there is a question, were there phone numbers gathered? Are they able to get back in touch with these people? That's really important.
But one other thing that I think is notable, when it comes to the White House's response, I was texting today with a senior National Security official, who should be in the loop, when it comes to these situations, where the President's ill. This person said, "I have no idea what's going on," OK?
The President's senior National Security officials need to be kept up to date, in real-time, about his condition. They don't need to tell me about his condition.
But they, at least, need to say, "Yes, I've got the confidence. I'm being kept abreast of everything that's happening," because if something should go wrong, these are the people who need to be in charge.
CUOMO: Sanjay, two more points.
SCHMIDT: Why - why --
CUOMO: One is - hold on, I'll come back to you, Mike. Give me one second. I just want to get some context for people about what needs to be done right now, which is, one, you've got to get everybody who was at that event with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, right?
I mean, all of them have to be quarantining themselves. And I guess you could be as light as, "If you feel any symptoms, then you need to get tested." But they have to quarantine, right?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, that is the - that is the CDC guidelines, and they're not equivocal. I mean, they are very clear on this.
If you have had exposure to someone with COVID and it's considered a close contact, within six feet, for longer than 15 minutes, without masks, that's a close contact. You need to be quarantined.
And that's irrespective of whether or not you've had a test that comes back negative. Because, as you well know, I mean you can - you can have an exposure, test negative for several days, and then test positive. So that --
CUOMO: Yes, we know because that's what happened with me.
GUPTA: -- that is absolutely the case but --
CUOMO: I tested negative.
CUOMO: I thought I had a sinus infection.
GUPTA: You lived that.
CUOMO: And then, it got worse, in the next day. And then, the day after that, I got tested again, and I had it. And then, a day after that, I got the rigors, and I had that 101 fever that lasted 17 days.
GUPTA: I remember.
CUOMO: So, that's what makes me curious about this is that the Doctor - they don't test him for 24 hours, they say, after Hope Hicks, right? Then, he gets a positive right away. It seems more likely that you wouldn't get it that fast, 24 hours after being around someone like that. You could. But Saturday would make more sense.
And since Saturday, he's been all over the place, from golf, to debate prep, to fundraisers, and the debate, itself, and all of the people. And who knows who's been with him, through all of these things?
CUOMO: I mean, it just sounds like there is a degree of recklessness, here, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Yes. The - I think, first of all, you're right, in terms of just the viral dynamics. I mean they're - typically, the lag time between exposure and testing positive, four days or five days.
You're right. It'd be very unusual to be exposed and immediately test positive. You got to build up enough virus to actually be detectable in the system.
We actually looked at sort of the contact tracing possibilities with the President over that time period. Five states, Washington D.C., and thousands of people, potentially, that he came in contact with. It's not clear how many of that will be considered close contacts, but there is a lot.
During that same time period, usually, during this - during this COVID time, people have an average of 35 contacts. So it's way, way, out of proportion.
And you're right. There is probably a significant amount of time, where he may have been contagious. People tend to be most contagious even before they develop symptoms.
So, it's a - it's a huge concern and a laborious task to go back now, and find those people, and make sure that they get quarantined, so they don't continue to spread.
CUOMO: What are the next two - three steps that we are looking forward to with this President?
GUPTA: Within the hospital?
GUPTA: Right now --
CUOMO: And hopefully getting out.
GUPTA: It's still not - yes, I mean, they say he's going to be in there, for a few days, so far, which was something that was surprising to sort of put a time limit on it. It was clearly, is not going to be something that's a quick visit. We don't know.
My guess is part of the reason he went to the hospital, you can get more advanced imaging there, such as a CT scan of the chest, see what's going on with his lungs, see if he is going to be a candidate for any of these other therapies, should he need them.
And I think he is in close proximity of the intensive care unit. And hopefully, he doesn't need to be there. But I think that's another reason. You don't want to do a rapid transport of someone from a residence straight to the intensive care unit. That can be really dicey and tough to do. So, you remember with Boris Johnson, he had the virus, thought he was doing fine. Five days later, he is in the hospital, and spends three days in the ICU. So, I think that there is some lessons in there. You want to be in the right place, the right position, in case something starts to really go sideways for the President.
