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Erin Burnett Outfront
Biden: On Pace To Exit Afghanistan By Aug. 31, But Depends On Taliban Cooperation; Taliban Blocking Afghans From Reaching Airport; Interview With Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ); House Approves Massive Budget Plan; One Hundred Hospital Workers Protest Vaccine Requirements, Could Be Fired; Suspected Havana Syndrome Incident Delays V.P. Kamala Harris' Vietnam Trip; Woman Died After Capturing Tennessee Flooding On Facebook Live. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 24, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Biden sticks to the deadline announcing that all U.S. troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by next week. Can he get all Americans and Afghan allies out of the country in seven days?
Plus, more states warning against ingesting a drug meant for livestock saying it is not a miracle COVID cure. One doctor studying the drug actually called a Nazi for questioning it as a cure. That doctor is my guest.
And Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to Vietnam delayed by more than three hours over a suspected case of Havana Syndrome. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.
Breaking news tonight, sticking to his deadline. President Biden announcing he will not extend his self-imposed August 31st deadline for all U.S. forces to leave Afghanistan. Just hours after the Taliban said it would no longer allow American's Afghan allies to leave the country. And just one day after the Taliban warned the deadline was a red line.
Biden tonight rejecting growing calls to extend the deadline citing security concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S., and allied forces and innocent civilians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But is it a realistic deadline to fulfill the President's promise? The promise that he will evacuate all Americans and Afghan allies from the country before troops leave. So far the President has said that more than 70,000 people, including Americans and Afghans have been evacuated since August 14th. That is 15 times what it was. That that pace is 15 times what it was just a week ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We are currently on pace to finish by August the 31st. The sooner we can finish the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops. But the completion by August 31st depends upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those who were transporting out and no disruptions to our operations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: But lawmakers say that some of the President's top aides, including the Defense Secretary, Secretary of State, and Joint Chiefs Chairman have indicated privately at a briefing today that the deadline was unrealistic. Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski saying in part, "The practical problem is - and they're not disputing any of this - is that you can't do this by Aug. 31. They're not sugarcoating any of this." I'm going to talk to the Congressman in just a moment.
Another problem, Biden says the United States needs the Taliban to continue cooperating and allow access to the airport. But the Taliban tonight no longer allowing Afghans to leave the country, going so far as to block access to the airport in Kabul. And a senior administration official just told CNN the grim reality is that, "A lot of deserving Afghans will be left behind."
Oren Liebermann is OUTFRONT at the Pentagon for us. Oren, the U.S. truly racing against the clock now.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, Kate, entering that final week here until the self-imposed deadline of August 31. A deadline that the Taliban now seems determined to hold the United States to. Meanwhile, as the U.S. military is on the ground there, working to get out as many people as possible nearly a thousand an hour according to the update we heard from President Joe Biden just a short time ago.
The first U.S. troops have left Afghanistan several hundred from the 5,800 there that are part of the evacuation. The mission remains that evacuation, but soon it has to transition to the withdrawal of U.S. forces to complete this.
LIEBERMANN(voice over): The tide of Afghan evacuees flowing out of Kabul is at a new peak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do they all have passports?
(END VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMANN (voice over): As the effort to move as many people as
possible enters its final seven days. Twelve thousand people flown out in 12 hours. The U.S. alone flew out 6,400 people, averaging nearly 350 per flight. That's 15 times what the U.S. flew out a week ago. Since August 14th, More than 70,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul.
The airport which ones had 14,000 people in the field waiting for flights now down to about 5,000 though there are many more outside desperate to get in. But as the operation improves, the environment grows more tense. The military is monitoring threats from ISIS-K and others aware the crowds at the airport are target for terror groups and the Taliban warning of U.S. to be out by the end of the month, telling Afghans they won't be allowed to pass the road to the airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZABIULLAH MUJAHID, TALIBAN SPOKESPERSON (through interpreter): We have indigenous doctors, professors, academics, they are talented people.
