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Pfizer Says, COVID Pill Reduces Risk of Hospitalization, Death by 89 Percent; Newly Revealed Texts Undercut GOP's Whitewash of Capitol Siege; First American to Get COVID Vaccine Talks to CNN One Year Later. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 14, 2021 - 11:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: How about picking up the phone and calling your father? I mean, what's that about?

But separate from that on Liz Cheney, you're exactly right. My understanding is that this was incredibly intentional on her part to want to be the person who read the messages that they have gotten from Mark Meadows from her fellow Republicans in Congress on that day, from Fox News hosts on that day, because she understands coming from her, a Republican who still considers herself and still is a tried and true conservative, but somebody who follows the rule of law, that reading those would be more -- have more weight than, say, an Adam Schiff or somebody who is seen by Republicans as just as simply a partisan, whether that's fair or not, that's just the reality.

And it wasn't an easy thing for her to do. She's already under serious fire from Republicans. She has a very real primary challenge by somebody in Wyoming who is backed by the former president, and she's just going for broke.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Yes. Dana, thank you. Jeffrey, thank you very much, guys. Again, the full House is expected to vote later this afternoon on this charge against Mark Meadows.

Coming up still for us though at this hour, Pfizer has just released a highly anticipated study, some more data for its COVID treatment pill. Pfizer's CEO joins me live next.



BOLDUAN: Developing at this hour, big news from Pfizer, reporting its antiviral pill to treat coronavirus is showing in trials to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent if patients begin taking it within three days of first symptoms. The CDC director calling it another great tool in our toolbox this morning. Dr. Anthony Fauci welcomed it as good news as well.

Pfizer is seeking emergency use authorization for this pill, as we speak.

For more on this, joining me now is Pfizer's CEO, Albert Bourla. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate it.

So, with this news, how does this change, in your view, the course of this pandemic?

ALBERT BOURLA, CEO, PFIZER: I think it's a game changer. Because right now, one of the biggest problems that we're facing, it is that when you have peaks of this disease, when you have the waves that are coming, the hospitals are really overcrowded, and that creates significant issues to the health care system. With this pill, we are expecting that out of ten people going to hospital, only one will go, and actually no one is dying. So these are very, very good news.

BOLDUAN: If people see this news and think, I don't need to get vaccinated or boosted anymore, I can just take this pill, what do you say to that?

BOURLA: I'm afraid that there will be some people that will think like that. It's a very big mistake. Vaccines are needed. Vaccine is the primary frontier that you should be using to stop the disease. The goal is not to get sick and then hopefully have a medicine that can save you. The goal is not to get sick. And not only you not to get sick but to prevent sickness from your kids, prevent that you get sick and then you transfer that to your mothers, to your fathers, to your parents. It's very important that people will take the vaccines. And for those that are unfortunate that despite that or because they didn't take the vaccines, they are sick, of course now we have something that would save a lot of lives.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned children. Can kids take this antiviral pill?

BOURLA: The pill has been started in more adults. I hope that we can get it also in adolescents. But that is up to the FDA to give the permission for, and we will wait to see.

BOLDUAN: Do you know how long it will be until you can -- would be confident, yes or no, on that?

BOURLA: I think we should wait to see what the FDA says. The FDA will take their time, but they have a very high sense of urgency. And given the severe public health need, I think they would act very quickly, maybe this month.

BOLDUAN: Assuming FDA approval, let's just assume that for the sake of this conversation, when do you think there will be enough of this available so that every American will have access to this treatment when it is most effective within three days of first symptoms?

BOURLA: Assuming FDA approves it -- and, by the way, it is not effective only on the three days. On the three days, it was 89 percent. One of the people got it five days, it was 88 percent. So, we have strong efficacy if they take it a little bit later. Clearly, they should take it as soon as possible.

Now, assuming that there will be an approval from the FDA, we will be having quantities of this medicine available immediately.

Now, the quantities will be in the tens of thousands immediately. In January, it will go to hundreds of thousands. And then February, March, we go to millions, treatments, not pills, treatments.

BOLDUAN: Treatments, exactly. I was going to ask for that clarification. And treatments being the entire course you would need in order to follow this treatment.


BOURLA: It's a course that you need for five days, day and night, all of that makes a full course of treatment, tens of thousands for this month, hopefully up to tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands in January immediately, and millions will go in February or March.

BOLDUAN: So, while that happens, let me also ask you about booster shots and the vaccine, in general, and also the omicron variant. This new South African study showing that the Pfizer shot is only 33 percent effective against the omicron variant, but also that people infected with omicron are less likely to end up in the hospital. Does that mean you will or won't need to roll out an omicron-specific vaccine, do you think?

