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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is Interviewed About the Police Killing of Daunte Wright and the Biden Infrastructure Plan; Six Women between Ages of 18 and 48 Suffer Blood Clotting after Taking Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine; Medical Experts Examine Possible Reasons for Rare Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 13, 2021 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All six cases involve women, and they're young, women between the ages of 18 and 48 who have received the J&J COVID vaccine, the "New York Times" reports one woman died, another woman has been hospitalized in critical condition.

But I also want to put this in perspective about the numbers here, OK. Nearly 7 million people in the United States have received J&J's COVID vaccine so far. This is six people. The FDA will hold a news conference two hours from now.

With us, our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Also with us, Dr. Paul Offit. He's the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee. That means he was involved in the process of assessing J&J's vaccine. Both of you this morning, so many questions for you. Sanjay, in the simplest terms for everyone watching, especially women between the ages of 18 and 48, what does this mean for them?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is something that's of concern. It is a rare side effect, but what we are hearing is that, as you mentioned, women between the ages of 18 and 48, there was six women who developed a significant blood clot in the veins that drain blood away from the brain. These are called the cerebral sinuses or cerebral veins. We're trying to get an image to show you. If we have that, I'll show it to you.

But basically, again, this is a rare concern, but it was a significant enough problem that when the blood is not draining properly from the brain, you can start to develop brain swelling, sometimes additional bleeding. And this is what doctors have noticed, clinicians have noticed in a few of these patients. It's not clear entirely whether there was some sort of preexisting problem that may have made these women more likely to develop these problems. But, look, this is a significant concern. And it is rare, but it is one of those things now where as a general rule you're giving vaccines to healthy people and people are going to look at this, and I think understandably, at least with this Johnson & Johnson vaccine, say I am worried about this. Is this the right thing for me? JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Offit, I want your take on this as

someone who has assessed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and also an explanation for why six out of 6.8 million doses, six cases out of 6.8 million administered, why that's enough to pause the process.

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: First of all, the AstraZeneca vaccine in the United Kingdom and Europe has been struggling with the same issue, meaning the so-called central venous thrombosis issue, blood clots in the brain. The European Medicines Agency has been dealing with this. So it's not new. The AstraZeneca vaccine is very similar, actually, to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Both are replication defective adenovirus vaccines.

So it's not shocking there would be a class effect essentially. So what was in the U.K. and Europe is that this occurred at roughly one per 250,000 people. Here it looks like so far it's about one in a million people. But I agree with Sanjay. I think this is a real phenomenon. And because you have two other vaccines that can be used in the United States that don't cause that problem, I think that that's why you can reasonably put that on hold.

HARLOW: Those two vaccines that do not cause this problem, Sanjay, are very different. They're different in how they're made. They are MRNA technology, which has never been used before now in getting to market. Can you explain to people who may look at this and say, oh, my gosh, I'm signed up for a Pfizer vaccine but I'm not getting it, I'm just scared, that they need to go get that vaccine? This is a fundamentally different kind of vaccine.

GUPTA: Right. Yes, there's different ways that these vaccines have been made. And the MRNA vaccine is a new vaccine. The adenovirus vaccine Dr. Offit was just describing is one that's been around longer, but they do, even though they accomplish the same thing, which is to basically create antibodies in your body, they do it in different ways.

I think the biggest thing to sort of realize is that with the MRNA vaccines, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, they've both been out longer. In addition to the clinical trial data which we know is very favorable, we have lots of real world data, and you're not seeing these kinds of things that have been described with the adenovirus vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccine. So, look, this is tough news to have to give because I think that this is going to really shake confidence at least in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in this country. And I think it's going to be tough to regain some of that confidence.

Let me show you specifically, I think we have this image, just to give people an idea. Blood clots, the type of blood clots that we're talking about here, are blood clots that actually develop inside the vein. That's a little bit hard to see, I realize, but in those blue structures are the veins. What happens is blood is going to the brain and then blood needs to be drained from the blood vessels of the brain as well. If there's blood clots in the veins, the blood can't get out as easily from the brain. [08:05:00]

What happens? The brain can start to swell. There can even be bleeds in conjunction with that, bleeding that occurs in the brain around that, which means it's difficult to give blood clotting medication sometimes because you may worsen that bleeding. So it's a challenging problem to address. Sometimes it can be challenging to even diagnose. That is what we're talking about. It is rare, but it does seem to have this clear association now, as we have seen, between the AstraZeneca and J&J.