They are talent of this country. They should not leave this country. They should work in their own specialist areas. They should not go to other countries, to those Western countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN (voice over): One question the Biden administration hasn't answered how many Americans are left in Afghanistan. The White House promised to evacuate every U.S. citizen who wants out, but the Pentagon refusing to say how many that is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think there's a perfect number that we know with certainty of all Americans in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN (voice over): The sheer number of Afghans leaving the country has created its own set of problems, the lack of basic sanitation at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the first stop for many of those fleeing Kabul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRBY: We recognize that things were and in many ways still are not at the level of sanitation and good hygiene that we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN (voice over): Meanwhile, Afghan evacuees beginning to arrive in the United States. In the past 24 hours, four flights landed at Dulles International Airport outside D.C. with more than a thousand passengers. With the part of the operation in the United States just starting, the Pentagon has only days left before winds down the effort in Kabul with 5,800 troops on the ground and an August 31st deadline to get them out, Pentagon knows the last 48 hours are critical. The focus, how to get out thousands of troops who have made it possible to move 10s of thousands of people.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Part of the problem here is that of the 70,000 moved, not all of those were on the U.S. list, which is to say that some of those were Afghan evacuees that other countries wanted to move out. And that's why a senior administration official said there will be many deserving people left behind.
Meanwhile, a source tells us that a State Department has reached out to Americans registered in Afghanistan and told them to get ready to report the designated evacuation spots, an indication that the U.S. is working very hard to get out as many American citizens as possible in these last few hours and days. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Oren, thank you very much for that.
Now I want to go to Sam Kiley who's in Kabul for us again this evening. Sam, are the Taliban emboldened tonight?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, they've been emboldened since they were able to race through the country, capture the capital city and humiliate a superpower. We are watching a precipitous withdrawal, a miraculous feat of logistics with more than 70,000 people being moved in such a small amount of time, particularly over the last few days.
And there's a consequence that the Taliban perhaps have reasserted a bit of their control over the situation by saying that local Afghan people can no longer make their way to the airport. Ironically, of course, that making it easier ultimately for the Americans to meet their deadline.
That may well have been part of the Taliban reasoning in this, not only do they want to prevent a brain drain and themselves be humiliated in their moment of victory by this mass exodus of some of the best educated people in the country. But at the same time, they want to be able to make sure that the Americans do leave so that they don't end up in some kind of fractious relationship with the Americans.
At this stage, they have been negotiating very, very closely and cooperating closely with the Americans in order to get things this far. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Sam, thank you for your continued reporting on the ground. Really appreciate it.
OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski. He's a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that was briefed earlier today by President Biden's National Security team. He's also a former Assistant Secretary of State under President Obama. Congressman, thank you for being here. Yesterday, you called the
August 31st deadline unacceptable and inexplicable. So what do you think today in hearing the President's statement that he's sticking by his deadline?
REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): I actually heard him say something a bit more ambiguous than that. Look, let me just first say, there's no way to keep the President's promise by August 31st. There's no way that we may be able to take out the American citizens in the Kabul area who wants to leave, but Afghans are at risk of retribution from the Taliban, Afghans who helped our troops will not have the opportunity to leave if we leave them.
But what I heard the President say today after his top National Security team heard a unanimous message from Republicans and Democrats in the House on this today was that he wants to leave by August 31st, but whether we do so or not depends on completion of the mission and depends on whether the Taliban cooperate.
That is actually a new message from the President. I'm interested in whether that actually becomes operationalized in terms of the orders that our military gets.
BOLDUAN: So Congressman, do you think then the President is not really leveling with the American people? Because I agree, it's almost two messages coming out. It's one, the deadline is set. But it's also the President and his aides have all kept saying that he's asked for contingency plans if conditions change on the ground. So is the President not being straight?
MALINOWSKI: The conditions have changed for the worst in the last 24 hours. The Taliban, because of the mistake, I think that we made of setting this artificial self-imposed deadline, they've now seized upon it as you said and started blocking Afghans at risk from going to the airport.
So my interpretation of the President's statement is that he is telling the Taliban, we'd like to leave, but if you want us to get out of your hair by August 31st, you have to let these Afghans come to the airport. You cannot impede this. Because if you continue to impede it, then our mission will not be complete and we may stay longer.
