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At This Hour

FDA Vaccine Advisers Meet to Discuss Moderna, J&J Boosters; Former Trump Aides Will Not Testify Today. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 14, 2021 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Here is what we're watching at this hour.

Booster recommendations: FDA advisers meeting now to consider booster shots for millions who got Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines.

Deadline day: the House panel investigating the insurrection prepares for criminal charges if former Trump aides don't comply with subpoenas.

Will any of them show up?

And on strike: thousands of John Deere workers walk off the job after contract talks fail. The breaking details on that coming up.


BOLDUAN: We do begin this hour with breaking news on the pandemic. At this hour, FDA vaccine advisers are meeting to decide whether to recommend booster shots for millions more Americans who got Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines.

These advisers will also be weighing the safety of mixing and matching booster shots. New data from the NIH shows mixing boosters produces a strong immune response. Let's begin with CNN's Elizabeth Cohen, who's following every development in today's hours-long booster shot meeting.

Elizabeth, walk us through what's going to happen, what's happening now and what will happen in the next day.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this could affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans. Here it is in a nutshell.

Many of us, who got our vaccines more than six months ago, are wondering, should we be getting a booster shot. So if you've got Pfizer, that decision was made last month and yes, for some people, you should be getting booster shots if you got Pfizer more than six months ago. Now the discussion is going on among vaccine advisers to the FDA about


Folks who got Moderna more than six months ago, should they get a booster?

Tomorrow, they'll have the same discussion for folks who got Johnson & Johnson. My sources tell me that the Johnson & Johnson discussion tomorrow could get pretty complicated.

But the one from Moderna today should pretty much fit along the lines of Pfizer. So let's take a look at what Moderna is asking.

What they're asking for actually is a little different, which is that they want authorization for half-dose boosters; in other words, they're not going to give a full dose. They say a half a dose should work just fine and that they can then give more vaccine to folks around the rest of the world.

And also you have to be more than six months out from your second Moderna shot and you have to be over age 65 or you have to have certain health conditions or you have to have sort of a risky situation where you live, where you work, if you're exposed to COVID, like a health care worker or if you live, for example, in a nursing home.

Kate, you also mentioned mixing and matching vaccines. A lot of people have had questions about this. The bottom line is, this study shows that it was safe and that it really might be helpful to some people. Let's take a look at what this study found.

So this was a relatively small study, about 450 participants. Interestingly, the folks who is got Johnson & Johnson did better when they got a Moderna or Pfizer booster. The folks who got Moderna and Pfizer at the beginning, it didn't really seem to matter what booster they got -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Elizabeth, thank you.

She'll follow all the back-and-forth happening today and bring us all the headlines.

Joining me for more is Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Hotez, on boosters, Elizabeth lays it out really well, kind of what Moderna is asking. I find Moderna an interesting case here as they are asking about a half-dose for people 65 and older, younger adults with underlying conditions or people at high risk of exposure.

The Pfizer booster already authorized.

How do you see Moderna being different here than Pfizer, if at all?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Yes, I mean, there are few differences. First of all, with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine you started to see declines in vaccine effectiveness. It went down from over 90 percent down to 40 percent to 50 percent. That was a trigger for the need for a booster.

That's how the immune system works; even with the vaccines we give to little kids, we give a series of rapid immunizations. It goes up and then it goes down and, as it declines, then a booster becomes more effective.

For the Moderna vaccine, we're not seeing that same decline in immune response yet for the first two doses, so there's a possibility that the committee might decide it's premature to give a booster at this point.


HOTEZ: Wait for a further decline in immunity and then the booster is more effective. If you look at the data pack, the briefing from the FDA, it kind of bears that out. It didn't quite meet the criteria of a big boost unless those individuals had a further decline in immune response. So I'm curious to see how that one works out.

BOLDUAN: On that, obviously, we'll wait and see what they come up with.

But if they say, you're not there yet, does that mean no booster ever?

Or we need more data?

What do you see happening with that?

HOTEZ: I think we're going to need a third immunization at some point. What they might say is, let's wait another month or two to see if there is better evidence for that need.

There are a lot of other public health and policy considerations because it creates confusion if you have a booster for one and not the other. So it may be easier to harmonize all this and recommend the booster now.

I think all those considerations are being thought about. The other is there's not always agreement within the committee what the need for the booster is. For instance, I'm of the opinion that we need to prevent infection in order to prevent long COVID.

Some of the committee members were more focused on waiting to see breakthrough hospitalizations --


HOTEZ: -- another philosophical difference.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That's all of it very interesting, though, and why these meetings are important. This also raises, then, the question of mixing and matching when it comes to the booster shots.

Elizabeth laid out that NIH had released the preprint of a study showing mixing boosters are effective. It's not peer reviewed or published yet. But for context, let me show, because the team put together the numbers of what vaccine Americans have gotten.

Most Americans, the majority who have gotten vaccinated, more people have gotten Pfizer, then you see Moderna and then J&J.

But what do you think in terms of mixing and matching, what do you think of this?

Does it help?

