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CDC Panel Expected to Recommend Pfizer's Vaccine for Kids Ages 5 to 11; Biden Hails New Global Effort to Cut Methane Emissions; Opening Statements Begin in Kyle Rittenhouse Homicide Trial. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 11:30   ET



ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are told by members of this committee, this external committee advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, that we are told by these members that they think this will pass. They think that this committee is going to give a green light to vaccines for children. There are some details that still need to be worked out. And it's expected that Dr. Rochelle Walensky is going to decide pretty quickly whether or not she'll also give the green light. It's expected that she will. It might happen even this evening.

Let's take a look at the data that these vaccine advisers are looking at right now. They're looking at data from Pfizer that shows that the vaccine is about 91 percent effective at keeping children from getting sick with COVID. What they did is they gave the vaccine to about 1,300 children, and three of them became sick over time with COVID. Then they gave it to 663 children, they have a placebo, a shot of saline that does nothing, to about half that number, and 16 of them became sick with COVID. So, those numbers show you what the vaccine does. It really does, according to this data, protect children against COVID- 19.

You mentioned this is a child-sized dose of the vaccine, Kate. That's right. It's one-third the dose that's been give on to adolescents and adults. And so that's what's being reviewed right now. And, again, it is possible that we could see Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, signing off on this today or tomorrow, certainly very soon. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Sticking close to you, Elizabeth, so get all that reporting when it comes out. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now is Dr. Megan Ranney. She is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and Associate Dean of Public Health at Brown University.

So, Dr. Ranney, in light of everything that Elizabeth laid out and what is kind of expected today, a top White House COVID official, Jeff Zients, he says, starting next week, the program to distribute vaccines to kids 5 to 11 will be fully up and running, is how he describes it. I mean, what do you think all of this means, this new authorization, assuming it happens, what it means for the push, the goal of getting COVID under control?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE: I have to say, as a parent of a kid who is in that age group, it means a lot personally to me. I can't wait to get him vaccinated and I know a lot of parents feel the same.

But on a country-wide level, this is really important. When you compare our progress in the U.S. to, say, that of the U.K., which many of us in public health have used as a cautionary tale about the way in which delta can stick around and can keep causing hospitalizations and deaths, the difference is that the U.K. has been really slow to vaccinate teens and is going to be even slower in vaccinating kids.

When we get these vaccines in kids' arms, Kate, it's not just going to decrease risk for those kids of catching COVID or having any of the horrible side effects of COVID, like myocarditis or hospitalization or, God forbid, death, it's also going to decrease community transmission of COVID. So, it will move us closer to that goal of moving back towards normal.

BOLDUAN: So there are concerns, parents have concerns for their kids all the time. I mean, I'm constantly concerned for my child. But it when it comes to COVID and the vaccine, there's a survey out last week that showed 66 percent of parents surveyed of kids in this age group, they worry that the vaccine might impact their children's fertility later on.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has now put out a statement, and in the statement said, unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been scientifically disproven. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID vaccine affects puberty.

Are you hearing this from patients? What has worked to put this particular fear to rest, do you think?

RANNEY: Yes. I certainly hear this, and many other concerns that are being spread largely through purveyors of disinformation and lies on the internet. There are folks out there that are spreading this and other myths and rumors, honestly, to serve themselves.

Let me be super clear, and this is what I tell my patients, these vaccines have no effect on anything related to the reproductive system. All that they do is provide a little snippet of protein that allows our kids or our own bodies to manufacture their own natural immunity without being exposed to the actual virus. They do not, in any way, shape, or form, hurt anything else.

BOLDUAN: You've mention that your son, right, is in this age group? It's your son? Yes. And you've been really open about your decision that you want to get him vaccinated. But you also have said that you didn't make this decision lightly. Can you explain?

RANNEY: Absolutely. You know, as a parent, my first priority is keeping my kids safe and healthy.

[11:35:03] I want to do everything I can to facilitate that, but I would never want to do anything to put my kid at risk. So, I wanted to know the facts and the data. I would never have rushed out and gotten my kid vaccinated before this vaccine went through the FDA approval process. I wanted to make sure that it was safe and that it was effective at protecting him and other kids against COVID and COVID's long-term effects.