That is what I heard. I hope that that's what he means. But operationally, it means we can start pulling out massive numbers of Americans from that airport, troops in the next few days. We can't be coming and going at the same time.
BOLDUAN: But isn't that also the problem? It's not like we've got a couple more weeks before this deadline and they also have said that they need to stop evacuating Americans a couple days ahead of time to start actually getting that retrograde going.
MALINOWSKI: Exactly. BOLDUAN: This is hard up against the deadline. You actually like the
message you heard, because you've been very critical of this withdrawls, you're making clear.
MALINOWSKI: I've been very critical, yes.
BOLDUAN: That you like the message that you heard from the President today?
MALINOWSKI: Well, I heard some things today that I thought were new. The important thing is what actually happens on the ground. As of this morning, I think the military felt that the order was they should start leaving and the military need clear instructions. They can't do two contradictory things at the same time.
If we're going to stay there and continue this operation, even through August 31st, we need to be moving things in not taking things out. And so I hope that this is clarified, because what I think we all agree on everybody who's looked at this objectively, including within the administration, we cannot keep the promise that the President made by August 31st and that should be unacceptable.
BOLDUAN: I do want to ask ...
MALINOWSKI: Yes, go ahead.
BOLDUAN: ... well, I'm so sorry.
MALINOWSKI: No, ahead.
BOLDUAN: I'm so sorry to interrupt you. In the briefing that you received today, did Biden's aides, some of his top National Security, his National Security team, did they say to you indicate how did they put it to you in terms of the ability to meet this deadline?
MALINOWSKI: I don't want to talk about what happened in a classified briefing. I think I can say with confidence, though, as a general matter that I don't think anybody believes that we can do more than take Americans out by August 31st as a practical matter.
BOLDUAN: So after hearing the president, you now need more clarification and to be honest, after hearing what you've just said, I think the American people need more clarification on the President's position on this. But what would you then tell, because this is real life, this is really dangerous and this is lives on the line, not only Afghan allies, not only Americans in Afghanistan, but also the security threat against American troops that are on the ground at the same time.
What would you tell Afghan allies tonight who have not yet been able to get to the airport who have been told don't yet come to the airport in some circumstances and they haven't even had a chance yet to get to the gate to evacuate? What do you think the message is to them tonight?
MALINOWSKI: Well, if the message had been we are leaving on August 31st, no matter what, I think that would have led some of them to despair and others to try to rush the airport, which is not in anybody's interest, including the round, including for the safety of our troops. I think that's another reason why it's incredibly important for the administration to be even more clear that the mission will determine the timetable, not the timetable determining the mission.
And I know this is a difficult thing, I have many friends in the administration who are trying to do the right thing. They're struggling with this. But the President has made it absolutely clear repeatedly what the mission is, the United States has to complete this mission.
If we're going to leave Afghanistan, let's leave with something that we can be proud of, a humanitarian rescue that really does right by the people who worked for our troops, who risked their lives for our people and the people in Kabul at least who bet their lives on the future that we promised them.
BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you very much.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, President Biden, he just scored a major win in another front. The House voting to move forward on his massive $3.5 trillion budget plan, so what is next?
Plus, a showdown over vaccine mandates. More than a hundred health care workers saying no to any mandate that would require them to get the shot and some say that they're willing to lose their jobs over it.
And the heartbreaking story of a mother seeing pleading for help on social media just moments before she's swept away by the devastating flash floods.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, Democrats make a deal. The House approving a massive budget plan ending a stalemate between speaker Nancy Pelosi and moderate Democrats who were threatening to derail President Biden's economic agenda. Biden, who was working the phones with the moderates was quick to do an early victory lap.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: There are differences, strong points of view. They're always welcome. What is important is that we came together to advance our agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT now from the White House for us. Phil, the President, he actually talked about his economic plan before he made his Afghanistan announcement. Does that reveal and show where he believes the country's focus is?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kate, I think it underscores a couple things when you talk to White House officials. One, there's never been a secret inside the White House that they believe their domestic agenda and its success in terms of getting it through Capitol Hill will be by far the most important thing both on political and policy grounds the President does in his first term in office, certainly does before the November midterms.
