Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Despite Hopes, Pfizer's Full FDA Approval Only Had a Modest Impact on Vaccine Uptake; COVID Cases, Hospitalizations & Deaths Trending Down in U.S.; Survey: Only a Third of Parents Will Gets Kids 5 to 11 Vaccinated Despite Rise in Children's Hospitalizations; Trump Asks Court to Force Twitter to Reinstate His Account; Divisive Issues on Docket as Supreme Court Begins New Term. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired October 04, 2021 - 13:30   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: So emergency use versus full approval. The hope was that once a vaccine got the coveted full FDA approval, more vaccine-hesitant Americans would roll up their sleeves. But new data has shown that has not been the case.

CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten, joins us now.

Harry, Pfizer's vaccination rates did go up, but the full approval seal wasn't a silver bullet.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It wasn't, Boris. And the way you can see this is, how many people have taken the vaccine since that full approval went into effect and then compare it to the period beforehand.

What happened is, July 14th to August 23rd, 17.2 new Americans got a first dose. Compare that to August 24th to October 3rd, it was just 13.5 million. So not a huge effect there, Boris.

Look, this is not a huge surprise. The reason it's not is because the unvaccinated told us they were likely not going to get vaccinated just because of the full FDA approval.


Look at that, 82 percent of them said it made no difference among the unvaccinated once the FDA gave the full approval.

Only 7 percent said it would make them much more likely, which 7 percent is not a really large number but 82 percent is much larger than 7 percent.

Boris, here's the thing that I think we have to keep in mind. We have a lot of tools in our arsenal. You know what? The vaccine mandate, in my opinion, is one of the best tools we have.

You can see that in a lot of examples. Here's one of them. New York City, look at this, received one dose of the COVID-19

vaccine: Public school principals, 98 percent-plus where we have this vaccine mandate in effect. Teachers who belong to the New York teacher's union, 97 percent. All Department of education employees, 90 percent-plus.

Look, what I think is important here, is all of these numbers are larger than the adults in New York City at large, where it is just 83 percent.

We see this in city and state after state. The vaccine mandates do work, even if the full FDA approval doesn't. We'll see if more and more cities and states start implementing them.

SANCHEZ: We'll keep an eye on it.

Harry Enten, thank you so much.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

Of course.

There's more promising pandemic news. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all in the United States trending down right now.

Compared to last week, cases are down about 10 percent. Meaning the U.S. is now seeing the lowest average daily case rate in more than seven weeks.

COVID hospitalizations are at 70,000. That number is down from 100,000 just three weeks ago.

With us now, Dr. Peter Hotez. He's a professor and dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Hotez, always appreciate you spending part of your day with us and sharing your expertise.

Looking at the larger picture, have we seen the high point in cases and rates? Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of a current surge?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR & DEAN, NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Well, I wish it was the former. But you know, in my heart I feel we're still in for a pretty rough ride for the rest of the year.

Here is why, Boris. If you look at this time last year, when we also had a terrible surge across the southern part of the United States, including here in Texas. We also started going down precipitously around this time.

But then, after Halloween, it started going up. And then into November and December, it really shot up.

I'm looking at the northern border of the U.S. with Canada and seeing lots of cases in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, across the north- northwest part of the country, before we get to Seattle, everything in between, eastern Washington and Wisconsin, Minnesota.

Really gives me pause for concern. It looks like the beginning of the fall surge we saw last year.

I'm not taking anything for granted. We're still profoundly underachieving in terms of how we're vaccinating. We've only gotten fully vaccinated 56 percent of the country. There's a lot of hot water for the hurricane to pass over.

So I don't know. I think we need to still be aggressive in trying to vaccinate these highly vulnerable populations.

SANCHEZ: Let's look at the vaccination numbers closer. As you noted, nearly 56 percent of the total U.S. population fully vaccinated. Just over 65 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated.

In your eyes, is that good enough to prevent perhaps another variant from reoccurring?

HOTEZ: I'm not even worried about another variant. We've got enough problems right now with this Delta variant.

And it is -- we saw how it wiped out the southern part of the United States and moved into West Virginia. Now, it is going to move into the northern states into the fall.

And the bar is high. You know, with the virus that's this highly transmissible, we have to look at 80 percent to 90 percent of the entire U.S. population vaccinated. That's a third of the country we haven't vaccinated.

And the bar is higher in terms of what fully vaccinated means. Increasingly, it is going to mean three doses of the two mRNA vaccines. This will soon find out two doses of the J&J vaccine.

So we have a massive amount of work to do if we're going to try to save lives this fall.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Fauci was on CNN before noon today talking about kids and the vaccine. Dr. Fauci saying that he thinks the impact of the pandemic on kids has been underestimated.

He went on to talk about pediatric hospitals seeing some very severe infections. About the concerns and the unknown surrounding long-term COVID.

This is significant. Because as we look at the numbers, a recent survey found only about a third of parents say they're going to vaccinate their 5 to 11-year-olds as soon as a vaccine becomes available to them.

Do you share that concern with Dr. Fauci? Do you think the impact on children has been underestimated?


HOTEZ: Yes. Well, we saw it here in Texas, our own Texas Children's Hospital, we saw it across the southern states, unprecedented numbers of children's hospital admissions.

For the first time that I can remember, we started seeing pediatric intensive care units get overwhelmed. That was really frightening.

Yes, you know, especially here in the south where we only vaccinated about a third of the 12 to 17-year-olds. So parents withheld vaccines from the 12 to 17-year-olds. They're going to do the same with the younger kids, as well.