Again, he's had some progression of symptoms today. Hopefully, he just recovers, stabilizes, and go home in a few days. But if not, he's in the right place now, Walter Reed. That was the right call.
CUOMO: Now, we've heard about this Regeneron experimental drug, this set of antibodies that he was given, Michael. We haven't heard about Hydroxychloroquine being given to him. It will be interesting to see if they release that kind of information. You would think they would, seeing how he was such a big booster of it.
But what was your take that you had?
SCHMIDT: No. I'm just saying like why are we surprised, with three months to go in this first term, why are we surprised that they're not following it, by the book? The President mocks people that do it by the book. He mocked Joe Biden at the debate for wearing a mask.
So now, at this critical juncture, where the President is sick, and all the attention is on the White House, about this crucial event, it's a historic event in American history, we should not be surprised that they're not following a playbook, a playbook they have mocked, throughout the Coronavirus and throughout the whole presidency.
CUOMO: You know why it is surprising to me? Him getting Coronavirus and, God willing, he gets better, is the worst possible thing that could happen to him, politically.
Forget about personally, and physically, and him having to deal with his wife being sick, and thankfully so far his son is fine. The whole family is fine, from what we hear. Hope it stays that way.
But this is the worst thing that could happen to him, politically. So, you would think they would have been doing everything they could to keep him from getting sick, Michael.
SCHMIDT: Look, I just - I just don't think - you can't teach an old dog, new tricks. And they have behaved in a certain way, from the beginning.
I mean, almost part of the campaign was running against Washington. And then, when the President came in, he took it on, and tried to bend it to his way, in a way that we had never seen from any previous president.
And my guess is that they had gotten this far in the virus, they had gone out, traveled around the country, done all sorts of things. My sense is that people who can survive over that period of time get a little lax with how they follow procedures. And they thought that they would be OK.
And this virus is just showing what a force it is, and how profound an impact it can have on every single part of this country.
CUOMO: You know, it'd be interesting, we are showing picture. I think that's live picture.
Is it? Tell me in the Control Room, Flip (ph), if it is, from people outside Walter Reed Medical Center, showing support for the President. It'd be interesting, Flip (ph), if you can figure out, if they have masks on. I wonder if this new - new reality has started to resonate. Do we know?
All right, so they'll check.
Sanjay, what is a monoclonal antibody cocktail?
GUPTA: So, these are, you know, antibodies are the types of cells that the body creates, in response to either being infected with the virus or in response to a vaccine. They're sort of your fighter cells. They help fight the virus, if it ever sees it again.
One way to get them again is through the vaccine. Another way is to just give someone antibodies. So, convalescent plasma, which you and I talked about, that's taking people's plasma and grabbing antibodies from that.
This is different. This is basically saying "We have sort of figured out some of the gold-standard antibodies. We are going to clone them, over and over again, a couple of them, and create this cocktail."
And so, you are giving it to someone to essentially create what is known as passive immunity. Someone - if someone's fighting the infection, you give them more of these virus-fighting cells. Maybe, it can help overwhelm the virus and help your recovery.
Again, it's really early data on this, just 275 patients in this trial. We didn't even really get to see that data. But what they - what they tell us they saw was a shortening of symptoms, duration of symptoms, and a quicker, sort of, clearing of the viral load in the nose and the mouth.
What that means for the President? We don't know. Again, that's the question I think, hopefully, you'll ask, later on today in the show.
But I was - I was surprised. They say, "Hey, look, you know, President's doing great. But we are going to try an experimental therapy that is not even authorized under Emergency Use, yet." That's how early it is. "We're going to do it under compassionate use."
To me, that still says - that was - that was a very interesting development because I think it spoke - imagine the conversations that were going on in the White House, to basically arrive at that decision.
CUOMO: Yes. GUPTA: There was concern.
CUOMO: All right, Sanjay, as always, thank you. Miles Taylor, Michael Schmidt, thank you.
GUPTA: Thank you.