I also think that they are keenly aware of the dynamics of getting that entire agenda passed both the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal and the $3.5 trillion kind of Democrat-only larger package that they're pushing forward to is quite a high-wire act.
And there you could see it just over the course of the last couple of days given the nine moderate House holdouts that the President had to help wrangle. And I think they want to try and keep momentum going on that as much as they possibly can and that involves the president touting successes whenever they happen even if it's in the midst of what many view is a foreign policy crisis.
I also think it underscores that there's a desire to pivot as quickly as possible away from Afghanistan and back to that domestic agenda as they head into the rest of this month and into September when Congress comes back. Look, when you talk to White House officials, they acknowledge that they were slow to grapple with what was going on, on the ground in Afghanistan, that certainly at the start, their response was not nearly what they wanted it to be.
But they feel like now they're all hands on deck. The President has been engaged every day, his top advisors as well. And based on the evacuation numbers alone, that they continually point to, there has been some success and a process that is still very dicey and is only going to get more dangerous in the days ahead.
However, they believe that what happened today in the House underscores the President can do two things at once, as you noted. The President on the phone with members of Congress last night about this issue, not Afghanistan, this issue, underscore any more than anything else, how important they view this issue, even amid everything else that's going on in the President's plate. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Yes. Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.
Let me bring in right now Matthew Dowd. He served as the Chief Strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign. Thanks for being here, Matthew.
President Biden, he was working the phones, he was making calls last night to some of these moderate lawmakers. The first time, we believe, that he got involved directly in the negotiations with them. Do you think Biden deserves credit for this step or is this all owed to Nancy Pelosi and her ability to hold her caucus together?
MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR THE BUSH-CHENEY 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I think it's a combination deal. And I think when we've seen when they worked in combination, they get a lot done and they get stuff passed. So I think you have to give credit to Joe Biden, the President, but you also have to give credit to Nancy Pelosi, who's exercise more success as Speaker of the House, probably than any speaker in modern time. So they both deserve a lot of credit for getting this done in the last 24 hours.
BOLDUAN: Phil was talking about kind of where they would like to pivot their focus, where would they like the administration, the White House would like their focus to be. A new NBC poll shows that Biden's approval has dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency. He's clearly facing a lot of criticism for the handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal. That's a clear crisis.
But do you think a win on Capitol Hill, if that's what this ends up being, will have people looking past the crisis that's unfolding in Afghanistan?
DOWD: Well, first, I'd like to say that Joe Biden's drift down of his approval ratings didn't start with Afghanistan. It started with the COVID and the spread of the virus. And I think Americans very - not disapproval of him, but just approval of the situation. And I think that has to get fixed for his approval numbers to fundamentally go back up to where they were.
It's not a large drift. It's a small drift of his approval numbers. So I think in the end, he won't get a huge bump from whatever happens in the House and the Senate, because there's still a lot of things left to do. I think ultimately, his approval rating is directly tied not to Afghanistan and not to the infrastructure bill, but to where the economy is and how he handles the epidemic.
BOLDUAN: But apply this kind of to what we're seeing in Afghanistan, the President standing by his decision to - with his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from the country by this time next week. And he has faced criticism from the left and the right about how this withdrawal has been executed.
But we are seeing a huge bit of progress in the part of the military in getting people out now. But is Biden just inherently betting that the American people are with him on this in the long run? Do you think he is making the right bet?
DOWD: Well, as you probably are aware, I actually applauded the President from the very beginning about Afghanistan. He was dealt a horrible situation. And as of today, he's done an extremely good job in this situation. There were many people over the last seven days that said there's no possible way he could get 50,000 people out, no possible way.
And that was the number of people thought that had to get out. He's gotten out 70,000 people in the last eight days, 70,000 people out of Afghanistan in the last days. And I actually think the President for what he was dealt and what he's done over the course of the last week, should be congratulated on the way this was done.