We have a lot of education to do around these mRNA vaccines. It's one of the reasons why we're accelerating the recombinant protein vaccine and older technology for globally. Maybe globally there will be better acceptance for kids as well.

SANCHEZ: You can hope so.

Dr. Peter Hotez, thank you so much for the time.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, President Trump is really itching to get his Twitter account back. Now he's asking a federal judge to step in and reinstate it. His lawyers making some bizarre claims in the process. We'll break them down after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: It's been roughly nine months since Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump. Now, he's asking a court to reinstate his account.

In a filing on Friday, his attorneys argued, quote, "Twitter exercises a degree of power and control over the political discourse in this country that is immeasurable, historically unprecedented, and profoundly dangerous to open democratic debate."

Let's break it down with CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig. He's also the author of "Hatch Man, How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutors Code and Corrupted the Justice Department."

Elie, always great to see you.

Let's get to basics here. Does the former president have any merit in this lawsuit?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, he doesn't, Boris. Let's start with the basics. Let's start with the First Amendment itself.

The very first words of the First Amendment are "Congress -- Congress shall make no law." What that means is the First Amendment only applies to governmental bodies -- Congress, state legislatures, school boards, that kind of thing.

The First Amendment does not limit what a private entity, newspaper, TV station, Twitter, social media can do.

Trump is trying to argue here, well, Twitter has become so big and powerful, they're like a governmental entity. Maybe. But they are not a governmental entity.

So this is a non-starter of a legal argument.

SANCHEZ: So Twitter banned Trump for encouraging violence after the capitol insurrection. He hasn't really gone back on any of the lies that led to that violence. He's doubled down on them.

How would the judge potentially take that into consideration?

HONIG: So really, the judge should not take that into consideration at all. Because the point here is it's not up to the judge on who has been naughty or who has been nice, who gets to get back on Twitter or who doesn't. It's up to Twitter. That's what the First Amendment is about.

Boris, we have to acknowledge there's an element of performance art at play here with Donald Trump's lawsuits.

I don't think he and his lawyers can legitimately think they're going to win. However, he seems to be playing to a political audience with some of these claims.

SANCHEZ: What if he runs again in 2024? If he is a candidate, could that potentially change the equation?

HONIG: So that's interesting. It could well change the equation on Twitter's behalf. I guess it sort of goes both ways.

On the one hand, if he is a candidate for president in 2024, then it is very relevant, what he has to say. People will want to know, and there will be an argument made to Twitter that people need to see that.

On the other hand, if he continues to spread dangerous conspiracy theories and falsehoods, that becomes even more amplified if he is a candidate once again for the office of president.

SANCHEZ: One could argue, though, that there are other entities on Twitter that espouse violence, like the Taliban, for example. They're currently allowed on Twitter.

Could that be a valid argument used in court?

HONIG: You know, rhetorically, Boris, it is a valid argument. I think it has some resonance. Gee, how could they ban Trump but not the Taliban?

However, legally -- and this is what the First Amendment is all about -- it's up to Twitter to figure that out. It is up to Twitter to strike that balance. It's not up to Congress. It's not up to the courts.

SANCHEZ: Maybe that's a sign that Twitter should perhaps reconsider having entities like the Taliban on its service.

Elie Honig, we have to leave the conversation there. Always great to see you, my friend.

HONIG: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.


They are back on the bench. The Supreme Court justices back at work after a 19-month pandemic absence. And at a fraught time. Why this could be the most consequential Supreme Court term in decades.


SANCHEZ: The U.S. Supreme Court convened today for what could be one of the most consequential terms in decades. The justices returning to the bench with some of the most divisive issues in the country on the docket this year.

Among them, abortion rights, including a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Gun rights and the Second Amendment is there also. And so is a case on religious liberty.

CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue, joins us from Washington.

Ariane, this is shaping up to be a blockbuster term for the high court.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: You're absolutely right. And it is at such a fraught time because the public opinion of the Supreme Court is at an all-time low.


And of course, just last month, the justices have found themselves in the middle of the political spotlight because they allowed that Texas law that bars most abortions after six weeks to go into effect pending appeal.

So really this new term with these big important questions comes as the justices themself are trying to bolster the reputation of the court and trying to persuade people that they are divided by their judicial philosophy and not by any political leanings.

But that is going to be tested this term. Like you said, there's a big religious liberty case. And there's a Second Amendment case having to do with the New York law that restricts where people could carry a concealed weapon, particularly in crowded areas.

And then the most important case of the term is this abortion ban out of Mississippi. It bars abortion after 15 weeks and has no exception for rape and incest.

And it is the most important thing. It is the most important abortion dispute that the justices have heard in some 30 years And as you said, it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

So we'll all be watching to see if this new conservative court is going to cut back or even gut that more than 50-year-old precedent -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: And Ariane, quickly, let's talk about Justice Clarence Thomas. This is kind of the beginning of a new era for him?

DE VOGUE: Well, I'm just out of court and here is what is interesting. After years and years and years of Justice Thomas rarely asking questions from the bench, today, he started both arguments asking the first questions. That is so rare.

It signifies that, in many ways, it is now his court. And especially, this is his term with those big cases we were talking about?

SANCHEZ: We appreciate you watching all of that for us and breaking it down for us.

Ariane De Vogue, from Washington, thank you so much.

Hey, thank you all for joining me today and rolling with the punches. Ana Cabrera is back tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

And you shouldn't go anywhere. The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Thanks for joining us on NEWSROOM.



It is a bad day for Facebook. The company's main site and its sister platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp, are all suffering from major outages. Users are unable to load new content or send messages.

CAMEROTA: Take a look at what our executive producer's Instagram looks like right now.