CUOMO: You were the perfect guests to help us round out our understanding of where we are. And God willing, we will all get to a better place and soon.
The word on the people, who were supporting Trump there, in front of the hospital, about half and half with masks. And with what I have seen with his rallies and stuff in the past, that's better than usual. So let's take progress, where we find it.
We have much more to come. We are going to take a look at perspective of what do we do in moments of crisis, like this, where our President is potentially compromised?
One of my mentors shepherded the country through what happened to President Reagan. He was there, on scene, when it happened, and we will get the perspective of Sam Donaldson.
We will bring in the Scientist responsible at Regeneron, for this experimental drug that the President was just given. We'll get information about what that means, as well. All ahead.
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CUOMO: All right, the breaking news is that President Trump was hospitalized tonight, for Coronavirus, less than 24 hours after sharing the news with the world.
As I alluded to earlier, he's been given a single 8-gram dose. Now, that is a higher dose of what you could use with this unproven drug. So, he's taking experimental drug, and he's taking the highest dose available for this antibody cocktail that Sanjay was just talking to us about, made by a biotech company called Regeneron.
The treatment is currently being tested among a trial of outpatients with COVID-19. Regeneron CEO is Leonard Schleifer, and he joins us, now.
Thank you, Sir.
LEONARD SCHLEIFER, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, REGENERON: Good to be here, Chris. Hope you're well.
CUOMO: Thank you. You are a reason that I am well.
Full disclosure, I know Len. We got in contact with each other when I was sick. He was extremely helpful in telling me how the virus progresses, and what I should expect, and how long things can take. And it was very, very helpful to me. So, Len, thank you.
You didn't give me any experimental cocktail. Maybe, I would've spent half the time being sick, but that's all right. I'll deal with you later, on that.
How did this happen, Len that the White House, the President, wound up getting this drug?
SCHLEIFER: Well, so, as you know, first of all, let me say thanks for having us on.
And I really want to say, on behalf of all the hard-working scientists in our New York and around-the-world facilities, who are working through this pandemic that they hope their hard work will pay off that many people, including the President, will get well because of their work in our medicines.
So, the way this works is we're studying this as an experimental drug. That means we're in control trials, which means we're testing it versus placebo. And we are trying to learn about it. And we're trying to figure out how good the evidence is.
And we released the initial batch of evidence, and it was pretty strong. This came out Tuesday. I assume that the White House has its experts, and that they saw our information. They read about it. They knew that monoclonal antibodies make sense, we can talk about why, in a second.
And they wanted to try it under certain provision in the FDA that if you are not in a clinical trial, you can get what is called "Compassionate use." It's really a single-patient experiment. And that's how --
CUOMO: "Compassionate use," Len, just so people understand, usually, that context comes up in "Somebody's in a bad way. There's nothing left to do for them, so you use something that's not really intended for this or isn't certified, yet, or approved. But you do it under "Compassionate use" because they don't have any other options."
Now, that isn't this case. So why was it "Compassionate use?"
SCHLEIFER: Well, "Compassionate use" is just the - is the jargon. The actual term, it's a single-patient investigation. And when it's appropriate in a disease, which fortunately, it's not - he's not seriously ill now.
He's not on a respirator. His life is not threatened, from what we know from the - from the outside. And I hear the same news that you hear. But he is a patient, who was at risk, and they felt that they wanted to tilt the odds a little bit more in his favor by potentially using our drug.
Remember what's going on, Chris, and we talked about this when you were sick, this is a race. It's a race between the virus and your immune system. And the virus has a head start because you didn't even know the race came about.
Boom! All of a sudden, you've got that virus going. And it's starting to win the race. The immune system is trying to catch up. And if the immune system does catch up, and kills the virus, then all is good. If the immune system doesn't catch up, and the virus wins, bad things happen to people.
And that's what happened to a lot of people in this - in this country, unfortunately, with hundreds of thousands of people and more around the globe. The virus won the race.
Most of the time, the virus loses the race. But what we found is that we can help the patient's immune system win the race by basically giving them an immune response in a vial. We're giving actual antibodies.