Now, there's many things left to handle of the course of this situation. I think the President's done unbelievable yeoman's work and he's the first president of four presidents to actually get done with the American people wanted done in Afghanistan, which was get out.
BOLDUAN: Can I ask you? Because the congressman who was on just before you, do you take the President what he said today at face value that he intends that he's sticking by his deadline of August 31st? The congressman seemed to take it as he thinks there's actually more wiggle room in what the President said than a lot of people are taking it as the conditions on the ground if they change and he says they already have could make the deadline get extended. Did you hear that at all?
DOWD: Well, I think what the President is trying to say is, is yes, we're going to stick to August 31st. Yes, we're going to do this. Yes, we're committed to do this. Yes, we made an agreement with the Taliban we can do this. We've already gotten 70,000 people out. We can get this done as long as the cooperation continues to exist.
That is a big if, as long as the cooperation continues to exist. But I think one thing, Kate, we ought to keep in mind, every Afghan that wants to get out is not going to be able to get out. That's not what this is about. It's not about getting every Afghan who wants to leave out, it's about getting all Americans out and those special Afghans with special visas out of the country.
And I thought we cannot keep setting the bar in a different place. We have great compassion for all Afghans who feel like they're in a country now that they don't want to belong in anymore. But there's millions of refugees around the world who feel the exact same way about the countries they're in and we as America can bring every single person in that wants to come in.
BOLDUAN: Matthew, it's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
DOWD: You too, Kate.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, face off between employer and employees over COVID vaccine mandates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm young, I'm healthy, I have no comorbidities. Like I said I had COVID already, so I don't understand why I would have to be forced to get the vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And a scientist studying a drug for COVID patients getting hate mail from some people who think it's a miracle cure.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [19:30:07]
BOLDUAN: Tonight, standoff as vaccine mandates multiply after the FDA's formal approval of the Pfizer vaccine. There is showdown now in Staten Island, New York, where about 100 health care workers are protesting a new vaccine requirement.
OUTFRONT now is Dr. Mark Jarrett. He's chief quality officer for Northwell Health, New York's largest provider, and he oversees that hospital in Staten Island.
Doctor, thank you for being here.
So, we know that about 20 percent of your overall work force, you've got a lot of hospitals is still not vaccinated. How big of a problem is this in this hospital in Staten Island?
DR. MARK JARRETT, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF QUALITY OFFICER, NORTHWELL HEALTH: I think it's not just unique to Staten Island. I think there are a lot of health care workers who are still very wary of taking the vaccine and I want to point out first of all, I want to thank all of them for all the terrific work they've been doing over the last 18 months and caring for the very sick. However, we see it as maybe less of a problem as we go forward now that Pfizer has been approved. The Pfizer drug has been approved and we will continue to educate our staff as to why the vaccine is so important.
BOLDUAN: I mean, with regard at the hospital in Staten Island, I mean, people were taking to the streets, you know, protesting over this. I want to play what they're saying about why they are fighting against the vaccine. Let me play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MATLAND, CT SCAN TECHNICIAN, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Right now, my biggest concern is long term effects. I think we need more time and data.
STEPHANIE DEFONTE, NURSE, STATEN ISLAND UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: I'm young. I'm healthy. I have no co-morbidities. I had COVID already. I don't understand why I would have to be forced to get the vaccine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I want to know, the man that y'all heard there, he's already been suspended without pay from his job at the hospital.
But, Dr. Jarrett, are you getting any sense that this formal approval from the FDA on Pfizer is changing minds of any of these people protesting because they seem almost less hesitant and more just straight up against the vaccine.
JARRETT: Well, there is always been an ailment of people against vaccines. This is not unique to the COVID vaccines. In addition, I think what we knead to need to discuss, what we're trying to do with the mandate is protect our patients and other staff who have to take care of the patients --
BURNETT: Do these protesters understand that?
JARRETT: I think they do and I think that, you know, everybody has individual rights, but as our health care system has done and many health care systems have done around the country, we have made the decision that it is important for our patients and our staff and our communities to have everybody vaccinated. We feel that is the safest modality to protect everyone, and we can't force anybody to do it but we do already have people take vaccines in order to care for patients. That has been going on for years as requirements, so this is not unique just to the COVID vaccine.
