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Pfizer to Ask for FDA Authorization for Children; Teens Accused of Plotting Attack on Columbine Anniversary; Alzheimer's Drug Controversy. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 27, 2021 - 06:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans in his state announced they had found nothing but additional votes for Joe Biden in their bogus and expensive audit of election results in Arizona's most populous count.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): If we can do that and follow through on this audit, folks, if it's what I've been told, and I had people come to me early hours of the day after from the security exchange fraud department to the CIA fraud department, that between 450,000 and 700,000 ballots were altered in the state of Arizona.


KEILAR: First, the CIA fraud department, not a thing. Doesn't exist. He just made that up. If it did exist, safe to say, it wouldn't come to Paul Gosar. It's an intelligence agency. It's not a law enforcement agency. But Paul Gosar doesn't let those facts get in the way of his cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs theorizing.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): If this audit comes out the way it is, I have to tell you, we have to charge people.




GOSAR: The supervisors have to be charged.

So what -- what I'm telling you, the governor knew exactly what I just told you, and he still certified it.


GOSAR: On January 6th people did not listen to what I said. What I asked for is a 10-day window to actually do a forensic hand count of the -- of the ballots. You know, at least those six states but any state that wanted it to get it right. So six plus 10 is 16. The inauguration's not till the 21st.


KEILAR: Now, again, Arizona's sham audit produced nothing except more votes for Joe Biden and fewer for Donald Trump. What was hailed as the ultimate proof of Trump's victory should have turned out to be an exoneration of Biden's win for big liars like Paul Gosar. But, wait for it, more big lies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they made their papers live (ph).

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Yes. Yes. And the -- and the thing about it is, is that they weren't given the tools to make a full disclosure. But what my suggestion was is that we actually have some hearings and look over that -- look over this batch and set a new election for Biden and Trump before the end of the year.


KEILAR: So he is proposing a new presidential election for Joe Biden and Donald Trump this year. The chances of that are slimmer than a Gosar siblings' family reunion. You may recall that he has six siblings who have previously filmed political ads for a challenger after Gosar claimed the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a false flag operation. Some of them have called for their brother to be kicked out of Congress. One of Paul Gosar's brothers called him a, quote, traitor to this country and, quote, a traitor to their family.

Back to the sham Arizona audit release. On the eve of the audit's findings, Gosar tweeted an anticipatory tomorrow message, saying that leftists have worked themselves into a froth to stop the audit. The conspiracy theory peddling here from Gosar is old hat. He previously tried claiming that mail-in voting would lead to a stollen election and widespread fraud, calling it a slippery slope.

News flash. It isn't. It doesn't. And if it were a slippery slope, well, it's one that the congressman likes to ski down himself. "The Arizona Mirror" reporting that Paul Gosar voted by mail eight times over the last decade.

On November 4th he tweeted, quote, don't let them steal our votes. Then he made a giant slalom of the big lie, carrying it all the way to January 6th.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): I rise up both for myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the objection in writing and signed by a senator?

GOSAR: Yes, it is. It is.


KEILAR: The insurrection didn't put a damper in Gosar's enthusiasm for the big lie. It emboldened the congressman. He claimed the attack had the, quote, Hallmarks of Antifa provocation. The FBI director testified that's bogus.

Then, in a fundraising email obtained by "The Washington Post," Gosar floated the conspiracy theory that the FBI helped plan and execute the attack. Baseless, of course.

Then he attacked Capitol Police by saying they, quote, executed Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters who was shot when she was climbing through a door just off the House chamber where members of Congress were taking refuge in fear of their lives.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Yes, it's disturbing. The Capitol Police officer that did that shooting -- Ashli Babbitt appeared -- appeared to be hiding, lying in wait and gave no warning before killing her.


KEILAR: The Justice Department has ruled that the officer will not be charged. And the officer has said he did not -- he did warn the rioters. He warned them repeatedly, he said. Gosar has since gone on to defend many of the insurrectionists who have been charged.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): My constituents demand answers.


But the truth is being censored and covered up. As a result, the DOJ is harassing -- harassing peaceful patriots across the country.


KEILAR: Peaceful. Peaceful, he says. Patriots, he says. Just another fake claim from Arizona's conspiracy theorist congressman who seems to represent the twilight zone more than Arizona's fourth congressional district.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I have to tell you, the most concerning thing about this is you can't dismiss Paul Gosar as fringe anymore.

KEILAR: Correct.

BERMAN: That's -- that's what's really concerning here is that it's not the twilight zone, it's the Republican zone. It's right in the middle of where the Republican Party is today when 78 percent of Republicans tell us they don't think Joe Biden won the election.

KEILAR: Yes, totally agree.

And the other thing is, you know, sometimes you listen to some of the big liars and you can tell that there are some Republicans who are kind of -- they're playing along with it. They know they have to say it because it has become a litmus test for Republicans. Or there's some Republicans who think maybe they really believe it. I have to tell you, it's hard with Paul Gosar to know if he doesn't believe it. He's very convincing that he does.