BOURLA: We are still waiting to see more data to understand if there will be a necessity to do that. Actually, the studies in South Africa have been reported. If I'm not mistaken, they are only for two doses. The third dose and to have studies not necessarily from South Africa, but to other places that are way more advanced with the booster is really very -- is way stronger, the protection. So, we are seeing already 70 percent, 75 percent protection in the initial data that we are getting.

I don't know if we will need an omicron vaccine. But what I know is that we cannot take chances with that. So, we are moving full speed in developing one. And I know from the studies that we have done so far that if we need to make one, that one will be very effective against omicron. And that likely will be ready in March and that will be ready to manufacture in very big quantities.

So, from that we will be covered. If we don't need to have it, we will put it on the shelves. But if we need it, it will be there.

BOLDUAN: And so when Dr. Fauci -- he was on with me last week, and he said in his personal view it's a matter of when, not if, the definition of fully vaccinated is going to change from two doses to be three doses. Do you think fully vaccinated means three doses already?

BOURLA: I think so. And everybody in reality thinks so. I think time has come to make an official stamp on that.

BOLDUAN: This is -- can't be forgotten that this is the one-year anniversary of the first person being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, a truly amazing moment, but still also coming -- in the coming days, we are going to hit 800,000 deaths in the United States from this horrible disease. How do you reflect on all of that?

BOURLA: You know, first of all, what a catastrophe, I would say, for humanity and the country this pandemic was, and how blessed we were to come quicker than anybody thought, us and others, with very effective treatments and very effective preventions. Particularly for our company, you know, in the anniversary of the first day that we have administered in an American this vaccine, and that was the first vaccine administered against COVID, to come now with a treatment of 90 percent effectiveness, you know, personally makes me very proud about the scientists that we have and the people at Pfizer who were able to make that happen.

BOLDUAN: Albert Bourla, thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.

BOURLA: I thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Coming up still for us, on this day, as we were just discussing, what you're seeing here, this was the moment Sandra Lindsay, she became the first American to get a COVID vaccine one year ago. She's an ICU nurse here in New York and she is going to join me live to reflect on where we are one year later.

But also ahead, the House is going to vote today on contempt of charges against Mark Meadows. I'm going to speak with one member of the committee investigating the insurrection about that. That's next.




REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): To read the record of how Mr. Meadows has responded to our subpoena issued in late September is to come away exhausted, exasperated and just enraged. Any regular citizen who flouted a congressional or court subpoena, like Mr. Meadows, would have faced serious consequences, and rightly so. This is not a witness who has acted in good faith.

As a result of his actions and inactions, Mr. Meadows is clearly in contempt of Congress and should be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.


BOLDUAN: That was Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, a member of the House select committee investigating the insurrection, not pulling punches, for sure, supporting contempt of Congress charges against former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

The full house, as we've mentioned, is expected to vote on referring those charges to the Justice Department later today.

But joining me right now is Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. Thank you for being here. So, the text messages to Mark Meadows that he gave to the committee then, what do you think this shows?


MURPHY: It shows that there is very good cause for the committee to have a conversation with Mr. Meadows because he played a significant role in both the run-up to and the day of January 6th, and all we're seeking is the truth. And we've asked him to appear before us and talk to us about some of these things. And it's just really disappointing that while he's happy to write about them and profit off of book sales about what he -- his role was or did at that time and he's happy to go on conservative media and talk about it, he's unwilling to respond to a legitimate subpoena for his -- for the information that he has and to appear before our congressional select committee.

BOLDUAN: These messages that we are reading now from Fox News people and unidentified lawmakers, even -- do you know Meadows' responses to those -- I mean, they were pleading requests to Mark Meadows. Do you know what Meadows did with those messages in real-time?

MURPHY: I can't speak about the specifics of what the committee has, but let me just say that for any conversation there's, two parties that are a part of it, and there are a lot of people who are cooperating with us and have provided us with additional information as well as what their end of that conversation looked like.

But what I think is important about those text messages is that despite the fact that the Republican Party today wants to distance itself from the severity of January 6th, the unprecedented nature of January 6th, the danger that members were in on January 6th, the reality is that on that day, in that moment, we all felt the same level of concern and fear, not just for our personal safety but also for our democracy, and that is reflected in those text messages.

BOLDUAN: So, Congresswoman, it's not wrong -- it would be maybe not wrong for me to assume that if there are two sides of those conversations that the committee may have access to both sides of those conversations?

MURPHY: That is correct.


MURPHY: You will note that there's only a handful of people who are not cooperating with us, but there's a large number of people who are cooperating with us.

BOLDUAN: The committee identified the Fox News host who sent these messages, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade. The committee also identified Donald Trump Jr. in quoting a text message that he wrote to Mark Meadows. Why did you not identify the lawmakers who sent messages?