BURNETT: Right. So are you preparing to fire people over this? Is this a get the vaccine or get a new job?
JARRETT: We have a progressive set of discipline if people are not willing to take the vaccine but eventually, it maybe that some people may decide they would rather be terminated and leave their job and go somewhere else rather than take the vaccine. That's their individual choice. But our choices are based on what we need to protect all of our patients.
BURNETT: Yeah, are you concerned that if it gets to that, with however many people you would lose, that it will disrupt hospital operations in any way because that is what these protesters are suggesting. You can't fire us because you won't be able to run the hospital.
JARRETT: I think we'll be able to run the hospitals. At this point, out of our 76,000 employees, over 80 percent have taken the vaccine. We're seeing more take it now because of the Pfizer approval. So I do not envision that this will slow down or cause any harm to the operations of our hospital.
BURNETT: You are already seeing an uptick from this week's approval to the vaccine?
JARRETT: We are seeing more people wanting to take the vaccine. What we asked people why they didn't want to take it, a good segment said we want to see it approved. Now the reality is, this is a vaccine that's been given to hundreds of millions of people not only in the United States but around the world and everybody is watching it very closely.
So the safety with this vaccine is probably higher than we've had with any other medication that we've ever had approval for.
BURNETT: Yeah. Dr. Jarrett, thank you for your time.
JARRETT: Thank you.
BURNETT: OUTFRONT for us next, a doctor receiving threatening emails even being called a Nazi because he raised questions about a livestock drug some believe is a miracle cure.
And Vice President Harris' trip to Vietnam delayed for three hours due to a possible Havana syndrome incident.
BURNETT: Tonight, a doctor who is studying potential COVID treatment receiving threats from people who believed it is a miracle cure.
One email saying, quote, are you a reembodied Nazi? What are you thinking? Eliminate your plan to abuse people as needless controls. You have a duty of care.
This comes as multiple states report spikes and calls to poison control centers from people taking large doses of this drug, which is intended for livestock.
OUTFRONT now is Dr. David Boulware, an infectious disease physician and scientist at the University of Minnesota.
Doctor, thank you for being here.
In addition to what I mentioned in terms of emails you received, what other kind of messages have you gotten over this?
DR. DAVID BOULWARE, STUDYING LIVESTOCK DRUG IVERMECTIN ON COVID-19 PATIENTS: Well, I think on social media and by email, you know, people can send a lot of -- not very nice messages.
But, you know, a lot of characters out there, just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character.
BOLDUAN: That's one way of putting it. You're a very kind man.
You have done dozens of trials throughout your career. Have you ever run into anything like this kind of, I don't know, this kind of hate?
BOULWARE: Well, I think, you know, it's a lot of passion out there and unfortunately, there is just not a lot of data and so, for early treatment, you know, this far into the pandemic, we really only have one therapy that's actually been proven to work and that's the monoclonal antibodies.
Otherwise, there's a lot of small studies, there's a lot of promising drugs that might work but not a lot of actual data. That's a problem where people can get very excited based on limited data of things that aren't quite proven yet but are promising.
BOLDUAN: So, of course, a lot of folks are wondering, where are people get thing idea to go to the livestock supply center and pick up ivermectin?
I want to play where some of these people are learning about this drug problem and making them believe this is a cure. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: We know in many ways the FDA failed us by not allowing the use of ivermectin.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Weinstein (ph) discussed the benefits of a drug called ivermectin which can and is around the world used to treat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Look, we know people are ending up in the hospital because they are taking this drug because they're going to the livestock supply center and picking up these drugs that are meant for like horses and cows. I mean, what is your message to people who see ivermectin as a cure all?
BOULWARE: Well, the amount of data for ivermectin is quite limited, actually. It's one of these promising drugs.
Those who are actually interested in ivermectin who have COVID, there are two clinical trials in the U.S. enrolling volunteers nationwide and so one is sponsored by the NIH, which is the Active Six study. The website is activesixstudy.org and also, university consortium led in Minnesota that is the COVIDout.com trial. Both of these will ship ivermectin to their homes to people's homes if they're eligible for the trial.