BERMAN: I would submit that it doesn't matter whether they believe it or not is the quote I use a lot with (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: Correct. Yes.

BERMAN: And he says, you are who you pretend to be. So be careful when you pretend to be.

KEILAR: Yes. I --

BERMAN: The bottom line is, it's the same effect.

KEILAR: Definitely, definitely agree with that.

Coming up, candid remarks from Congresswoman Liz Cheney about her past opposition to same-sex marriage.

BERMAN: And one of the country's top vaccine experts here to answer questions about getting children protected from coronavirus.




ALBERT BOURLA, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PFIZER: I think we are going to submit this data pretty soon. It's a question of days, not weeks. And then it is up to FDA to be able to review the data and come to their conclusions.


BERMAN: That was Pfizer's chairman and CEO Albert Bourla announcing, or claiming, that the company is ready within a matter of days to ask the FDA for authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages five to 11.

Joining us now, Dr. Paul Offit. He's a member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Offit, you get asked a lot of questions. And you say there's no question you get asked more frequently than when can my approximate kid get vaccinated. So, at this point, do we have more information about when that might be?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Well, I mean, you know what I know. I mean I -- we saw the press release that was released by Pfizer on the five to 11-year-olds. We know that it's again a two-dose vaccine, except instead of being 30 micrograms a dose, it's 10 micrograms a dose. So it's a third of the original -- or a third of the vaccine that's being -- dose of the vaccine that's being given to older children and adolescents.

And then we know their top-line data. I mean I haven't seen their data yet. As Dr. Bourla said, we will -- they will submit their data. We'll look at those data and make sure that the vaccine is safe, safe, safe and then look at its effectiveness and then make a decision. But right now the hope is that we'll have a vaccine for children by the end of October for the five to 11-year-olds, because we certainly need it. I mean we're seeing 200,000 cases a week, 250,000 cases a week in children. We're seeing 2,000 hospitalizations a week in children. I was on service a week ago and our hospital is seeing many children with COVID consistent with the national (ph) average.

BERMAN: So, if this timeline is right, if in fact, they do get the submission in this week and all goes well, you think by Halloween?

OFFIT: Yes, you would -- you would think. Assuming again that the data look good, yes, by Halloween.

BERMAN: All right, there's some question here that some of our viewers have written in about the vaccine specific for children and they get to a lot of the broader questions, I think, Dr. Offit, that people have here.

Amanda writes, I have an 11-year-old in the 85 percent percentile height and weight. She turns 12 on January 2022. If the vaccine is released, but in a smaller dosage, should I get her vaccinated now or would you recommend waiting until she is 12 so she can get the larger dose?

OFFIT: Either way. I think people have a misconception about the way vaccines work. They think of them the same way as say drugs. I mean if you give, for example, an antibiotic like amoxicillin, you know, your weight matters because the antibiotic is distributed throughout your bloodstream. That's not true with vaccines because vaccines you give as a shot in the arm and then that's taken up by the local draining lymph nodes. So really weight doesn't matter.

I think that either with -- if the vaccine comes out and is ready for the 11-year-old and the data look good, get it at age 11. If you want to wait until 12, that's fine, too. But, again, you want to protect children as soon as possible and vaccines offer the best way to protect them.

BERMAN: But that's interesting what you said there before, the weight shouldn't matter here. It's different than a drug, per say.

OFFIT: That's right.

BERMAN: All right, that's good to know because that's a question I think a lot of people have right there.

Leanne from New York writes, information has come out recently about the Moderna vaccine leading and lasting effectiveness. Is it better to get the first vaccine that becomes available for the kids, or is there any wisdom in waiting for Moderna to complete their trials?

OFFIT: I think that the takeaway here is that both the Moderna and the Pfizer mRNA vaccines are really equally effective at protecting against serious disease, which is really the goal of these vaccines is to protect against serious disease. So I wouldn't draw to sort of fine of a point between those two vaccines. Get whatever vaccine you can.

BERMAN: Get whatever vaccine you can.

There's been a questions about flu shots in conjunction with the vaccine. This comes from Mike in Kansas. I'll be getting the third Pfizer booster in the near future. Also, I get my flu shot every year by the end of October. Do I have to cancel one of them?

OFFIT: No. I think what you need to do is just try and, if you can, separate those two vaccines by an interval of about two weeks, that way if there is a safety concern, you'll know which vaccine it was.


BERMAN: So, Dr. Offit, finally, you know, because you deal with kids every day in your line of work and you know vaccines because you deal with it every day in your line of work. And you know that people sometimes think about vaccines differently for children than they do about adults. And I know that a lot of parents are probably sitting there going, well, it's my kid, I'm going to wait and see. I'm just going to wait and see how things go for a little bit.

What's your message to these wait and see parents?

OFFIT: No, I think it's reasonable to be skeptical about anything you put into your body, especially your child's body. I mean we see children as more vulnerable. And it's hard to inoculate them with a biological agent that we don't quite understand or feel comfortable with.