MURPHY: That was a part of Vice Chair Cheney's remarks, and so I can't speak on behalf her as to why she presented as she did. BOLDUAN: Do you think -- is it some collegial gesture to, you know, people who are currently serving with you in the House or the Senate?

MURPHY: We are going to get all the information that we need from whomever we need it from because nobody is above the law. And this case, as the chairman stated in his statement, we are going to unveil the information that we have once we have gathered it and can present it in an organized fashion to the American people. And I expect that we will be able to do that.

You know, to-date, we have spoken to 300 individuals. We've received over 30,000 documents. We've followed up from 250 tips. So, we are doing the work, and it's important that we present this in a way that is understandable.

BOLDUAN: And that is totally understandable. And there is -- and let's be honest, there is strategy in what is put out publicly if there are communications that maybe you need to have more conversations with people so you don't identify them publicly, but it does raise a question if some people are identified publicly, others are not, what should someone sitting at home take from this differing application of transparency in revealing the identities of these messages?

MURPHY: I think that when the committee puts out our final report, there will be full and complete transparency on all of the information that we received and what exactly happened in the run up to and on the day of January 6th and how our democracy was undermined and who was involved and what exactly their roles were.

BOLDUAN: Were those all Republican lawmakers who were reaching out asking for help?

MURPHY: I won't comment, but I will say that both Republicans and Democrats on that day understood the severity of the situation, and even conservative media personalities understood the severity of the situation and begged the president to do something.


The question remains why didn't he?

BOLDUAN: And the question remains why -- especially when it comes to the Fox News hosts, why their coverage after the fact does not match with what their text messages looked like sent on that day.

Thank you very much, Congresswoman. I appreciate your time.

MURPHY: Great to be with you.

BOLDUAN: All right, turning now to the pandemic. Today marks one year of COVID vaccines in the United States, and the very first American to get the shot was Sandra Lindsay, Director of Critical Care Nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center here in New York, a big moment in the pandemic broadcast around the world. You saw it there.

Joining me right now is that nurse, Sandra Lindsay. Thank you so much for being here.


BOLDUAN: One year ago, the whole country watching that moment when you received that first dose, how do you reflect on everything that has happened in the year since with the pandemic, the very good and also the very bad and still very tragic?

LINDSAY: So, I look back with tremendous gratitude that I was able to get vaccinated and pride in the work that I've done so far to be an activist for vaccinations. Although we've made some progress, we still have some way to go. We're only about 61 percent of our population vaccinated. And so my hope is that here as Americans and around the world we can unite to finally put an end to the pandemic.

BOLDUAN: And I'm really curious how you think we get to that point, how you reach out to those people who have not gotten a shot. I think it's like 75 million Americans who have still not gotten a single dose. How do you talk to patients about getting the shot? What do you think is the right approach to try and convince anyone who is still holding out?

LINDSAY: So, I want to find out from them what do they know about the vaccines and also what's driving their hesitancy and their fear. And based on their response, if somebody is so far down the conspiracy theory and the misinformation that you can't pull them out of that, those are not the ones. You can only hope that they will, you know, use our preventative measures and wear masks and social distancing and hand hygiene. But I think there's a good portion of the population that's still in the middle that we can, you know, truly provide an accurate information, and we can talk to, we can alleviate their fears and get them towards getting vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: And we're still not over it. We're still not through it, unfortunately. Hospitals are getting jammed again. Another wave is feared and happening in parts of the country, the National Guard heading to places that are seeing staffing shortages in hospitals. How do you feel and describe the toll that this has taken on health care workers, especially when we're looking at another surge two years in?

LINDSAY: Kate, you're correct. It's not over yet, and that's important for people to know. We're still staring down the faces of COVID patients here in the hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, although not to the extent that we were a year ago. So that's why it's incredibly important that if people are still on the fence, now is a good time for them to get the information that they need to get vaccinated.

I can speak on behalf of health care workers at my organization when I say that we are tired, and we're concerned, especially because we know that the public now has options.

BOLDUAN: You are an extraordinary person who met an extraordinary moment. I mean, your scrubs and vaccine card are now being donated to the Smithsonian. You were honored at the White House a little while back. What has all of this meant to you personally?

LINDSAY: It's so surreal. I can't believe that, you know, my courageous act just going in to get myself protected because I believe that it was the right thing to do, you know, has gone on to be this historic moment. I'm very, very, very honored to hold this place in history.

BOLDUAN: And did I read correctly that you -- when you went in to get the shot, you didn't even actually know that you were going to be the first in the nation?

LINDSAY: Did not know at all.

BOLDUAN: Well, it's good knowing you now. Thank you so much, Sandra Lindsay.

LINDSAY: My pleasure, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I really, really appreciate it.

And thank you all for being here, an extraordinary day, yet another one on At This Hour. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Inside Politics with John King begins right now.