You know, we certainly all have seen some of the data around some of the side effects in older adults. Those side effects are -- the serious side effects are really, really rare, much rarer than serious side effects of COVID. And so I wanted to make sure the same thing was true for kids. And you know what? It is. These vaccines are tremendously safe and effective, and that's what's giving me the confidence to show up and get my little guy a shot as soon as it's in his pediatrician's office.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Dr. Ranney. Thanks for coming in.

RANNEY: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, big commitments from nations around the world to tackle the climate crisis. Will it be enough? I'm going to ask a former EPA administrator next.



BOLDUAN: Big promises on the second day of the U.N.'s Climate Conference in Scotland. More than 100 nations representing more than 85 percent of the world's forest are now agreeing to end deforestation by 2030. It comes as President Biden pledges U.S. support to slash methane emissions along with dozens of other countries by 30 percent in that same timeframe. But the big question is what really comes from these big promises?

Joining me now is a former EPA administrator under George W. Bush, Christine Todd Whitman. It's good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

Two commitments, let's talk about these two commitments that have been made today to end deforestation and pledging to slash methane emissions here in the United States and worldwide. What do you think of these promises?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, they're both important, but I agree with you, Kate, that promises are one thing and delivering is another. Perhaps the easiest is the deforestation. I mean, what that will mean is the countries that have relied on it, like Brazil, are going to have to come up with other ways to allow those who made their living from this deforestation to find other ways of having a job and making some money and surviving.

But that's kind of a more direct and simpler thing than the methane emission issue, which can be done. We know where methane comes and President Biden has made several, very specific pledges working with farmers and ranchers to help them control methane emissions, working on flaring. Those things, they can all be accomplished. And it's important that we have at least the promises, but we have got to start delivering it to make any real difference.

BOLDUAN: I do want to ask you just in general, as Biden kind of wraps up his time in Scotland here, as you take a step back looking at the totality of what the United States has announced and committed to, big promises, big speeches. He has a big press conference, you know, later today. How would you describe the progress the president has actually made on the climate crisis? Is it big? Is it small? Is it significant? Is it incremental? What do you see?

WHITMAN: It's definitely big in the sense that it's important because he has, for the first time within the federal government, broken down the silos between various departments to say, look, every decision you make has an impact on climate change, whether housing or transportation or the department of interior or EPA. You've got to think about this as you go into any of this decision-making process. And that's important because every single part of our society does have an impact on climate change.

And his focus and the priority he's given climate change sends a big message. The problem, of course, is that people around the world are a little uncertain. Until we start to actually deliver on more than just what we can do through regulation, and that means taking some bold steps, steps like putting a cap on carbon, putting a price on carbon, those kinds of things are going to be difficult to get through what seems to be a dysfunctional Congress at this point.

I mean, he has $555 billion in the infrastructure bill to deliver on mitigation for climate change to help create jobs, to move us into the 21st century on this issue and compete with the rest of the world so we can create those jobs. But until some of that really starts to happen, it's going to be difficult to see the rest of the world taking us, at least, terribly seriously. His heart is in the right place. His focus is in the right place. Now the rest of the country needs to come along.

BOLDUAN: During Donald Trump's presidency, you were, of course, very critical of his approach to the climate and other issues. I mean, you and I have talked about it a lot.


BOLDUAN: But I want to play for you a moment from the summit when President Biden is actually apologizing for Trump and the Trump administration when it comes to climate. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States in the last administration pulled out of the Paris accords and put us sort of behind the eight-ball.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [11:45:05]

BOLDUAN: That's gotten a lot of attention. What do you think of that?

WHITMAN: I think it was important for him to say. Because you have to remember that we, the United States under the Obama administration, had done a lot of that negotiation and gotten the other countries to that brink of making the pledge. And we had made a pledge. And then to have the next president suddenly come in and cut the legs out from under it on an issue that is of extreme importance to us and the rest of the world. And we're the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

And to have us suddenly back away just puts the rest of the world and their commitments in a turmoil because, certainly, the developing countries are going to say, well, why should we do it if the United States, the second largest emitter, is backing away from this? Can we trust the United States in the next round of anything that we do? I mean, it's great to make those pledges, but will the next president come in and just say, no, sorry, we're out of here?