Or to your point of needing harmony, do you think it confuses?

HOTEZ: We've seen some people lack access to one vaccine or another and have no other option to get a booster with an alternative vaccine. We call that heterologous boosting.

I think that will be less of an issue in the United States because we have such an abundance of vaccines. It's a well-done study but it is a small study, 450 people, as Elizabeth Cohen points out.

I think there's a buzz out there that's saying, well, there's a much better effect, if you got the J&J vaccine, to get boosted with either the two mRNA vaccines instead of a homologous booster with the J&J vaccine.

The only asterisk I would put on that is when you look at the early kinetics of the J&J vaccine, the virus neutralizing antibodies only really started going up later on. So there was a delayed kinetic. So it really started going up around 70 days after the second immunization.

And this study could cut it off prematurely. So in some ways, the study may have stacked the deck a little bit against showing the best effect of the J&J vaccine. That will have to be considered.

Also, the other thing about the J&J vaccine, it produces a very potent type of T-cell response called the CDA positive response, which may be also important for long-lasting, durable protection. So I don't know that this study alone is any kind of clear signal on how to move forward the J&J vaccine and, hopefully, there will be other data presented.

BOLDUAN: Leaning on your pediatrician chops, if you will, the CDC director says they're now working on a new school strategy called Test to Stay, is how they've coined it. It means essentially leaning aggressively on testing in order to avoid having to do mandatory quarantines if kids have been exposed.

You know, and thus being forced out of class and back at home.

What do you think of this as a pediatrician?

Do you think it's a smart strategy?

Do we have the testing capability? HOTEZ: Well, I think it's an extra layer of support. But it's a third-tier strategy. By that, I mean, if we're really serious about getting kids through in-person classes, we have to have everybody in the school vaccinated, everybody masked.

And certainly for the middle schools and high schools, that is possible, although we've got a lot of, unfortunately, elected leaders, who are fighting back on that. Hopefully later on in this month, we'll get more information about pediatric vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds. That will be the most important thing, vaccinations and masks.

But also I think routine testing will provide an extra layer of protection and so it is certainly warranted.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Dr. Hotez. Good to see you.

HOTEZ: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: A big day on the congressional investigation of the Capitol insurrection.


BOLDUAN: Two former Trump aides, Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, are not expected to show up today after facing subpoenas seeking their testimony and records. The conversation with Patel continues.

But CNN has learned the House panel is preparing to move quickly with criminal charges if Bannon refuses to comply. CNN's Paula Reid has been tracking this for us.

What's happening?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Lawmakers were expecting to hear from two former Trump administration officials today but neither is expected to appear. The circumstances are different for each.

For Kash Patel, we are told he is not expected to appear today as he and his lawyers continue to engage with the committee. It appears they're having constructive conversations about how he may be able to comply. That's a standard negotiating progress says that happens when these subpoenas are sent out.

If they are not able to come to an agreement, he could face consequences up to and including criminal contempt. But with Patel off the calendar today, all eyes are on what the committee will do regarding Steve Bannon, a longtime Trump associate and adviser.

He has made it clear he is not going to show up, he will not comply unless ordered by a court. In a letter, his lawyer writes that this is an issue between the committee and president Trump's counsel. And Mr. Bannon is not required to respond at this time.

I noticed, one, Bannon was not in the executive branch at the time in question. There's no active litigation. And this blanket claim of executive privilege is just not a legally viable argument. It's unclear if they will move to potentially pursue criminal contempt today or if they'll wait until tomorrow or the next few days.

BOLDUAN: Much more to come on this. Thank you, Paula. Appreciate it.

Also breaking news to get to: 10,000 John Deere workers are on strike at this hour. This is the nation's largest private sector strike since union workers for GM walked off two years ago. Alison Kosik is watching this.

What is this all about?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Negotiations broke down between the United Auto Workers and John Deere, that happening over a tentative deal that was on the table, a deal that was reached two weeks ago.

But that contract, that proposal was rejected because members of the union thought they could get better. Now they're asking for higher wages. Part of it is that the negotiations are happening at time when things are going really well for John Deere.

Revenue for the first three-quarters of John Deere's fiscal year rose to more than $32 billion. This year, you look at John Deere's stock, it's up more than 22 percent. What we're seeing here, the current financial success of John Deere, it may be pushing union members to think maybe we can get a better deal.

John Deere employees not only ones striking across the country; 1,400 employees at Kellogg's, the maker of Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes, they walked off on October 5th and there could be two more strikes looming, one at Kaiser Permanente -- 38,000 nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists could walk off the job if an agreement isn't reached.

And 60,000 members of a TV and film production union in Hollywood, California, could walk off the job as early as Monday if an agreement isn't reached.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Alison, thank you for that.

Coming up for us, the insurrection, as we were talking about with Paula, the insurrection committee threatening criminal charges against Trump allies, who may be stonewalling lawmakers. Next, the legal weapons that the committee actually has.

But will they use them?

Plus, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down for a three-hour interview with podcast host Joe Rogan. You'll want to see this.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we should improve the general health of the population. I think that's a no- brainer. And that'll take time. You know, we're in the middle of this right now.