BERMAN: We're hearing that Johnson & Johnson stock is down more than two percent in pre-market trading right now. Obviously, this will be of some corporate concern to them also.

Dr. Offit, you said something that was really interesting, and I hadn't thought of it this way. Maybe the federal government can be quicker, can make -- it's an easier decision to pause J&J when there are other vaccines out there in great numbers that work, that are saving people's lives when it comes to coronavirus. It's an easier to say, don't use this other vaccine which we have in more limited doses anyway because we have enough of the kind that we believe is safe.

But you know, and I've already seen it on social media, that people who are hesitant, which is different than anti-vaxxers, but there are people who are hesitant to get the vaccine, they're concerned, and you know also, and I saw your special with Sanjay over the weekend, anti- vaxxers will use this immediately. I'm surprised that they haven't put out a statement anyway, saying, we told you. We told you vaccines are dangerous.

OFFIT: In many ways this should be reassuring to people, in some ways. When this trial was done, the Johnson & Johnson trial in the United States, it involved about 18,000 U.S., 44,000 people worldwide. If this side effect occurs in one in a million people, you're going to not see that in the preapproval process.

But now that it's out there, it should be reassuring to people to know that people are still looking. The CDC, the World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency are still looking to make sure not only that the vaccines didn't have an uncommon side effect preapproval, but don't have a very, very rare side effect post approval. So that should make you feel better about all the vaccines that are out there that haven't had this kind of problem. It should be largely reassuring.

HARLOW: I want to speak to everyone out there who maybe just got this vaccine or their kid did, especially maybe their daughter. These are the symptoms -- severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, shortness of breath within about two to three weeks.

Sanjay, not a fever. That's not listed as a concerning symptom. That's important for folks. A lot of people get fevers after vaccines. What should those people do? And why women? Why is this all women, young women?

GUPTA: Yes, so there's a couple of things in what you just read. First of all, there are different types of clots. The clots that were of these great concern, the one that I just showed the image of, are cerebral venous clots, but there have been reports of clots in some in the deep veins of the legs, known as DVT, and even some clots in people's vessels around their abdominal, their abdominal musculature. So you have different symptoms in those cases.

I think -- I want to emphasize, again, I know that there's probably a lot of people listening who are just understandably going to be worried if they've just received the vaccine. This is still rare. But if you do have these side effects, you should talk to your doctor about this, and right now, just even our reporting, this is all unfolding real time. Clinicians are hearing about this for the first time as well, so their antennas are all going to have to be raised for patients who've had this vaccine who may develop any of these symptom, and have a plan in place in terms of what they want to do with this, how you diagnose the clotting, how you treat it. Some of them may not treatment. Some of them may just resolve on their own.

But we are seeing medicine unfold real time here with this particular issue. The clots -- the clotting itself is not a new issue. We see people developing spontaneous clotting, and that was the issue in Europe when this AstraZeneca association was being sort of evaluated. Is this sort of just normal background clotting, or is this something really associated with the vaccine? It can be hard to parse that out if these are very small numbers. But I think that's the message right now. Understandably, if you have concerns, if you have any of these symptoms, it's unlikely you will, but if you do, you've got to talk to your doctor about this.

BERMAN: And just also remember, this is 6.8 million doses out of 189 million doses of vaccine that have been administered. That number on the bottom right-hand side of your screen. More than 180 million doses of coronavirus vaccine that have been administered aren't Johnson & Johnson at all and don't have this same concern.

Dr. Offit, how come this didn't show up in the trials? How come this is something that we're only seeing now?

OFFIT: Because it was too rare. If you look at the way the J&J did their trial, that was roughly a 44,000-person trial, 18,000 U.S. If an event is occurring in one in a million people, you're unlikely to see that. But again, I just want to make the point that it should be reassuring to people that we're always looking, always looking to make sure that there isn't even a very, very rare side effect, and that should be reassuring to people.


HARLOW: Sanjay, do you have any understanding, and I'm sorry if I'm sort of beating the same drum here, but I've got so many women reaching out to me wondering why these are all women. I asked Dr. Del Rio last hour, brought up that a number of women may be on birth control, brought up the issue of thrombosis tied to that. What would you be asking the FDA on that front at 10:00 a.m. today if you were asking them questions on this? GUPTA: Yes, those are the right questions. So these, I think, and I'm

learning this along with you, but women between 18 and 48. So what is it about women of that age that might make them more likely to develop these sorts of blood clots? And as you mentioned, it could have something to do with their hormones, premenopausal sort of situation. Are they also taking birth control pills? Were they smokers? Did they have underlying history of malignancy, cancer, which can increase your likelihood of clotting? So there's all sorts of different things.