This is something we, unfortunately, had done on other issues in the United States, when we have worked with the rest of the world. And we've got to be cognizant of that and how it impacts our place in the world and our ability to have influence when we are at the table.

BOLDUAN: A trust deficit in many regards. Finally, if I could, I mean, you are also a former Republican governor of New Jersey. The Democratic governor, we've covered this in the show, he's up for reelection today. Do you think Phil Murphy is going to buck New Jersey history and be the first Democratic governor in I think it's more than four decades to win reelection in the state?

WHITMAN: Well, the first time a Democratic governor or any governor was beaten in a reelection was when I was elected in 1993. So when you look at it that way, it's not quite as historic a trend as it has been. No, the Democrats have over a million-vote advantage in registration, but, traditionally, they have been very casual with this election, this sort of off-year election that we have here, and haven't turned out in the numbers that they have and they could muster.

And the Republican candidates have gone very strongly to the base because they vote. Conservative Republicans vote. And that's what they're counting on. They're counting on the Democrats sitting back and saying, that's not the nicest day out there, I don't think I'll do it. We have a million-vote advantage in registration, we don't really have to worry, and that the Republicans will come out and vote. So, it's going to be interesting to see what happens tonight when the polls close.

BOLDUAN: It absolutely will. We'll all watch it together. Thank you so much.

WHITMAN: My pleasure. BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse begins. He's accused of shooting and killing two protesters in Wisconsin. A live report, next.



BOLDUAN: Breaking news. CNN has just learned the Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit to block a mega merger in the publishing business. The suit alleges that Penguin Random House has proposed a $2 billion acquisition of rival publisher Simon & Schuster would harm competition and allow it to exert, quote, outsized influence over which books are published in the United States and how much authors are paid. We'll continue to follow this breaking story. I'll bring you the developments when we have more.

Also developing at this hour, opening statements are under way in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. He's the Illinois man accused of killing and killing two men and injuring another during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer.

Rittenhouse was captured on video with an AR-15-style rifle and running from the scene as he was followed by bystanders. Rittenhouse claims that he fired in self-defense.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live with much more on this. Adrienne, the trial is underway. What have you heard so far?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've heard at least 30 minutes of this opening statement from the prosecution, the assistant district attorney, Thomas Binger, got right to it talking about the events of that night at one point pointing to the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse, saying, the evidence will show that Kyle Rittenhouse is the only person who killed someone.

Listen in to what he had to say.


THOMAS BINGER, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, KENOSHA COUNTY: On that night, he killed two unarmed people, shot at a third, at very close range, and wounded Mr. Grosskreutz in the arm, who was armed with a gun.

It is the state's position that this evidence demonstrates that criminal charges against the defendant in intentional homicide of Anthony Huber and his reckless conduct towards the other defendants.


BROADDUS: So, he is laying the foundation and also highlighting what he wants the jurors to pay attention to. Thomas Binger also said the first witness that the jurors will hear from is Dominic Black. He also said that black purchased that rifle, that weapon that Kyle Rittenhouse used and he also underscored they became friends or got to know each other because Black was dating the defendant's sister. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Adrienne, thank you so much for that. That trial continues. We will stay close to that.

There are also new developments in the deadly shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's film Rust. An attorney for the assistant director, Dave Halls, he now says that it was not his -- not their client's responsibility to check the gun that he handed to Baldwin that killed Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.


Halls previously told investigators, we saw in an affidavit, that he should, he said, have checked all the rounds before deeming the firearm safe. And the Santa Fe sheriff says it's important now for Halls and others to cooperate with investigators and come in for follow-up interviews.

No criminal charges have been filed but the district attorney for Santa Fe County said very recently that she has not ruled anything out. That's all still on the table.

Thank you so much for joining us At This Hour. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Inside Politics with John King begins after a break.