And I was listening. Sanjay had it almost right, and he's fabulous, and he covers so many different areas.
This is - these are proteins. They're not cells, we're giving. They're monoclonal antibodies. They are proteins, whose job it is, in a very specific way, to glom on to that virus, and help your body win the race.
And people felt that this was a reasonable thing to try, and they applied for permission from the FDA to do so, and they received it. And we were happy to supply the product, and we hope it helps.
CUOMO: Why the highest dose? And what's the downside?
SCHLEIFER: That's a great question. As a physician, I would say, we all took the Hippocratic Oath, which is "Do no harm."
The wonderful thing about monoclonal antibodies is that, as a class, they are one of the safest classes of drugs in the world.
We market one for a drug called DUPIXENT, which it markets for atopic dermatitis and for treatment for asthma, and nasal polyps. And many people, they have it for rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
These are very safe class of drugs. And then, we test specifically, whether the drug for what you are trying to treat is safe. And safe, safe, safe is the first thing. We have lots of evidence from animal studies, primate studies, and
thousands of patients, now enrolled in our trial, that this drug class and this specific cocktail appears safe. So, we felt good.
CUOMO: What about the dose?
SCHLEIFER: It was safe at the highest dose that we tried. So, that's why we felt comfortable. And we didn't have enough information to know if the higher dose was better than the lower dose. But you'd like to give the higher dose as long as you don't have safety issues. And we had no safety issues. And that's why giving the higher dose, I think, made sense.
CUOMO: So, Dr. John Mellors, Head of Infectious Diseases, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers says this.
"Why would you give the President of the United States an experimental therapy that could make things worse? Why would you do that? Why would you give the President of the United States an experimental medicine that is unproven and could cause more severe illness?"
SCHLEIFER: Right. Well, Dr. Mellors is a well-known infectious disease expert, and he's skeptical. And you know what? That's good. Scientists need to be skeptical. That's our stock and trade.
But there comes a point where skepticism has to give way to pragmatism, when we're in a pandemic. If we have the luxury of waiting, and seeing, and nobody's dying, or nobody might get very sick, or nobody's at high risk, well, then, you can sit back and wait for all the data to come in.
When you - and by the way, he's not the first person that we have tried the drug in a compassionate way. We do this in a rare, exceptional manner, and we've done it before. But we felt that was appropriate to do it for the President.
CUOMO: Well you get what the concern is, Len. We only have one President.
CUOMO: And he is not to be a guinea pig, under any circumstances, let alone COVID when --
CUOMO: -- by your own reckoning, he's not in extremis.
SCHLEIFER: Right. Well, let me just say this, Chris.
Everybody that I've spoken with, any credible scientist, credible physician, people who understand immunology, who understand this class of drugs, who have lived and worked, and we brought forward about half a dozen or eight, already, of this kind of drug, which we're developing or gotten approved, if you understand it, I don't think he was being a guinea pig, at all.
I think it was an appropriate choice when you weighed the potential benefit, versus the risks. The downsides are very low, here, because we have not seen any safety concern. And as I said, this class of drugs is an extremely safe class.
CUOMO: So, what is Mellors talking about, when he says it could - it could make things worse?
SCHLEIFER: Well, he is giving you a theoretical, skeptical, academic approach, which is really important approach, and I commend him for that. But when you look at the data, the risk of that is exceedingly, exceedingly low.
CUOMO: What is the "That?" What is the potential? What is the possibility, if not a probability? What's the worst?
SCHLEIFER: Well, what he is saying is that there's some potential way that you could have a bad reaction to the drug or it could make you worse. But we see no evidence of that. And it hasn't happened, in any way that one would be concerned about, in a thousands of patient trials.
So, I don't - I don't think - look, nothing is safe. Crossing the street isn't safe. But there comes a point where you have to be willing to take some risk for the really big, potential benefit, here, which was you might keep the President from really getting sick, from really going down, medically, and having really bad complications. I think it was a reasonable choice.
CUOMO: How long until we know whether it worked?