It's tough sometimes to know, again, when you have such small numbers and you're trying to say, so what ties these half-dozen women together? What is it about them that makes them more likely to have developed this problem? And maybe there's nothing in the end that you can say definitively for sure.

If you do find something definitively, it could be one of those things where you now know, and instead of saying you're excluding this across the board, you exclude this in a certain population of people. So for example, the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, there were certain populations that were told to not get the vaccine. We may -- they may have that sort of recommendation in the end. But I think it's just too early to say right now. It would just be too speculative.

BERMAN: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Paul Offit, we really thank you both for helping us understand this breaking news. It is a headline that gets people's attention. The FDA and CDC calling for a pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A news conference at 10:00 a.m. We will all be watching. Gentlemen, thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you both so much.

Will lawmakers finally do something, take action collectively on excessive police force? A top Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, is with us next.



HARLOW: The second night of unrest in Minnesota, a day after a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. He was just pulled over for an expired tag. Wright's death comes as the Derek Chauvin trial plays out just a few miles away.

The Biden administration is now standing down on a campaign promise to create a White House-led police oversight commission. Instead they see it needs to be legislation.

With me now is Democratic whip, Senator Dick Durbin, the chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Senator, good morning to you.

And I'd like to begin by playing for you and our viewers sound of Daunte Wright's aunt, Naisha Wright. Here's what she told my colleague Don Lemon last night.


NAISHA WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S AUNT: It was a mistake? You don't mistake a stun gun from a gun. You don't mistake that. If I made a mistake like that, I'd be in a jail cell. They would be trying to put me under.


HARLOW: You are the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate. Let's be straight. Is anything going to change? Is Daunte Wright's death, the father of a little boy, is this going to change anything or more of the same?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I think it can change things. I think the cumulative experience that we are seeing played out on videotapes, sadly, almost every day, is really a call to action in the United States Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let's get down to basics here. I believe the majority of men and women who put that badge on in the morning are caring and competent people and not bigoted in any way.

And yet, in their ranks are people not well-trained, people who don't belong at all in law enforcement, and we've got to make a clear difference. We've got to stand by the good policing and make it clear that bad policing is unacceptable.

And let me add, too, very quickly, there is a racial element here that is very, very real in America. The numbers tell the story. We have got to purge that racism from the administration to justice in America.

HARLOW: Look, your Democratic colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, overnight writes: It was not an accident. Policing in our country is inherently and intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression and violence. I am done with those who condone government- funded murder. No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It cannot be reformed.

And your fellow Democrat, Congressman Ayana Pressley, overnight: From slave patrols to traffic stops. We can't reform this.

Are they wrong, Senator?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you the evidence gives them reason to speak up as they have. And yet we know that the bottom line here, we do need law enforcement in this country for safety and security in our homes and neighborhoods and our cities.

But we must demand of law enforcement with all the power that is given to an individual officer that this type of racial conduct be purged from our law enforcement.

It is reality. It is a very real situation. I can understand their rage and anger as they reflect on what happened in their own state and nearby. HARLOW: It happened in my state. I mean, I am from Minnesota, and I

have pulled over for expired tags, and I can just let you guess what happened to me. Nothing. Nothing.

I was politely told, make sure you make an appointment. Go to the DMV and get it handled.

I mean, I guess my question to you is, you have so much power and know how this body works having been in it so long, what are you going to do? Because I can't imagine being Katie Wright this morning and seeing my son dead for expired tags.

DURBIN: Well, let me tell you, what you've said is reality. I was told once there's some 40,000 outstanding warrants in Cook County, Illinois, and many of them relate to African-Americans and driving on suspended licenses, for example. So you can understand that merely pursuing a warrant can make many people very vulnerable to the same conduct.

But here's the bottom line. We need to act on a bipartisan basis in a Senate that's evenly divided, 50 Republicans, 50 Democrats.


Same thing true on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Cory Booker is the head of the crime subcommittee. This is his special assignment, special passion. He has assured me that he's reaching out in every direction to put together the hearings that will lead to legislation.

HARLOW: The White House has just announced just yesterday that they are standing down on a promise that then-candidate Joe Biden made to create a national policing oversight commission. They say it should be through legislation. So, basically, it should be you guys who do it.