And, you know, people are not restricted. They can get monoclonal antibodies that have a 70 percent reduction in the ability -- 70 percent reduction hospitalization. But can we do better than this?
So, people are, if they want to help society try to find answers, there are these trials available.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, look, to be clear, your job is to test and trial to find new treatments and sometimes they do come from strange places like drugs intended for livestock. But the data on this drug isn't anywhere close to definitive enough, yet, for people to take it into their own hands?
BOULWARE: Correct. And there was a recent trial released just today, actually, from Brazil that was a large trial of over 2,200 patients that looked at a medicine called fluvoxamine, ivermectin versus a placebo and that study ivermectin when given for three days didn't have any benefit over placebo versus another one they are studying has a 30 percent reduction in emergency room visits.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, which also gets to proven treatments and another case to be made for getting a vaccine so hopefully you don't end up in these circumstances.
It's good to see you, Doctor. Thank you very much.
OUTFRONT for us next, Vice President Harris' travel plans interrupted by a possible case of Havana syndrome, a mystery illness that stumped the government for years. So why can't the U.S. figure out who is behind it and why.
And more tragedy in Tennessee documented on social media. The last words of a woman begging for help as raging flood waters threatened her life.
BOLDUAN: Tonight, Vice President's Harris' arrival in Vietnam delayed several hours after the U.S. embassy in Hanoi informed her office of a, quote, recent possible anomalous health incident there. That's how the government typically describes Havana syndrome, a mysterious illness that has sickened hundreds of U.S. officials in recent years, all experiencing strange sensations and even debilitating symptoms ranging from nausea and headaches to vertigo and some diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. Cases have been reported in multiple countries since 2016.
OUTFRONT now is Adam Entous. He's a staff writer at "The New Yorker" who has been covering Havana syndrome over the years.
It's good to see you, Adam. What are you hearing about these situations in Hanoi, these latest suspected cases?
ADAM ENTOUS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: What I heard from a state department official earlier today there had been four suspected cases in Hanoi -- two which took place within the last 12 months. And then over the weekend, you had two more reported possible cases also in Hanoi at two locations, two officials who work at the embassy who reported this.
And this was obviously passed onto the vice president security detail and they naturally asked the question, is it safe for her to go before they made the call that it was safe for her to go.
BOLDUAN: So interesting. I mean, is there any suggestion or concern that these two recent ones were connected to the vice president's visit?
ENTOUS: Well, you know, it's interesting. There was a case in the spring of 2019. It was the same trip that Trump made.
It was the state visit to London and two members of the White House delegation that actually arrived before President Trump were in the hotel in London when they had suspected cases. There's actually two incidents, one involving one White House staffer the day Trump arrives and a few days later, a couple days later involving two staffers in the same room.
So, there is this -- you do have these two cases that I'm aware of where it was right before a very important U.S. delegation arrives. But at this point, frankly, the intelligence is so sparse on what is going on that it's really hard to make any connections.
BOLDUAN: Yeah, and you've been reporting on Havana syndrome for years at this point.
I mean, you talked to numerous people who suffered from this. You know, first reports were, what, nearly five years ago at this point.
And is the government any closer to determining what's causing this and who is behind it?
ENTOUS: Right. To me, I mean, I've spoken to several victims. I think now the number is close 200 people who say that this is, you know, potentially happened to them. You have to keep in mind that under the Biden administration especially, the bar for reporting these is very low. They've encouraged people to report anything that might be this, and so the numbers are really -- we shouldn't really trust the numbers, in other words.
But in terms of the intelligence, one of the things that the current CIA Director Burns has done is sort of surged collection and focused on this issue to see what they can find. This starts in the spring. And so far, my understanding is they really haven't found anything. And that is confounding.
BOLDUAN: It really is, right? Some of these people are suffering -- especially the folks early on that kind of flagged this -- debilitating injury from this, and they still -- it feels like they're nowhere closer than 2016.