SCHLEIFER: Well, we hope, from our clinical trials, that he will do well. And that, over the course of the next week, his symptoms will abate, and he'll be feeling much better. And that will be a good sign.
CUOMO: If you had it available, when I was sick, and we were talking, would you have suggested it for me?
SCHLEIFER: I don't like you that much, Chris so.
Absolutely. I would've taken it, for myself, for my wife, for my loved ones, for you, for friends. And we actually think there's enough data that it should be considered to be available in an emergency-use, broader basis, while we're still studying it in a controlled way. Those are not mutually exclusive situations.
I mean, remember, we approved, and the FDA approved, on an emergency- use basis, convalescent plasma.
Now, because it didn't come from a drug company, everybody thinks it's better, but it's actually not. Convalescent plasma's just trying to do the same thing. It's trying to give antibodies, but it's contaminated by everything that's in someone's blood.
We're giving the purest of the purest of the purest antibodies of the most specific and highly-potent and tested to be proven, neutralizing, which are standardized, et cetera, et cetera.
So I think, as a class, these - our drug approach is - significantly makes more sense than convalescent plasma. And, frankly, I think the data are stronger than that.
CUOMO: Well --
SCHLEIFER: Do we have all the data we need to get to the end of the line? Not yet. But I think, sometimes, you have to make choices. And I think this was a reasonable choice.
CUOMO: Leonard Schleifer, of Regeneron, thank you very much, for taking the time to explain the situation. I appreciate it.
SCHLEIFER: Glad you're feeling well, Chris. And it's good to talk to you.
CUOMO: Thank you for helping to get me better.
SCHLEIFER: All right. We're going to go live to Walter Reed for the latest on the President, next.
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CUOMO: President of the United States is hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center tonight after his Coronavirus diagnosis. How long could he be there? They don't know. They are saying a few days, but it depends on how he does.
He just was given a high dose of an experimental antibody cocktail that may be able to boost his immune system and make his symptoms abate, more quickly. But it's not proven. It was only accepted for him as "Compassionate use," which is like a one-person study.
We just had the Head of the company, who makes it on, and he says he doesn't think it's dangerous for the President to take it. But certainly, it shows a degree of concern by the people taking care of the President.
Now, something that's weird about that is that the members of the Task Force, who are some of the most foremost experts in the field of what he's suffering with, haven't been consulted, reportedly. It's odd. And it plays into the optics of this, and what the President's trying to control with this and the people around him.
Politics shouldn't be important, right now. But recent history is. It was just days ago that the President was mocking Joe Biden for being too careful in protecting himself from COVID.
Now, it seems that our President is sick because of his own recklessness, maybe a super-spreader event at the White House, maybe contamination from one of these rallies he was having.
The White House calls his admission to Walter Reed an abundance of caution. But look, we know politically it's a bad look for him to be there. So, he wouldn't be there if there hadn't been discussion about it really being necessary.
Let's discuss what all this means with a legend. My ABC News Anchor, mentor, Sam Donaldson.
Sam, you're on the phone, can you hear me?
SAM DONALDSON, FORMER ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: I can hear you. And you can't see me. And you are blessed by the omission. Nice to see you, Chris.
CUOMO: Not at all. One of the most interesting faces in television, everybody says it.
Let me ask you, Sam, from the outside, him needing to go to the hospital, him taking an experimental drug, him getting such a quick turnaround from turning positive to being in that situation, how does that smell to you?
DONALDSON: Well it's eerily like the Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain. First he was infected. They said - then they took him to the hospital as just precautionary. Then in specifically (ph) we were told, he's in the ICU. What's he doing in the ICU? Well think of it like extra oxygen. It sounds to be (ph) best to do it there.
Fortunately for Boris Johnson, after his ICU (ph), and then eventually he went home and he appears to be OK today. But now, we know from authoritative sources, in that hospital, or the people who say they've talked to them, that he was near death. He was absolutely that close to dying. And the British didn't know it.
And whether it's in Britain or, here in the United States, or anywhere, people around high figures of power don't want to tell the truth. They're afraid the public can't take it, or they'll think the person is weak, and that dugs it up to (ph) the image. And so, they save the truth.