Can you make any guarantee to the American people that are now seeing this commission not happening through the White House that you will take care of it?

DURBIN: Well, I can't guarantee results in a 50-50 Senate, but I can guarantee an effort, a sincere and real effort on our part.

What we're seeing with Daunte Wright and George Floyd, with Breonna Taylor, with Laquan McDonald is just a repetition, sadly, a repetition a almost daily basis of gun violence and repetition of racial incidents that are absolutely unacceptable in this country.

And for those -- I join those who have criticized the other side who say we're just cancel culture. We want to cancel racism in America. That is the bottom line.

HARLOW: I'd like to turn to infrastructure and the big push here in Washington and ask you a simple question but I think a really important one given where this debate has gone. How do you, Senator, define infrastructure? DURBIN: Well, I can tell you, I do not exclude clean drinking water

from the responsibilities of government and not only dealing with public health issues but creating jobs in America. And we have 23 percent of all the lead pipe leads in America in the Chicagoland area. You bet I want to clean up this water supply, and I consider that infrastructure.

When it comes to expanding broadband across America, there's some Republicans that say, no, that isn't a highway. The hell it isn't. It's an information highway that should be available to every single American.

Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, on "60 minutes" Sunday night made it clear that we are just on the verge of a dramatic economic comeback. First, we have to deal realistically and effectively with the pandemic, and then get prepared. America, we're going to be creating good paying jobs and Joe Biden wants to lead us into that.

HARLOW: So, let me ask you this. I have all the numbers of where this money is allocated. And there is a significant amount for roads, bridges, lead pipes, water systems, et cetera.

Do you think it would be prudent of the administration to split that off into its own bill around $600 billion, $700 billion as supported by even Senator Roy Blunt and get some Republican votes on that. And then portion the other part off which deals with elder care, child care, research and HBCUs, et cetera, into a second bill that maybe you have to push through reconciliation but at least you have Republican support on something?

DURBIN: Listen, yesterday, the president called a bipartisan meeting of members of Congress. Republicans and Democrats sat down in the Oval Office with the vice president and said, let's be honest. Let's bargain. Can we reach an agreement?

That kind of spirit and approach is --

HARLOW: But two bills? You want two bills?

DURBIN: I'm not going to presuppose how this negotiation will end, but as long as there's a good-faith effort to move us forward, take advantage of the economic opportunity that can come our way if we are aggressive and not tentative in our approach, I am going to support it.

HARLOW: Senator Dick Durbin, we appreciate your time very much this morning and we really, really, really hope there is action on Capitol Hill about policing in America.

DURBIN: As do I.

HARLOW: Thank you.

DURBIN: Thank you, Poppy. HARLOW: Daunte Wright's family demanding the justice they deserve after he was shot and killed during what should have just been a routine traffic stop. Officials now call his death an accident. A lawyer for his family, though, is with us next.




KATIE WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S MOTHER: My son was an amazing, loving kid. He had a big heart. He loved basketball. He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He was an uncle, a grandson.

He had a smile that would light up the room. It was so big and bright and he was just -- he was amazing. He's my son and he's never going to -- he just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chest. He was my baby.


BERMAN: That's Daunte Wright's mother describing her son in a new interview. He was shot and killed by police in Minnesota during a traffic stop.

Joining us now is Jeffrey Storms. He is the co-counsel for the Wright family. He also represents the family of George Floyd.

Counselor, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Hard to see that family going through this again in America, again in Minnesota. What does the family of Daunte Wright want this morning?

JEFFREY STORMS, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILIES OF DAUNTE WRIGHT & GEORGE FLOYD: Well, they want accountability. And they want justice. And they want answers.

You know, to have the department come out and just chalk this up to being an accident is by no means proper or enough. There were a number of intentional events that led to their son being dead and we need to find out exactly why each one of those intentional acts happened.

BERMAN: Yeah, why doesn't it settle it? That's what we heard from the police yesterday. Oh, it was an accidental discharge. The officer thought she was using a Taser.

Why doesn't that settle things for the family this morning?

STORMS: Well, let's start at the beginning. Why is this young man being stopped? We still have a lot of questions in that regard.

But, you know, either version that we've heard so far whether it's tabs or air fresheners sounds like a pretextual stop. It's a stop of this young man.

From there, to say that, oh, it was an accident, you know, grabbing your side arm that you've likely deployed thousands, if not tens of thousands of times, is an

intentional act. A side arm feels different.