But, remember, there are no risk-free choices. They're just choices to take different risks. And a choice not to get a vaccine is a choice to take the real risk of getting an infection, which is never the better choice. So I think it's reasonable to look at the data, I mean, as we will look at the data. I mean I can tell you that everybody that sits around that table at the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee holds these vaccines to the same standard, which is, would I give it to my own children or nieces and nephews or grandchildren? I mean that's always the standard.

So although people will see this as an Emergency Use Authorization and think it's held to a lesser standard, it's really not.

BERMAN: Dr. Paul Offit, as always, we appreciate your wisdom. Thanks for joining us this morning. OFFIT: Thank you.

BERMAN: An Idaho doctor threaten by an unvaccinated patient's family for refusing to provide Ivermectin as a COVID treatment. She will join us live.

KEILAR: Plus, four Pennsylvania students, inspired by the Columbine school shooting, now facing charges for conspiring to attack their own high school on the 25th anniversary of the massacre.



KEILAR: Four teens are facing charges for planning a violent attack on their own Pennsylvania high school. Two have been charged as adults, two are facing juvenile charges for planning to attack Dunmore High School on April 20, 2024, which is the 25th anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

CNN's Laura Jarrett is joining us now with more on this story.

Tell us about this plot, Laura.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Brianna, it's pretty scary to think what could have happened here were it not for the vigilance of a parent who alerted police.

These teens constructed their plans over a group chat apparently named Natural Born Killers. Now, according to court documents, the mother of one of the teens that was ultimately charged found some of their disturbing text messages, including plans to, quote, shoot up the school. That led police to the home of Alyssa Kucharski, where authorities claim they found a Molotov cocktail, drawings of pipe bombs and lists of guns and ammunitions in her notebooks, among other things.

Now, Kucharski, who apparently told police that she learned about Columbine when she was 11 or 12 years old, quote, found it very interesting as she had already tested out one of those devices near a river. She is now being charged as an adult, along with another student named Zavier Lewis. The case understandably shaking up this entire community.

Here's one of the grandparents of one student.


LORI ALBANO, GRANDPARENT OF DUNMORE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: When I saw it on the news flash on the phone, I was like, no, this can't be real. This is -- it's terrible. For 15-year-olds to be planning to actually murder people, it's -- it's just beyond belief. It's beyond. And she's very upset about it. And I'm sure all of them are. And they're going to need to talk to somebody about it. It doesn't happen around here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: Authorities say there is no current threat to Dunmore High School. But it's not just these teens in Pennsylvania, Brianna. Columbine continues to inspire other copy cats.

Just two weeks ago, two teenage boys were arrested in Florida after planning a Columbine-style attack on their middle school.

Brianna, back to you

KEILAR: And this all came down to text messages.


KEILAR: All right, Laura Jarrett, thank you so much.


KEILAR: FBI agents returning to the Laundrie family home in Florida and leaving with potential new evidence, all as the manhunt intensifies for Brian Laundrie.

BERMAN: An FDA adviser calls it one of the worst decisions in recent history. What is that decision and what does it mean for you, coming up.



BERMAN: In June, the FDA-approved the use of a new drug for early phases of Alzheimer's disease despite an FDA advisory committee concluding there was not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of the treatment. In a new piece for, Jeffrey Toobin takes a behind the scenes look at what one FDA adviser called, quote, probably the worst drug approval decisions in recent U.S. history.

Jeffrey Toobin is back with us now.

The advisory board was basically unanimous in saying, don't do this, and then the FDA did it.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It is. And, you know, this is such a huge problem in the United States now. I mean I know it from my own family. Alzheimer's is just -- it is a growing problem. It's the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is causing unending heartbreak for families.

There has not been a new drug approved for Alzheimer's since 2003 until Aduhelm, which is this drug made by Biogen, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was approved this year. But the question is, does this drug even work? And the answer, according to the experts, was no. And now patients are stuck with this terrible dilemma of, do they ask their doctors to try this drug, or do they respect the experts and say it's not going to do any good anyway?

BERMAN: So what should patients do or how do they approach this? TOOBIN: Well, I -- I -- I think it's -- I -- I -- you know --

BERMAN: Dr. Toobin.

TOOBIN: I -- we have to ask Dr. Gupta about that. It's -- it's a really hard problem because there is this movement in the United States beyond just this drug called the Right to Try, which is, you know, if a drug isn't actively harmful, let people try it. And that seems to be the direction the FDA is going.

But I'm speaking to these experts who are saying that's just giving people false hope.

Plus, this drug costs $56,000 a year, which will -- Medicare is now weighing whether they will cover it. And they haven't -- they haven't answered that question yet. But insurance companies have to address that and then some families, desperate as they are, may try to pay it out of their own pockets. And then, if it doesn't work, where are they? I mean it's just -- it's a terrible dilemma. And a lot of these experts blame the FDA.

Also, a fact that I didn't know is that the FDA's budget now is largely paid directly by the pharmaceutical companies.


They -- they don't just pay taxes, they pay the FDA's budget.