JOE ROGAN, PODCAST HOST: I don't think you're going to be able to do that, though.

GUPTA: Well, I think if we spend 1 percent of our $4 trillion that we spend on health care every year to actually get people healthy --

ROGAN: But I don't think you can.






BOLDUAN: Developing this morning, it's deadline day for two Trump allies, Steve Bannon and Kash Patel. But they are not expected to testify today in the congressional probe of the Capitol insurrection.

Patel is still talking to the House Select Committee but the committee says they're all ready to pursue a criminal charge, at least, against Bannon if he continues to resist. Joining me now, Paula Reid, back with us, and CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero.

Carrie, what are the options when you have witnesses that clearly are not ready to cooperate?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the options of the committee are that they can continue to try to work with these witnesses and see if they can engage them and come to a resolution regarding their potential compliance.

Or they need to be sending a criminal referral to the Justice Department for contempt and possibly obstruction of justice.

With respect to Mr. Bannon, it probably was pretty predictable he was not going to comply. I would think this is something the committee had a good sense was coming and hopefully are prepared to make that criminal referral. Otherwise, the power of a congressional subpoena means nothing.

BOLDUAN: I still question that very thing, though, Carrie.


BOLDUAN: Adam Schiff says they're ready to proceed on the criminal referral even before they heard from Bannon overnight.

How do they get there?

How quickly?

CORDERO: That's the thing.

Do they want to give him more time or do they know he is thumbing his nose at the committee?

This was entirely predictable as it pertains, I think, to him in particular. One would think they had a plan, they sort of internally, within the committee in a bipartisan way, set a deadline. If he doesn't comply by a certain time, they'll send the criminal referral.

I think that's what we're waiting to know, whether they have a consensus to do that and whether they really are prepared to send that referral.

BOLDUAN: Paula, the clock, it matters here. I mean, the legal fight lasted two years over a subpoena for testimony when it came to former White House counsel Don McGahn -- on a different issue, of course. Democrats might not be in the power, in the majority, if this all heads to court.

And if it takes that long, there's a real chance this isn't going anywhere and that might be the entire strategy.

How does that play in?

How does that reality play into this?

REID: Democrats do have some things in their favor they have not had in the past. If they try to pursue criminal contempt, obviously the House is run by Democrats.

But also you have a Democratically run Justice Department that may look upon these referrals more favorably, may be willing to pursue those. That's why they're more focused on potential criminal contempt and not trying to get bogged down in civil action, because that can truly get drawn out for months and months.

The resolution that establishes committee says it will dissolve 30 days after its report is issued. We've been hearing this could go well into the spring.

BOLDUAN: Let me also ask you, Paula, what they do have now in terms of the committee, eight hours of testimony from the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen. There are so many people potentially involved here that the committee wants to speak to.

Why is his testimony critical?

REID: It's so critical, Kate, because he was at the Justice Department, has firsthand knowledge of the efforts by former president Trump to pressure top Justice officials, who were in office at that time, to help him overturn the election results.

Now Rosen has been cooperating. This is not the first time he's answered questions related to the events around the 2020 election, so it's not clear how much new information this particular committee was able to glean. But it's notable they talked to him for eight hours. And they also

subpoenaed yesterday another top justice official, Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to play ball with the former president's efforts to undermine the election results.

So it shows you that the committee is focusing on this pressure campaign by the White House, by the former president, how he was trying to use the Justice Department to undermine democracy.

Now there's an outstanding question of whether Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice official, will he comply?

So far, he has really not been willing to do what he has been asked. But at this point, we've learned from a source familiar that he is likely to testify in some form, because, as we've seen other top Justice officials have been complying. And he doesn't have a lot of other options at this point.

BOLDUAN: Carrie, kind of back on this topic of do congressional subpoenas have teeth, Adam Schiff said this showdown over subpoenas from the committee, he sees it as the way he put it, as an early test of whether our democracy is recovering.

Do you see the stakes as being that high?

CORDERO: I think the stakes are high and I understand why the congressman views it that way. Congress, as you know, is an independent branch of government and it has a legitimate investigation to conduct here.

And there really is no basis upon which these individuals are not complying with these subpoenas. Even the individuals who are saying they are trying to respect executive privilege, for example, that is the current president, President Biden's responsibility to assert.

And somebody like Steve Bannon, he was not a government employee. He was not working in the White House. So there really is absolutely no credible claim.

And that's why this decision of the committee to really strongly try to enforce their subpoenas matters, because if they can't get compliance and cooperation from individuals, to demand -- it's a subpoena -- it's not a voluntary request for an interview, it's a demand to appear and produce documents.

If they can't get compliance for that, then it really takes away Congress' ability to do its job.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both very much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, as Democrats are back negotiating President Biden's spending bill, a new CNN poll showing what the majority of Democratic voters want from the package.


BOLDUAN: The chairman of the House Budget Committee weighs in next.




BOLDUAN: Some more breaking news: act of terrorism is what police are calling a bow and arrow attack in Norway.