ENTOUS: Right. There is this sort of understanding that those who cover the intelligence agencies, that things can change extremely quickly. So they might -- tomorrow morning they may catch somebody in the act because they do generally believe that this is an act of a hostile actor, right, against these people.
Maybe somebody will get sloppy, but what is incredible is with all of our collection capabilities, with all the eavesdropping we're doing on officials around the world and actors around the world, we have yet to be able to pick up on any communications that help us unravel this.
And they're trying to reverse engineer what might be a device that could cause this, but, you know, we're doing this -- this started in late 2016, and here we are heading into the fall of 2021, and I feel like the information I'm getting from U.S. officials is really no different than what I was hearing after the first cases were being reported.
BOLDUAN: Adam, thanks for reporting on this. Good to see you.
ENTOUS: Pleasure. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, heartbreaking pleas for help right before a raging floodwater claimed a woman's life.
[19:56:30] BOLDUAN: Tonight, a heartbreaking story out of Waverly, Tennessee. A mother pleading for help on social media as floodwaters raged around her. She died moments later.
I do want to warn you, the video you're about to see is disturbing.
Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT.
LINDA ALMOND, WAVERLY, TN RESIDENT: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This terrifying video might have been the last thing Linda Bryant Almond filmed before she died. You can hear the fear in her voice.
ALMOND: Well, if anybody see me on Facebook live, we're being flooded right now in Waverly. This is scary.
VALENCIA: Her son wishes she had more time to help save her.
THOMAS ALMOND, MOTHER DIED IN FLOOD: I looked around, I screamed for my mom a couple times but I didn't see her. At that instant, I knew I had to fight for myself.
VALENCIA: The 55-year-old was among 18 people who died after unprecedented flash floods in this rural county of Tennessee, where Ricco Ralston was raised.
RICCO RALSTON, RESCUED PEOPLE FROM WATER: We probably helped 25 to 30 people.
VALENCIA: As the water started to rise, Ralston drove to his childhood home looking for his mom. There he found Jeff Burkett, a man he never met, but who had a boat. Together, they jumped in and started pulling people out of the water.
RALSTON: To hear them scared and in fear for their lives, I think we helped get them to safety.
VALENCIA: You heard those screams of desperation.
RALSTON: Yeah, that was the scariest thing, hoping you can get to them in time and hoping you actually get to them.
LISA FOX, RICCO RALSTON'S MOTHER/RESCUED FROM FLOOD: This was my safe haven when Ricco rescued me. I was sitting on my top bunk with a karaoke machine.
VALENCIA: Ralston's mother Lisa Fox says, without her son, many more of her neighbors would have been killed, even though she told him not to come.
FOX: He was going to save his mother one way or another. But I knew it was a bad idea to stay. But them having to rescue me, that saved a lot of lives. I don't regret my decision, because there was still lives saved.
RALSTON: We just started lifting trying to find her. We never could.
VALENCIA: While dozens did make it out thanks to his help, it pains Ralston that he couldn't save everyone. Several who were ripped away by the rushing current are still missing, like 15-year-old Lilly Bryant.
Tell us about your niece.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's 15 years old. She's got long, blonde hair. She weighs about 150 pounds. If anybody seen her, please contact the family or somebody.
VALENCIA (on camera): We spoke to Lily Bryant's family a short time ago, and they say although she's missing, they're hopeful that she will be found. And we were down by that area near the creek where she was last seen. And there are volunteers around the country who are canvassing that area for signs of life, trying to find not only Lilly Bryant but others who are also missing.
And also near that creek is that hard-hit area, the apartment complex that we showed you in the report. It was there that we saw a mother whose two-year-old had been ripped from her arms by that rushing current. The mother was walking around the neighborhood with a thousand yard stare. And looking at her, it's clear that after what the people here went through, it's going to be a long time before they heal -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: I mean, Nick, it is one horrific story on top of another. Each story is worse. I really can't even believe it coming out of Tennessee.
Thank you for your reporting and your compassion. I really appreciate it.
VALENCIA: You bet.
BOLDUAN: And thank you so much for being with us tonight. I'm Kate Bolduan.
"A360" starts now.