And they don't understand that the public can take the truth. And it's not only good to do that, but the next time you need the public to believe you, and the public knows that you are a straight-shooter, really needed to believe you, they will believe you. But when they get onto the fact that the truth completely and sometimes just lie, then when you need it -- CUOMO: Well that's certainly the case now that this White House just
gives you misinformation and disinformation, just straight-out lies so often.
Even their own timeline here doesn't seem to make sense, Sam. He turns positive less than 24 hours after Hope Hicks got a positive, it's very unusual with this virus, to have it build up viral load in you.
And frankly, it's a better scenario for the President's own health, if it wasn't this test, he didn't get sick from Hope Hicks, he was sick before that, and it was building up, because if it built up this fast in his system, that's not one of the best signals.
But in terms of for the election, Sam, if I still have you on the phone, even if he gets over this in a week, which would be remarkable, he's going to have to be found to be not contagious, before he can go out on the campaign trail. This could take away the bulk of the rest of the campaign.
What are the implications on that? I still have you?
DONALDSON: Well yes, you still have me.
And what we know is that in good (ph) polling yet is that how the public is actually reacting, but except the anecdotal people who say "Well this is what I think of him." And then what's happened to the country and what's happened to the campaign.
We knew he was in trouble. All of national polls showed about an 8- point spread in Joe Biden's favor. And then, after the debate, we know that he was in deeper trouble. The bookies in Las Vegas, which had put money down, on Biden, suddenly put a lot more money on Biden, said the option widened in his favor.
So, what will this do when the public examines what you've just been saying? There is a man, who was the leader of our country, who told us not to wear a mask, "That's not necessary," and made it clear that he thought it was kind of baby-like.
And when he mocks Joe Biden for wearing a mask, in big time, "Oh, you wear the biggest mask I've ever seen," and then unfortunately - and I say it's unfortunate, I don't wish any bad luck coming to our President, I wish good luck, I want him to recover.
But then, when it happens to him, what is the public going to think? What do people who might be on the fence about what he's been saying, "The virus will go away by Easter. It's OK. Let's open up," I mean "Let's get that Football League going," and look what's happened.
And look what happened to that Rose Garden. You keep showing what happened inside of the Rose Garden. Most people there, shoulder-to- shoulder, no masks on, and we already know of people, prominent people, going down with the infection.
What is he going to think and what is his voter going to think? I don't know yet. But we are going to find out.
CUOMO: What do you think about Joe Biden making a decision to pull negative ads?
DONALDSON: I think it's a right decision.
DONALDSON: Right decision. We all, no matter which side of this terrible divide in this country we're on, want our President to be healthy, and we want him to recover. It's not going to happen that way because talk about a terrible election situation. That would really be something that has never happened in this country.
So, for his sake, and for his family's sake, and for our sake, he should recover. Tell us the truth, if he's in really a bad shape that "Folks, we're so sorry to report that the President is in bad shape. We're doing everything we can." And people --
CUOMO: I wonder, Sam, if he has it in him. He wore a mask onto Marine One, on his way to the hospital. He probably had to because he could make other people sick there. But I wonder if it will change his disposition towards the virus, if he'll start saying different things.
CUOMO: Now, the context on that, Sam is we've never seen him in this situation before. But we have never seen him apologize or change on basically anything.
DONALDSON: Chris, I hope he has changed. I hope he's on the road to his particular Damascus (ph). But everything we know about Donald Trump --
DONALDSON: -- and I've known him 35 years, interviewed him 30 years ago, and he blew smoke about the businesses 30 years ago (ph) all about money that you say I've borrowed, I'll send my books to you all. Well maybe. And I'm still waiting for them.
CUOMO: Yes, keep waiting. Sam Donaldson, thank you very much.
CUOMO: I hope you're well, brother.
DONALDSON: If he changes.
CUOMO: And I appreciate you --
DONALDSON: You too.
CUOMO: -- giving me your time as always. God bless.
DONALDSON: You too, Chris. CUOMO: We'll be right back.
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